This week, Sean, Kate, and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and Seven Seas.
The Earl & The Fairy, Vol. 3 | By Ayuko & Mizue Tani | Viz Media – I’m afraid that Edgar and Lydia are not helping their causes when it comes to making me not want to strangle them. Edgar continues to be the sort of hero who hides everything that he does, no matter the reason, because it’s just his way. (To be fair, his upbringing likely invited this.) And Lydia keeps looking for reasons to mistrust him, and finding them, of course, as one does in a series like this. Also, despite the appearance of a bogey-beast partway through this volume, there was a lot less fantasy and a lot more romantic angst. The villain being a typical spoiled brat is also not helping its cause. I’m sure things will get more involved in the 4th (and final?) volume, but nothing in this one convinced me it shouldn’t have ended nicely with two. -Sean Gaffney
Itsuwaribito, Vol. 6 | By Yuuki Iinuma | Viz Media – Volume six of Itsuwaribito reads a lot like an early story line from InuYasha: there are killer dolls, a spider-like villain with eight arms, and a brother-sister pair who would give Kohaku and Sango a run for their money in the pathos department. Alas, that’s where the similarities between these two titles end. Though Rumiko Takahashi did a good job of allowing her story to unfold without too much authorial intervention, Yuuki Iinuma saddles his characters with info-dump dialogue and thought balloons filled with excruciatingly obvious observations. The result is a curiously unengaging story, devoid of suspense or shock; only the most inattentive reader will be surprised by the outcome of Utsusho, Yakuma, Neya, and Pochi’s battle with
Naraku the deadly spider demon. -Katherine Dacey
Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries, Vol. 1 | By Hey-jin Jeon and Ki-ha Lee | Seven Seas - A new manhwa series! And a mystery series, at that! As if that weren’t enough to entice me, we’ve also got an intelligent, clear-headed, marriage-averse young Victorian lady sleuth as a protagonist, and while that role might be rather cliché nowadays, it’s still a type that I enjoy reading about. Set in London in 1864, Lizzie Newton begins with the titular heroine attending a social function during which the hostess’ despondent brother turns up dead. Lizzie declares the feat a murder, though the obvious signs point to suicide, and then—with the help of her barrister suitor turned family steward, Edgar—conducts her own chemical experiments to confirm the evidence before calmly giving her testimony to an astounded Inspector who comes to call. Again, this kind of story isn’t exactly new, but it’s sort of… invigorating, all the same. I look forward to volume two! – Michelle Smith
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 7 | By Naoko Takeuchi | Kodansha Comics - This volume comprises the meat of the “S” arc, the details of which are quite a bit different in the manga than they are in the anime. What’s not different, though, is the dramatic goodness supplied by two groups of Sailor Guardians with opposing missions. Usagi is determined that everyone ought to fight as one, but the older and more powerful “outer” Guardians are equally resolved to save the world at any cost, even if it means taking the life of an innocent girl with the potential to bring ruin and destruction. There are Guardian awakenings, Guardian revelations, and Guardian power-ups in this volume, plus a healthy dose of Haruka awesomeness. (I’m especially fond of her obvious affection for Usagi.) Chalk it up to fangirl enthusiasm if you will, but after the somewhat yawn-inducing “R” arc, it’s nice to be excited about the series again. - Michelle Smith
Psyren, Vol. 6 | By Toshiaki Iwashiro | Viz Media – Having killed off the extremely likeable Elmore Wood kids easily in the previous volume, this one (now back in the past before that happens) gets to show off how they’re all actually really talented, so that it looks more impressive. Also impressive was seeing Ageha, up[on finding out that someone is going to die, immediately trying to change the future by telling them. He gets beaten up for this and told, essentially, “You can’t break the rules”, but I liked his moxie. If there’s a drawback here, it’s that this volume, which serves to develop the ‘normal’ world and show how folks can abuse psi powers, doesn’t really tie into the main plotline, leaving everything hanging a bit, Also, Sakurako’s barely in it. Still, if the excuse is ‘broadening the scope of the manga’s worldview’, it’s a good one.-Sean Gaffney
Toradora!, Vol. 5 | By Yuyuko Tamemiya & Zekkyo | Seven Seas – I’d mentioned that I loved this manga for Minori’s goofy moments, so imagine my surprise when it’s Kitamura who proves to be the complete whackjob here, showing us far more of himself than anyone wanted to see. In fact, Minori actually gets some angst here, as we’re starting to see that her outward personality hides some self-doubt and melancholy. Ryuuji’s advice to her is pitch-perfect, and shows who he’s still a harem lead even though he and Taiga are the obvious end couple. Speaking of Taiga, she’s mostly herself here, but gets a lovely moment when Ami and company go out for a girl’s day out, and Taiga comes along. For once everyone manages to have fun, and Taiga’s thanks is heartfelt – even Ami realizes it. This is a cliched title, but works as the characters are simply so likeable. -Sean Gaffney