This week, we play catch-up, as Sean, Anna, & Michelle look at a slew of recent titles from Seven Seas, One Peace Books, Kodansha Comics, Yen Press, Dark Horse Comics, Vertical Comics, and Viz Media.
Alice in the Country of Clover: The March Hare’s Revolution | By QuinRose and Ryo Kazuki | Seven Seas – As you’d expect for a franchise with this many side-manga, there is a certain sameness that’s starting to crop up here. We see Alice realizing she’s falling in love yet reluctant to accept it, trying to come to terms with the violent ways of the Hatter Family, and occasionally yearning to go home and having nightmares about her sister Lorina, yet in the end she chooses to stay and accepts her love. The only difference here is in the male lead, so if you like Elliot, this book might interest you. But even then, I think My Fanatic Rabbit is a better book. At least it’s complete in one volume, and not padded out with extra stories. For completists only. – Sean Gaffney
Aquarion Evol Vol. 1 | By Aogiri and Shoji Kawamori | One Peace Books – I watched the first episode of the Aquarion anime a long time ago, and didn’t particularly care for it, although I suppose with all the ecstatic expressions the pilots of combining robots were displaying, the franchise should get credit for making subtext text. This manga opens with Amata Sora, a boy with air elemental powers meeting Mikono Suzushiro, a girl whose previous response to growing up in a world filled with robot battles, elemental powers, and random kidnappings was to become a shut-in. Sora and Mikono end up in being caught up in a battle, and Sora forces the male and female Aquaria to merge to find their ultimate Aquarion form. Sora and Mikono end up in a gender segregated pilot training academy. The art for this volume was solid and the character designs were attractive, and the production values for the manga were also good. I think fans of the Aquarion franchise will enjoy this book, but at only 150 pages, this is a fairly slim volume. – Anna N
Attack on Titan: Junior High, Vol. 3 | By Saki Nakagawa | Kodansha Comics – As we reach the third omnibus of this gag comic, both Saki Nakagawa and Ben Applegate are beginning to relax and stretch out a little. The author not only uses some of the later characters such as Kenny for humor value, but also adds references to the spinoffs, as Isabel and Furlan have major roles here. Meanwhile, the adaptation gets even broader, with nothing really sacred (there are a few lines here that don’t just border on filthy, they scamper right over it) and lots of insults to the entire main cast, particularly Eren. If you like Attack on Titan and worry this title may not take it seriously enough, stay far away. If you like a good belly laugh, pick it up. – Sean Gaffney
Barakamon, Vol. 4 | By Satsuki Yoshino | Yen Press – Despite the fact that over half of this volume is ‘let’s watch Handa deal with small town life and get intensely frustrated or screw up’, he really is getting a lot better at this. Going computerless might be a good thing for him, as it allows him to focus more on his calligraphy – a focus he’s going to need, as he’s already starting to overthink things for the next competition. As for the rest of the cast, Naru is actually growing a bit as well, and is slightly less Yotsuba-like. And Tama continues to be the most awkward fujoshi ever. This is a nice, leisurely, relaxing read. It’s never the next thing out in the months it comes out, but it’s always worth picking up. Also, Handa not knowing how to use a rotary phone made me feel so, so old. – Sean Gaffney
The Devil Is a Part-Timer!, Vol. 1 | By Satoshi Wagahara, Akio Hiiragi, and 029 (Oniku) | Yen Press – Let it never be said that I’m unwilling to occasionally wander outside of my comfort zone! The Devil Is a Part-Timer! is a thoroughly shounen comedy (think scenes of the female lead in the shower, boobs with “sproing” sound effects, etc.) with a fun premise: while fleeing a losing battle, the devil king lands in modern-day Tokyo. Now he’s working part-time at MgRonald’s, aiming to conquer the world by becoming a full-time employee. (“Before long, I will wield enormous powers, forcing massive armies to grovel before me!”) It’s not a bad start, and there are some mysteries to be explained going forward, but it’s just really not my thing. If only I could’ve found it funny—like I do the not-entirely-dissimilar Blood Lad—then maybe I’d be willing to continue, but as it is, I just can’t summon the desire. – Michelle Smith
My Little Monster, Vol. 8 | By Robico | Kodansha Comics – At long last, 7 volumes after a confession, Haru and Shizuku finally manage to deal with their own emotional issues and start to be an official couple. Of course, this doesn’t solve everything – for one, Yamaken confesses as well, and Shizuku has no idea how to deal with someone she doesn’t have romantic feelings for locing her. There’s also the start of a new year, which means the arrival of a new girl – Iyo, Yamaken’s little sister. Kodansha actually goes the extra mile by translating her third person speaking, which shows off her affected cuteness and also self-centeredness. She’s hilarious, though, so I welcome her. I don’t welcome Haru’s brother, whose appearance on the final pages makes Vol. 9 a scary place to be. – Sean Gaffney
