This week, Sean and Michelle check out recent releases from Viz Media and Kodansha Comics.
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 4 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – This is a volume of two halves. In the first part, with Kaya and Kyohei separated from each other, they’re both at their best, and she even gets a very tempting marriage proposal – one which, as she turns it down, she notes would likely be better for her than her current situations. Then once she does come back to Kyohei’s side, things turn sour, as his staff think she’s a paid mistress, and a vampire acquaintance reminds her of her place in the hierarchy as a human. To give Kaya credit, she’s able to figure out right away that Kyohei’s vampire pride is getting between them – and we have the added bonus of knowing it’s also due to his growing love for her, and the disbelief that comes with that. At the midway point of this series, it’s still an excellent read for those who enjoy more mature titles. – Sean Gaffney
Missions of Love, Vol. 6 | By Ema Toyama | Kodansha Comics – I have to hand it to Toyama. Most series that begin with prickly, hard to deal with characters have them soften up fairly quickly as circumstances come along. Not Yukina, who six volumes in remains incredibly frustrating to read about. She’s also frustrating for Shigure to deal with as well, as he finds it impossible to get her to accept his feelings even when he asks her straight out. Things are not helped by a) Mami and Akira, who continue to plot to drive the couple apart even as they grow closer, and b) Yukina herself, whose new order for a forced kiss leads to some very uncomfortable areas – something lampshaded by Shigure himself. All in all, however much you want to strangle its heroine, this remains a compelling potboiler of a manga. – Sean Gaffney
Oresama Teacher, Vol. 16 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – This is a darker, more serious volume of Oresama Teacher. Oh, there’s still plenty of laugh-out-loud humor, rest assured. But the presence of Momochi as the Student Council’s latest lancer in their attempts to destroy the Public Morals Club is far more frightening than any of its previous comedic types. The club is broken apart so easily that you worry, and it’s quite notable that Hayasaka’s blackmail letter is never actually revealed – I suspect his background will be at the end of the while series. Yui is also learning the danger of having real friends when you have to betray them – you feel horrible about it. It’s a good thing that Aki and Komari’s plot wrapping up is so cute, as it helps to lighten a funny but dark darker volume. – Sean Gaffney
Ranma 1/2 2-in-1 Edition, Vol. 1 | Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – Somehow, I have missed out on Ranma 1/2 up until this point. I knew it was an episodic sitcom-esque sort of series, which aren’t really my thing, but as it turns out, I enjoyed this one quite a bit! I’m honestly surprised and I have no choice but to conclude it’s because Takahashi is at the helm. How else to explain that the bickering leads with the occasional glimpse of genuine feeling—Ranma and his unwilling fiancée Akane—do not bother me nearly as much as the bickering leads with the occasional glimpse of genuine feeling in Nisekoi? I also found myself giggling more than expected. Not at the multitudinous conveniently placed bodies of water that trigger Ranma’s gender transformation, but at some of the dialogue. “She’s really a very sweet girl. She’s just a violent maniac.” is a particular favorite. All in all I’m left to wonder why I waited so long. – Michelle Smith
Strobe Edge, Vol. 9 | By Io Sakisaka | Viz Media – I warn you that you will end up very angry at a group of thugs who make their appearance halfway through this volume. Not only do they beat up one of the main characters, but they also ruin the romantic resolution that was so tantalizingly close. And so, with one volume left to go after this, Ninako and Ren are farther apart than ever, even as they both come to terms with their true feelings. Luckily, there’s more to this series than just its two leads. I’ve remarked before on the compelling side characters this story has, and one drama bomb dropped by Ninako’s friend Toda, who in the space of two pages reveals a manga story that I’d love to see and then vanishes from the narrative. Strobe Edge comes to an end next volume, and I hope that Ninako, who has finally learned what love really is, can find happiness. – Sean Gaffney