This week, Sean, Anna, and Michelle look at recent releases from VIZ Media and Vertical, Inc.
Jiu Jiu, Vol. 3 | By Touya Tobina | VIZ Media - The halfway decent second volume of Jiu Jiu must’ve been a fluke, because this one was equal parts confusing and dreadfully dull. It’s primarily about a meeting of the various hunter clan members, including the guy who used to be Takamichi’s fiancé as well as the guy who’s her current fiancé. Some family heads don’t approve of using mixed breeds as minions, but right when their actions are facing the most scrutiny, Snow and Night commit various acts of violence that I assume are provoked by jealousy (but it’s all a bit too muddled to be sure). I’m not even able to appreciate the occasional tidbits of fanservice, since I see Takamichi’s canine familiars more as “dogs who transform into hot boys” rather than the reverse. I’ve given it three volumes to snare me, to no avail. I think I may be done with Jiu Jiu now. - Michelle Smith
Limit, Vol 2 | By Keiko Suenobu | Vertical – Limit continues to be shojo for the person who is weary of shojo. There’s no boys on the horizon at all, and being stranded in the wilderness takes the typical high school centric plots out of the equation entirely. Suenobu continues to develop the different personalities and characters of the small group of survivors of a school bus crash. What I found most interesting in this volume was the way the horror of the situation really comes from within each girl. Survival depends on being able to drop the programmed responses that they’ve been taught by modern society. Kamiya is pragmatic almost to the point of being sociopathic, but her knowledge of survival skills and ability to handle the tarot Otaku with a sythe Morishige makes it seem like she’s best fit for survival. Usui’s weakness is her lack of self confidence, and her belief that the mean girl norms of highschool are going to continue indefinitely, and she ends up putting herself in a sticky situation. Konno’s dawning self-awareness and her reappraisal of the situation places her in conflict with Kamiya, but I wonder if Konno’s self-prized trait of being able to go with the flow will enable her to continue on as food and shelter remain scarce. I’m looking forward to volume 3! - Anna N
Oresama Teacher, Vol. 12 | By Izumi Tsubaki | VIZ Media – I must admit I’m not all that fond of the new character, Aki, who so far has proved to be more of a really annoying pest than anything else. But then, I thought the same thing about Yui at first, and now I love him to bits, the idiot. And speaking of idiots, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Okegawa, who now has to repeat a year because everyone around him is a dork. (But glorious dorks – the traps set up to stop him are the funniest part of this volume). There’s little plot movement here beyond introducing Aki, but I was pleased to see a few heartwarming moments involving Ayabe and his family (and a hint that the student council president isn’t as evil as he seems). Lastly, there’s even a brief feeling of Takaomi possibly getting jealous, and reinforcing his master-servant relationship with Mafuyu. As always, Oresama Teacher is PACKED WITH STUFF. -Sean Gaffney
Otomen, Vol. 14 | By Aya Kanno | VIZ Media – After adoring Vol. 13 and its Ryo focus, there was no way I wasn’t going to be let down by this new volume, which heads back towards its Otomen focus. That said, there’s stuff to like here as well. Kitora is the focus of the first half of the book, along with Juta’s tsundere sister Kuriko, who likes Kitora in the usual ‘constantly angry at him’ way. There’s also a genuine supernatural element to the chapter, which makes things a bit odder. I wasn’t as wild about the second half, as honestly the otomen plot is wearying, given that every single male character in the series is proving to be a secret otomen. One thing does carry over from last volume – Asuka is still uncertain about what he wants to do with his life, but is beginning to realize that he has to resolve things with his mother before he can move forward. Let’s hope that resolution comes soon. -Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, Vol. 2 | By Io Sakisaka | VIZ Media - Oh, Strobe Edge, you’re as sweet and insubstantial as cotton candy, but I still like you. In fact, sometimes my brain needs a comforting and thoroughly unchallenging high-school romance like this. In this second volume, Ninako is trying to move on from being rejected from her first love, Ren, and has asked that they remain friends. Meanwhile, she meets a flirtatious guy named Ando who is sometimes obnoxious and sometimes keenly observant, a trait that comes in handy when Ninako meets Ren’s girlfriend and learns that she’s super nice and cute. What it boils down to is… there’s really nothing new here. But what is here is well done and compelling and easily digestible. It’s like brain balm. I’ll definitely be continuing on. - Michelle Smith