This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media, Seven Seas, and Kodansha Comics.
Food Wars!, Vol. 2 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki | Viz Media – As I expected the fanservice that completely appalls me and causes my jaw to drop seems to be limited to one or two per volume. It just so happens that in Vol. 1 it was on Page 5. This means that most of this 2nd volume can show off its strengths, which are typical Jump: a collection of eccentrics who will become close friends, ridiculous food battles, and villains who will be humbled and no doubt end up siding with the heroes eventually. One of those villains gets the ‘I am having an exquisite orgasm’ art that’s de rigeur here, but as it’s at the end, I was prepared. I would like to see more of the supposed villain of the piece, who so far exists to be arrogant and not much else. But I’m sure that’s to come. – Sean Gaffney
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 9 | By Yomi Hirasaki and Itachi | Seven Seas – The big gender reveal that’s in this volume is not likely to be a surprise to readers who have been paying attention, and is a nice double subversion. The main surprise is that everyone is ignorant of it – usually in series like this it’s just our harem hero who is blissfully unaware of such things. But then Kodaka has always been a bit more with it. More interesting than this, however, is Yozora’s reaction to all this, as she almost has a temper tantrum. I do think Kodaka has the most natural chemistry with Sena, but that rarely wins the harem game, and Yozora’s emotional issues may end up being more interesting in the long run. Oh yes, and there’s fanservice here too, but at least it serves the plot. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 8 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – There’s a definite feeling of “moving toward the endgame” in this volume, as various obstacles to Chiwa and Hokuto’s relationship begin to fall away. First, Hokuto addresses the presumption that their marriage is a sham by resigning from the CEO position that the arrangement secured him. Next, Chiwa’s coworker finally gives up on her—not because of anything she says about the validity of her marriage, but because Hokuto firmly stakes his claim. (Grr!) Lastly, Hokuto achieves a measure of peace with his estranged dad. And though each new chapter introduces drama, it’s resolved warmly by the final page. The final obstacle is Shitara, a meddling ex of Hokuto’s who apparently has set some kind of stalker after Chiwa because she’s unworthy of Hokuto’s love. Honestly, it’s all pretty sudsy and melodramatic, but it’s a fun read and I plan to finish out the series. – Michelle Smith
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 16 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – There are quite a few balls in the air here, as the ‘trip to the past’ arc continues beyond what I was expecting, and it’s to Suzuki’s credit that she keeps everything interesting. The swap we knew had to be coming in order to keep Tomoe and Nanami in their OTP status comes off without a hitch, and if Tomoe is a bit excessively violent towards Nanami, well, he’s meant to be reformed by this, after all, and we are reminded how much he’s mellowed in the present. Nanami has always spent this series being a god, but here she goes way beyond what you’d expect in order to preserve what’s precious to her – even if it means creating precious hairpin time paradoxes. Still an excellent fantasy romance. – Sean Gaffney
Missions of Love, Vol. 9 | By Ema Toyama | Kodansha Comics – Toyama’s Manga Dogs series, which ran concurrently with this one for a period, has a lot of comedy, so it makes sense that it’s Missions of Love that gets to bring the melodrama. There’s lots of tortuous, heartfelt scenes here: the revelation of what drove Kirishima-sensei to say what he did to Yukina; Mami’s confession, the inevitable response, and her heartbroken aftermath. That said, the main pairing is ALMOST resolved here, Akira aside, and it would not take too much of a stretch to end it with Vol. 10. It’s 15+ volumes, though, so I’m pretty sure that the glasses-wearing villain we briefly see here will throw a giant monkey wrench into everything. Gotta keep the soap opera full of soap. – Sean Gaffney