Barakamon, Vol. 12 | By Satsuki Yoshino | Yen Press – The absence of Naru’s immediate family was always very unstated in the series, and it’s unsurprising that Handa thought they were both dead—the reader likely did as well. But her father, at least, is shown not to be dead, but to be away at sea most of the year, and his return for Christmas is what carries most of this volume. Naru is very Yotsuba-esque most of the time, but she is a seven-year-old girl with real feelings, and her need for her father is telling even as she sort of elides it. Her dad, meanwhile, is a well-meaning goof, but should really step up more, and Handa is, as always, a good bridge between the two. Barakamon is sweet and good-hearted and always puts a smile on my face. – Sean Gaffney
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, Vol. 5 | By Izumi Tsubaki | Yen Press – I don’t normally watch the anime versions of the manga I read, but a friend introduced me to the Nozaki-kun anime and it’s pretty great. In fact, watching it gave me a better sense of the comic timing in the series, and I think that has carried over to how I read the manga, because I enjoyed it even more than before. Scenarios in this volume include Kashima having a cold and various guys volunteering to speak for her, the gang going on a drama club training camp, and Nozaki’s search for a cute merchandise-friendly mascot for his series. There is a gag relating to the latter that made me laugh out loud, but I also enjoyed a glimpse at the process for how such things are incorporated into a series, as well as a brief lesson on how cover designs come to be. A little informative, a lot amusing! – Michelle Smith
My Hero Academia, Vol. 6 | By Kohei Horikoshi | Viz Media – I did ask for villains, and here they are, including one who seems to be angry at people who are heroes for the wrong reason. This volume has a lot to say about what makes a good hero and what makes a villain. Midoriya gains a mentor, who is impressed at the fact that he can think on his feet and is trying to teach him how to be more intuitive. But more importantly, Ida is bent on revenge against the man who destroyed his hero brother, who will likely never walk again. This is understandable, but revenge is always a BAD reason to be a hero. Luckily, we also see Midoriya being clever here, and he not only saves Ida but also calls for help, something I wish more shonen heroes did. Excellent series. – Sean Gaffney
One Piece, Vol. 80 | By Eiichiro Oda | VIZ Media – For a while now, I’ve been ready to move on from Dressrosa, but I’ll be damned if Oda’s farewell narration to the island and its inhabitants didn’t make me a little verklempt. That said, this is one of those volumes full of updates on the world at large, hints about plots to come, and glimpses at future foes. I always enjoy it when the story’s scope widens this way, though it makes me wonder exactly how long the series is going to be (and whatever happened with those obelisk things Robin was studying?). The crew reunion at the end of the volume comes as a welcome relief, and I am further manipulated by Oda into being totally invested in the Sanji cliffhanger. Still addicted after 80 volumes! – Michelle Smith
Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 12 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | VIZ Media – When last we left off, ineffectual Ienari was the shogun and his odious mother, Harusada, was capriciously poisoning those of his heirs that displeased her. In this volume, she gets her comeuppance in a satisfying way, plus Ienari grows a spine and makes perfecting and distributing the redface pox vaccine his priority. The story could almost end here, with a victory for the good guys, except that wouldn’t be nuanced enough for Ooku. Instead, time passes swiftly and we see Ienari gradually being corrupted by power and the knowledge of his (and Aonuma’s, Gennai’s, and Kuroki’s) contributions lost to history because Japan cannot admit any weakness with foreigners literally on the horizon. Captivating and bittersweet, this is a series with broad scope and I trust that Yoshinaga has a destination in mind. I’ll be waiting for volume thirteen! – Michelle Smith
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Vol. 11 | By Miki Yoshikawa | Kodansha Comics – And so Yamada-kun finally wraps things up and comes to an end. Yamada cleverly uses his wish to get rid of the witch powers, most of the witches are pretty happy with that, and most importantly, he confesses to Shiraishi and they become an official couple. This has been a terrif… wait, what? The series is still going? Yes, that’s right, welcome to “this is too popular to cancel,” the inverse of “cut short,” as we now have the adventures of the new student council, with some old friends but also some new characters. How this will develop I’m not sure, given it’s barely begun, and I’ll definitely give it a shot, but I do sort of wish that things had ended here, as it was perfect. – Sean Gaffney
Olivia saysNovember 24, 2016 at 8:17 pm
Yamada-kun really should have ended there, but in my opinion it managed to stay strong for a while after that point, until ultimately becoming rather muddled.