This week, Sean, Anna, & Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas, Yen Press, and Viz Media.
A Centaur’s Life, Vol. 5 | By Kei Murayama | Seven Seas – This volume does a god job of balancing out the slice-of-life and the worldbuilding. ON the one hand we have chapters like the one with Kyoko and her brother, which reassures us that despite both being goat/human hybrids they’re still a typical family with rivalries and brattiness. On the other you have the last chapter, showing the history of how the centaurs gained rights, with this world’s Napoleon promising them freedom if they fight under his command. And in the middle we see Suu and her childhood friend appear to talk about manga romances not being the same as real life (she seems a bit creeped out). This series is decidedly odd, and that’s what keeps it so readable. – Sean Gaffney
Food Wars!, Vol. 4 | By Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki | Viz Media – With a minimum of fanservice, and a good heaping help of classic Shonen Jump tropes, this is the best volume of Food Wars! to date. Soma’s battle with Shinomiya is really Megumi’s battle, and she shows off once again why she’s an amazing chef if she can just learn to stop panicking. But for Soma, who knows they won on a technicality, the frustration of losing leads to self-harm (don’t worry, it’s just punching a wall). And while the last volume saw Megumi on the verge of expulsion as the cliffhanger, here we see Soma in the same situation, as his breakfast menu has not gained any support. There’s also the usual bevy of eccentric characters and amusing one-shot gags, and it may just be the lack of ‘this food is making me having an orgasm’ pages, but I’ve come to love this. – Sean Gaffney
Happy Marriage?!, Vol. 10 | By Maki Enjoji | Viz Media – In our final volume, most everything gets resolved. What I appreciated most was the implicit realization that both Hokuto and Chiwa married too soon, and how to fix that without simply breaking up, as they do love each other dearly. That said, they just can’t stop getting on each other’s nerves, and it’s fitting that the final chapters show off how they’re always going to be fighting each other, and have simply come to accept it. The series has existed on that sort of tension, so doesn’t just want to get rid of it with an overly soppy ending. But they’re married – again – and Chiwa may be pregnant, so all is well. The marriage parts of this were, in the end, the victor over all the ‘Hokuto’s backstory’ parts. – Sean Gaffney
Honey Blood: Tale Zero | By Miko Mitsuki | Viz Media – This volume collects the first chapters of Honey Blood, where we get a previous version of the story that is a bit more humorous and improbable, and the heroine has a slightly less strong personality. I think the changes in the version for the two volume manga were for the better, but it was interesting to get a peek into the creative process involved in reworking a story for longer serialization. The volume is rounded out with some additional short stories, one featuring a tomboyish girl with a crush on an aspiring male makeup artist, and a story between a boy and girl next door that doesn’t end well. This volume is probably best for completists only, the other two volumes of Honey Blood stand on their own. While I think this series didn’t completely come together, I’d like to check out other works by Mitsuki, because I did enjoy the art and aspects of the plot. – Anna N
Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 2 | By Aya Shouoto | Viz Media – I was hoping the second volume of Kiss of the Rose Princess would help me decide what to make of this series, but it’s so different from the first—introducing a villain who attacks two knights and kidnaps a third, as well as a weakening seal on the demon lord that can only be repaired with a terrible sacrifice—that I remain kind of baffled. I appreciate the more serious moments, though there is still plenty of unfunny comedy, and it’s really jarring when what could’ve been an important moment is undermined by a stupid gag. Too, I suspect either Shouoto or her editor was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because there are a couple of plot elements that are so similar they’ve got me wondering. Still, it’s an improvement overall, and I find myself willing to stick around a bit and see where this goes. – Michelle Smith
Soul Eater, Vol. 24 | By Atsushi Ohkubo | Yen Press – I appreciated the reminder midway through this volume of how terrifying the series can get, as Crona’s attack on the infiltrators is something that I will likely have nightmares about. That said, even Crona can’t stop Asura from being the final big bad, and it’s up to Maka, Black*Star and Death the Kid (who has a brief comedic detour back to Earth, the best joke in the volume) and their respective weapons to stop him. We’ve only got one more volume to go, and that sounds about right, as there’s time for one last battle, Shinigami-sama’s death (which is clearly lampshaded here), and a big celebration to end it all. Soul Eater has given us a bizarre skewed shonen manga, right to the end. – Sean Gaffney
Toriko, Vol. 26 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – It’s all battles again in this new Toriko, so I have less to talk about. It was interesting to see an actual death of a named character, as Tommyrod is finished off by Sunny in a battle of the disturbing. Meanwhile, Brunch’s battle against a supposed immortal invincible character shows off how little those attributes actually mean in a manga like this. The most troubling battle goes t Toriko, who is almost killed off before revived by the sound of Komatsu crying for him (in case you hadn’t figured out he’s the heroine by now). Is he actually ready to take on Starjun? And is this the real enemy, or is there now a 3rd party gumming up the works? Man, remember when this was all about food? More food, please. – Sean Gaffney