The Bookshelf brigade brings you beaucoup des briefs!
Bodacious Space Pirates: Abyss of Hyperspace, Vol. 2 | By Chibimaru | Seven Seas – This is definitely one of those movie adaptations where they assume you know everything about the source, and having not seen the BSP anime yet, I did feel at times like I was missing something. It also feels a bit cut short, but that’s not uncommon for movie adaptations. The humor is very well done, though, with Chiaki’s horrible day, and Grunhilde’s play script to allow for dramatics. In the end, though, it’s the story of a young boy and his feelings for his father, as well as that father’s legacy. It shows space is cool, computer viruses and conglomerations are bad, and that goodness and rightness will always win in the end. This was fluff, but pretty fun. -Sean Gaffney
A Centaur’s Life, Vol. 7 | By Kei Murayama | Seven Seas – I’m quite fond of manga that transcend genre and surprise you, but I think A Centaur’s Life may be taking it a bit too far. Some of the chapters are terrifying, such as the alien invasion story taking place in this world’s equivalent of the deep south (complete with casual racism by the father figure), and a land-grabbing story which seems to show that the snake people are literally infiltrating in order to gain some sort of political advantage? But then there’s more scenes of toddler centaurs using the toilet, and I just throw my hands in the air. Some of the cute stuff is quite cute, mostly involving the teenager monster kids—I liked seeing Nozomi’s rival/twin—but honestly, this series needs focus desperately. -Sean Gaffney
Evergreen, Vol. 3 | By Yuyuko Takemiya and Akira Caskabe | Seven Seas – The angst is dialed back a bit in this volume (though there’s still a fair amount) in favor of heartwarming first-love type scenes, with Hotaka and Niki finally together and being self-conscious, blushing and adorable, as most teens are. More surprising to me was that On-chan wasn’t a nickname, but her real last name—and that she is at least able to admit to herself, and Soga, that she likes him. Which comes as a surprise to Soga, and possibly the reader. The trouble is he’s the sort to push people away, and he does so beautifully here. The bigger trouble is that next volume is the last, and I think it has a bit too much plot left to wrap up smoothly. We shall see. -Sean Gaffney
Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 7 | By Aya Shouoto | VIZ Media – It’s hard to believe this series is nearly over! Time surely flies. It’s also impressive just how much it has improved over the course of its run. Now I actually kind of care who Anise ends up with romantically, and was completely surprised by a plot twist that, had I been inclined to think critically, I might have seen coming. There’s a nice dramatic atmosphere to this volume, too, with much emphasis on this being their “last day,” so it seems as though the story will barrel on through to its conclusion, leaving behind the unfunny comedic gags that bothered me about early volumes. I’m pleasantly surprised to be looking forward to the finale. – Michelle Smith
Library Wars: Love and War, Vol. 14 | By Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa | Viz Media – This volume contains all the thing I love about Library Wars: romance, action, convoluted statements about censorship, and evil being foiled. The Library Forces continue to advocate for an author who is being censored by trying to smuggle him out of the country. In the process Dojo gets wounded and Kasahara is left to deal with the situation on her own. As a librarian, the reference to IFLA amused me greatly. This series is might not be the flashiest shoujo series but it is consistently good, and I put down each volume with a smile. – Anna N
Maid-sama!, Vols. 3-4 | By Hiro Fujiwara | VIZ Media –Although I lost count of how many times Usui put his hands on Misaki without her consent, these two volumes seemed to tone down his obnoxiousness level to some extent. Oh, he still attempts to be controlling, but the emphasis is more on Misaki being capable in her own right, and there were even a couple of moments between them that I liked. (I liked the “girls are not weak and delicate” message, too.) Still, I can’t help but feel that a character as great as Misaki really deserves to be in a different manga with a better love interest. I would be super happy if she were completely unaffected by his overtures and just called him out for being a tremendous ass, but alas, that is not how shoujo manga works. I hope my respect for Misaki can make it through this series intact. – Michelle Smith
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 1 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Yen Press – I’ve been looking forward to Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun for a long time, and it didn’t disappoint. Talented artist Chiyo Sakura has a crush on brawny Umetarou Nozaki, but when she attempts to confess her feelings, he thinks she’s a fan of his manga and recruits her to be his assistant. This is a 4-koma manga, so what follows are strips about Nozaki coming up with ideas, being inspired by kooky classmates, trying to grasp the logic of dating sim games, and accidentally drawing BL doujinshi. The layout and sensibility are 4-koma—thus far, most characters have a single personality trait—but it also is basically telling a chronological story, which I like. While it might not have made me laugh outright, I did smirk and snerk often, and I will definitely be continuing with this one. – Michelle Smith