This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Kodansha Comics.
Blue Exorcist, Vol. 12 | By Kazue Kato | Viz Media – This volume essentially has two functions, both of which it performs very well. It gives some backstory and depth to Izumo, who has had a lot to do but whose past has been unclear to us. We get a big flashback here, and no surprises: her past was horrible. Now she’s been captured by the latest big villains, which include a surprising member. This betrayal comes as something of a surprise, and there’s no real sense yet that it’s for show and said person will really turn good later, so you can sympathize with everyone’s frustration. We also briefly see Lucifer, who makes a big impression by being able to terrify even Mephisto. Blue Exorcist continues to be one of the jewels in Viz’s shonen crown.-Sean Gaffney
Cage of Eden, Vol. 16 | By Yoshinobu Yamada | Kodansha Comics – I’ve always sort of sighed and shook my head at this series’ fanservice, but the cover of this volume actually caused me to let out an annoyed grunt. Women tied up and in peril while our heroes stand shocked and the villain sneers. Must we? Luckily, the content continues to be better once you get past this, as we continue to fight the evil doctor and discover more about the island – it’s seemingly near Japan, and the prehistoric animals we’ve seen (remember them?) all may have actually been part of a giant experiment. That said, we haven’t had a main cast death in a while, and it’s worrying. Is Kurusu-sensei the next one to go? Or will they be able to defeat their tormentor once more? Soap opera fun with much service.-Sean Gaffney
Nisekoi: False Love, Vol. 6 | By Naoshi Komi | Viz Media – Harem manga that are as balanced as this one are something of a rarity. While you get the vague sense that Chitoge will wind up the winner simply due to narrative structure and Japan’s love of tsunderes, it’s not obvious every single chapter like it is in many other series such as Love Hina. Chitoge may get to play Juliet in the end, but it’s Onodera who gets the bit rooftop romantic scene at the end. Speaking of Chitoge, her realization that she loves Raku leads to their biggest fight, as he hasn’t realized much of anything, so can’t understand why his words are hurting her. There’s nothing new and unique here, but it’s well-written and makes you like everyone, which is always nice to see in a romantic comedy like this. – Sean Gaffney
Oresama Teacher, Vol. 17 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – The last few volumes of Oresama Teacher have been consistently good—maybe it’s time to officially come down in favor of the series. In volume seventeen, Yui has been blackmailing members of the Public Morals Club in order to get them to quit, and eventually realizes he’s been using Miyabi’s orders as an excuse not to have to think for himself. Honestly, it was predictable that Yui would repent and seek to rejoin his friends in the club, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying. Plus, there was pigeon symbolism! Too, I like that Miyabi seems to actively be trying to help the members of the student council change. Could he actually be a decent person? His cryptic warning about Hayasaka is pretty durn intriguing, too. Translation: bring on volume eighteen! – Michelle Smith
Rin-Ne, Vol. 16 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – As Rin-Ne heads towards its anime, which is finally happening sometime next year, the plot seems to be moving slower than ever. Is there even a plot? Most of the volumes have included something that advances plot and characterization even if it’s only in a token way, but this one consists entirely of unconnected one-shots. They’re well-written – Takahashi may be trying to be a hack here, but she can’t quite pull it off – and I enjoyed the humor, but it’s telling that this review sounds exactly the same as the last 10 reviews of Rin-Ne I’ve written. At least the anime won’t have to worry too much about ending differently than the canon – judging by this volume, any resolution is a long way away. – Sean Gaffney
Spell of Desire, Vol. 2 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – I ended up liking the first volume of Spell of Desire more than I expected, and it’s probably because of that that I ended up being disappointed by volume two. There’s just not a lot of plot here, until the very end when Kaoruko and Kaname are summoned before the black witches coven. Before that, it’s pages upon pages of Kaoruko reflecting rhapsodically—usually with teary, heavy-lidded eyes—upon Kaname’s kisses and trying to convince herself that what she feels for him is due to the magic power compelling her to reciprocate. When she finally admits to herself that she loves him, it’s a relief rather than any sort of revelation. I suppose something more interesting could happen in the next volume, but now I really wouldn’t bet on it. At least this series is only five volumes long. – Michelle Smith
UQ Holder, Vol. 3 | By Ken Akamatsu | Kodansha Comics -Akamatsu may begun this sequel to Negima by telling fans most of the girls they loved were dead, but that doesn’t mean he’s totally moving on. His grandson here shows off his new use of Magia Erebea, Negi’s signature powers, and though he has no idea what they are he can use them instinctively. Meanwhile, one of the villains turns out to be a frustrated idealist who found he couldn’t compete with the ungodly powers of Negi’s generation – watch for silhouettes, fans of Zazie, Mana and Chachamaru. That said, this is still Tota’s story, and he gets to show off, while Kuromaru continues to wrestle with gender issues and Karin faces a villain who can be very clever about getting rid of her. Good action shonen. – Sean Gaffney