SEAN: Back from the holidays, and back to a somewhat normal schedule for manga fans. This week sees lots of DMP, Vertical, and Viz, though I suspect that one other title will be getting some Pick of the Week notice…
First off, some new BL from DMP. Caramel looks to be about as sweet as its title judging from that cover, and is about an eldest son of four, used to taking care of everyone, becoming a live-in housekeeper… and presumably more.
MELINDA: Hm, that does sound kind of sweet, if generally unoriginal, but what else is new? I’ll probably try it out.
SEAN: I’ve Seen It All reaches Volume 2. The description of the series so repulsive to me that I can only hope that the series crosses the line so often it becomes comedic. The cover is not really helping me judge one way or the other. In the meantime, um… Melinda? Michelle?
MELINDA: I’m afraid I can’t help you here. I’m just as appalled by the premise as you are, and apparently I missed volume one. Wow.
MICHELLE: I had missed this one, too, and I’m awfully grateful about that. Also, I guess these’ll be the last DMP books to see print for a while, owing to the company’s recent announcement.
SEAN: Love Makes Everything Right. Office romance, sexual harassment, smug jerk on the cover… neeeeext?
MICHELLE: Ha! I was totally going to type “yawn” here. Clearly, we are on the same wavelength.
SEAN: Ninth Love Life is about a man who really loved his late cat (no, not like that) and when his cat gets reincarnated as a young man is happy that he can really LOVE his cat (yes, like that). Is it me, or are DMP’s titles getting weirder?
MELINDA: This one’s just weird enough to make me want to read it, so I guess there’s that.
MICHELLE: Ew, no. Also, this gives me flashbacks to The 9 Lives.
SEAN: As with all Fantagraphics manga choices, we’ve been waiting a long time for this one, mostly as the release date was moved about eight times. But it promises to be worth the wait. Heart of Thomas is a legendary proto-BL manga by Moto Hagio, set at an all-boys boarding school in Germany. It’s a complete in one hardcover, and is pretty much THE required purchase this week, even if you aren’t into BL.
MELINDA: I am so anxious for this to arrive! Michelle and I will be featuring this title in January’s BL Bookrack and I’m dying to see this in all its hardcover glory! It can’t ship quickly enough for me!
MICHELLE: What she said! And everyone should buy it so we can get The Song of Wind and Trees next!
ANNA: I am looking forward to this as well, more Moto Hagio is always a good thing.
SEAN: On to Vertical, who have a softcover edition of Tezuka’s Book of Human Insects, for those who may have missed the hardcover or just want multiple editions of one of Tezuka’s creepier anti-heroines.
MELINDA: I really liked this title–recommended!
SEAN: Speaking of Tezuka, there’s the 2nd and final omnibus volume of Message to Adolf, which is about 600 pages long and features a drooling Hitler on the cover. Perfect reading for public transport!
MELINDA: Heh, yes.
MICHELLE: I really liked Adolf, which is the title the series had when I read the old VIZ. I recall the ending wasn’t quite as good as the beginning, but there’s still some great ironic commentary on the futility of war. Definitely recommended.
SEAN: And there is the 2nd volume of Stan Lee’s Heroman, which I think appeals more to Stan Lee fans than manga fans, but is a good read for those who want to support Vertical but also need a book to buy a younger kid.
MELINDA: I wish I liked this at all. I really do.
MICHELLE: Me, too.
SEAN: And what would the first week of the month be without a giant pile of Viz? Bleach seems to have stopped double dealing every month, as we just get Volume 54, which features Rukia on the cover! I remember Rukia…
MELINDA: I haven’t read a volume of Bleach in a while…
MICHELLE: I’m not sure what to make of this latest arc, but at least the Hueco Mundo thing is finally over!
SEAN: Dengeki Daisy has mostly caught up with Japan, so this is the first volume in 6 months. As such, I’m really looking forward to it. The power imbalance between the main couple is handled very realistically and maturely, while still being quite romantic.
MELINDA: So, I missed a whole slew of this title’s middle volumes… is it worth trying to catch up? Your description here sounds like it might be.
SEAN: I think so, yes. Though there is a bit of episodic stuff, this has far more of a running plot, and as I said it has a fascinating relationship between the leads and their tragic pasts.
MICHELLE: I’m a couple volumes behind on Dengeki Daisy myself, but it’s pretty fun.
ANNA: Dengeki Daisy is one of my favorite ongoing shojo series, and I think it gets more emotionally complex as the series progresses. I think it is worth getting caught up on.
