This week, Sean, Anna, & Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Seven Seas.
Alice in the Country of Clover: Nightmare Trilogy, Vol. 1 | By QuinRose and Job | Seven Seas – Another month, another Alice book. This one has, as you may imagine, Nightmare as the love interest, and mostly delves into Alice being upset and angry that people are afraid of him, and trying to find ways to get them to see the real man. Who is still a giant loser at times, so he’s not helping. Also not helping is the art in this book, which is some of the weakest I’ve seen in the entire series. That does not bode well given this is the first of three. On the bright side, Joker shows up, continuing to force Alice to truly examine her heart and feelings (big sister doesn’t come into play here). There’s also some amusing humor, mostly at Nightmare’s expense. Still, in the end this is one of the weaker entries in the Alice books. – Sean Gaffney
Black Rose Alice, Vol. 1 | By Setona Mizushiro | Viz Media – If I were to tell you that this is a shoujo series about vampires, you might think that you’d know what to expect. It’s not, after all, a unique premise. Except that’s exactly what Black Rose Alice is: unique. Dimitri Lewandoski is an ambitious tenor in Vienna in 1908 when he is killed in an accident and ultimately brought back to life by a vampire master who has entrusted him with the procreation of the species. The horror and the “colonization” spur a personality shift in Dimitri, and by the end of the volume he’s striking a bargain that might reanimate the body of his true love, lifeless for a hundred years. That’s pretty strange stuff, and I haven’t even mentioned the bugs! Happily, it’s not too strange and when I finished the volume I was left with a profound sense of “What? That’s it?! I want more!” And that is perhaps the highest recommendation I can give. – Michelle Smith
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 22 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – We’ve just finished a major fight arc, and are about to head into what will be the final arc, so in a sense this is the last breather volume in the series. Like many breather volumes in shonen fighting series, it feels a bit out of place at times, with both heroes and villains putting all their ducks in a row. We do get to see an extensive battle between Nura and a priest who is upset at a forced sword going to an evil Ayakashi (it’s OK, Nura’s one of the GOOD evil Ayakashi), and an attempt on both sides to unite previously fractured clans. That said, Kana and the rest of the class’s presence has become token, and even Tsurara looks to be left behind for the big fight. Nura is starting to overstay its welcome, so it’s good it will be ending soon. – Sean Gaffney
Oresama Teacher, Vol 16 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – The evil student council in Oresama Teacher is generally surprisingly ineffective, sending agents one by one to take down the public morals club, only to find that the dimwitted delinquents in the public morals club end up befriending their enemy. Here we have more of an orchestrated campaign, as blackmail letters start arriving and picking off the public morals club one by one. Soon only Mafuyu and Hayasaka are left to battle things out with the return of their fiendish faculty mentor Saeki. I see troubled times ahead for Yui, as the wanna be ninja has joined his former masters. Oresama Teacher is always silly diverting fun that pays off for the reader. I was happy to see bancho and his pigeon make an appearance in this volume as well. This is the only long-running comedy series that has managed to hang on to my full attention, and I enjoy the ridiculous situations and occasional bursts of violence featured in each volume. – Anna N
Toriko, Vol. 23 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro| Viz Media – It’s impressive how even in the middle of what is basically a fight between two opposing sides firing power attacks, Toriko can continue to be all about food. The one thing that gets our heroes to work together and take out the monster this time is hearing that the more damage it takes, the more delicious its flesh will taste. And of course there’s Komatsu, who was given ten minutes to make an antidote simpler to cook, took five minutes, then spent the rest of the time figuring out how to make it tastier. It’s no wonder he seems to have picked up another harem member, this one a nameless cook arriving with Setsuno. The way it deals with food makes Toriko a consistent fun title to read. – Sean Gaffney