Creature Girls: A Hands-On Field Journal in Another World, Vol. 1 | By Kakeru | Seven Seas – This was another “I’ll get the first volume, how bad could it be?” sort of book. The answer is pretty bad, at least for readers of my taste. That said, for those in the market this is aiming for, Creature Girls must be a dream come true. A monster girl story with actual coitus, as well as deep down analysis of the girls’ bodies, almost to the point of parody. The plot is the standard “guy transported to fantasy world” stuff, and there’s a few mentions made of battles against enemies that he helps them with. But the target reader is not here for that. He is here to see monster girls show off their boobs, swear they’re 18, and get screwed. This book gives that to you, in spades. I’ll pass on future volumes. – Sean Gaffney
Haikyu!!, Vol. 32 | By Haruichi Furudate | Viz Media – Oh boy, more full volumes of volleyball. They sure do (punches fist in air) PLAY that volleyball, huh? OK, OK, let me see… the twins’ backstory was quite good, and I enjoyed the end, where we see more of Hinata’s growth to the point where Tsukishima even praises him, as much as Tsukishima is ever going to praise anyone. And credit to the author, 32 volumes in, for continuing to find ways to not make volleyball boring. There are great poses and a fast pace which reminds you why this is such a popular series. The pace is not fast enough that the game is over, though, and I’m fairly sure that the next volume will have me groping for words once more. It’s a good series, though. – Sean Gaffney
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 4: Diamond Is Unbreakable, Vol. 1 | By Hirohiko Araki| Viz Media – Ten years after the final battle between Dio and Jotaro in Cairo, the fourth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure returns to Japan. In the first volume of Diamond Is Unbreakable, Jotaro has come to the town of Morioh to investigate a series of crimes and to search for Josuke Higashikata, his uncle and the illegitimate son of his grandfather Joseph Joestar. When Jotaro finds Josuke he discovers a high schooler with a very powerful Stand and a hair-trigger temper (both literally and figuratively) to go with it, a potentially dangerous combination. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure continues to be a violent and grotesque series—the human and animal cruelty present will be too much for some readers—but I continue to love it for its strangeness, over-the-top action sequences, and ridiculous characters. Josuke in particular is one of those delinquents with a heart of gold that brings me tremendous delight. – Ash Brown
Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Vol. 3 | By Waco Ioka and Midori Yuma | Viz Media – I’m wondering how much of this series is going to be Aoi healing people’s hearts through the power of delicious food. Oryo spends most of the volume sick (well, the impression is she’s also hiding), but even she will eat Aoi’s food. We also get backstory on Suzuran and Akatsuki, and take a trip back to Japan so that Suzuran can pay her respects to the late Shiro, and also stay behind. It’s a perfect opportunity for Aoi to stay behind as well, something her captor knows only too well, but she chooses to return anyway. This series looks pretty slow burn, so I think the food may outweigh the romance for a while yet. But I’m OK with that. – Sean Gaffney
Kiss & White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Vol. 9 | By Canno | Yen Press – Half this volume is Yukine and Ayaka, who are coming to realize that “winning” or “losing” is not the be-all and end-all of their relationship. Good thing too, as Ayaka finally wins. Elsewhere, we see a girl who’s a repeater (she was injured and couldn’t get attendance credits), so is something of a loner, but also a cosplayer. She ends up falling for a younger, puppy-dog sort of girl, but it’s hard to get over putting people at a distance, so they end up breaking up quickly. But is it really over? This volume frames the “main” pairing right in the middle, with the ‘volume’ pairing as a bookend, and it woks very well. Next volume is the last, so I suspect it will be all Ayaka and Yukine. – Sean Gaffney
Little Witch Academia, Vol. 3 | By Trigger, Yoh Yoshinari and Keisuke Sato | JY – The spinoff comes to an end here, and there’s no real climactic finale—they have to win a flying contest against another school, but Diana is ill, so Akko tries her hardest (and mostly fails) and succeeds in the end, because she’s just that plucky. In the end, I think this spinoff probably works best for the groups it’s marketed for—kids and those who watched the anime. I wasn’t as fond of it as I was the other ones, as it’s clear that any character development is going to be in the main series. But as an advertisement for the main series, it’s excellent—I certainly would like to see more of everyone. Something to get your niece for her birthday—at three volumes, it’s even affordable. – Sean Gaffney
My Monster Secret, Vol. 16 | By Eiji Masuda | Seven Seas – Every new volume of the series after its first “ending” seems to be designed to annoy me—something that also befell the very similar Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, if I recall. As the cover might give away, this volume doubles down on the teacher-student romance between Akari (who has at least appeared a lot) and Sakurada, best known as the least developed one of Those Three Guys, who looks much older than he is, which I guess is supposed to take the curse off the creepiness but doesn’t. Elsewhere, there is still some good comedy—I particularly liked the chapter with the supermarket sale—but more and more it appears this should have ended with the mutual confession. – Sean Gaffney
