This week, Michelle & Sean (okay, mostly Sean) look at recent releases from Viz Media, Kodansha Comics, Seven Seas, & Vertical, Inc.!
Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 13 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – Dengeki Daisy is at its best when focusing on the romance between its leads, Teru and Kurosaki. Unfortunately, the past several volumes have focused on the “code virus” that Kurosaki created back in his hacker days and the search for information on the nebulous baddies who sought to use it. Although I have the feeling that we’re supposed to find all this cyber espionage stuff very exciting, the details are so vague that it ends up being rather boring. It’s better than episodic randomness, though, and I have to give the series credit for its heroine being able to get herself out of tricky situations and for a central romance where the age gap is acknowledged as an issue. Plus, there are a few nice, quiet moments here that are almost enough to make me overlook the ridiculousness of the last couple of chapters. I’ll probably keep reading this one to the end. – Michelle Smith
Fairy Tail, Vol. 32 | By Hiro Mashima | Kodansha Comics – The danger of telling a story where injustice happens to our heroes and they’re meant to be angry and frustrated with it is that the reader may end up being a little TOO angry and frustrated in sympathy, to the point where it affects their enjoyment of the volume. That’s where I ended up in this volume of Fairy Tail, which starts going though its tournament arc. I was expecting losses – after all, every hero/team has to come back from adversity. The combination of cheating from the other side and the extra dollops of humiliation felt a little too real, sadly, though you could argue that this is because I’ve come to care about these characters so much. I am hoping that Volume 33 (already out, I’m running behind) will help to balance the scales a bit. – Sean Gaffney
Kimi ni Todoke, Vol. 18 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – The cover art pretty much describes the mood of this volume – it starts with a kiss, and doesn’t let up on being romantic and heartwarming for the entire length. Sawako and Kazehaya have resolved their lack of communication problem, Ayane and Kento are now officially a couple, and as for Chizu… well, she’s working on it. Slowly. I loved the fact that the majority of this was just given to telling everyone what’s been going on in their lives – after seeing Sawako and Kazehaya’s guessing games recently, it felt even more satisfying. Even her father seems to have finally admitted to the fact that Sawako is growing up and has a boyfriend. I expect the next volume will be more devoted to college and the future, so I will enjoy this for what it is: a celebration of how we got here. – Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 6 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – The harem antics continue in Sidonia’s 6th volume – more and more characters are falling for Tanizake, and we even get ‘walking in on naked girls’ and ‘comedic choking of the hero’ here as well. However, this plotline exists, I think, to emphasize further the sense of wrongness that exists throughout this universe. There’s just so many things that already feel off about everything going on, even discounting the evil body horror antics of Kunato. The artwork, which I’m still getting used to, helps further by continuing to use characters who look a lot alike, particularly during battle. This can be annoying, but also contributes further to the sense of distance and otherness that emerges from this series. The goal is to do all this while still retaining reader interest, which Nihei has absolutely done. Also, poor Izana. – Sean Gaffney
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 3 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – Having set up the premise of this series over the previous two volumes, Ohmi now begins to tear it apart for dramatic effect, as first Erde, the company Kaya was reassigned to, asks her to stay permanently, and then Kyohei resigns from his own position, striking out on his own. All of this, of course, plays second fiddle to the real story here, which is that these two are falling deeply in love and cannot keep their hands off each other. I’m actually surprised that the vampire part of this story isn’t playing a larger role – this could be edited to be non-supernatural fairly easily. Also, this title is rated M and lets you know it – the sex is red hot, and at one point you see Kaya staggering down the street, barely able to walk straight after their intense lovemaking. Right now, this tops Happy Marriage?! as Viz’s spiciest title. – Sean Gaffney
Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 15 | By Yuki Midorikawa | Viz Media – It struck me as I read this new volume how segmented Natsume’s relationships with all of his (human) friends are. For all that the series has shown Natsume starting to open up, trust and appreciate people again after so long being closed up, he still tends to keep everything to himself – and more importantly, take on everything himself. I fear this may get him in trouble soon, and not just him (there’s a suggestion in this volume that Taki’s spell circle is far more dangerous than it seems – and it’s seemed pretty dangerous). This is, however, balanced out by the 2nd half of the book, which is adorable, heartwarming, and shows the strengths of both humans and yokai. Darker tones may be arriving soon, but for now I will continue to enjoy this shoujo yokai manga’s relaxed and unhurried pace. – Sean Gaffney
Zero’s Familiar, Vols. 6-7 | By Noboru Yamaguchi and Nana Mochizuki | Seven Seas – As you might expect, I enjoyed the dramatic plotline that wrapped up here more than the attempts at fanservice and wacky harem antics. The discovery of the Dragon’s Raiment is a nice tie-back to the start of this series, and it was also a relief to see what we knew would eventually happen – Louise finds the magic that she is truly suited for, and turns out to be terrific at it. (That said, an entire battleship VANISHED, but no loss of life? Keep telling yourself that, princess…) The pacing sometimes suffers here, and I find the art, particularly in dramatic moments such as the side story with the Princess and late Prince, does not always convey emotional turmoil very well. Still, as an adaptation, this is probably good enough, and we’ll get another portion of it later this spring. – Sean Gaffney