Happy new briefs!
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Vol. 6 | By Kore Yamazaki | Seven Seas – This is a book of two halves. The first deals with Christmas, as Chise meets with Alice so they can buy their respective mentors a present, which is mostly light and fluffy (with the exception of Alice’s drug-riddled backstory), and the second half is more supernatural, showing how kids say things they don’t mean, and how in the border between human and faerie that can be incredibly dangerous. Both halves show off Elias’ burgeoning (read: teenage) emotions, as well as Chise’s growing stockpile of good friends. On an ominous note, she’s also now got a pelt that lets her transform, which she feels she shouldn’t overuse, and promptly does. A fantastic new volume in this richly fantastical series. – Sean Gaffney
Cells at Work!, Vol. 2 | By Akane Shimizu | Kodansha Comics – In this volume, food poisoning, heat stress, and cancer must all be fought off (with over-the-top carnage) by the brave members of the immune system brigade. This series is educational as well as entertaining, because now I can tell you that while eosinophil cells are not especially good at fending off bacteria, they kick butt at defeating parasites! I also adored the visual of baby cells on a conveyor belt, waiting to be sorted out by stem cells in nurse uniforms, and I am certainly not going to forget that any time soon. Though it’s true that not even a white blood cell and red blood cell can escape the manga trope of having met previously as children, this series consistently offers things I never expected to see or feel (such as sympathy for a cancer cell), which is much appreciated! – Michelle Smith
Complex Age, Vol. 3 | By Yui Sakuma | Kodansha Comics – Complex Age continues to get better and better, as it digs deep into the nuances and complications of Nagisa’s dedication to cosplay, even as her ideals and her reality are moving farther and farther apart. The fact that her mother offers the same reason as her motivation for giving up her Lolita fashions gives Nagisa much to consider. When she attends a class reunion and unexpectedly connects with a male former classmate, Senda, I was at first happy for her, as it’s her first relationship in a long time. Because he shares her love for Magi-Ruri, it seemed that perhaps he could appreciate her hobby. Not so, alas. This is a fascinating series that takes fandom seriously, and I am pretty anxious to see how it all plays out. – Michelle Smith
Complex Age, Vol. 3 | By Yui Sakuma | Kodansha Comics – Again, this volume not only examines the wisdom of enjoying your hobbies from a fan perspective—once again Nagisa is the belle of the ball until Aya appears—but also how it can impact your adult life. Last time it was the workplace, this time it’s relationships, as Nagisa hooks up with a classmate she met again at a reunion. The hookup is quite fast, probably too fast, and therefore it’s not a surprise to see things going south fairly quickly as well, mostly revolving around how the guy is OK with Nagisa cosplaying until he realizes she’s showing off her sexy body to guys who aren’t him. This series doesn’t pull any punches, and I’m genuinely intrigued to see what stand it eventually takes. – Sean Gaffney
Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear, Vol. 2 | By Masume Yoshimoto | One Peace Books – Thankfully, there are little to no explicit sexual references in this volume of Kuma Miko, and it is content to do what I expect most people want it to—it’s a goofy manga about an over-earnest young miko who has no idea how a lot of modern Japan does, and a talking bear who knows more than she does, but not much. Of course, Kumamura may be leveling up a bit in this second volume, as she reveals her deep knowledge of the local clothing store, which reveals that she probably could end up eventually making it on her own if she can get past her panic and nerves. The bear, meanwhile, makes gags, and mostly does them well. This is sort of cute, if not enthralling. – Sean Gaffney
Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn, Vol. 6 | By Shirow Masamune and Rikudou Koushi | Seven Seas – I debated simply copying and pasting my review of volume five to see if anyone noticed. It’s almost the exact same thing, only this time Clarion gets taken out by a superior enemy, and Nene, in going down after her, shows off once again how she’s not just your average girl with a full-body prosthetic. There’s lots of technobabble here, and a few amusing jokes. We again see that Nene’s obsession with Clarion verges on yuri even if it didn’t have the ‘activation’ fanservice. And there is a bit of Excel Saga mockery, as the main villain this time around talks about this world rotting, no doubt channeling his inner Il Palazzo. Pandora continues to be itself. – Sean Gaffney