Presented with apologies for the delay.
Bloody Mary, Vol. 2 | By Akaza Samamiya | VIZ Media – For a moment there, I thought I could grow to really like Bloody Mary. Perhaps it was all the slashy situations that were happening, but the atmosphere briefly coalesced into something equal parts nifty and creepy. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long, and I was soon irritated by the nebulous nature of the narrative. Perhaps just a couple more explanatory panels would help, as I kept going, “Wait, why are they breaking into that mansion again?” Why is this happening? Why is that happening? A revelation that should be big lands with a squelchy plop. There’s potential here, for sure, and I’m not ready to give up, but I’m still underwhelmed for the time being. – Michelle Smith
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 13 | By Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi | Seven Seas – The latter half of this book is merely OK, setting up what promises to be the next big arc by introducing a student council girl with a grudge against Sena, and teasing Sena and Kodaka’s engagement. But let’s face it, this volume’s big, big reason to read it is that first chapter with Rika, as we hear her run up against Kodaka’s hardcore determination to ignore any forward development in this series, and it nearly causes her to snap. The elephants in the room—that the group is already friends (and thus the club’s purpose is complete), and that he has at least 3 girls in love with him, is something Kodaka is desperately trying to forget, and it can’t last much longer. Very well done. – Sean Gaffney
He’s My Only Vampire, Vol. 6 | By Aya Shouoto | Yen Press – I have to admit, Aya Shouoto continues to have a slight pacing problem that I can’t quite put my finger on but bothers me. I think it’s typified in this volume by Kana’s escape and training, which happens completely offscreen through a character we had no idea was on her side. Sadly, we don’t see that; we see Aki angst instead. Which is fine, I mean, it’s quality angst, but I have to admit I wanted to read something different than the author was giving me. Kana does get more to do in the second half, but for the wrong reasons—amnesia has reared its ugly head, as it always does whenever a shoujo couple dares to resolve its feelings before the series can end. This is still good, but highly uneven. – Sean Gaffney
Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 15 | Original Concept by Hiro Arikawa, Story and Art by Kiiro Yumi | VIZ Media – Library Wars hasn’t been the most brilliant series ever, but its characters consistently put a smile on my face. That is especially true of this satisfying final volume, in which Iku completes a solo mission admirably well (while drawing on the attributes of her team for comfort and inspiration) and finally clearly communicates her feelings to Dojo. A three-year fast-forward shows us some glimpses of what’s become of the cast, and it’s all pretty great. (Avoiding most spoilers, I will only say the photograph at the end cracked me up.) There is a spinoff/sequel of sorts out there, and I really hope VIZ licenses it at some point, because these are characters I’d like to revisit someday. – Michelle Smith
My Little Monster, Vol. 13 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – Let’s face it, this manga is a victory lap. But it’s well-deserved, and I greatly enjoyed most of it (the fanbook section, while nice to have, featured a lot of 4-komas and profiles that didn’t add much.) Loved the Natsume and Sasayan story, of course, but Iyo’s was also very good. I was less enamored with Oshima and Takaya, but you can’t say it wasn’t signposted. Best of all, though, we get a wedding, which I figured after the ending to twelve would get skipped over. It’s almost a sideplot to Takaya trying to get his love taken seriously, but Shizuka is amazing as always—the shot of her in her bridal gown chugging tea is marvelous. I will miss you, My Little Shoujo Series. Though at thirteen volumes, not too little. – Sean Gaffney
Of the Red, the Light, and the Ayakashi, Vol. 2 | By nanao and HaccaWorks* | Yen Press – The pacing of this second volume is somewhat slow, and at times it becomes easy to tell that this is based off a visual novel, and is trying to keep a lot of the basics. I also admit that I have trouble telling two of the three leads apart, both being blonds with hair about the same length. That said, as with the first volume, the title works best when establishing a creepy and unsettling mood, as you gradually realize that this is not your typical Japanese town, and that a lot of people know what’s going on here more than our three heroes. I’m not sure how well this will end—certainly if the cute little sister gets ‘erased’ I think I’m out—but right now it’s intriguing enough to keep going. – Sean Gaffney
Rose Guns Days Season One, Vol. 3 | By Ryukishi07 and Soichiro | Yen Press – Well, I suppose I asked for this, as I said last time that I wish Rose’s shiny idealism would get some more depth. And so we get this volume, in which all is in ruins, our heroes are scattered to the four winds, and Rose is literally tortured for her beliefs, and emerges almost completely broken. The keyword being almost, of course—she still has Leo and a few others, and even Stella and Meryl admit that while they were planning on double-crossing Rose before, that’s not happening now. I expect the final volume of this ‘season’ will be wall-to-wall action, but how cynical will Rose get? We shall see. Also, see if you can spot the Higurashi in-jokes this time. Recommended only for fans of Ryukishi07’s work. – Sean Gaffney