manga bookshelf

Bookshelf Briefs 11/21/11

This week, Sean, Kate, & Michelle take a look at recent releases from Viz Media, NETCOMICS, Vertical, and Seven Seas.

Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 7 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – Well, we’d been waiting for a volume like this, and here it is. Mind you, it takes until the very end to finish pulling all its triggers. The start of the book is cute, funny, and has tinges of romance, just as this series has always done when it’s not trying to kill its heroine or dealing with backstory and intrigue. In particular, at first we think Akira is going to screw things up in a mild, typical shoujo way. His forced kiss, and Teru and Kurosaki’s response, are a real highlight. Then we get that 2nd half, where we discover the dangers of having your cell phone stolen. You could argue that Kurosaki is far too gullible, but honestly, he’s been telling himself for the last 6 volumes that he should suffer, so why are we surprised when he believes what he sees? And that cliffhanger? Oof. Volume 8 had better come soon and resolve this, or there will be a reckoning.– Sean Gaffney

Full House, Vol. 6 | By Sooyeon Won | NETCOMICS Smooching! Rescues! Revelations! Haircuts! This volume has it all. We open with our leads hiding out from Ellie’s kidnapper in a swanky house conveniently located in the middle of nowhere. As they settle into their temporary digs—including the cutest let’s-see-whether-this-expired-food-is-any-good scene ever—they grow closer, with Ryder finally sharing with Ellie the details of his first love, Jasmine. But because he believes he is dying of cancer, he doesn’t follow up on their connection and once the truth is revealed to him, Ellie has already determined to move on with her life. It’s melorama at its finest, but I enjoyed it tremendously. I also appreciate how much Ellie has matured since the start of the series and watching easy-on-the-eyes Ryder moon about over her is great fun. I only wish these volumes were available in print because this is the kind of series that lends itself to weekend marathons. – Michelle Smith

Princess Knight, Part One | By Osamu Tezuka | Vertical, Inc. – Osamu Tezuka’s Princess Knight wasn’t the first shojo manga, but it was one of the most influential girls’ comics in postwar Japan. The story focuses on Sapphire, a princess who’s raised as a prince so that she may inherit her kingdom’s throne. When her parents’ duplicity comes to light, Sapphire goes on the lam, using her expert swordsmanship to defend her subjects from the wicked Duke Duralumin. Though the series’ gender politics are dated — Sapphire wants nothing more than to be able to wear a pretty dress — it’s easy to see why this story has enchanted several generations of Japanese readers: Sapphire has swashbuckling adventures *and* wins the hand of Prince Charming. Long unavailable in English, the new Vertical edition is a marked improvement over Kodansha’s bilingual one from 2002, thanks to Maya Rosewood’s fluid translation. A must for serious manga fans. -Katherine Dacey

RIN-NE, Vol. 7 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – Like InuYasha before it, RIN-NE is like a manga sitcom, with a steadily growing cast of recurring characters who convene for different scenarios during which nothing ever changes about their interpersonal relationships. This volume features such stock settings as a summer festival and the beach, and none of the stories is really much of anything to get excited about. In fact, the final one, about a cursed crop of sweet potatoes (yes, really), is downright dumb. And yet, I can’t dislike this series. It just has this innate Takahashi charm that encourages acceptance of its weaker elements and compels me to keep checking in to see whether anything has actually really happened with the characters. I’m not sure whether I can recommend it to other people, but I’ll probably keep reading it. – Michelle Smith

Rin-Ne, Vol. 7 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – This volume is a nice breather after the last, and has no real overall plot development. It does have a bit of character development, as Rinne’s feelings, which were always fairly clear to begin with, are becoming very obvious to anyone not named Sakura. Aside from that, it’s a typical Takahashi volume – lots of really goofy ideas (the while sweet potato story is a classic “how did she even come up with that?” idea from Takahashi, some abuse of its heroes (Rinne can’t catch a break, of course, but Tsubasa and Ageha also get their turn being the butt monkey), and the occasional sweet moment as a bone thrown to longtime readers (the festival chapter). If you’re waiting for something to actually develop, you should look elsewhere, but for those Viz readers who can’t imagine not having a Takahashi title they’re collecting, Rin-Ne will serve admirably.– Sean Gaffney

Toradora!, Vol. 3 | By Yuyuko Takemiya and Zekkyo | Seven Seas – After Soul Eater, this may be my second title where I find I’m reading it primarily for the art. To be more precise, I’m reading it for the Kushieda gags. Kushieda is a complete flake, and whenever she gets a scene where she acts especially flakey, the artist decides to draw it in a completely different style. This gives us what appears to be sordid game-show contestant Kushieda and bancho Kushieda, both of whom are worth the price of the manga alone. That said, the plot going on here (seeing Ami’s true self, and getting her to stpo being the devious manipulator) is handled well, and Taiga is still incredibly tsundere without making you want to smack her, i.e. the best kind. One art drawback, though – the introduction of the student council president, who also appears to be Kitamura’s crush, is undercut by her resemblance to Ami – I got the two mixed up almost immediately. Still, can’t have everything, and Toradora! continues to be a fun romantic comedy. And love those poses.– Sean Gaffney

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