SEAN: Seeing a new volume of Hunter x Hunter (Vol. 29) so soon after the previous one is rather bizarre, and almost made me doubt the existence of reality. Luckily, the series is back on hiatus in Japan, so all is well once more.
Jiu Jiu Vol. 2 was somewhat better than a weak Vol. 1, and I hope the series continues its mild upward curve with Vol. 3.
MELINDA: Admittedly, I gave up after volume one. Perhaps I should try again?
SEAN: I’d hold off till we see what happens, to be honest.
MICHELLE: I liked volume two more, but that might’ve been the result of having low expectations going in. A vampire pig has joined the cast, if that’s any incentive.
MELINDA: Predictably, it is.
SEAN: I love Oresama Teacher, even if I think it’s wearing out its welcome among the many bloggers I follow. It helps that I don’t really mind the occasional suggestion of Mafuyu/Takaomi, and also that this series is not getting a romance anytime soon. Vol. 12 will no doubt continue to throw mid-level bosses at her like the previous few volumes.
MELINDA: This is another series where I missed some earlier volumes and am unsure whether I should purchase what I need to catch up. Thoughts?
SEAN: It depends. It’s really comedic – far more than most other shoujo out there – a lot of Osaka-style comedy yelling and running about, with many dense as lead students. Also, what very little romantic tension there is happens to be between Mafuyu and her childhood friend/tormentor Takaomi… who is now her teacher, and does not get nearly as many ‘pet the dog’ moments as, say, Kurosaki does in Dengeki Daisy. This has squicked some people who don’t want to invest in a long manga series in case it endgames that way. (Honestly, the series has so little romantic emphasis that I doubt that will be a problem.)
MICHELLE: I don’t know whether I’d advocate doing so or not. It’s episodic (and probably being made up as it goes along), so the quality is inconsistent. Sometimes I think it’s pretty dumb, but sometimes I think it’s a lot of fun and I’m quite fond of quirky Hayasaka.
ANNA: I’ve read all of Oresama Teacher and it is fairly episodic in terms of plot. You could probably pick up the last 2 or 3 volumes and get by with skipping a little bit. While it does meander quite a bit, I know I can always depend on this series for a regular dose of deranged comedy.
SEAN: Otomen 14 shows the series is still running (see? Told you!), though it will be ending in Japan soon. Given I basically got everything I wanted from Ryo and Asuka last volume, I suspect she’ll barely be in this one.
MELINDA: I loved this title so much when it debuted… then the episodic comedy format really went sour for me (as it usually does).
ANNA: I did too, and for some reason I have no problem with episodic comedy in Oresama Teacher, but don’t enjoy it as much in Otomen.
SEAN: Yeah, no one reads Otomen for plot resolution.
MICHELLE: Yeah. That’s why I’m not sure catching up on Oresama would be worthwhile for you. I’m quite behind on Otomen, but at least my local library carries this one so I can catch up without too much effort.
SEAN: Psyren 8 takes us back to the Psyren World, but… wait, wait, don’t page down! There’s actual interesting plot stuff happening among the dull boss fights this time. Honest!
MICHELLE: Here’s another one I’m behind on, but I do quite like Psyren!
SEAN: I mildly enjoyed Strobe Edge 1, and have good feelings about 2. That said, it’s not a series I got obsessed with after only one volume, like… well, like Dengeki Daisy, Oresama Teacher and Otomen.
MELINDA: Despite having spent most of volume one bored out of my skull, by the end I was really dying to know what would happen next. So I’ll be gobbling this up, I’m sure.
MICHELLE: I liked Strobe Edge more than you did, methinks, so I’m very keen to read volume two.
ANNA: I’m looking forward to reading this as well.
SEAN: And there’s a double shot of Stan Lee manga this week, as we get Vol. 8 of Ultimo. I’m sure Ultimo does cool stuff in it, because, y’know, Stan Lee.
MELINDA: More Stan Lee… why must there always be more Stan Lee?
MICHELLE: I have no idea. Are they trying to make Western comics fans like manga, or are they trying to make manga fans like Western comics? Either way, it feels like someone’s plan rather than a purely organic collaboration.
SEAN: Stan Lee and Moto Hagio’s collaboration next year will absolutely blow your mind! Kidding, kidding… ow, don’t hit…
SEAN: Any manga you desire after your New Year’s hangover? Or are you only getting a Pony comic?