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Pick of the Week: Balanced Diet

We’ve got a hefty haul at Midtown Comics this week, ranging from classic staples to contemporary 4-koma. Check out the Battle Robot’s picks below!

MELINDA: Heavy shipping weeks like this are nearly as tough for me as the bleak ones. From such a bounty of manga, I hardly know what to choose. As a bit of a completist, though, I admit I’m drawn to big finishes, and we have a pretty spectacular one this week. I’m speaking, of course, of the final volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack, arriving at Midtown Comics this week from Vertical. Based on the Akita Deluxe Edition mapped out by Tezuka before his death, along with three additional stories in the hardcover special editions of the first three volumes, Vertical’s collection is one of the most comprehensive in any language to-date. Above all, though, Black Jack is just a really great comic, and it’s pretty thrilling to have so much of it available in English, produced with the kind of loving care that Vertical gives to all its licenses. This final volume also features an appendix at the back, containing the original publication dates of the stories contained in Vertical’s editions, as well as a chronological listing of every story in the series, including those that were “sealed” by the author. For any fan of the series, this volume is a must-buy.

DAVID: I can’t say that this particular arc of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece has been my very favorite ever, but a middling patch of One Piece is still superior to the vast majority of comics. I suspect that the 59th volume will be one of those heartbreakers that Oda can pull off when one least expects it. And I’m sure there will be some callback to it about six or seven volumes down the road that will break my heart all over again. For those who aren’t up to date, Luffy has been fighting like a demon to save his brother from execution, and, being Luffy, he’s ignited a huge war between the navy and pretty much every pirate in the world without even trying. We’re nearing the conclusion of that and – hopefully – the return of the regular supporting cast. I miss the Straw Hats something awful.

KATE: Though I heartily second Melinda’s choice of Black Jack, my pick goes to Dawn of the Arcana, a new Shojo Beat title. Most early reviews were tepid, with critics grousing about the pace, the poor integration of the fantasy elements, or the author’s over-reliance on types (e.g. Brash Jerk with Heart of Gold, Fawning Admirer Who Would Throw Himself in Front of a Bus for You). Those are fair criticisms of Arcana, but I liked it nonetheless, as it features the kind of steely, smart heroine who can think her way out of a tough situation, rather than relying on her fists or her feminine wiles. I also happened to like the story’s brisk tempo; the author allows important information to be revealed through the natural unfolding of the story, rather than assaulting the reader with lengthy monologues about the setting or the characters’ histories.

MICHELLE: My pick this week goes to the seventeenth and penultimate volume of Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club. I’m not blind to the flaws of this series—I groan often at the episodic hijinks—but I still nurture very fond feelings for it, and each volume usually contains just enough romantic progress from the two leads to leave me satisfied as I begin the long wait for the next installment. I can only assume that as the series draws nearer to its conclusion we will see less comedy and more romance, which will make me happy indeed. I love Haruhi and I really love Tamaki, so I want to see those kids work it out already!

SEAN: And I will likewise pick a final volume, though this series does not quite have the blogger cred that Black Jack does. But K-On! has been improving volume by volume, and in the 4th and final volume (for now) of the cast’s exploits, we see the cast trying to deal with passing their exams, getting into the right colleges, playing their final school concert, and dealing with the worst horror of all – the school play! There’s still plenty of laughs here (I love the chapter where everyone thinks Ritsu has a secret boyfriend), but the emphasis is on adorable and heartwarming, with a few tears sprinkled throughout. It probably won’t change anyone’s mind if they hadn’t liked what came before, but for those who did, this is the best of the four volumes. See you in University!

Readers, what looks good to you this week?

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  1. I orderd K-On volume four so glad to see SEan picked and I got cvolume five of Blood Aone (although I feel like I should apolgize to Kate for criticizeing her review of volume 1-3 becuese some of the interactions between Karou and Misaki just made me uncomfortble) wich was good but knowing where two volumes away from when it went on Haiatus so who knows what will happen other than that not much waiting for the last volume of FMA and that’s it.

  2. Dawn of the Arcana sounds like the type of shoujo series I’d like, I’m going to give it a try sometime in the near future. The funny thing about K-On! is that I watched the first season of the anime and found myself bored…but then someone put the manga in my hands and somehow I loved that EXACT same content way more in manga form! I guess I think K-On’s plot stands out best in the 4 panel form (whereas I definitely prefer Lucky Star in the anime form over manga form). I let myself fall a bit behind in Host Club, I’m going to catch up again at some point. As for Black Jack, I’m actively reading and enjoying this series. And well One Piece is my all time favorite series, so my opinion of this story arc goes without saying.

  3. Man, I just love the cover for the final volume of Black Jack! It’s possibly my favorite cover that Vertical has thus far put out, I think it’s just genius! I still need to get 16 and then when I get 17, Black Jack will be complete on my shelf! Will get Princess Knight soon enough too! My Tezuka shelf is starting to explode and I say let it!

  4. Balanced DIET! »

  5. My pick of the week is volume 10 of Natsume’s Book of Friends. This series still succeeds in touching me, though I am usually not big on supernatural stuff. A big fan of Natsume and Nyanko-sensei.

    I enjoyed the first volume of Dawn of the Arcana. Liked Nakaba as a female lead and I am interested to see how her relationship with her husband, Ceasar will develop. I am also interested to know more about the characters’ pasts.

    Unfortunately, I am not enjoying Ouran High School Host Club as much as I used to. I am still collecting it given that I have all the volumes that have been published that it would be a waste to drop it when it is just nearing the end. While I like Tamaki and Haruhi, I feel that this series has been dragging on and that it should have ended a few volumes early. Volume 17 was good and touching in a way and I am glad that the next volume will be the last. It is obvious that we will get a happy ending.

  6. I am entirely blind to all of Ouran’s flaws (I realize they’re there, I just cannot be made to see them) so I am beyond stoked to buy this volume the second I can get to a bookstore.

  7. Ah, Ouran—- I liked you a lot better back when it WAS all wacky hijinks in the clubroom. I don’t like the way the romance between Haruhi and Tamaki is playing out. >_> I was in it for the comedy and the Haruhi-Is-Being-Awesome-ness, and both have lacked since the romance really kicked in.

    But argh, this week! Too many of my Viz staples are coming out! >_< I guess I'd have to go with Kamisama Kiss, Blue Exorcist, and Sakura Hime, since none of them made it on to ya'll's list and they deserve more love. Although, funnily enough, I haven't read any of the previous volumes I have of the later two. After finals, when I finally get time to read again, I'm sure I will enjoy them. ^_^

    Looking forward to Dawn of the Arcana as well! It looks like something I would like.


  1. […] and the Manga Bookshelf bloggers include several final or penultimate volumes in their latest Pick of the Week […]

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