This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Kodansha Comics, Viz Media, and Seven Seas.
Arisa, Vol. 12 | By Natsumi Ando | Kodansha Comics – Yay, it’s over! Although this volume features a bomb, an over-the-top bitchy mom, several stabbings, and a healthy dose of redemption and forgiveness, none of it has any impact. It all just breezes past superficially. I’m kind of bummed that this is the sole example of shoujo mystery/suspense to come out in English in recent memory, because surely there must be better stories out there. One complimentary thing I can say about Arisa, however, is that the heroine (Tsubasa) does not get paired off romantically with the guy who helped with her investigation (Manabe). I thought for sure that would happen, but in the end, he actually likes someone else and Tsubasa derives closure from being able to get closer to her sister, and not from snagging a boyfriend. That counts for something! – Michelle Smith
A Devil And Her Love Song, Vol. 13 | By Miyoshi Tomori | Viz Media – It seems appropriate that the first third of this volume deal with the adversarial relationship between Ayu and Maria, given that this is where it all began. Sure, they’re good friends now, but that does not change the fact that Ayu still loves Yusuke, Yusuke still loves Maria, and Maria is in love with Shin. And sometimes there’s no real solution to those things. Maria, at least, refuses to abandon any of her friendships, and Ayu does come around. After this, it’s a refreshingly happy and positive final volume, as Maria continues to see her family, finds fresh resolve to become a singer, and of course strengthens her relationship with Shin. Even Anna is mentioned as moving forward. the darkness this series had throughout makes this ending all the sweeter, and it feels well-earned as well. A terrific title. – Sean Gaffney
Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends, Vol. 5 | By Yomi Hirasaka and Itachi | Seven Seas – First off, let’s note that, even amusingly censored as it is, this volume has a lot – a WHOLE lot – of nudity. FYI. As for the plot, Yozora tries her hardest (the horse head helps), and there’s the hint that our trap may not in fact be a trap at all, but for the most part this is a very Sena-focused volume. We see her loneliness and need to bond when everyone but her has a cell phone, and we see her obsession for cute things such as Kodaka’s sister. Mostly, though, we see that she’s really fallen for Kodaka, in a tsundere sort of way, and given that she’s slightly less socially inept than Yozora, probably has a better chance of getting together with him. Oh yes, and her family are insane, but I could have guessed that. This was a fun read for fans of harem comedies. – Sean Gaffney
Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 14 | By Julietta Suzuki | Viz Media – I sympathize with Nanami, I really do, given that the alternative is Tomoe’s death. But part of me just wants to grab her and scream “DO NOT MESS WITH TIME!” Yes, most of this volume takes place in the past, as Nanami resolves to stop Tomoe’s curse from killing him by preventing the curse from existing in the first place. The volume has plenty of magnificent Nanami moments, but fans of Kirihito and Mizuki will also find things to enjoy here. The other big attraction, though, is the evil past Tomoe, and how his history may already be changing just from meeting Nanami. (Or so we think – who knows? Do not mess with time.) This has the feeling of a multi-volume arc, so be prepared to spend more time in the past. Which I am fine with, as long as Nanami keeps being awesome. – Sean Gaffney
Strobe Edge, Vol. 8 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – There is so much self-sacrificing going on in this volume I want to punch a kitten. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to see the angst and people being considerate of each other’s feelings and all, but I can’t help wonder how much longer this is going to go on with Ninako lying to herself? (Checks volume count – two more to go.) I do like the addition of the blunt guy who has nothing to do with Ninako or any of their friends – he makes a good sounding board, and hopefully will not be dragged into any love triangles, even though I suspect jealousy is going to rear its ugly head. I’m still enjoying this, but it’s a shoujo where everyone is sad most of the time, and that means that it needs to run its course soon. You can’t sustain angst over 10+ volumes. Luckily, next time is the penultimate one. – Sean Gaffney