It’s a VIZ-and-Kodansha kind of week here on Bookshelf Briefs!
Kiss Him, Not Me!, Vol. 3 | By Junko | Kodansha Comics – I will attempt to be fair to Junko here and note that there is simply no way that a shoujo title like this, running in a mainstream magazine, is not going to keep the girl slim and cute at the end of all the fuss. That said, after a very interesting arc showing Kae gaining back all her weight, and the horror of most of her wannabe lovers at said sight, followed by realizing that it’s Kae herself, not her cuteness or slimness, that’s important… it feels a cheat to have her magically lose the weight AGAIN. But then this is a comedy first and foremost. That’s why Nishina is a Takarazaku lesbian—it just fits right in with the silliness. It’s fun, but I fear that depth is not really something we’ll get from this title. – Sean Gaffney
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 16 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – After a volume that focused on Alibaba, it’s appropriate that this volume is dedicated entirely to what Aladdin’s been up to at Magi’s equivalent of Hogwarts. (Theoretically we should get Morgiana after this, but I’m not holding my breath.) It has its own version of Dumbledore, as well as Draco Malfoy (though Magi’s Titus is won over to the good guys in barely 75 pages). And, as we’ve seen throughout Magi, we find an underclass of suffering people who are holding up those in power, something that Aladdin is not going to let stand. I’m not sure how this will play out, especially given the brainwashing class our heroes end up in at the end of this volume, but it’s always worth reading. – Sean Gaffney
My Hero Academia, Vol. 3 | By Kohei Horikoshi | Viz Media – There’s a nice combination of our heroes trying to save themselves and the mentors coming in to bail them out, which is just about right given they’re facing off against major-league villains, who seem to have mysterious backing. That said, I can’t help but worry that it’s only volume three and we’re already seeing a Tournament Arc. Of course, it’s quite fun so far, with Midoriya showing off how well he can strategize (and admit how lucky he got as well). I was also pleased to see one of the other heroines, Uraraka, admit that she wants to be a hero to earn lots of money. Now, it’s to help her family admittedly, but I always like seeing superheroes who aren’t entirely 100% justice warriors. Solid volume. – Sean Gaffney
My Little Monster, Vol. 12 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – I thought I’d be a little sad when My Little Monster wrapped up, but the ending is such a great one (and, besides, there’s a thirteenth volume on the horizon) that ultimately I just ended up being grateful this series exists. What I liked best about the volume was how the passage of time is evoked with many pages of nonverbal storytelling—in some of them one can just about hear the dialogue, especially when Natsume teases Yamaken-kun about post-makeover Shizuku’s cuteness. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I’ll reiterate how satisfying and comprehensive the conclusion is. Even Nagoya isn’t left out! I have really, really enjoyed this series and will miss keeping up with the lives of these well-realized characters. – Michelle Smith
One Piece, Vol. 77 | By Eiichiro Oda | VIZ Media –Volume 77 begins and ends with tragic backstories—Trafalgar Law’s was expected, but who knew Señor Pink had hidden trauma?—and in between we move between the various battles to take out Doflamingo’s underlings, some of which are better than others. Even though Oda regularly depicts impossibly buxom women in skimpy outfits, I’ve never had a problem with the way he treats female characters until this volume, which features Baby 5 and her troubling acquiescence to the decrees of men and Rebecca’s dad telling her, “I will never let you swing a sword again!!!” after she has expressed the desire to fight. At least Bartolomeo has the sense to think, “Oh man, it was so presumptuous of me to think I needed to protect [Robin].” Also, I have completely forgotten what’s happening with Nami, Chopper, and the rest of the gang. I hope this arc wraps up soon! – Michelle Smith
QQ Sweeper, Vol. 2 | By Kyousuke Motomi | VIZ Media – I can’t deny that one major plot point of QQ Sweeper has been pretty obvious from the start, but seeing it confirmed here was still very satisfying, especially Kyutaro’s reaction. More, though, I really loved that this time Fumi has found people who are equipped to help her, not only with the curse she appears to be under, but by giving her a purpose—a way to save people instead of jeopardize them. Seeing her so happy that she was able to do a good job in ridding a student of the malevolent influence she believed she’d caused made me truly care about her as a character. I’m really, really enjoying this series so far. I’d be extra sad that there’s only one more volume if I hadn’t just learned there’s a sequel. Huzzah! – Michelle Smith
Toriko, Vol. 32 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – It’s getting very hard not to suggest that the manga’s title change to Komatsu. Yes, Toriko gets to show off his fighting skills—and losing skills, to the point where he apparently has to call in his emergency backup evil personality. But it’s Komatsu who gets the emotional win here, managing to get himself to “Air” and figure out the best way to prepare it, allow everyone a chance to help get it to that point (showing off some more truly silly foods), and carve it perfectly with his new knife, to the point that it allows a creature who hasn’t had a successful pregnancy in ages to give birth. Honestly, Komatsu has done so much lately in Toriko that I worry he has to be kidnapped or killed off just to balance it the other direction. – Sean Gaffney