This week, Sean, Anna, & Michelle look at recent releases from Seven Seas & Viz Media.
Gakuen Polizi, Vol. 2 | By Milk Morinaga | Seven Seas – I had wanted Gakuen Polizi to get a bit less insubstantial, but I’m not sure this is what I meant. After fairly swiftly dealing with the evil rival who showed up for last volume’s cliffhanger, and who’s not all that evil after all, the final arc delves into the world of racy photos for money and spirals into teen prostitution. This includes a teacher whose talk about artistry of innocent half-nude schoolgirls trumping petty legality does not sound far off from some yuri fans. Oh yes, and there is a bit of yuri in here after all, though due to Aoba’s denseness we get a confession and kiss AND it doesn’t go anywhere. Fans of yuri will likely still enjoy this, but the last volume was far too moodswingey for me. – Sean Gaffney
Food Wars, Vol 5 | By Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki, and Yuki Morisaki | Viz Media – Volume five of this series is a bit of a transitional one, as the big storyline centered around the competition at the Totsuki Resort gets wrapped up and Soma finds himself with a chance to go home for a little break. Unfortunately, there’s a culinary crisis at the street market near Soma’s family restaurant, with a new corporate fried chicken chain threatening all the businesses. Soma digs in and comes up with a solution with his childhood friend Mayumi and he even imports meat expert Nikumi from school for extra help. This made for an entertaining interlude right before the next competition at cooking school starts. Food Wars has grown on me a bit with each volume and now I’m finding it consistently entertaining. – Anna N
Meteor Prince, Vol. 2 | By Meca Tanaka | Viz Media – Meteor Prince comes to a close in this volume, though not before a couple more aliens (Tania, Io’s rather obnoxious and clingy “true mate,” and Yuro, his ruthless younger brother) show up to erect obstacles to our lead couple’s happiness. I was a little disappointed that the origin of Hako’s spectacularly bad luck was never revealed, but there were other good things, like her awesome parents and protective little brother, and an ending that had just the right smidge of a drama for a two-volume series but rectified it all pretty swiftly and sweetly while still showing us Hako determined to take more control of her own destiny. If you miss the breed of shoujo that CMX used to release, you really ought to check out Meteor Prince; I have a feeling it’ll be on your wavelength. – Michelle Smith
Meteor Prince, Vol. 2 | By Meca Tanaka | Viz Media – Despite taking place after the main couple gets together, I thought this was the stronger of the two volumes of Meteor Prince, as we see all the various fallout that comes from this decision, and Io’s insistence that in the end he doesn’t care. Given this is a manga that began with predestined soulmates connected by wavelengths, the decision to show how in the end it’s people’s own choices that are important is an excellent one. Of course it’s not very original – there’s a comedic fiancee, a jealous little brother, and the choice between duty as a prince and romance. But for a series that is only two volumes long, Meteor Prince wraps everything up nicely, and the size feels just right. – Sean Gaffney
My Love Story!!, Vol. 4 | By Kazune Kawahara and Aruko | Viz Media – I have to admit, we finally hit something in this manga that I was less than satisfied with. I did not like Hayato, and felt his behavior, which involved getting his crush to resolve her feelings for Takeo so she can move on to him, was creepy and far too sympathetically told. That said, it’s hard for even that to penetrate the fuzzy adorable feeling anyone gets reading this. We get more here of Takeo thinking over and over again that people just don’t like him in ‘that way’, and seeing time and time again that it isn’t true. Which is cliched, yes, but also helps to point out how negative reinforcement as a child or teen can have major self-worth consequences down the road. Thank goodness he has Suna and Rinko. – Sean Gaffney
Requiem of the Rose King, Vol. 1 | By Aya Kanno | Viz Media – I have now sampled three series by Aya Kanno, and they’re so different from one another that I am quite impressed! Based on Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III, Kanno’s latest retells the story of The War of the Roses—with plenty of bishounen in significant roles—but instead of perpetuating the “hunchback” version of Richard, gives him a different body image problem (and quite a nifty character design!) that should affect the familiar tale in fascinating ways. My main complaint is that I don’t remember my history well enough to know if some actions attributed to Richard here, like the almost seductive way he cajoles his father into not giving up the fight for the crown, actually happened, or if Kanno is writing him somewhat inconsistently. In either case, I am definitely on board for volume two! – Michelle Smith
Toriko, Vol. 27 | By Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro | Viz Media – The power of positive thinking is what drives the first half of this volume, which is still devoted to a serious of battles at the shattered remains of the Cooking Festival. It takes Toriko a long way, to the point where we think that he’s going to be able to take out Starjun, but… in the end, all of our current heroes may not be enough, and not even Setsuno and company can turn the tide. Luckily, there’s a few more old-timers who’ve yet to arrive that may help out. There’s been a lot of fighting and very little food lately, and I am looking forward to seeing the outcome of this battle, even if things aren’t looking all that good for Toriko or Komatsu right now. – Sean Gaffney