This week, Sean and Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media and Seven Seas.
Midnight Secretary, Vol. 6 | By Tomu Ohmi | Viz Media – There’s still a little bit of “but I’m just his secretary” here, but that ends up being overshadowed by all the fallout from Kaya thinking she’s pregnant. It turns out she isn’t, but the idea that she might be is not entirely unappealing to her. That said, the vampire world is unhappy with it, so much so that they send the clan leader over to threaten and disturb Kaya, implying that her feelings are being artificially induced. And when Kyohei is able to convince her otherwise, even stronger measures look to be taken. The links between vampires and humans have been bubbling over this whole series, and given the next volume is the last one I expect it will all end in tears… no wait, this is josei romance. It should be fine. – Sean Gaffney
Nisekoi: False Love, Vol. 4 | By Naoshi Komi | Viz Media – There is a story and character development happening here, but I am finding myself drawn more to the technical aspects of this manga, which are exceptional. I’ve mentioned before that Komi is very good at keeping his harem “balanced”, and his excellent ability at drawing goofy faces. Now here we see that he can do devastatingly good cliffhangers as well. Three of these chapters have cliffhangers that make you desperate to come back next week for more, which is all you can ask of a serialized story. We also get a new girl introduced, Marika, who is immediately set up to be an obvious villain, showing herself off as Raku’s “fiancee” and demanding he break up with Chitoge. This succeeds where other modern harem manga fail. – Sean Gaffney
One-Punch Man, Vol. 2 | by ONE and Yusuke Murata | Viz Media – Sometimes I forget about manga I read digitally unless I get nagging e-mail reminders. I hadn’t realized that there were now three volumes of One-Punch Man now available. I am delighted that the second volume was just as ridiculous as the first. One-Punch Man goes up against an evil mad scientist who has built an underground lair called the “House of Evolution”. One-Punch Man is accompanied by his new trusty cyborg diciple Genos. The unlikely duo face off against an army of clone scientists and a monster genetically engineered assassin. There’s a great joke later on in the book featuring a superhero bicyclist, and One-Punch Man is showing signs of finally wanting some superhero notoriety for himself. Highly recommended if you enjoy dumb humor and people punching things! – Anna N
The Sacred Blacksmith, Vol. 5 | By Isao Miura and Kotaro Yamada | Seven Seas – Given there’s no hint of it on the back cover or in the first half, I feel obliged to say that this volume has a rather traumatic rape scene in it, featuring Cecily and a new villain. We do see Cecily trying to recover from the resultant fugue state she goes into, and she does to a degree, but her final confrontation with said villain is then undercut by the entrance of Luke, who fights in her place to protect her. It left a very bad taste in my mouth, and I think I’m going to be dropping this. There are still a lot of fantasy underpinnings here, and everyone has at least two motivations for everything they do. But the rape and its aftermath have made me very apathetic towards reading more of it. – Sean Gaffney
Sweet Rein, Vol. 3 | By Sakura Tsubasa | Viz Media – There’s no “Final Volume” on the back cover, and the series does not end so much as stop, but I’m pretty sure this *is* the last Sweet Rein, unless Hakusensha restarts it again a la Millennium Snow. It’s light but sweet, giving us more human/reindeer antics and the occasional not-quite romance (the two leads have still only kissed on the cheek). The Santas seem to function as shinigami a lot of the time, bringing closure to a rich boy and his butler as well as a reindeer whose master was killed, leaving him behind. This adds an element of darkness, but even then the series can’t help but resolve things with a sugar coating. There’s also an extra story dealing with Penguin Revolution, for old CMX fans – Sean Gaffney