This week, Sean, MJ, and Michelle look at recent releases from Kodansha Comics, VIZ Media, and Vertical, Inc.
Fairy Tail, Vol. 19 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – I suspect that this arc will wrap up in the next volume, which is good. Of course, that means that this volume is all fighting, which is bad. Not that it makes for a bad volume, it’s just harder to know what to say about it. Our heroes get an assist from the Blue Pegasus Guild, who arrive to tell everyone how to defeat the bad guy. Jellal starts to remember some things – particularly Natsu hating him, which is sort of amusing. And Erza gets to kick ass, which is probably the main reason anyone reads Fairy Tail. There’s a cute little short story right near the end which shows Lucy putting Fairy Tail over love, to no one’s surprise. Overall, though, it’s a fighting volume, so sit back and watch the punches and magic as we crawl closer to a climax. –Sean Gaffney
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 3 | By Miyoshi Tomori | VIZ Media – Certain situations in stories (no matter the medium) never fail to make me feel antsy, and right at the top is “misunderstandings that could be cleared up by communication,” followed closely by “no no no, don’t trust that girl, something terrible is going to happen!” The third volume of A Devil and Her Love Song had me on edge because both elements are in play, as a superficially sunny student returns to class and proceeds to make herself appear to be Maria’s victim. One really does feel for Maria throughout, as she is honestly confused, and there are some great scenes where she gets support from the three friends she has thus far managed to make. Maria may be prickly, but she’s always honest and never fake, and this volume really makes it clear how much potential she has to be a truly fabulous friend. Heartily recommended. – Michelle Smith
The Earl and the Fairy, Vol. 2 | By Mizue Tani and Ayuko | VIZ Media – This volume of EaF is a bit darker than the first one, and there seems to be an air of melancholy about the whole thing. When one of our protagonists betrays Edgar, he seems less surprised than simply resigned. Unfortunately, we still don’t have a lot of his backstory yet. Which, while it adds to the air of mystery around him, makes him hard to take seriously as an ‘antagonist’. He’s not really bad enough for Lydia to be doubting him as much as she is, so we just end up frustrated with her. That said, the volume’s climax, with Lydia displaying some amazing gumption *and* cleverly resolving the whole ‘title’ thing, is well-handled, and actually makes the rewards feel earned. The volume ends with a brief tease for the future two volumes, but it also marks a good stopping place for those who find this series OK, but not great. –Sean Gaffney
GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, Vol. 3 | By Toru Fujisawa | Vertical, Inc. – It’s no secret that the first two volumes of GTO: 14 Days in Shonan were an unexpected success with me, so it should be no surprise that I had a similar experience with the third. Onizuka continues to be my new favorite shounen anti-hero even when he’s creepy, which is certainly the case in this volume. Thankfully, Onizuka’s creepiness is easily trumped by his badass brand of insightful compassion, though it’s worth mentioning that this volume’s most poignant moments belong to the White Swan kids themselves, whose tragic histories are laid out for us with honesty and true pathos. Less successful is a middle chapter revolving around the White Swan’s perverted headmaster, rendered tolerable only by its brevity. Fortunately, no amount of questionably tasteful vagina metaphors can cancel out this series’ general awesomeness. Still recommended. – MJ