This week, Sean, Anna, and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media and Seven Seas.
D-Frag!, Vol. 4 | By Tomoya Haruno | Seven Seas – This volume introduces the little sister of the protagonist, but fear not, for once we have no incest subtext. Instead we get some more excellent comedy, mostly as Noe turns out to be almost a carbon copy of Kazama – she too is a tsukkomi to all these bokes around her. Her presence also revitalizes Sakura, who shows off more of her magnificent troll personality here (probably to the surprise of anime fans, as the anime cut most of her out). There’s also a lot of opportunity for physical comedy, a small amount of romance (as always, kept on the back burner), and more gags about the size of Takao’s chest. Comedy is the first and most important mission with this series, and it keeps delivering. – Sean Gaffney
Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 3 | By Aya Shouoto | Viz Media – Kiss of the Rose Princess seems to change direction with every volume. The first one seemed more like a goofy fantasy manga, the second took a detour into darker themes, and the third volume seems to be launching into some sort of odd Cardcaptor Sakura retread. Anise and her rose knights say what I’m guessing is a temporary farewell to the yellow rose of jealousy, but things get more complicated at school when Anise’s mysteriously possibly evil father installs himself as the new school doctor. Anise has to go on a quest to collect more cards to level up her powers, and the sudden presence of young male celebrities at school is certain to complicate things even further. I am finding myself more bemused then amused by this manga, but at the same time it is plenty diverting if I don’t think about it too hard. – Anna N
Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 3 | By Aya Shouoto | Viz Media – While Kiss of the Rose Princess is still far from the best or most original series I’ve ever read, I do have to admit that it’s growing on me a little. In this volume, Anise makes a “true contract” with her knights without knowing what it entails. Turns out, she will need to romance one of them so that he will achieve his ultimate power-up as a knight. Meanwhile, her Watcher dude announces that it’s her responsibility to collect some “Arcana Cards” that are the manifestations of shards of the seal. Enemies—who apparently politely waited for Anise to learn about the cards’ existence—are going to be after them, too. So, it’s like a dating sim crossed with Cardcaptor Sakura? That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and I am intrigued by the block on Mutsuki’s memories, so I’ll probably stick around a little while longer. – Michelle Smith
Library Wars, Vol 13 | By Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa | Viz Media – Having built up plenty of anti-censorship principles and budding romances in the first few volumes, reading a new volume of this series feels a bit like catching up with old friends. Iku and Dojo continue to be a wonderful example of an awkwardly adorable couple. Chief Genda is back and semi-recovered from his injuries, and the reader gets a chance to check in on Komaki and Marie. The Library Forces are defending an embattled author, and Iku actually manages to come up with a brilliant strategy for ensuring his freedom of expression amidst all the odd warring censorship battles raging in Japan. This volume is on the light side, with plenty of victories to celebrate with some humorous bits of character interaction along the way. I think we’re pretty close to getting caught up with the Japanese releases, and I’m not looking forward to a long wait for the next volume. – Anna N
Nisekoi, Vol. 8 | By Naoshi Komi | Viz Media – I’ve talked often about Nisekoi’s amazing skill at preserving the ‘balanced harem’. This doesn’t mean we don’t know how it will end – we know Chitoge will win – but that a mostly equal amount of time is set off to show every girl’s viewpoint and thoughts. Last volume was overbalanced toward Chitoge for plot reasons, so this one skews the other way, with Valentine’s Day providing an excuse for Onodera, Marika and Tsugumi to show off their skills (or lack thereof) and quest to try to get Raku to make a choice. Even a highly comedic character like Marika and her life-sized chocolate statues don’t get devalued – she pauses to seriously note how real her love for Raku is. This remains one of my favorite romantic comedy manga. – Sean Gaffney
Oresama Teacher, Vol. 18 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Viz Media – After a couple of comedic chapters in which Mafuyu participates in summer vacation standards like a test of courage and a trip to the beach (I love that most of the guys are oblivious to her bikini), a new semester starts and plot things actually happen! After abducting their enemy, student council president Hanabusa, at his urging, Mafuyu begins to suspect that he’s not actually working on his father’s side in the bet against Takaomi, but perhaps has a wager of his own. Could it involve rehabilitating the misfits he drafted onto the council? The most interesting stuff, though, involves Hayasaka, as Hanabusa suggests he would’ve picked him for the council had Mafuyu not come along, while Momochi seems to be systematically erasing his happy memories with the Public Morals Club. Things are getting interesting and I’m looking forward to volume 19 to see how they develop! – Michelle Smith
Rin-Ne, Vol. 17 | By Rumiko Takahashi | Viz Media – You know things are bad when not only can you not figure out what to say about a book to fill up a 500-word review, but it’s even hard to come up with enough for one of these briefs. Rin-Ne excels when it ties back into its main plot, but sadly, none of Vol. 17 bothers to do that. Yes, Rinne’s dad shows up, and we get the shyster brother and sister, but for the most part Rin-Ne has a very Urusei Yatsura feel to it – what’s the supernatural disaster of the chapter that will cause humorous chaos? Which is fine when Ataru and Lum are the leads, but Rinne and Sakura simply don’t have the charisma to carry it off. More plot, please!. – Sean Gaffney