This week, Sean, Melinda, & Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Seven Seas, Viz Media, and Vertical, Inc.
Alice in the Country of Clover: Cheshire Cat Waltz, Vol. 5 | By QuinRose and Mamenosuke Fujimaru | Seven Seas – Once again, we have half a volume of the main story and half a volume of a side story, though at least the side story is about Alice and Boris. Aside from that niggle, this volume has a couple of interesting things going on. Ace is back to being the psychopath I like after the miserable Ace of Hearts spinoff, noting he only loves Alice when she’s miserable and indecisive. We also see two faceless spies who actually seem to have motivation and an agenda, which gives a whole new impression as to the real roles of the faceless. Mostly, though, this is Boris and Alice still feeling out their new relationship: what I noted are the interesting irrelevant bits. Still worth getting if you don’t mind the romance and can put up with side stories galore. – Sean Gaffney
Limit, Vol. 6 | By Keiko Suenobu | Vertical, Inc. – The final volume of Limit is filled with dramatic, expository speeches that play to the back of the house. It is over the top, it is emotional, it is theatrical, and it has a truly ridiculous plot twist right at the end. Despite that, it’s also highly enjoyable and cathartic… precisely for those very reasons. No one wants a dull blase book about teens fighting for survival in the wilderness. Moreover, teenagers are by definition over the top, emotional creatures – heck, even Kamiya, the closest this series had to a stoic, is losing it by the middle of this book. And so we accept the ridiculous plot twists, and the drama. These are likeable characters put through the wringer, and I liked seeing how they all ended up by the end. Which I will try not to reveal here. I’m pleased that Vertical picked this up, though if it had been any longer I think I might have broken. – Sean Gaffney
Pandora Hearts, Vol. 16 | By Jun Mochizuki | Yen Press – The best description I can come up with for the events of recent volumes of Pandora Hearts is “dizzying.” And as if volume 15 weren’t painful enough, with its heartwrenching revelations and noble self-sacrifice, volume 16 shows absolutely no signs of relenting. Oh sure, there’s a brief interlude at the beginning in which it seems that our heroes are going to be able to have a moment’s peace to process what has happened, but this is quickly shattered by a thoroughly creepy meeting with their new nemesis, still more betrayal, followed by still more hints of betrayal to come, or at least of intentions concealed and origins heretofore unknown. Now I honestly find myself worrying about the allegiance of everyone Oz is associated with, particularly Break, who in the past seemed to be attempting to strike up an alliance with the Baskervilles. I’m genuinely on edge! Kudos to you, Mochizuki-sensei. – Michelle Smith
Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 2 | By Mizuki Sasakibara, based on the franchise created by Sunrise, Masafumi Nishida, and Masakazu Katsura | Viz Media – The beauty of series like these is that I get to write much less than usual, as the list of authors takes up half the review. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this volume of Tiger & Bunny – the art is sufficient, we get more of Barnaby’s backstory which I presume drives the plot, and I liked seeing that the other superheroes are all just as goofy as these two – but there’s nothing really that makes me want to keep reading more. It’s not gripping, and it still feels very corporate – for those who enjoyed the anime, here it is again in book form. Thus I’d recommend the manga for those who love Kotetsu and Barnaby, but it’s easily skippable for those who have no investment in it. – Sean Gaffney
Twin Knights | By Osamu Tezuka | Vertical, Inc. – In this sequel to the original version of Tezuka’s Princess Knight, Sapphire, now happily married to Franz, has given birth to twins—a boy and a girl. Thanks to an internal dispute over the right of succession, the two are separated, and the princess, Violetta, finds herself on an epic journey in search of her lost brother, Prince Daisy. Though Violetta’s path as a cross-dressing swashbuckler is exciting and thankfully devoid of the unfortunate boy’s heart/girl’s heart drama that so heavily compromised the feminist potential of Princess Knight, her ultimate destiny as a conventional princess feels a little disappointing, as does the silliness that so often overwhelms any truly empowering moments the book might have had. Still, Twin Knights is undeniably fun and action-packed, and its heroine is glorious, indeed. Quibbles aside, it’s definitely worth a look. – Melinda Beasi