This week, Michelle, MJ, & Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media & Yen Press.
Black Butler, Vol. 17 | By Yana Toboso | Yen Press – Ciel remains undercover at Weston, the Eton-inspired school where he has enrolled to look into student disappearances at the queen’s behest. In order to secure a meeting with the elusive headmaster, he must lead his house to victory on the
Quidditch cricket pitch, which he does via ungentlemanly tactics. It’s a good thing I’m a sports manga fan, because otherwise this might’ve gone on too long, but I kind of liked the outrageousness of it. Unfortunately, it leads to a big reveal that made me feel absolutely nothing. And maybe that’s my main issue with Black Butler—it’s acceptably entertaining, but I just can’t really care. Was there someone, somewhere, who was thoroughly shocked by the final page? It’s hard to imagine that being the case. Anyway, I’ll probably keep reading out of idle curiosity. – Michelle Smith
Blood Lad, Vol. 5 | By Yuuki Kodama | Yen Press – Happy as I am to have this omnibus appear quicker than I thought it would, I am nonetheless kind of bummed that a promising new character doesn’t stick around for long. Instead, an old enemy becomes a super-powerful new enemy, and though it’s kind of cool to see the demon world united against a common foe, and to see our core group of protagonists looking for options to defeat him, it does still feel like we’ve been here before. Maybe I’m just grumpy ‘cos this volume wasn’t as funny as some others have been. Still, Blood Lad remains as compulsively readable as ever, even if I’m not entirely convinced that the overall trajectory of the series makes sense. As long as it remains enjoyable on an per-volume basis, I’ll keep reading. – Michelle Smith
The Infernal Devices, Vol. 3: Clockwork Princess | By Cassandra Clare & Hyekyung Baek | Yen Press – Adapting full-length prose into graphic novels is always a tricky business, and when dealing with multi-volume series, it is inevitably trickier with time. Condensing a single prose novel such that it may squeeze itself into the much sparser skin of a single graphic novel may read as “efficient” or “fast-paced,” but three volumes in, the cumulative effect of this process is much more likely to resemble “rushed” or even “nonsensical.” Sadly, both of these things may be said of The Infernal Devices. After holding up relatively well over the course of its first two volumes, the weight of the third is finally too much for this format to bear. Fans of the prose series are likely to be frustrated by what’s missing, while the rest of us are left simply confused, and Baek’s pretty pictures are not quite enough to compensate. Not recommended. – MJ
Loveless, Vol. 12 | By Yun Kouga | Viz Media – It’s been over a year since the last volume of Loveless came out. My strongest memory of it was the scene in which Soubi obeys Seimei’s command to become his fighter once more, leaving Ritsuka behind, and I wanted volume twelve to explore this. Perhaps some scenes from Soubi’s perspective, showing remorse? That would do nicely. But instead, we get some backstory on Seimei’s other fighter/obedient minion, Nisei. And just when that’s starting to become legitimately intriguing and I start to sympathize with a really quite unsympathetic character, Kouga suddenly tosses in a whimsical chapter about one of Ritsuka’s dreams. I don’t mean to complain, because there were still many good moments in this volume, but it was overall a bit disjointed and didn’t pack the emotional wallop I was hoping for. – Michelle Smith
Seraph of the End, Vol. 2 | by Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto | Viz Media – This shonen series continues to put together a team for brash hero Yuichiro. As he trains to become a member of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army, he finds yet another classmate to antagonize in Shiho Kimizuki, a tall, glasses-wearing boy who easily academically outshines Yuichiro. The new recruits are eager to get their demon weapons and the unconventional Lieutenant Colonel Ichinose decides to simply throw his most promising students into a pit of demons and see who survives. In the meantime, we get a bit of background into what has been happening to Yuichiro’s former best friend and adoptive brother Mikaela among the vampires. There are flashes of cynical humor in this shonen title that I quite enjoy, and so far I’m enjoying this series. With the youthful team powered up and ready to take on some vampires, I’m looking forward to more action in the next volume. – Anna N
Skip Beat!, Vol. 33 | By Yoshiki Nakamura | Viz Media – Hooray for new Skip Beat! Unfortunately, because of the time lag between releases, it feels like we have been on this “Ren and Kyoko impersonate the Heel siblings” arc for ages. What’s significant here, though, is that Kyoko finally admits to herself that she is reacting to steamy moments not purely in character, but as herself, and that she’s committed the gravely stupid move of unlocking her heart. What I love is that she is desperate for Ren not to find out, lest he be disappointed in her, and how the actions of a smitten costar serve to remind her of how completely she lost herself in devotion to Sho. It took 33 volumes for her to realize she loves him… how many more until he’s actually aware of it? I’d happily sign up for 33 more, but please… let’s move along from this arc soon, okay? – Michelle Smith