One-Punch Man, Vol. 16 | By ONE and Yusuke Murata | Viz Media – Still far too serious, and now faced with Saitama barely being in it. Certainly if you like cool fights it’s a good read, but I can get that from a dozen other manga titles. I read this for silliness, and that’s in short supply here. I did like the idea of the superhero “Megane,” who is pretty much just a guy with glasses. There’s also some good development from Garo, whose analysis is top tier, but who sadly is a bit too focused on the wrong things. But then again so are the A-rank heroes—there’s a fair bit of hypocrisy here. At least Genos knows what’s what, and we also get the return of Bang, who has a grudge of his own. It looks like Saitama will show up soon, and thank goodness. Who needs a totally serious One-Punch Man? – Sean Gaffney
Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 15 | By Fumi Yoshinaga | VIZ Media – Revolution is approaching as the most senior of Iesada’s ministers signs a trade treaty with America without waiting for Imperial approval. This fellow silences his detractors with harsh punishments and winds up assassinated by the end of the volume for his trouble. Meanwhile, the pregnant Iesada has evidently been gotten out of the way by somebody, but it’s unclear who, leaving her bereaved consort Taneatsu in the dark about her demise for a full month. Now he’s doing his best to guide her clever successor, who has just been married to an Imperial prince. She was concerned about deceiving the emperor, since the shogunate’s part of the deal was to oust foreigners, but a big reveal in the final pages proves they’re the ones who’ve been deceived. Still great, if sad. Poor Taneatsu. – Michelle Smith
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, Vol. 3 | By Tomo Hirokawa, based on the story by Reki Kawahara | Yen Press – The danger is ramped up a lot more in this volume, which also comes with the return of a familiar face from the Progressive series. When it comes to “NPCs can surpass their programming,” no one’s done it more often than SAO, with the current Alicization arc being all about that. Kizmel was (storywise, at least) first, though, and it’s heartwarming to see Kirito and Asuna reunite with her, even if she doesn’t know who they are. That said, this side story is still all about Premiere, who has a role that she is clearly there to fulfill… and also there’s more than one of her? Not for casuals, but SAO fans should find this a lot of fun. – Sean Gaffney
Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 11 | By Wataru Watanabe | Yen Press – The joy of our whole team of six catching up with one another is tempered by the reminder that there can be only one winner of this race… and that the others are going to drop back and fail. It’s a hard lesson for Onoda to absorb, and by the end of the book he’s still struggling to. The rest of the book is filled with the most manly cycling ever, fortunately, and I have to say pound-for-pound this series even manages to out-shonen the Jump titles. That said, holy hell, this is a long race, and we’re still not done. Sports manga go on forever, and nothing says that better than this omnibus, which equates to vols. 21-22 of the original. I hope Sohoku eventually wins. And by that I mean Onoda. – Sean Gaffney
AshLynx saysMay 29, 2019 at 7:51 am
Out of curiosity, when would you say that My Monster Secret had it’s first “ending”? I feel like with Yamada, I rather regret reading past that first ending and it kind of soiled things for me, so I’d rather just stop with MMS. I rented some from the library and found myself pleasantly surprised at liking it at all. Seems a shame the author couldn’t have just ended the series, took a break, and started a new “sequel” series and just shifted the entire cast focus to a new group in the same school or whatever with some old faces showing up or something. Could have left the first one where it was, but the publisher would’ve gotten what they wanted too with more of the same.
Sean Gaffney saysMay 29, 2019 at 7:53 am
I’d say it was when they both confessed, which was around Vol. 10-11 or so?
Oniisama saysMay 29, 2019 at 2:55 pm
Having read all of My Monster Secret, I’d encourage anyone on the fence to stick with it to the end of the series. I was also surprised when the story continued past the confession and spent some time wondering where Masuda was going with the series, but by the end I felt the payoff was totally worth it. The series has a definite end point in mind (with plenty of opportunities for detours into unbridled zaniness) and when it gets there it makes for a pretty great finale. I hope y’all stick with it!
Alhazred23 saysMay 29, 2019 at 9:05 pm
One theme that MMS seems to take to heart is that every character is the protagonist in their own story- and then it attempts to honor that theme by trying to tell the story of every main character and every side character (aside from the truly one-note gag characters) while it progresses Asahi and Youko’s story. This will not land for everyone, but as long as you like at least some of the supporting cast there should hopefully be consistent enough entertainment value to sustain interest until the end.