Sean and Michelle present another round of Bookshelf Briefs!
Assassination Classroom, Vol. 6 | By Yusei Matsui | Viz Media – It’s unsurprising that there are people in Class E who are somewhat resentful of what Koro-sensei is trying to do. The entire class, as we’ve seen, is not of one mind, and Terasaka is perfectly happy scraping along at the bottom. Of course, Koro-sensei can win anyone over, though it also takes some tough love from Karma as well. Things are going pretty well for our heroes, though, which is why it’s time to introduce a new villain—this one the son of our main villain, the school principal. Asano is there to ensure that Class E does not make headway in the school exams. I’m not sure if he’ll succeed, as the class making headway would result in their promotion, which would make it hard to continue the series. Good stuff. – Sean Gaffney
He’s My Only Vampire, Vol. 4 | By Aya Shouoto | Yen Press – Aki’s pursuit of the seven stigmas needed to gain the power to wake his slumbering brother continues, despite the objections of a pair of angels, culminating in the acquisition of a third stigma and the apprehension of the serial killer who’s been on the periphery since the beginning of the series. This is an entertaining volume, largely due to some manipulation of shoujo tropes. A classmate goes missing, and ordinarily we would expect the heroine and friends to succeed in rescuing her, but that does not happen. Then we get the “our leads fill in for a school drama performance” plot, including Aki in drag, but this old idea is made fresh by the lurking supernatural menace. Of the three Aya Shouoto series coming out presently, I like He’s My Only Vampire the best. The tone is darker and more consistent and plotting feels more sure-footed as well. Recommended! – Michelle Smith
Kokoro Connect, Vol. 5 | By Sadanatsu Anda and CUTEG | Seven Seas – Being an ongoing light novel series whose manga was going to end here, I’m not surprised that Kokoro Connect has a very open ending that doesn’t really resolve the main love triangle or Heartseed. But it does continue to do what it does well, which is put its cast through the wringer—particularly Inaba, whose self-loathing turns out to be just as bad if not worse than Iori’s sense of self issues. The weak link here is Taichi, whose “knight complex” gets called out here without nearly as much development in the narrative. Still, it’s a solid ending that leaves things open for a second series (though one hasn’t happened as of yet in Japan). A surprisingly emotional romantic comedy with psychological underpinnings. – Sean Gaffney
Love at Fourteen, Vol. 4 | By Fuka Mizutani | Yen Press – As the focus expands slightly to show us other students in this series, it’s clear that not only do Kazuki and Kanata have the whole ‘mature’ thing going for them, but their own love affair is the only one that’s going relatively smoothly. There are issues like a need for closeness and face time, but given they’re both fourteen that’s understandable. To contrast this, we have the ongoing teacher/student relationship that knows it’s wrong but just can’t stop itself, the yuri writer whose Kanata fantasies are getting more robust, and the standard “why the hell won’t he notice me, dammit” girl who’s growing her hair out for the clueless guy she likes. Honestly, the main couple is the main reason to read this—the rest grates. – Sean Gaffney
QQ Sweeper, Vol. 1 | By Kyousuke Motomi | VIZ Media – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Here we have a Kyousuke Motomi shoujo manga featuring a custodian with past trauma for which he blames himself and the plucky orphan who is recruited to work alongside him. Happily, while there are obvious similarities to Dengeki Daisy, the tone of QQ Sweeper distinguishes itself nicely and its lead characters are distinct, as well. (Also, while Kyutaro describes himself as “the custodian of the Genbu Gate,” it’s not really a janitorial position.) I particularly like Fumi, both in character design and personality, especially her unabashed pursuit of a rich husband but unwillingness to get in the way of true love. I’m still positive she and Kyutaro will end up together, but for now I love that she’s not even considering him romantically, despite telling him “you’re special to me.” I really enjoyed this debut and look forward to more! – Michelle Smith