Sean and Michelle are briefin’ it again with titles from Seven Seas, Kodansha, and VIZ.
D-Frag!, Vol. 6 | By Tomoya Haruno | Seven Seas – This is a gag comedy, one that mostly revolves around a few tsukkomis among a large group of bokes. As such, it amuses me when this is lampshaded over and over—Kenji is told that, more than the loud people fighting, it’s his constant comebacks that are causing a headache; and we meet Kenji and Noe’s mother, who proves to be just as much of a straight man as they are. In fact, this volume may have TOO many new characters—the cover shows “Kussie-sempai,” a girl with a creepy expression but good intentions, and we also meet Roka’s younger (and much taller) sister, who has a huge sister complex. That said, who all these people are isn’t important—they’re all funny, and that’s what counts. – Sean Gaffney
Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 6 | By Aya Shouoto | VIZ Media – There’s no denying that Kiss of the Rose Princess has on occasion been kind of lame, but I find that I’m less critical of its flaws these days. It’s not merely that I’ve given up on expecting it to be something it isn’t, though that’s part of it, but having defined villains to go up against—the fake rose princess and her four fake (though no less bishounen) knights—and the romantically suggestive scenes that inspire various of Anise’s knights to achieve their “first awakening” power-ups have provided new energy and focus that is decidedly welcome. Okay, true, I am still utterly baffled as to why these fellows all love her, and it seems pretty obvious who she’s going to end up with in the end, but I think the series deserves credit for its improvement. Now I’m genuinely curious to see how the story is going to wrap up. – Michelle Smith
Love Stage!!, Vol. 3 | By Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou | SuBLime – So far, Love Stage!! has been about 99% love, 1% stage. In this volume, Izumi makes his celebrity debut and the job offers start pouring in, but we don’t see what comes of any of that. Instead, he spends most of the volume figuring out just exactly what it is he feels for Ryoma, whom he learns had to work quite a bit harder than he let on to get Izumi’s favorite mangaka to give encouraging feedback on Izumi’s laughably lame manga creation. I do like how they finally get together, especially Ryoma’s happy tears, but dangit, I want to see some acting! As it stands, Love Stage!! is a pleasant though fluffy BL romance, but I keep wishing for it to go in the “Izumi finds the thing he was destined to do” direction. Maybe it still will, now that Izumi and Ryoma are an established couple, but I’m not holding my breath. – Michelle Smith
Non Non Biyori, Vol. 2 | By Atto | Seven Seas – I really do wish this cast was just a little bit older—Hotaru being an eleven-year-old with the body of a seventeen-year-old for fanservice purposes will never stop being creepy —but that’s probably the only annoying thing about this peaceful, character-driven slice of life series. The ‘in the middle of nowhere’ aspect still takes precedence—there’s a very funny chapter dealing with waiting for the last train home, and Renge’s older sister trying to show off how awesome everything is in the big city where she goes to school (only to be undercut by Hotaru being an actual city girl). It’s not on a level of Yotsuba, or even K-On!, but it’s friendly enough, and despite the attempts at mild fanservice there’s no indication anything genuinely untoward will happen. – Sean Gaffney
Requiem of the Rose King, Vol. 2 | By Aya Kanno | Viz Media – Richard in this manga is being redone from the ground up—not just because of the ambiguous gender, which is made even more ambiguous in this volume, but because Shakespeare’s Richard III was a villain from the moment he was first seen on stage in Henry VI Part 2, and only got worse as he went along. We’re meant to feel bad for this Richard, though, whose grief and rage lead him to taking the life of a soldier with a family—and then becoming an unstoppable monster of death. Henry and Margaret, on the other hand, are dead-on in the way they’re portrayed from Shakespeare. This is well done, but I suspect folks unfamiliar with the original may end up getting more out of it. – Sean Gaffney
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 4 | By Miki Yoshikawa | Kodansha Comics – Now that we’re actually talking about witches, they’re popping up more and more frequently. Here we see Meiko, who has the ability to form a sort of telepathic hivemind, and Maria, who can see the future (much to her detriment). That said, what the creator is really good at in this series is making every situation far more complicated than it first appears, for maximum frustration and embarrassment to all involved. That said, we may be running into a bit of a problem—everyone here is too nice for their own good, and Yamada is perhaps the worst offender. The drama arrives quickly but leaves just as quickly. This is a series in desperate need of a larger villain. – Sean Gaffney