It’s all Viz, all the time this week, as Anna, MJ, and Sean look at recent releases from Viz’s various imprints, including Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat, and SuBLime Manga.
07-Ghost, Vol. 4 | By Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara | Viz Media – A ton of stuff happens in this volume. Confrontations with the Barsburg Empire! Teito loses the source of his mystical power and gets back his memories! There’s a crazy final exam as everybody tries to become a Bishop! Teito cements his bonds with new friend Hakuren and the mysterious priest Frau as he begins to progress on his journey to fully understand his power and what it means to be a long-lost prince of the Raggs kingdom. Truthfully, I wasn’t following all the action all that closely because I was so distracted by all the billowing robes and mystical bolts of energy. After the first four volumes of the series, it seems like Teito is set up for the next phase of his adventure, and I’m curious to find out what will happen next. – Anna N
Bakuman, Vol. 19 | By Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata | Viz Media – As this series finally reaches its penultimate volume, I’m stunned to reveal that it’s finally hooked me on its ridiculous primary romance and I’ve officially been reduced to a blubbering pile of goo. Now that something is truly threatening Mashiro and Azuki’s happiness, it seems that I’m suddenly, hugely invested in seeing their dreams come true. As a jaded reader, this kind of pisses me off, but I can’t deny that it’s also significantly enhanced my enjoyment of the series’ building climax. It helps, of course, that the romantic subplot has become overtly entwined with the characters’ professional success, which I’ve been invested in from the start. Who knew that such an over-the-top romantic setup could provide this kind of emotional payoff? Well done, Ohba and Obata. Still recommended. – MJ
Blue Morning, Vol. 1 | by Shoko Hidaka | SuBLime Manga – Sean described this series’ premise as “Black Butler with the fantasy removed and the BL actually consummated,” which isn’t entirely wrong, in that it’s a BL story involving a butler with no supernatural elements. Fortunately, that’s where the comparison ends. This story about a young viscount left in the care of his late father’s mysteriously devoted butler is an angst-heavy, emotionally dense study of 19th century classism, with a dark, romantic undercurrent that’s more Les Liaisons dangereuses than Black Butler. Teen viscount Akihito’s unrequited feelings for his butler/mentor Katsuragi make way for the series’ obligatory sex scenes, but it’s their ongoing power struggle over Akihito’s political future that really pushes the story forward. A new multi-volume BL drama is always worth a look, and Blue Morning makes a strong showing from the start. Recommended. – MJ
Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 12 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – One of the many things that impresses me about Dengeki Daisy is that it hasn’t abandoned its comedy roots even as the plot gets more serious. The first chapter in particular has a marvelous Titanic parody that’s only topped by Teru’s performance as a ‘scorned woman’. That said, the plot is getting darker and more serious. We knew that the guy who kidnapped Rena last time was a small-time villain, but he does lead us to a man who may be the ‘final boss’… one who not only manages to give Kurosaki a major freak out, but almost drives a wedge between our heroes with just a few well-placed words. All that plus we get romance (in a shoujo manga? Gasp!), as Teru and Kurosaki edge ever closer together without actually getting there. One of the most addicting manga currently on the market. – Sean Gaffney
Otomen, Vol. 15 | By Aya Kanno | Viz Media – This probably has the least Asuka of any of the volumes we’ve seen to date – indeed, Ryo appears more than he does! The first half of this volume wraps up Tonomine’s storyline, and once again emphasizes the core message of ‘be true to yourself even if it makes you ‘girly’ that every volume of this manga has had. (I note the moment those dresses came out, I thought “And Ryo will get a tux.” And I was right.) The second half has a summer festival, and features Yamato, who’s still self-conscious about his cute face and personality, which is not helped by spending most of the festival with Ryo, who is pure coolness in a female package. I’m not certain the cliffhanger ending of the volume will amount to anything, but that’s mainly as Otomen is still light froth. There’s tons of things wrong with it, but I still enjoy it immensely. – Sean Gaffney
Otomen, Vol. 15 | By Aya Kanno | Viz Media – I stopped buying this series regularly because I kept feeling frustrated that it never really explored the interesting aspect of people subverting gender roles in a more in-depth way. Still, it is fun to check in on Otomen now and then. Make-up artist Tonominie confronts his father’s political legacy and gets some resolution about finally being able to live for his own dream instead of fulfilling his family’s expectations. Ryo is one of my favorite characters in the series, so I was happy to see the last half of the book focused on her unique blend of oblivious coolness as she decimates every single (manly) challenge at a festival in an attempt to help Yamato with his own image issues. – Anna N