This week, Anna, MJ, & Sean look at recent releases from Viz Media, SuBLime Manga, and Swedish publisher Nosebleed Studio.
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 4 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – Part of me reads Shinjo’s recent works with a feeling of wistful nostalgia for the more melodrama-filled antics of her earlier series. However, each volume of Demon Love Spell becomes more hilarious and disarming. This volume of the comedic supernatural romance features Miko and incubus Kagura temporarily becoming parents to a boy who appears from a peach, and Miko’s trip to the demon world features her being confronted with a parade of Kagura’s siblings, each more gorgeous than the next. This is one of those series that leaps up to the top of my to-read stack whenever a new volume arrives. Highly recommended. – Anna N
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 4 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – Now that Mayu Shinjo is no longer at Shogakukan and can’t just have everyone fall into the sack after 2 chapters (though you’d never know it by that seductive cover), she’s forced to find ways to have our heroes not going there. It’s especially amusing in this volume as the last few obstacles that are stopping them are getting removed; Miko now admits that she desires Kagura and is ready to give herself to him, and Kagura has admitted that she is different from his other conquests and he wants to marry her, not just screw her. Of course, this doesn’t mean anything happens. Between peach babies, bodyswaps, interfering fathers on both sides, and a swarm of amazingly sexy in-laws, Miko has her hands full here. But I’m OK with that, as this is the most fun I’ve ever had with a Shinjo series. – Sean Gaffney
Hide and Seek, Vol. 1 | By Yaya Sakuragi | SuBLime Manga – Despite some decidedly positive experiences with the works of Yaya Sakuragi, I can’t deny that my intense dislike of Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love caused me to approach this spin-off with great apprehension. With that in mind, I’m happy to report that I’ve been pleasantly surprised! Though Hide and Seek‘s carefree single dad, Shuji Tanihara, and reserved doctor, Takafumi Saji, represent fairly typical BL types, their characterization feels fresh and their slow-building relationship reads as nuanced and unpredictable, even within the predictable confines of the genre. Furthermore, the sex scenes actually enhance characterization and move the plot forward—something I’ve long stopped expecting in BL romance. If anyone ever told me I’d one day consider revisiting Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, I’d have scoffed heartily. Yet here we are. Unexpectedly recommended. – MJ
Kimi Ni Todoke Vol. 17 | by Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – Kimi Ni Todoke is one of those longer series that deserves to be whatever length the author wishes to stretch it out to, simply because the length of the series allows the reader to build up an affinity for all the characters and the manga as a whole is so well-executed. Sawako and Kazehaya’s relationship is under a bit of a strain, as he attempts to maintain distance between them out of respect for her naivete and she begins to worry that he doesn’t want to be around her anymore. Usually this type of storyline where the characters are kept apart because they aren’t really communicating can cause me to feel highly impatient, but Shiina’s slow, emotionally delicate handling of the situation just wants me to follow along with the progression of this relationship.
– Anna N
Slam Dunk, Vol. 30 | by Takehiko Inoue | Viz Media – When most long-running series come to a close after 30+ volumes I usually read the final volumes with a bit of relief, looking forward to the conclusion. I am actually extremely sad that this is the next to last volume of Slam Dunk, because I feel like there are so many other stories that could be told with these characters, 31 volumes is just scratching the surface. There are hints of a conclusion, as Akagi looks back over his career during a timeout and Rukawa continues to evolve on the court. I’m going to be sitting here impatiently waiting until December, because I’m worried that Sakuragi really did injure his back making a key play in the game. It is a shame that sports manga isn’t more commercially appealing in North America, but at least with this series we have the opportunity to read one of the best examples of the genre. Highly recommended as always. – Anna N
Swedish Manga Anthology | By Catarina Batista, Natalia Batista, & Joakim Waller | Nosebleed Studio – This anthology of three global manga comes from Nosebleed Studio, a group of Swedish artists who are not only influenced heavily by Japanese manga, but who have, in some cases, pursued publication in Japan. I mention this, because even in this anthology, which is deliberately Swedish-themed, there is a sense that the authors are writing for Japanese audiences. The book’s second two stories, Natalia Batista’s “Hearts of Midsummer” and Joakim Waller’s “Leo” both read right-to-left, as they would if they’d been intended for publication in Japanese. “Leo,” in fact, doesn’t read as something particularly Swedish at all, aside from the characters’ names, and could just as easily be set in Japanese school. The volume’s standout is Catarina Batista’s “Crying Wolf,” an anti-wolf-hunting story that manages to be more charming than heavy-handed, though all three are well-constructed and enjoyable to read. – MJ