This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Seven Seas, and Viz Media.
Bloody Cross, Vol. 1 | By Shiwo Komeyama | Yen Press – Has there been something missing in your life ever since JinJun Park’s Raiders came to an end? Well, you’re in luck, because Bloody Cross is here to fill that void! Seriously, with its stark black and white artwork and religious themes, I was getting some major Raiders flashbacks while reading this! Tsukimiya and Hinata are mixed-race angels who have been placed under a deadly curse by God and they’re working together to break it, even if it means double-crossing each other at every opportunity. There are some elements I’m not fond of—Tsukimiya is a half-vampire angel because of course she is, not to mention the random fanservice and infantile female demon foe—but I was genuinely surprised by the way the volume ended and I think I may have to check out volume two just to see how Tsukimiya and Hinata get out of that predicament. Not quite recommended, but not bad, either. – Michelle Smith
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 5 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – I am beginning to suspect, especially given the cute little omake at the end of this volume, that this will be one of Shinjo’s titles where the sex doesn’t arrive till the very end. Which is fine, particularly if the storyline remains as strong as the one we see here. Kagura and Miko move out to their own place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting it on – her father is still wary of trusting an incubus. But Kagura is easily the least jerk-like of the Shinjo heroes we’ve seen translated over here – ironic, given he’s a demon – which makes it easier to deal with both of them getting jealous over the course of this book. All this and an interesting dovetailing of demonic possession and the entertainment industry, where people will likely not realize you’re different. This is Shinjo’s best Viz series to date. – Sean Gaffney
RIN-NE, Vol. 13 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – “Pleasant but pointless” is how I would sum up this most recent volume of RIN-NE. True, one might apply that label to most of the series, but volume twelve did have the Black Cat Ranking Exam, which was a nice change of pace. Volume thirteen features one-chapter cameos by antagonists like Masato the devil and Rinne’s deadbeat dad and introduces a supremely unfunny sibling duo that specializes in scythe modifications, including one made of bonito flakes that helps cat spirits pass on. (That bit, at least, was kind of cute.) Nothing is outright bad, but I do have to wonder how Takahashi’s editor keeps from yawning when ideas for new chapters are proposed. Perhaps Takahashi is so revered—and her sitcom stylings so familiar and comforting—that no one minds when her stories go nowhere. And, really, I guess that’s why I’m still reading, too. – Michelle Smith
The Sacred Blacksmith, Vol. 3 | By Isao Miura and Kotaro Yamada | Seven Seas – There’s a fair bit of fanservice here, and gratuitous dressing up as maids (very common in fantasy not-quite-medieval stories). But there’s also a lot of worldbuilding, as the arrival of a young woman and her entourage proves to be far more serious than I had initially thought. The selfish ojou front quickly drops away from Charlotte, as we see the desperate young woman beneath, and the bond between her and her three guardians is very well told. There’s also some excellent action sequences here, as Cecily takes on said guardians in an indoor battle that destroys the building but saves the day. All this plus an ominous warning of a future bad guy. Of Seven Seas’ recent fantasy titles, this has been far and away my favorite. -Sean Gaffney
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy, Vol. 2 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – I was pleased that the first half of this volume fleshed out Hime’s group of ‘misfits – indeed, the male love interest barely appears in this volume at all. Instead, we continue to show that despite her dreams, Hime is at her best with male roles – something underlined by her posing as a male at the end in order to satisfy her producer’s plans. On the more dramatic front, her mother proves to be the classic horrible shoujo mother as seen in so many series, and the sadness comes from seeing how Hime has grown so used to it that it doesn’t even register as sorrow anymore – just a weary determination to one day show her mother she’s not useless. Even Haruka, the aforementioned producer, is taken aback – and knows that to succeed, the first step for Hime is to get out of that house. Mission accomplished. -Sean Gaffney