This week, Michelle, Anna, Sean, and MJlook at recent releases from Yen Press, JManga, Dark Horse, and VIZ Media.
Alice in the Country of Hearts: My Fanatic Rabbit, Vol. 1 | By QuinRose, Delico Psyche, and Owl Shinotsuki | Yen Press – I think this is the fourth iteration of the Alice series to be released here, and so far it’s shaping up to be the best since the first at hinting ominously about the mystery of the world in which Alice finds herself and her relationship with her older sister. True, the first series actively focused on these things instead of on romance, but My Fanatic Rabbit does an okay job balancing Alice’s growing affections for Elliot with these other plot threads. Elliot here is rather different than we’ve seen him before, more of a blush-prone goofball who casually kills people on command, and frequently finds himself the unwilling victim of Alice’s ear-fondling attacks. I know, I know, I’m probably taking this all way too seriously, but I honestly found those moments seriously icky. None of that in volume two (which concludes the series), please. – Michelle Smith
Crazy for You, Vol. 4 | By Karuho Shiina | Shueisha/JManga – Oftentimes, the best shoujo manga has very little actual plot and instead derives its story from the characters’ evolving emotions. Crazy for You falls solidly in that category, though this volume boasts a little more plot than most, as it involves someone almost getting hit by a car. But for the most part, it’s about Sachi trying to forget about her feelings for Yuki and seriously consider Akihoshi’s confession and realizing the many subtle ways in which her feelings for the two boys differ. I’m also really intrigued by her friend, Akemi, whose “critical and serious” nature puts obstacles in the way of her happiness. As in her later series, Kimi ni Todoke, Shiina has created a complex character as her lead’s best friend, which results in some interesting new complications for this love polygon. There’s only two volumes left, and I’m highly eager to see how this story wraps up! – Michelle Smith
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 6 | By Miyoshi Tomori | VIZ Media – A Devil and Her Love Song continues to be a quirky and interesting read due to its unconventional heroine Maria, even as it moves forward with some fairly standard shoujo plot elements of love triangles, unrequited love, and revenge. This volume explores some mean girl antics as Maria’s friend Anna acts on her own feelings for Shin just as Maria decides to confess her feelings for him after being prodded into action by Yusuke. A Devil and Her Love Song leans a bit towards darker themes, as Anna actively prevents a deeper relationship from forming between Maria and Shin. At this point in the series as a reader I’m still undecided if I think Shin or Yusuke would be better for Maria, so I’m still actively engaged in wanting to find out what happens next. Maria’s forthright way of sailing through high school drama always produces some unexpected results, especially when she decides that she doesn’t care if she’s hated as a result of her actions. – Anna N
Oh My Goddess, Vol. 43 | By Kosuke Fujishima | Dark Horse Comics – Generally around Vol. 43 of a long-running series you’re looking for the little things, those moments of well-crafted story or amusing character development that remind you why you still read a series. This is especially true with something like OMG, whose romantic payoff – or lack thereof – is the stuff of legends. Thus, seeing Keiichi and Belldandy having to choose between who has to murder a demon. (Urd and Skuld, who have less scruples, are safely locked away for most of the volume.) The conclusion is foregone but welcome nevertheless. Then, their next opponent is the supposed final boss, which means things get serious. Seeing Keiichi’s arms and legs ‘lopped off’, even bloodlessly, is a bit of horror we’re simply not used to from this series. Another good reminder of why Oh My Goddess fans still read this. -Sean Gaffney
We Were There, Vol. 15 | By Yuuki Obata | VIZ Media – After becoming completely disillusioned by this series’ main romantic pairing in volume thirteen, I was swept right back up into it by volume fourteen, and this new (old) direction has not let me down, as volume fifteen finally really tackles the question of “Just what is really wrong with Motoharu?” The answer, of course, turns out to be both more complicated and more simple than Nanami or Motoharu could have imagined. The whole thing is gorgeous and heart-wrenching in exactly the way this series has always been gorgeous and heart-wrenching, and though it’s obviously winding down, I know I’ll be a little heartbroken when the final volume arrives next year. This series has been the shoujo romance closest to my heart, and after fifteen volumes, it has never let me down. Still recommended. – MJ