This week, Sean and Michelle look at recent releases from Viz Media, Yen Press, and Kodansha Comics.
Black Rose Alice, Vol. 3 | By Setona Mizushiro | Viz Media – Perhaps the most fitting adjective to describe this third volume of Black Rose Alice would be “immersive.” One of Alice’s four potential propagation partners doesn’t have long to live, and so urges Alice to choose him without actually telling her the truth, lest she pick him out of mere sympathy. In the end, this leads to her seeing a side of closed-off Dimitri that she hasn’t seen before. The experience of reading this series is a special one, and I must conclude this is actually partly due to Mizushiro’s art—it seems to me she uses more establishing “shots” and detailed interior backgrounds than other shojo manga, which gives one a palpable sense of being in this house with these people. She gets an A+ in Atmosphere, for sure. Even if you think you’re weary of vampires, you really owe it to yourself to check this one out. – Michelle Smith
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Vol. 7 | By Puyo and Nagaru Tanigawa | Yen Press – It’s hard sometimes to review these slice-of-life series, even if they are spinoffs, as there really isn’t much to say beyond ‘it’s adorable’. Much of the volume is devoted to Yuki going over to Kyon’s house and playing games with him and his sister, and it’s adorable. The two of them are getting closer and closer to admitting their feelings for each other, leading up to an absolutely adorable cliffhanger. Even stressed-out Ryouko beating Haruhi up is adorable in its own way. I’m not sure how much longer this series is going to go on – I had thought 8 was the finale, but apparently not – but no matter how long it goes on, I’m fairly certain ‘adorable’ will be the watchword. – Sean Gaffney
He’s My Only Vampire, Vol. 2 | By Aya Shouoto | Yen Press – Both of Shouoto’s current NA series balance out supernatural action with some very amusing comedy, and nothing quite defines that like the start of this volume, which defuses the cliffhanger from the first in the most amusing way possible. Then we’re back to school, showing off where the plot is going from here: our three leads form a club devoted to ‘curious events’, i.e. events the mysterious Student Council President does not want to get directly involved in. There’s also, fair warning, an attempted rape in here as well, something I wish manga in general would drop but it never does. Despite that, this is another very good volume, and I do prefer this series to Kiss of the Rose Princess. – Sean Gaffney
Love At Fourteen Vol. 2 | By Fuka Mizutani | Yen Press – See my Nagato Yuki review for discussing adorable slice-of-life series, and almost everything from it applies here as well. The two leads are just too cute. As for the rest of the cast, we meet a shy girl here with a massive crush on one of our heroes, but the surprise is which one. She also is a budding writer, who narrates her own life in the third person, which is both cute and also a clever way of doing a narrative voice. Meanwhile, Hinohara-sensei is still enjoying teasing Nagai as well as trying to acclimate him, but I will warn you, it does look like we might be edging towards a teacher/student romance here, something which I know bothers folks. Despite that, this volume is still highly recommended to anyone who loves relaxed, cute love stories. – Sean Gaffney
Sankarea, Vol. 11 | By Mitsuru Hattori | Kodansha Comics – This series has tried its best to balance its comedy, romance, and horror aspects and I wondered how it would wrap everything up. It’s… OK, but it’s only a single rather than a home run. The return of Rea’s sociopath father bothered me, particularly since it appeared to be ignoring his past actions. Chihiro’s return was also a massive deus ex machina, though I suppose it’s better than simply ending it in a horribly depressing way. The best part of the volume is Rea and Chihiro’s date, with trips to the zoo, long walks to park benches, and confessions… leading to an amazingly horrible reveal. In the end, I think Sankarea did horror better than it did romantic comedy, leading to an imperfect end to a very good series. – Sean Gaffney
Tiger & Bunny, Vol. 6 | Mizuki Sakakibara, Sunrise, Masafumi Nishida, and Masakazu Katsura | Viz Media – In a move reminiscent of the villains on CW’s Arrow, NEXT supremacist leader Jake Martinez has barged in on the mayor and declared his intention to take over. Naturally, our heroes rally to prevent this, infiltrating the ranks of Martinez’s faithful, a move culminating with Barnaby in a televised standoff against the man who killed his parents. Ordinarily, a three-month wait for the resolution to a cliffhanger would provoke at least a little whining, but luckily, Tiger & Bunny is not a manga that I think about in between volumes. Still, I do have fun while I’m reading it. I guess sometimes I just want something fast-paced and not too deep, and this story certainly fits the bill! I’ll keep following it, though alas not fervently. – Michelle Smith