This week, Sean, Michelle, & Anna look at recent releases from Viz Media & Kodansha Comics.
Arata: The Legend, Vol. 21 | By Yuu Watase | Viz Media – Arata and company have entered the territory of Ikisu, a gender-indeterminate member of the Six Sho who wields scent-based powers. Ikisu uses these to amplify the inferiority complex Kanate feels towards Arata. They fight, but right after Arata resolves their confrontation with an accepting hug, Kanate submits to Kadowaki. I’m still a little unclear as to why. Is it because, in order to succeed in his mission, Arate’s going to have to harden his heart to Kadowaki and force him to submit? And, therefore, Kanate is sacrificing himself to give Arata a reason to give up on Kadowaki being redeemed? In any case, seeing Arata in prolonged, heightened demon mode—only dispelled when he accidentally injures Kotoha—is pretty cool, and his newfound conviction regarding Kadowaki makes me hopeful that we’re heading towards an ending. I like this series well enough, but would welcome it wrapping up sometime soon. – Michelle Smith
Assassination Classroom, Vol. 3 | By Yusei Matsui | Viz Media – Much of this volume is meant refining its core plot and building its world. We resolve the kidnapping from the class trip, where we see that Koro-sensei is indeed prepared for ANY eventuality. We get another new transfer student sent to kill the teacher, and see Koro-sensei not criticize her for killing him, but criticizing her for doing it in a way that disrupts the others. And we see that Class 3-E is still the scapegoat for anyone else at the school, and if they try to change that they are brutally put down, so they take their little revenges where they can. It’s all very well-written, funny and enjoyable, and I continue to be amused at the avoidance of “Bitch-sensei”, even when the art itself uses it. Highly recommended. – Sean Gaffney
Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 16 | By Kyousuke Motomi| Viz Media – This final volume of Dengeki Daisy is a very good example of what you do when you wrap up your series but still have to fill 150 more pages for the last tankobon. So we get the resolution of last volume’s cliffhanger, followed by several side-stories and epilogues, which are equally great, followed by the author’s debut work, which isn’t as great but that’s not unexpected. We do not get a flash-forward to marriage or children, but oddly do get to see them taking care of a baby due to one last ridiculous plot contrivance in a series full of them. Motomi will be back in the fall with her new series, already licensed, but I’ll miss Daisy, which if nothing else presented a “teacher”/ student romance that no one objected to, really. Funny, heartwarming, and charming. – Sean Gaffney
Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 16 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – I was getting pretty seriously weary of the cyberespionage plotline that has dominated recent volumes of Dengeki Daisy, so it’s a relief that it wraps up quickly in this final volume, leaving more time for happy-ever-after character goodness. The official ending is satisfying on its own, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by the bonus chapters. True, there’s a shoujo-tastic episode in which a group trip to a resort is delayed by one of Kurosaki’s neighbors abandoning a baby on his doorstep, but this actually allows us to imagine him and Teru as a married couple. Plus, we get to see more of Soichiro’s past, Akira’s hopeful present, and top student Teru looking toward an ambitious future career with Kurosaki’s full support. I may not always have loved this series, but I’m glad I kept reading until the end. It was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. – Michelle Smith
Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 13 | By Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arakawa| Viz Media – This was actually a lot more plot-heavy than I expected, continuing to develop the story of Toma’s struggles against censorship and the Library Forces’ attempts to keep him safe. The story here may sometimes require some suspension of disbelief, but I always love that a shoujo manga in LaLa is willing to spend so much time devoting itself to a study of the politics of censorship, the media, and what’s best for Japan. Also, they’re right – Iku’s idea was fantastic, even if it was inadvertent. For those who want romance, it’s mostly low-key here, though Komaki and Marie fans will be happy, as the cover gives away. One of Shojo Beat’s low-key gems, I always look forward to a new volume. – Sean Gaffney
Skip Beat!, Vol 34 | By Yoshiki Nakamura | Viz Media – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Heel Siblings arc, but this volume shows signs that Kyoko and Ren may be moving on. Lory decides to pull Kyoko out of her masquerade due to her fragile emotional state, and as Kyoko attempts to talk to the boss of LME without revealing the depth of her feelings to Ren, Nakamura offers up some great examples of lettering, as the tiny speech balloons and short phrases Kyoko uses make it clear just how painful it is to talk about her emotions. Later, Kyoko encounters Ren in as his real self, and her recognition of her childhood friend Kuon/Corn provokes even more emotional catharsis. My only compalaint about this series is that the volumes don’t come out often enough! – Anna N
UQ Holder!, Vol. 4 | By Ken Akamatsu | Kodansha Comics – This is not Akamatsu’s first arc involving time travel and paradoxes, as readers of Negima well know. That said, it seems a lot more intense and dangerous here Possibly it’s because there’s none of the cliched Akamatsu ‘let’s have some fanservice here to satisfy the readers’ pages. But I think it may be due more to the return of one of Negima’s most memorable villains, who makes life next to impossible for our heroes. (There’s also a minor villain who seems to have returned as a cyborg, but I’m not sure – she seems far too sane.) You can read this without having read Negima, but it’s building on that world, and showing that Negi and Asuna’s actions at the end of that series have far-reaching consequences. – Sean Gaffney