This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, and One Peace Books.
Dawn of the Arcana, Vol. 12 | By Rei Toma | Viz Media - Things are happening quickly in this penultimate volume of Dawn of the Arcana, and when I say “quickly” I mean I was often left going, “Wait, what?” Last volume, Nakaba suddenly became quene of Senan, and here, without much preamble, she intercepts Caesar’s invading force (he was sent by his father) and, again without much preamble, they begin a revolution that swiftly ends with Caesar killing his father and becoming king of Belquat, just in time for a rather perplexing cliffhanger moment to ensue. I’m not saying that this isn’t good or interesting, because it is, but I can’t help but think how much better it would be if we were seeing some serious effort involved in these momentous undertakings. It could really have been something wonderfully epic, but in its current state it’s like Basara Lite. Still recommended, though. - Michelle Smith
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 3 | By Cocoa Fujiwara | Yen Press – There’s a lot of emphasis in this volume on both the wacky antics of the main cast and the heartwarming relationships between them. Ririchiyo is opening up more than ever, and starting to admit her feelings, though dealing with them is tough. And Carta is just adorable. And yet the entire volume feels ominous, as there are also several hints that this isn’t going to last, and in fact that we may lose some of the cast soon. The discussion about reincarnation in particular reads as a ‘let me tell you about this now as it will be important later.’ Complete with the ominous text at the end of the book, it would seem that all of the wacky and heartwarming moments in this volume may taste very bitter soon.-Sean Gaffney
No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!, Vol. 3 | By Nico Tanigawa | Yen Press – There’s both hope and despair in this volume of WatMote, which I enjoyed more than Volume 2. We meet a girl (seems to be a class president type) who actually seems to be looking out for Tomoko’s well-being, and we also see her genuinely enjoying the school festival with Yuu-chan. The despair comes from things like Tomoko’s teacher forcing attention onto her (which makes her cry she’s so upset) and the tragic fantasy of starting a ‘do nothing club’ with fellow loners, only to realize that even that isn’t real. There’s lots of funny stuff in this manga, but I think most people reading it are doing so with a bit of wincing sympathy and no small amount of worry.-Sean Gaffney
Sankarea: Undying Love, Vol. 6 | By Mitsuru Hattori | Kodansha Comics – Sankarea continues to be a balancing act between wacky harem comedy, heartwarming family romance, and pure undiluted horror. We get all three of those in this volume, as Chihiro deals with his zombified cat, Bub, causing havoc in a way he’s determined to fix (partly as he loves his cat, but partly as he worries it could happen to Rea). Meanwhile, Rea is determined to get Darin to act more like a normal 14-year-old girl. The big thing in this volume, though, is that Rea is different from the other zombies, as she did things out of order. How much of a difference this will make in the end I’m not sure, but given Rea and Darin are going to EvilCorp, I suspect next volume will be more serious.-Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, Vol. 10 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media - There never really was any uncertainty about how Strobe Edge would end, so in that respect it feels like it’s taken a long time to get here, especially with Ninako’s recent hesitancy to go for it with Ren because of how it might damage his friendship with Ando. And yet, because the series officially concludes halfway through this volume, it somehow manages to feel a little too quick, too. Weird how that happens. Happily, a bonus chapter at the end of the volume reinforces the ending, and gives us another glimpse of how well suited Ren and Ninako are for each other. There’s also a bonus chapter focusing on Ren’s small, enthusiastic friend Manabu, which would’ve been nice to see earlier in the series. All in all, not a surprising conclusion, but a satisfying one all the same. - Michelle Smith
Whispered Words, Vol. 1 | By Takashi Ikeda | One Peace Books - Kazama Ushio loves girly girls and is initially oblivious to the fact that her tall, athletic, and uncute best friend, Sumika Murasame, is in love with her. The moments focusing on the incremental progression of the central romance are the highlight of this 3-in-1 omnibus, but there’s also a lot of episodic randomness and unsuccessful attempts at comedy. I would’ve been disappointed had not Sean mentioned that the series is due to take a more serious turn; I predict that will suit me better. I’m also hoping for improved editing in volume two, because it was truly awful here. I lost count of how many times the wrong word was used (“through” instead of “throw,” “choose” instead of “choice”) or text was strangely formatted, but what really bothered me most were the numerous instances of untranslated dialogue. Get it together, One Peace! - Michelle Smith