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Pick of the Week: Post-NYCC

In the aftermath of New York Comic Con, we have no Bookshelf Briefs to offer this week, but we did manage to pull together a quick Pick of the Week! Check out our picks from this week’s haul at Midtown Comics below.

MICHELLE: Faced with yet another tough choice this week, I ultimately decided to award my pick to the seventh volume of Jun Mochizuki’s Pandora Hearts. Volume one introduced so many story elements at once that it left me baffled, but I’m glad I gave the story another chance because it has coalesced into an affecting tale with genuinely intriguing characters. True, volume six, wherein the gang heads off to visit the little sister of protagonist Oz—who, thanks to her brother’s stint in another dimension, is now older than him—at school and meets some new characters was not my favorite, but I have faith that it will lead somewhere interesting. That’s why I will most assuredly be picking up volume seven!

SEAN: I’m at NYCC, so this will be short. New Higurashi. Start of the Rena arc. Good stuff, go get it.

DAVID: There’s so much great stuff this week, with lots of new releases from Yen Press, a few choice items from Viz’s Signature line, and an always-welcome new volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack from Vertical, but I have to go with the book that it feels like I’ve been waiting for the longest, and that would be the second volume of Kaoru Mori’s Bride’s Story from Yen. I thought the first volume was faultlessly beautiful, and I’m eager to learn more about its can-do heroine, Amir. As was the case with Mori’s Emma, the plot here is less interesting than the meticulously rendered trappings and the small but very lovely moments that reveal character. With Mori, it’s always more about the harmonic elements than a traditional, central melodic line, but the ultimate effect is always fascinating to me. I really enjoy spending time in the worlds she creates.

KATE: A Bride’s Story is at the top of my must-buy list, too, but since David has so eloquently described the series’ charms, I’ll recommend the first volume of CLAMP’s Gate 7 instead. This long-delayed project was first announced at San Diego Comic-Con in 2007, and has undergone several transformations along the way. (Remember when it was going to be simultaneously released in Japan, Korea, and North America in “mangette” form?) The story is pure CLAMP: a shy teen is transported from modern-day Tokyo to a fantasy realm that’s under siege from ferocious monsters. Naturally, he discovers that he has skillz he didn’t know he had — would it be a manga if he didn’t have a few hidden talents? — and must decide whether to save the Earth or go home for dinner. If the cover art is any indication, Gate 7 will be a feast for the eyes, even if the plot mechanics are a little creaky. Kathryn Hemann, who blogs at Contemporary Japanese Literature, has a thoughtful early review that’s worth reading if you’re on the fence about buying it.

MELINDA: I’m a bit of a post-con zombie this morning, but since I see that my cohorts have already covered several of my top choices (Pandora Hearts, A Bride’s Story, and Gate 7), I’ll take a moment to put the spotlight on the penultimate volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack. This series is always a winner with me, but I’m especially interested in this volume’s final chapter, which reportedly comes in at something like 70 pages. Though short, episodic storytelling served this series well, I admit I’m thrilled at the prospect of digging in to something so substantial. Definitely a must-buy!

Readers, what looks good to you?

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  1. Tough choice for sure but I will go with volume 7 of Yana Toboso’s Black Butler. I admit that it is a series that I didn’t take to at first but after reading the second volume onward, I was hooked.

    Other great releases this week: Spice and Wolf, A Bride’s Story, Pandora Hearts, Yotsuba&!, and GATE 7.

  2. I didn’t know that Pandora Hearts is out. It is one of my favourite volumes. It revealed a bit about Jack’s past. Jack …. OH MY GOD, Jack, you are…. sorry my brain crumbled after reading chapter 65 and spoilers for chapter 66 and I’m still picking the pieces, don’t mind me. Another reason why I like this volume is that it introduced the Intention of the Abyss. She is the last important person that needed introduction, so all major characters are known…. wait, I forgot about Glen, but he is introduced in the next volume. And I found the cover interesting. The chains around Jack are the most broken. I still wonder what it might mean?

    Pandora Hearts is so absolutely awesome. You are happy to be just at volume 7, when I think that I need to wait a month for every new chapter I’m in agony, especially since the chapter 65 was nothing short of mind-blowing. I swear, if Jun Moczizuki keeps doing it so fabulously well, it will be the best shounen manga I have ever read in my life.

    SPOILERS from volume 7

    And it was interesting to learn that Alice and the Intention of the Abyss are twins. This give you a bit food for thought. After reading this volume I started to suspect that Jack killed Alice/The Intention of the Abyss. It would explain why Alice tried to strangle Oz when she encountered him for the first time. (The ‘dream’ Oz had in the first volume) She mistook Oz for Jack. If Jack killed her and she mistook Oz for Jack, it would explain why she says “I will never forgive you, never, EVER!!… Remember!! I will always find you wherever you may hide! Lament! Terror! Despair! I shall kindly teach them all to you…! and in your final moment I… …shall kill you by my own hand!! And she erased her memories, so it would explain why she didn’t remember it when she met Oz later on. The fact that she might have mistook Oz for Jack is reinforced by the fact that later on, when they are in Vessalius’s mansion volume 2 the Intention of the Abyss (once more?) mistakes Oz for Jack. At least it seems to be this why when she says “I have been waiting for you for a long …long, long, long, long, long, long, long time.” And she calls him her beloved, etc.

  3. Gate 7 is the only new manga I’m getting this week so it’s kind of my pick by default. I have been waiting for it, not sure about the story but the art at least shouldn’t be a disappointment.

  4. For me it’s got to Yotsuba & ! and my much beloved Kingyo Used Books both soothing, charming, and envigorateing and since I pre ordered Kngyo that should be comeing in the next few days yeah !


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