This week, MJ, Sean, and Michelle look at recent releases from Yen Press, Seven Seas, Viz Media, and Vertical, Inc.
Bunny Drop, Vol. 10 | By Yumi Unita | Yen Press – For many fans, Bunny Drop was a tricky series (for reasons documented by nearly everyone), and though I found the final volumes more palatable than I expected, I was never able to buy the supposed attraction between Rin and her much older guardian, Daikichi. For me, like most fans, I suspect, volume ten provides a single-volume capsule of exactly what I loved most and least about Bunny Drop. On one hand, this collection of side stories offers a welcome return to the series’ early charm. Most of the volume is devoted to tales from Rin’s childhood (along with a Masako side story that is surprisingly delightful). Unfortunately, its final chapter, depicting Rin and Daikichi’s married life, further illustrates the complete lack of romantic chemistry between them. Still, as a huge fan of the early series, I consider this volume a win. Thanks, Yen Press! – MJ
Dictatorial Grimoire: Red Riding Hood | By Ayumi Kanou | Seven Seas – The dramatic arc behind this final volume is not really Red Riding Hood – who’s also the wolf, in an excellent plot twist – but rather the relationship between Otogi and Cinderella, who turns out to be not quite what he seemed. But then given that this is based around Grimm’s Fairy Tales, it makes sense that things would get darker towards the end. Luckily, Otogi is better than his father and uncle, and is able to save the day and come to terms with Cinderella’s past. I wish that the volume had more of Hatsushiba kicking ass (she literally gets locked in a birdcage towards the end), but won’t carp too much. This has been a fun little series, with lots of amusing characters. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 5 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – Anytime we see Chiwa interacting with Hokuto’s family I get fascinated, which is a good thing, as Chiwa and Hokuto’s struggles to communicate with each other are really starting to frustrate me otherwise. It’s a decent example of people who fall in love but barely know how the other person works, but man, is it teeth-grinding to read. Much better are the machinations behind the scenes of Hokuto’s family, and Chiwa trying to be supportive and yet learn more at the same time. (There is also a gag showing how ignorant Hokuto is about things like foreplay that made me laugh out loud.) It’s not a happy marriage yet, but we’re only halfway through the series, and it’s been worse. But please, take the time to speak with each other! – Sean Gaffney
Knights of Sidonia, Vol. 8 | By Tsutomu Nihei | Vertical, Inc. – This volume focuses primarily on the relationship between Tanikaze, Izana, and Tsumugi, and their bonding into a family unit – they even find an apartment off in the far reaches of the ship and move in together. This is awkward not just because Tsumugi is a gauna hybrid who looks like a snake-worm thing (if I’m being charitable… please don’t sneak into Tanikaze’s bed looking like that, Tsumugi, it leads to filthy thoughts), but also because Izana’s love for Tanikaze is starting to reach a breaking point, especially as he still seems oblivious to Izana. Is it just because Izana is a hermaphrodite? Is it because Tanikaze still can’t get over the death of Hoshijiro? And does it even matter given that Izana may not live to see the next volume? Dang, this manga is addicting. – Sean Gaffney
Sweet Rein, Vol. 2 | By Sakura Tsukuba | Viz Media – I’m hard-pressed to think of how this manga could possibly be more frothy and insubstantial. Kurumi (a Santa Claus) and Kaito (her reindeer) spend their second Christmas together bringing joy to a bunch of orphans, then it’s summer and their bond is tested by a “Dark Santa,” and then it’s Christmas again, but they’re still 17. Meanwhile, Kaito’s brother finds his Santa and they somehow get into an argument with another beach hut noodle vendor (yeah, it’s summer again) that can only be settled by… a beach volleyball tournament. Ye gods. And yet, despite it giving me multiple things to roll my eyes over, I don’t dislike Sweet Rein. It probably helps that the way Tsukuba draws reindeer is so darn cute. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s only three volumes long; I’ll probably be completing the series as a result. – Michelle Smith
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 1 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | Vertical, Inc. – I was campaigning for this series to be licensed when there was only one volume of it out in Japan, so it’s a relief to find that something I lobbied for sight unseen has turned out to be so good. (I mean, it’s by Fumi Yoshinaga, so the odds really were in its favor.) Shiro Kakei (lawyer) and his boyfriend Kenji Yabuki (salon stylist) have been together for a few years. Budget-conscious Shiro shops the sales and every evening prepares a multi-dish meal for them to share. The food segments are fun, no doubt, but what’s even better is when the food serves as a springboard for gay life topics, like their conflicting opinions regarding how open to be about their relationship or Shiro’s profound relief that he never got married to make others happy. It’s great stuff, and I’m so grateful that it’s here at last! – Michelle Smith