This week, Sean, Anna, MJ, and Michelle look at recent releases from Dark Horse Comics, VIZ Media, Kodansha Comics, and Vertical, Inc.
Blood-C, Vol. 1 | By Ranmaru Kotone, based on a concept by Production I.G. and CLAMP | Dark Horse Comics – I haven’t read any of the Blood the Last Vampire/Blood+ series that this one is supposedly part of, but I think I get the gist. A cute clumsy girl is revealed to be the last stand humanity has against demonfolk who are attacking innocents, which she then kills with her big sword. Most of this first volume focuses on her cute and sweet classmates (who will no doubt die horribly), except for one sullen guy who avoids her (who screams ‘love interest’) The battles are OK, and the character designs are sort of CLAMP-ish, but I won’t be trying any more of this for one big reason: I was bored to tears reading it. Every single page of this reeks of media tie-in, and not the good kind. Readers who like CLAMP are advised to get the Tokyo Babylon omnibus instead. – Sean Gaffney
Dawn of the Arcana, Vol 9 | By Rei Toma | VIZ Media – Nakaba’s powers of magical vision have revealed the depth of Loki’s feelings to her, and to her credit her reaction is to be very concerned about all that her faithful servant must have suffered, both due to his actions in shielding her from harm and Nakaba’s ignorance of his emotions. There isn’t much time to dwell on romance, as the political situation in Lithuanel grows even more tense, and Nakaba sees how scheming royalty use the life of an Ajin to bolster the succession. Nakaba and Caesar’s relationship is stronger than ever and I hope Loki is able eventually to find some sort of happiness. Dawn of the Arcana continues to be an entertaining fantasy manga, made more interesting by Nakaba’s use of her powers. – Anna N
A Devil and Her Love Song, Vol. 7 | by Miyoshi Tomori | VIZ Media – A Devil and Her Love Song is unique in the way that emotions that tend to be buried in more typical shojo series are drawn out and discussed in detail. Here Maria is dealing with the fallout of her friendship with Anna, relying more on Yusuke (at his insistence) but still being drawn towards Shin despite his attempts to distance himself from her. The manipulations of a voice coach who seems to take a marked interest in Maria makes it seem like he will play a larger role in upcoming volumes. This series continues to be a go-to read when I want a manga packed full of drama, with a few sweet moments along the way. – Anna N
Fairy Tail, Vol. 24 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – We’ve finally come to the end of the Edolas arc, with Natsu resolving things with his usual straight-ahead heroics… or in this case, villain posing. The next arc will show the characters competing in a battle to be the next S-class wizard, which promises to shed some light at last on Cana, who’s mostly just been “the pretty alcoholic” till now. But most folks remember this volume for the BIG SPOILER. I have no issues with the spoiler itself – god knows I’ll do anything for my happy endings. That said, the premise behind it coming about does require a large amount of disbelief suspension in a series that already has issues with that sort of thing. As for how it affects future volumes, who knows? After all, the extras already hint that Mashima has rewritten his future outline to be quite different from his original plan. – Sean Gaffney
Limit, Vol. 3 | By Keiko Suenobu | Vertical, Inc. – Out of the three currently-available volumes of Keiko Suenobu’s Limit, the third is perhaps the cruelest (and certainly the best). Things begin on an unexpected upswing, as most of the group begins to recover their humanity in the wake of unstable Morishige’s fall from power, which is solidified further by the appearance of another surprise survivor. But as Morishige’s mental condition deteriorates, things eventually become more frightening than ever which, by Limit‘s standards, means quite a bit. I left this volume experiencing a hopeless, sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach that felt far more real than it should have. And isn’t that a shining example of the power of good fiction? This series continues to become more compelling and addictive with each new volume. Wholeheartedly recommended. – MJ
Strobe Edge, Vol. 3 | By Io Sakisaka | Published by VIZ Media – I am officially beginning to love Strobe Edge, by which I mean I’ve developed an affection that goes beyond simply being happy to see that a new volume has come out. Slowly, and whilst tip-toeing around some stock shoujo scenarios, Strobe Edge has grown more compelling with each volume. The love… shape between Ninako, Ren, Mayuka, and Ando grows more complicated and painful, and is so well done that any accusations of this being “generic” shoujo should be firmly squashed by this volume. Not only do I love that Ren’s friends are becoming concerned that maybe he does like Ninako, but I love that Mayuka is intimidated, too, and now we have two thoroughly likeable girls both in love with the same boy and feeling awkward about the presence of the other in his life. This is so much better than malicious rivals or wacky hijinks! Highly recommended. – Michelle Smith