This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media, Seven Seas, and Kodansha Comics.
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 6 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – As the author notes in her final comments, this title was always meant to be a series of short stories with a pre-determined ending. That ending, of course, being ‘when will they finally get together?’ Well, they do in the end (though it’s fast – this ran in Margaret, so the lovemaking passes quickly by), after a fair amount of angst over whether an incubus can really be trusted, and whether Miko can really admit to her feelings. There’s a few nice fakeouts along the way to keep the drama going. The first half also features one of the sexiest ‘old man spirits’ you’ll ever see – but then this is Shinjo. A highly enjoyable series, with nice given-and-take between the two leads and little power imbalance. Also sexy. – Sean Gaffney
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 6 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – The fact that I forgot this series existed instead of anticipating the release of the final volume is really not a very good endorsement, but it still doesn’t change the fact that this is the best Mayu Shinjo manga I’ve read. (And, in fact, the only one I’ve bothered to finish.) True, some elements of the last chapter were a little convenient and/or predictable, but the ending is still satisfying. The best part of the volume, though, is the first story—about a neglected cherry tree and the desperate pleas of one girl to save it from being cut down. Logically, I know I shouldn’t get sniffly over obvious attempts to tug at my heartstrings, and yet I always do. So, if you’re looking for something a little sappy and a little smutty, check out Demon Love Spell. For a Mayu Shinjo manga, it’s not bad. – Michelle Smith
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends – Now With 50% More Fail! | By Chiruwo Kazehana and Shirabii | Seven Seas – This collection of short stories is basically a taster for those who enjoy the regular series but want a bit less plot (such as there is) and a bit more harem comedy. I could have done without the armpit fetish chapter, as well as the one examining Maria’s constant use of the word poop. As for the Yukimura chapter, it dances around the issue of gender so much that you get even more suspicious. The best chapters ignore the crass humor and go for showing how these disparate idiots really are bonding with each other as friends, even if they’ll never admit it All in all, though, I’d only get this if you have to have everything Haganai – it’s skippable. – Sean Gaffney
My Love Story!!, Vol. 1 | By Kazune Kawahara and Aruko | Viz Media – I am not shy about proclaiming my love of Kawahara’s High School Debut, and so it was perhaps a given that I would love My Love Story!!. I expected to be utterly charmed by the good-hearted, non-bishounen lead as he embarks upon his first love, and indeed I was, but I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that the series seems to be just as much about male friendship as it is about a sweet romance. Takeo isn’t adept at reading people, and so it takes him a while to realize just how good and faithful a friend Sunakawa has been to him all this time, and that Sunakawa has been doing his best to ensure Takeo’s happiness. If warm and fuzzy slice-of-life is your game, then I heartily recommend this series! – Michelle Smith
Sankarea, Vol. 7 | By Mitsuru Hattori | Kodansha Comics – I keep waiting for this to slide away from horror and into moe love comedy, and it never quite manages it. Sure, there’s a part here where a zombie little girl is introduced, and Furuya has to control his urge to snuggle up with her, but this is presented as actively creepy rather than lolicon fetishey. The rest of this volume amps up the horror even more, with even the hopeful bits (part of Rea’s brain is still alive, making Furuya wonder if she can be saved) having an edge of darkness to them – this darkness mostly being supplied by Darin’s eviler-than-thou father. Ending with a double cliffhanger putting Furuya’s life and Rea’s memory at stake, this is surprisingly gripping. Can’t wait for more. – Sean Gaffney