This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Kodansha Comics.
Kimi Ni Todoke, Vol. 20 | By Karuho Shiina | Viz Media – This is still Sawako’s story, and her development here is great, but I do love that there’s just as much investment in having the other two heroines grow up as well – Sawako’s career choice is actually the easiest. It’s also great to see the good teacher we know Pin is, as he reminds Chizu that running a ramen joint requires more than just knowing how to cook, and tells Yano straight up that she has the talent to set her goals higher… so why isn’t she? Her mother backs this up, and now Yano is not only wondering about her life goals but about her relationship with Kento. I’d complained earlier that I felt this series might be running a bit long, but this volume showed it still has a lot more going on. – Sean Gaffney
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Vol. 24 | By Hiroshi Shiibashi | Viz Media – For the most part, this penultimate volume of Nura is a bunch of battles. I believe that the actual end in Weekly Jump is here, approximately halfway through – the rest ended up being in the extra issues like Jump Next, etc. It’s nice seeing the school classmates here, even if it fells like a goodbye – Nura quickly outgrew its “real-world” aspect, and even Kana is an afterthought now, as it’s Tsurara who spends the volume by Rikuo’s side. We see the culmination of what he’s been doing the entire series, as everyone he approached to be allies in the fight now shows up to help out, leaving him safe to fight the final boss. This was never the best shonen series, but I’ll miss it. – Sean Gaffney
Real, Vol. 13 | By Takehiko Inoue | Viz Media – The latest volume of this wheelchair basketball drama is actually all about pro wrestling, as Takahashi’s rehab companion, Shiratori, makes an inspirational return to the ring, fighting in such a way that the audience is oblivious to his disability. While it was nice to learn more about his backstory, better still is the impact his performance has on Hanasaki and Takahashi. The latter, especially, watches Shiratori fighting with everything he’s got left, pushing himself to the limit for something he loves and finally completely lets go of the aloof, unaffected persona he’d cultivated in high school and embraces his real self, who could love something passionately. To that end, the final page is him showing up to join a wheelchair basketball team. Maybe it sounds simplistic described in words, but in Inoue’s sure hands, the end result is very moving. Now to endure another year before volume fourteen! – Michelle Smith
Toriko, Vol. 25 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – I will admit to being a bit disappointed with this volume. I wanted more amazing cooking battles, but sadly Gourmet Corps crashes the event and starts attacking everything, so instead this turns into a melee battle. It’s not without its high points – I liked Coco explaining to Komatsu why chefs such as him are so highly prized in this world, and a battle between Sunny and Tommyrod promises to be rather epic – but for the most part this is a bunch of people showing off their fighting power, then vanishing from the narrative to make way for more people. Combine that with the already high number of new chefs introduced in the last volume, and you have a Toriko that’s less than the sum of its parts. – Sean Gaffney
xxxHOLIC Rei, Vol. 2 | By CLAMP | Kodansha Comics – Yeah, OK, I knew I wasn’t really getting a reboot. Clearly this takes place after the main series, and also clearly there is something terribly wrong, seemingly based on a decision that Watanuki made at some point, something lampshaded by his being interrupted here in this dream/whatever world before he can choose between two gifts. He has knowledge of the supernatural that could only come with experience, and is thus surprising everyone – or is he? In any event, we also still have the usual supernatural, yokai-influenced stories, which are the best part of xxxHOLIC for me. And Himawari’s here, yay! And not married to generic guy we never see and shoved offscreen! Oh xxxHOLIC, why can’t I quit you?-Sean Gaffney