manga bookshelf

Bookshelf Briefs 1/2/12

This week, Sean, Michelle, & Melinda take a look at recent releases from Viz Media, Yen Press, and Del Rey Manga.

Blue Exorcist, Vol. 5 | By Kazue Kato | Viz Media – The revelation from Volume 4 continues to reverberate in this volume, as now that Rin is known to be the son of Satan most of the class is treating him differently – even Shiemi, much to his dismay. To her credit, she at least realizes that what she’s doing is wrong. Still, it was nice to see Izumo step up and show she doesn’t think anything has changed. A lot of this volume deals with what Rin is supposed to be because of his heritage versus what he actually is in real life – as Rin notes, he did not personally destroy entire families, so why is he being blamed for it? Meanwhile, we meet Ryuji, Renzo and Konoekomaru’s families, and get into the next big plot point, involving the theft of demonic artifacts. As always with Jump titles, a lot of the time the resolution comes down to shouting at other people. But that’s OK, it’s still a lot of fun.-Sean Gaffney

Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 6 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – Much of tis volume has another old, tried-and-true trop from shoujo manga. We meet a girl, Kayako Hiragi, who would appear to be a new rival as well as a horrible person who sneers at Nanami and has no idea how she could possibly get anyone to follow her… then spend the next few chapters showing how this attitude is a facade and she’s really broken and terrified deep down. It works here because Suzuki is a good writer and because Nanami does not let lack of raw power interfere with her basic niceness. Of course, she also DOES show some awesome new power here. One thing to note: the scene with the black tar spider demon attempting to possess/eat Nanami was bad enough, but Nanami’s cry of “don’t come inside me” gave it an even creepier feeling I wasn’t expecting from a cutesy Hana to Yume manga.-Sean Gaffney

Kobato., Vol. 5 | By CLAMP | Yen Press – The fifth volume of Kobato. provides some long-awaited details concerning how supernatural being Iorogi found himself chaperoning human Kobato on her heart-healing journey while stuck in the body of a stuffed animal. Unfortunately, despite this information and some truly gorgeous illustrations, I still just cannot connect with this series. I just don’t care that Kobato has fallen in love with Fujimoto, the hardworking part-time employee of Yomogi Kindergarten, and I just don’t care that her failure to complete her mission and have her wish granted has some sort of unfortunate consequence for Iorogi and his former underlings, who spend most of this volume standing around telling each other things they already know in order to fill in background for the reader. The most intriguing aspect of the series continues to be the yakuza, Okiura, but he’s only around for a few pages. Still, I’ll read the final volume to see how it wraps up. – Michelle Smith

My Girlfriend’s a Geek, Vol. 5 | By Rize Shinba and Pentabu | Yen Press – There’s nothing too exciting about the conclusion to My Girlfriend’s a Geek, but I think it’s probably better that way. Instead of manufactured drama, there are chapters about Taiga allowing the BL story he wrote for Yuiko’s eyes only to be posted to a website, the continuing effort to figure out whether Taiga’s friend Kouji has picked up on his sister’s otaku interests or is just really dense, and the final story, in which Taiga concludes that, though Yuiko is kind of bizarre and manipulative, being her boyfriend is “not such a bad life really.” It’s a pretty satisfying ending, though I could’ve done without the side story, in which a BL fanboy coerces his roommate to partake in his hobby with lines like, “You will do as I say, or I will sell your soiled underwear to dirty old men!!” What a charmer! – Michelle Smith

My Girlfriend’s A Geek, Vol. 5 | By Rize Shinba and Pentabu | Yen Press – I really enjoyed Volume 4, feeling that it finally managed to give Yuiko enough depth so that we could accept why Taiga would continue to be with her despite simply liking her looks. I was hoping for more from this, the final volume, but instead it seems a bit more like “we’ve run out of plot, do a few more chapters then wrap it up.” Not to say there’s not interesting material here – I was highly amused at finding that Kouji sees his sister in such a set way that he doesn’t realize that in reality she’s MUCH WORSE – but the chapter focusing on two roommates who are a BL version of Yuiko and Taiga felt very tacked on and pointless. Luckily, the last chapter was rather sweet – it stems from Yuiko’s fujoshi tendencies, and intimacy is still some ways away, but I’m happy we got to know this couple, and pleased we got to read this amusing if cynical look at BL fans and the men who put up with them.-Sean Gaffney

Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 10 | By Yuki Midorikawa | Viz Media – This volume was a more slice-of-life turn from Natsume, as we see his attempts to help an old classmate who has fallen for a spirit, and impersonating a harvest god so that a local festival can go on. The latter is the far more dangerous task, and we get to see several action sequences that I’m not really used to seeing in this manga that’s usually more mellow about its yokai. This story also involves Natori and Hiragi as well, and I enjoy the way that Midorikawa-san draws their relationship. I also like the fact that the yokai are still not used to Natsume’s basic kindness and concern. Everyone continues to try to see an ulterior motive. Luckily, we have other characters to be the flawed types in this manga. Natsume’s just the upright noble lad – and we’re glad to see that.-Sean Gaffney

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 6 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – I generally try to avoid letting my shipping biases affect my reviews of any manga, so I will limit my discussion of the first chapter of Nura 6 to a brief SQUEE! and a note that Yuki-Onna really gets to be utterly badass. That said, the rest of the volume is not without its pleasures as well. The Tamazuki arc finally comes to an end, but not before he gets to show off exactly why he’s never going to beat Rikuo – the scene where he starts sacrificing his own Night Parade is chilling. The second half of the manga shows off Rikuo and his classmates investigating a rumored yokai at a coastal village, and features some chilling art – Shiibashi is particularly good at drawing good guys revealed to be bad guys in a creepy way. Nura is nice, solid Shonen Jump, and will appeal to those who enjoy Jump-type relationships and a more active yokai series than Natsume’s Book of Friends.-Sean Gaffney

Toriko, Vol. 7 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – After wrapping up their search for jewel meat (and saving Rin, who was not quite dead, as I suspected when I read Vol. 6), the majority of this volume shows Toriko on his own, accompanied only by his battle wolf Terry. Though it’s odd seeing him separated from pint-size best friend Komatsu, we do get a few character moments here and there – most notably Toriko’s hard love towards Terry, who has a tendency to try to protect Toriko from lethal creatures that Toriko doesn’t necessarily need protecting from. As always, though, the main reason to read this is to see what ludicrous food the author will come up with. BB Corn may look normal, but proves to be anything but – and we hear for the first time about what Toriko plans to make his entree. God. That is to say a food named God, before people start to panic. Still dumb fun.-Sean Gaffney

xxxHolic, Vol. 18 | By CLAMP | Del Rey Manga – One of several metaphysical themes that runs through the entirety of xxxHolic is the idea that time and place for are not things to be taken for granted. The series is filled with searching and waiting for that right time or place, and it tirelessly urges its characters to be patient as they endure. And though the series proper ended a couple of volumes ago, I find I’m grateful that it did not quite end, because watching someone like Watanuki actually learn how to wait has been a very special joy for me. To hear some factions of fandom tell it, I shouldn’t be enjoying this series anymore, but if anything, I’m enjoying it more than ever. Readers should not expect the kind of dramatic tension one usually finds in a series’ penultimate volume—that moment passed several volumes ago—but this postscript is well worth reading. Still recommended. -Melinda Beasi

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  1. […] I’ve actually quite enjoyed the series’ post-Young coda (see my thoughts on volume 18 here). Watanuki was my reason for reading from the very beginning, and he remains so to this day. I just […]

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