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt | By Gainax and TAGRO | Dark Horse Comics – I’ve never seen the anime that this manga is based on, but after reading this manga I suspect that it’s likely very close to its source material. This means, of course, that it’s filthy, and I’d give it an M for Mature rating. The basic premise involves two fallen angels who theoretically team up to fight evil, but spend most of their time having sex (Panty), eating (Stocking), or screaming vituperative insults (both of them). The result is comedy that works quite well for me, being disgustingly funny without actually getting creepy or disturbing. It helps that the chapters are also pretty short, as is the manga itself, which is done in this fairly short volume. Very amusing, but not for the kids. – Sean Gaffney
Say “I Love You”, Vol. 7 | By Kanae Hazuki | Kodansha Comics – That strange expression you see on Mei’s face on the cover of this volume is a smile. It’s taken a while for her to not look like she’d rather be anywhere else, but I’m glad to see it. As for the volume itself, we continue to get fallout regarding Megumi and the backlash against her passive-aggressive bullying. It will surprise no one that she had a troubled childhood, but it was nice seeing her friend Momo as well as Kai and Yamato standing by her even as she fell apart. We even get to see an Important Haircut at the end. Of course, this doesn’t mean Megumi has gone away, and I suspect things will continue to be difficult for Mei. Also, the festival chapter was completely adorable. – Sean Gaffney
Trinity Seven, Vol. 1 | By Kenji Saito and Akinari Nao | Yen Press – In general, I am against judging books by their covers, but I will admit that if you see the cover of Trinity Seven and are put off, then the content will not give you any cause for hope. It’s a pretty perverse fantasy manga, with lots of talk of breasts, pseudo-incestual feelings, and walking in on girls naked, as well as a scene where no less than three heroines are trapped in a sealed room and need to pee. Despite this, the actual premise looks fun and interesting, and the overconfidence and bluntness of the hero is refreshing in an era of modest overpowered guys. I don’t recommend this to anyone but its general target audience, but said audience should absolutely love it. – Sean Gaffney
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 8 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | Vertical, Inc. – It seems like this series is becoming more and more about the healing power of food. When Kenji grows jealous of Shiro’s awestruck reaction to meeting an actress, Shiro proves his devotion by spending money and time making an elaborate oden stew. And when Shiro is dismayed by a client’s miserable marriage, he consoles himself by making a meal of all his favorites. Even in happier times, food plays a starring role in Shiro’s attempts to provide Kenji the romantic moments he knows his partner dreams of. Every chapter is a show-don’t-tell masterclass in depicting the love between these men. I want to give special praise to the chapter in which they visit Kyoto, especially the scene when some public handholding in the dark shocks Kenji so much he thinks Shiro must secretly be dying. It’s a laugh-out-loud moment, but also sad commentary. Really, just all-around brilliant. – Michelle Smith
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 2 | By Miki Yoshikawa | Kodansha Comics – Still no witches yet, in case anyone was wondering. Instead, we focus on the actual body transfer power, and the pluses and minuses that come with it. In the tradition of “when all you have is a hammer”, Yamada and to a lesser extent the others are starting to use the swap as a way to solve any problem, and it starts to bite them back here. It helps that with the exception of Shiraishi, the cast is very much of the ‘think first, realize how dumb this is later’ school of thought. As for Miyabi, she didn’t really make much of a villain, quickly becoming part of the main group. I have a feeling the new girl introdced here, Nene, will be a much tougher nut to crack. Slow, but still worth reading. – Sean Gaffney
Yukarism, Vol. 2 | By Chika Shiomi | Viz Media – I’m happy to report that all of the mild reservations I voiced about volume one of Yukarism have disappeared in volume two! Furthermore, I begin to suspect all those so-called “flaws” were intentional on Shiomi’s part. We didn’t get a strong feel for characters besides Yukari because Yukari had never before tried to get to know and understand another person. But now he’s interested in Mahoro, so we get a healthy dose of background information for her. And Mahoro’s puzzling differences from her former self turn out to have a fascinating explanation. And “low-key”? I called the mystery low-key?! The story is moving briskly now, and I am deeply invested in learning what exactly transpired in the characters’ past lives. I’m very sorry I doubted you, Yukarism. I can has volume three? – Michelle Smith
AshLynx saysMay 26, 2015 at 9:06 pm
I’m trying to remember what happened to my copy of Yukarism 1, I really hope my friend has it, lol, the problem with lending tons of new stuff to my friend, right?