It’s a strong week for manga at Midtown Comics. See the Battle Robot’s picks below!
SEAN:God, I’ve missed Onizuka. My pick this week is the first volume of the ‘interquel’ GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, a 9-volume series that is supposed to fit in towards the end of GTO proper. The cast of the main series get a brief cameo, but the meat here is Onizuka arriving in a new neighborhood and having to deal with a new bunch of delinquent kids. And he is up to the job – for all his perving about getting laid (which he never does), or constantly getting into fights and winning despite severe injuries (I wince at every head blow he takes here, for reasons obvious to a seasoned GTO reader), the series in the end is about Onizuka caring about kids – the ones who used to be just like him – and showing them that the world isn’t as bad as they think it is. Whatever his motivations may be, he’s a wonderful teacher of the human spirit. Great to have him back.
KATE: With so many awesome titles arriving in stores this week — Bride of the Water God, Dawn of the Arcana, GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Natsume’s Book of Friends, The Story of Saiunkoku — it’s difficult to limit myself to one. But if I *had* to pick one, my choice would be volume 20 of Slam Dunk. Takehiko Inoue’s deep affection for basketball is evident on every page; he immerses us in the game play to such a degree that the reader feels like she’s on the court, too, searching for an opening to the basket. Inoue’s affection for his characters is also evident on every page; even when they’re the butt of jokes, we still root for the Shohoku team to resolve their personal differences so that they can best their opponents. Slam Dunk places more emphasis on gameplay than Inoue’s other basketball manga, REAL, but is worth seeking out, even if you’re can’t cite Paul Pierce’s free-throw statistics for the 2009-10 season.
MICHELLE: I really, really love Slam Dunk, so I second Kate’s recommendation even while casting my own vote for volume one of A Devil and Her Love Song. This debut, about the attempts of an honest-to-a-fault girl to make friends in her new high school, surprised me by being far more than its comedic-seeming premise—and a couple of stereotypical-looking male characters—initially suggested. Maria is trying so hard, in her stoic way, and I found he way that she keeps desperately believing that things will work out to be very endearing. The supporting cast has some depth, as well, and I’ve heard good things about what’s to come. Definitely a very strong start to a promising series!
MJ: This week’s haul is pretty impressive (I really did love A Devil and Her Love Song), but I’m going to cast my vote for the sixth volume of The Story of Saiunkoku. Even if it wasn’t a smart, funny series with lovely period dressing and a truly awesome heroine, it would still be the series that inspired one of my favorite reviews ever. (Thank you, David!) Seriously, it’s just a charming, charming manga. And I’m a whole volume behind, so I’ve got extra shopping to do!
BRIGID: I could have gone for any one of the above, but since you all got there first, I’ll give some love to vol. 7 of Kamisama Kiss. I like Julietta Suzuki’s simple style and her sense of humor, and even if this is a story that has been told before, she puts a few new twists on it.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?