manga bookshelf

Bookshelf Briefs 6/10/13

btooom2BTOOOM!, Vol. 2 | By Junya Inoue | Yen Press – No, sorry. You don’t get to have vivid shots of “cool violence”, showing lingering closeups of blown-up corpses and a young deviant raping dead women, culminating in a teaser for the new volume whose entire point is “will this hot girl get naked and raped? Tune in to find out!” … you don’t get to do that and then have the hero go on about how violence is wrong and that it’s self-evident that Kira is a psycho. The manga itself is not practicing what it preaches, and there’s basically no reason not to identify with Kira rather than Ryouta if you’re a typical fan of hentai doujinshi where things like this happen. This *isn’t* hentai doujinshi, but it’s aiming for a similar market – guys who like sexy danger, sexy corpses, and sexy assault – and it’s pretty much lost me. Sorry, BTOOOM!. I’m sure your backstory is interesting, but bye. - Sean Gaffney

limit5Limit, Vol. 5 | By Keiko Suenobu | Vertical, Inc. – I admit I’m starting to hit my limit with Limit, and I’m a bit relieved that it’s wrapping up with Vol. 6. My main problem is that I don’t like Hinata that much – yes, he’s not supposed to be likeable here, but I don’t even sympathize with him in a “what a broken guy” way. I was bored to tears during his long monologue. Luckily, Konno is a far more interesting protagonist, and when she’s in control of the narrative things get quite good indeed – particularly the attempt on her life, which was probably the best scene in the book. I’m not entirely sure how this is going to end – it cold go either way, despite the occasional page or two we get devoted to the grieving families – but I’m hoping the final volume has put murder and long, tortured monologues behind it and gets back to a fight to survive. -Sean Gaffney

newmoon1New Moon, Vol. 1 | By Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim | Yen Press – Now several volumes in to Yen Press’ adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s incredibly popular Twilight saga, I’m more convinced than ever that graphic novels are the ideal format for her storytelling. Though Bella’s obsession with her controlling undead boyfriend is no less disturbing than it ever was (and New Moon, in particular, suffers from one of the most trying cases of Guy #2 in YA fiction history), without Meyer’s cringe-worthy prose dragging them down, these books are vastly more palatable than I ever dreamed they could be. Young Kim’s TV-pretty artwork continues to suit the story’s tone, and though some of the italic text in this volume is questionably readable, it’s possible we’re better off missing some of Bella’s internal narrative. If you’re looking for great girls’ comics, there are far better series available. But if you’re determined to read Twilight, this is absolutely the way to go. - Melinda Beasi

onepiece67One Piece, Vol. 67 | By Eiichiro Oda | Viz Media - When I recently talked about the first arc of the “New World” segment of One Piece for Off the Shelf, I described it as fun, but not the series as its best. The problem was that the characters weren’t invested with what they were doing. Happily, that changes with volume 67, which manages to not only be genuinely funny and absurd in several places—not the least of which is the fact that four members of the crew wind up swapping bodies—but also involves injustices that fire our heroes up (particularly Chopper). This is the best volume in a while, and on top of that, there’s some juicy political intrigue at the end when a fellow pirate proposes an alliance with Luffy in his plan to depose one of the Four Emperors. I have no idea if Luffy will go for it, but that could really take the story in an exciting direction! - Michelle Smith

oresama14Oresama Teacher, Vol. 14 |By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – This is my favorite stress-relief manga. The ridiculous comedic set pieces in Oresama Teacher entertain me so much that I don’t even mind the lack of forward -moving plot. In this volume Mafuyu manages to restore Kanon’s faith in the male species by saving her while dressed up as Natsuo, a scrappy boy student. Takaomi gives Mafuyu a lift back home for a school break, resulting in a ridiculous scavenger hunt on her old stomping grounds as a juvenile delinquent. We get a brief and hilarious glimpse into Mafuyu and Takaomi’s past, as we see her hanging out with him when she was a young girl and he was the revolutionary gang leader who united rival high schools. Overall, this was a fun volume to read, and Takaomi has been absent from recent volumes, so it was nice to see him more present in the story again. - Anna N

skipbeat31Skip Beat!, Vol. 31 | By Yoshiki Nakamura | Viz Media – I wonder if this arc is coming out due to Nakamura missing all the awesome blood and violence she used to draw with Tokyo Crazy Paradise? In any case, they’re still filming as Cain Heel and his sister Setsu, and Ren is still having tremendous difficulty dealing with it. The timing of the chapters here is quite interesting, really – several scenes are flashbacks later on, which allows us to get the maximum drama when Setsu walks in on a murder attempt. (Again, I note I have genuine issues with how the cast handles method acting, but pretty much have to let that go.) I’m also pleased we’re still seeing Sho here – he’s an immature brat, but as a character I love how he interacts with Kyoko. Far more than Kijima, who I merely find a smarmy bastard. Ah well, Skip Beat! 31 is fantastic as always. - Sean Gaffney

souleater14Soul Eater, Vol. 14 | By Atsushi Ohkubo | Yen Press – Another chapter of fighting, but things are starting to get a bit desperate – indeed, our heroes suffer a major loss (not a death, I don’t think, and I have no doubt this will be the next major “arc” of the series. The cover is quite stark and memorable, and reminds me that it’s the weird art that drew me into this series in the first place – indeed, the scenes with Soul and Maka as puppets is some of the creepiest stuff I’ve seen in Soul Eater, and this is from a series that had a snake crawling down a little girl’s throat. But they’ve finally hit Arachnae’s base, and Black*Star seems to have emerged victorious, so I suspect we may be nearing an ending of sorts. Excellent shonen with lots of fights, great characters, and weird stuff going on all the time. No surprise this is running in the same magazine that Fullmetal Alchemist did. -Sean Gaffney

thermaeromae2Thermae Romae, Vol. 2 | By Mari Yamazaki | Yen PressThermae Romae‘s debut volume was enjoyable, no doubt, but even as I reveled in Mari Yamazaki’s playful humor and detailed artwork, I’ll admit to having harbored grave doubts regarding its sustainability as a series. Gag manga in general tends to wear quickly with me, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much mileage a single gimmick could possibly provide, however beautifully drawn. I must now apologize for my lack of faith. With much study and obvious passion, Yamazaki-sensei has created much more than a gimmick with her time-traveling Roman bath engineer, and his story remains both genuinely funny and oddly moving—especially during this volume’s last few chapters in which Lucius has found himself trapped in modern Japan with no apparent means of return. And is romance on the horizon as well? Thermae Romae succeeds as both comedy and long-form storytelling—a rare combination indeed! Highly recommended. - Melinda Beasi

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Comments

  1. Glad it sounds like Thermae Romae’s second omnibus isn’t just more of the first and it evolves, that does indeed make me look forward to it!



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