This week, Michelle, Anna, & Sean look at recent releases from Yen Press and Viz Media.
Demon Love Spell, Vol. 5 | By Mayu Shinjo | Viz Media – Miko’s father allows his daughter and Kagura, the lecherous incubus, to move out together, but not only will he be withholding financial support, he also places a curse on Kagura’s nether regions that prevents the advent of sexy times. Miko is determined to become more powerful than her dad so that she can break the curse, and it’s nice to see both her abilities improving and a teenage girl with a healthy interest in getting it on with her hot boyfriend. Briefly it seems that she and Kagura will be opening a demon consultation office, but this gets derailed when Kagura becomes a pop idol to earn money and various jealousies and complications ensue. Demon Love Spell may not be the best shoujo manga I’ve read, but it’s definitely the best Mayu Shinjo manga I’ve read, by a wide margin. I think I might even go so far as to recommend it! – Michelle Smith
Magi, Vol. 3 | By Shinobu Ohtaka | Viz Media – Morgiana graces the cover of Vol. 3, but she really only appears at the end (there’s also a surprise reappearance of Layla from Chapter One). That said, she makes good use of her minimal screen time, deciding to effectively become Batman/El Santo in order to stop some bandits. As for Aladdin, he’s still trying to figure out his purpose in life, which is given new direction by defining our title – well, semi-defining it. Magi are those who can choose a king. I have a sneaking suspicion that I know who will be chosen by the end of this series, but let’s leave that aside for now. The rest of the volume deals with noble Queens, evil Viziers, and the benefits and drawbacks to your village coming under protection. Not quite as awesome as the first two volumes, but still solid. – Sean Gaffney
Nisekoi: False Love, Vol. 1 | By Naoshi Komi | VIZ Media – The back cover blurb for this debut volume describes Nisekoi as a “laugh-out-loud feel-good manga series,” but I only mustered a smile once and halfway through wanted nothing more than to be able to stop reading it, already. Getting tired of a premise and characters 100 pages in is not a good sign! Raku Ichijo and Chitoge Kirisaki are the children of rival gangsters, but they don’t realize this until their fathers force them to pretend to be in love in order to prevent all-out gang war. But there’s nothing amusing about their pretense, because practically all they do is hurl insults at each other until finally one of them does something fractionally nice, causing the other to reevaluate them a tiny bit. I think my synopsis makes it sound less grating than it really is, actually. Suffice it to say that Nisekoi is definitely not my cup of tea. – Michelle Smith
Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 3 | By Gail Carriger and REM | Yen Press – After her werewolf husband reacts badly to her should-be-impossible pregnancy, Alexia and friends flee London to escape both the ruthless gossip and the vampire assassins intent on preventing the birth of her child. As someone who is not steeped in the mythology of the novels upon which Soulless: The Manga is based, I sometimes find the adaptation to be a bit confusing and disjointed. Such is the case in volume three, which has the added problem of an antagonist who is glimpsed only briefly. (Seriously, a scene-stealing yappy dog makes more of an impression.) Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the read! The dialogue is witty (a line about hedgehogs made me laugh out loud) and I like the characters. REM is also especially good at drawing amusing facial expressions and portraying werewolves’ personalities while they’re in their lupine forms. I may feel a bit lost sometimes, but I’m always entertained! – Michelle Smith
Strobe Edge, Vol 8 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – I have to confess that this is the point where I started feeling a tiny bit impatient with Strobe Edge Ando’s ex shows up and as one might expect, immediately throws an obstacle in the progression of Ninako and Ren’s budding romance. She tells Ninako that Ren and Ando used to be best friends until she came between them, and now the love triangle with Ninako will make things even worse. Ninako is determined to suppress her feelings yet again, just when she was on the verge of confessing to Ren. The couple prevented from getting together because of good intentions and lack of communication is a shoujo staple, and I’m starting to wish that this series would start wrapping up even though I do like reading it. Sakisaka’s art gets better and better, and while the plot might be a little pedestrian, this is one of the prettiest and most visually well-executed shoujo titles out there. Still recommended! – Anna N.
Toriko, Vol. 19 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – Most of this volume is dedicated to two things: 1) Watching Toriko eat food no matter what the cost to his body (with a brief break to beat up a giant bear monster) and 2) Everyone loving Komatsu, and I do mean everyone. Here his devotion to food and food preparation help to turn a man who specializes in cheating, draining memories and generally being evil towards the light side simply by sheer virtue of Komatsu’s… well, virtue. (Mustn’t forget about Coco, who also does a terrific job here as the brains of the team.) The fact that this is a very popular manga with BL fans should surprise absolutely no one. All that said, we are basically watching a giant game of Memory for an entire volume, so be prepared for a bit less action and punching than previous volumes. But just as much food. -Sean Gaffney