It’s all Viz all the time this week, as Sean and Michelle check out some recent releases.
Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, Vol. 2 | Story by Yuto Tsukuda, Art by Shun Saeki | Viz Media – Unwillingly sent to the prestigious Totsuki Culinary Institute by his father, cocky protagonist and aspiring chef Soma Yukihira learns more about the school in this volume, including meeting his eccentric dormmates, checking out the after-school research societies, and having his first experience with a shokugeki, which is a public, school-sanctioned challenge with another student. And, of course, he triumphs over expensive ingredients with his simple but delicious food. Really, this is your typical shounen battle manga model just with cooking, but I can’t help it—I am kind of loving it. All of the food prep is really fun to watch, and even though the fanservice is prevalent, because it chiefly occurs when characters (including guys) get their clothes blown off by Soma’s food, it really reads more as silly than salacious, as when one particularly buxom gal is depicted covered with strategically placed minced onions. I look forward to volume three! – Michelle Smith
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 8 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – As you read this volume, you get the sense that we’re in the book’s endgame, and that things are finally starting to be wrapped up. This is not to say we don’t get our usual lack of communication leads to anger leads to misunderstandings, but the two are finally trying to understand how their partner thinks. Even if, for Chiwa, this also comes with very little in the way of goals. Hokuto here makes up with his father as much as he’s ever going to, so we’re left with one last bit of melodrama, which is Chiwa having her life threatened through a series of ‘accidents’. This is never going to be my favorite josei title from Shojo Beat, but this one has less aggravation than usual. – Sean Gaffney
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 23 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – More fighting, as you’d expect, leaving not a lot to talk about. If you enjoy shonen fights, you’ll enjoy this. It was fun seeing Yura teaming up with Tsuchigumo, though her tsundere antics have grown a little old. Most of what I enjoyed in this volume was little things, such as Nura’s mother teasing Tsurara about her crush on him, or the parody comics on the cover flaps where Kana confesses to being a magical girl.As for the plot, well, more mid-range bosses defeated, more unlikely groups who hate each other decide to work together to defeat a greater evil, and it looks like it’ll all end up at a big castle in the sky. No one is buying Nura 23 casually, but if you like supernatural fighting stuff, this should whet your appetite. – Sean Gaffney
Oresama Teacher, Vol. 17 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – The first half of this volume wraps up the Yui storyline, retelling events from the previous chapters from his own perspective, and forcing him to confront his own feelings, something he naturally avoids. After this things lighten up considerably, as Mafuyu goes home for summer break, and attempts to paint her new school life in a girly way, which succeeds not at all, and frustrates her to the point that she has to spar with Kangawa at a festival. I like how Mafuyu is presented as being a badass gang leader in a positive way, with the narrative not trying to judge her at all. Of course it helps that this is a comedy, and I suspect Hayasaka’s past will be the next big arc, unless it’s being saved for the finale. – Sean Gaffney
Toriko, Vol. 24 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – Komatsu gets the cover here, and with good reason, as much of the volume is devoted to a tournament arc in which he features. He’s now famous enough to be on the list of 100 best chefs in the world, so he gets an automatic invite to the world famous cooking competition. This serves as a jumping point for something that Toriko does very well: ludicrous people that do ludicrous things with food. The introductions alone take up an enormous amount of space, as we’re introduced to dozens of people who I hope we don’t have to remember. Komatsu may not be as fast or strong, but food loves him, and that’s enough to get him into the quarterfinals. Can’t wait to see what happens next. – Sean Gaffney
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy, Vol. 7 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – Hime is marking time at this point, with her male alter ego getting lots of minor roles in an effort to build up a CV, and unintentionally getting Mizuki to fall for her even more (even though Senri Kudo is clearly the endgame in this romantic comedy with almost no romance). I was more interested in the second half, Tsukino, Hime’s shy friend from school. As you might have guessed, her quiet, meek voice is due to a bullying she suffered in her previous school, and though the message of the chapters does seem to be “I have to be stronger”, it is at least framed in a positive way, and ties into the roles that one has to accept as a voice actor. This volume was slighter than the others, but still fun. – Sean Gaffney
Voice Over!: Seiyu Academy, Vol. 7 | By Maki Minami | Viz Media – While I certainly cannot argue that Voice Over! breaks any new shoujo ground, the fact remains that I honestly find it an enjoyable read, even though in this volume we’re treated to the old “locked in a storage room with my love interest” cliché. In large part that’s due to Hime’s dedication to her career, and the fact that before and after this brief trip into tropeland, she’s worrying about whether she’s made any progress during a summer in which she got a lot of work experience. On top of this, I can actually see why Male Lead #2 might fancy her, and Minami actually succeeds in making me verklempt at the cheesiest of things, and, you know, I think I’m done being ashamed about that. That’s right. I like Voice Over! and I don’t care who knows it! – Michelle Smith