This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media.
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 2 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – As ever with the josei series we’ve seen Viz license in Shojo Beat, this second volume is dedicated to much angsting and lying to oneself. Unlike most Shojo Bdeat series, all the angsting ends in a fairly hot sex scene, which actually feels earned, mostly as we do get to see both Kaya and Kyohei making the same journey. Kaya “But I’m just a secretary” drives the first half, and Kyohei’s “Vampires should not love humans” drives the second, but they’re essentially the same concerns; each is losing themselves to the other, and it’s scary. I am pleased that we continue to focus on how good the two of them are at their jobs, and I suspect that Kyohei’s family will play a larger role as things go on. In the meantime, enjoy all the fretting and frothing leading to a whole lot of pleasure for all concerned. – Sean Gaffney
Psyren, Vol. 13 | By Toshiaki Iwashiro | Viz Media – I like the fact that so much attention is given in Psyren to showing us how the villains came together as a team. Usually the heroes band together with the power of friendship, etc., so it’s nice seeing it coming from the other side, with folks having agendas other than ’cause we’re evil like that’. Also, given Jump action series almost never really focus on the romance, I also liked seeing Sakurako freaking out at what her alternate self did with Ageha, even if it was played for the broadest comedy. (As was Maria being jealous, which was also very cute). Then it’s back to the Psyren world for more fighting, as things get livened up by the addition of a genuinely unhinged serial killer on the villain’s side – the flashback to his victims being found is chilling. Hopefully the series cam keep the momentum going, next volume looks like all fighting. – Sean Gaffney
Rin-Ne Vol. 13 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – Never let it be said that Rumiko Takahashi’s comedy hasn’t been consistent as we travel from UY to Ranma to Rin-Ne. Her characters are funny because they are all gloriously selfish asses who are truly horrible to each other for the most petty reasons. There is the occasional heartwarming bone thrown here, but even then you never know when it will be yanked away from you, as with the chapter with Rinne’s horrible father. Even Sakura gets in on the act, not having issues with Rinne being a thief, but musing he wouldn’t be so bad at it if he were. Even the ghosts everyone is helping are petty, vindictive and shallow. If I hadn’t been reading Takahashi for almost 20 years now, I’d be fairly repulsed at this entire cast. As it is, it feels like putting on your favorite old electric blanket. – Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, Vol. 7 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – One of the things that makes Strobe Edge so great it’s that it’s often sweet, but never sappy. Some of the best moments occur when mature-seeming character show their vulnerabilities and insecurities to the select few they care about, which means these scenes area always firmly rooted in character. The primary focus of this volume is the growing closeness between Ren and Ninako and the latter’s unwillingness to let go of their friendship to try for something more, especially since she knows Ren is still sad after breaking up with his girlfriend, unlike the other girls in school, who are eager to nab him without truly knowing him. Then there’s Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, who is worried that her current boyfriend has fallen for another girl just like her last one did. I suppose there’s nothing really new here, but it’s done so well that I just don’t care. – Michelle Smith
Sunny, Vol. 2 | By Taiyo Matsumoto | Viz Media – How does one craft something that’s sad but simultaneously uplifting and charming? Introspective and yet a page-turner? I have no clue, but thankfully Taiyo Matsumoto does and has instilled those qualities in Sunny. I especially love that the kids in this series (who live together in a group foster home) are not idealized. They tell lies, act tough, fail to show gratitude for their caretakers, and hang out with the wrong crowd but Matsumoto shows us the vulnerabilities that make them behave this way. One can’t help but feel for them, with the painful truths they’re confronting at such a young age. My favorite chapter involves relative newcomer Sei taking the latest arrival under his wing, only to say goodbye when the boy’s mother actually keeps her promise to come for him. It’s just beautifully done all around, which is yet another reason why you should be reading Sunny. – Michelle Smith