It’s all Viz this week, as Michelle, Sean, & Anna take a look at several recent releases.
Arata: The Legend, Vol. 16 | By Yuu Watase | Viz Media – It’s hard to describe “that Shounen Sunday feel” to someone who’s never read a series from that particular magazine, but boy does Arata have it! This volume is a perfect example, in that the gang is theoretically doing something pivotal in collecting ancient musical instruments to battle a “demonized” Sho who uses sound as a weapon, but the majority of the enterprise is portrayed comedically, with one gag revolving around enemy attacks that gradually destroy the characters’ clothes, leading to a panel where Arata makes a heroic declaration whilst clad in barely there short-shorts. The whole thing has a certain Rumiko Takahashi vibe, where the interplay between the characters seems to be the main point, so it’s pleasant enough, but renders the cliffhanger ending kind of ho-hum. I’ll probably have forgotten all about it by the time volume 17 comes out in March. – Michelle Smith
Dengeki Daisy Vol 13 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – Dengeki Daisy has settled into a bit of a formula, but fortunately it is a formula that I love. The McGuffin in this volume is the last will and testament of M, but the team realizes that they’ve actually been manipulated into searching for it despite their misgivings. Kurosaki and Riko have a significant talk, and Teru finds one secret hidden in her cell phone, leading to the team getting some suitably bizarre, funny, and useful information from her dead brother, even though he did set up a strange funhouse scenario to put everybody through their paces. Dengeki Daisiy is reliably quirky and at times very serious and suspenseful, which is hard to find in shoujo manga land. Still very highly recommended. – Anna N
A Devil And Her Love Song, Vol. 12 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – Having wrapped up most of Maria’s issues in the last volume, we’re left with Shin, who is disgusted and ashamed with himself for not being totally self-sacrificing and pure. Thus, as he’s got to go to America anyway to get operated on, he decides this is a perfect time to split with Maria – this despite the fact that he notes to others he’ll love her for the rest of his life. Sigh. Needless to say, Maria is sad, frustrated and angry in equal measure, which all comes out at what may be the best Ave Maria performance we’ve seen the entire volume. It’s not all angst and depression – Maria asking her friends for advice about sex is quite funny, and I am intrigued to see how Maria’s burgeoning YouTube career will go. Still, it’s a good thing we’ve one volume to go – I want these kids to be happy, dangit. -Sean Gaffney
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 18 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – Because we need to get the backstory for the Hundred Stories group, this entire volume takes place in Edo Japan at the time when Nura’s father was a young and brash man stating to take up his new role as leader. It’s refreshing to see a few more glances at some other characters, particularly Rihan’s first wife Yamabuki, who seems to have a permanent attack of the melancholics, as well as a group of young kids who, because it’s easier to draw, bear a striking resemblance to our normal human cast. In amongst this walks Sanmoto, one of the more loathsome and disgusting villains we’ve seen in a series with no small amount of loathsome and disgusting villains. He’s entirely human, too… at least until the cliffhanger. A good solid volume for Nura fans. -Sean Gaffney
Skip Beat! Vol 32 | By Yoshiki Nakamura | Viz Media – Each new volume of Skip Beat! makes me cackle with fangirl glee. Emotions are running high in this volume as Sho exhibits his jealousy about Kyoko’s relationship with Ren, not that Kyoko will pick up on that. Ren’s carefully constructed psychological barriers are beginning to crumble, and Kyoko with her trademark insight into anyone but herself is able to quickly see that he’s not acting like “Ren” or “Cain” but as a third party that she doesn’t even recognize. While Ren is in a panic over Sho and Kyoko being in close contact again, he reveals his own insight into her personality, pointing out that she is in no way equipped to deal with men, and he knows that she still has some deep emotional wounds to heal from.Ren’s actually acting like himself for the first time in many years, which has me eagerly awaiting the next volume. – Anna N
Voice Over! Seiyu Academy, Vol. 2 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – I just can’t explain what it is about Voice Over!… As with volume one, the second is undeniably generic, but I can’t help liking it. Things get off to a slightly aimless start, with a plot in which the “stragglers” of the voice-acting program must help a visual artist find a new crush so that she’ll be inspired to create an anime for them to dub, but this ends up dovetailing into a new direction for Hime, whose talent for princely male voices is at odds with her desire to voice cute female characters. I’m not sure she’s ready to embrace her obvious true destiny yet, but she’s determined to make something of herself and cease being a disappointment to her mother, which leaves me cautiously optimistic that this series is about to get a little more focused; for now it’s earned a third volume read, at least! – Michelle Smith