My News and Reviews
I was on a much-needed vacation last week; the family spent a fair amount of time in northern Michigan enjoying nature and good food and drink. I got some extra sleep and caught up on some of my reading and writing, too. All in all, a lovely time was had. I wasn’t online much at all except to post a couple of reviews, so I’m sure that I’ve missed out on all sorts of things. (If you would, please do fill me in on anything that was particularly interesting!) The first review I posted was of the rather clever debut mystery novel The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji (who also happens to be the creator of the horror mystery Another and the husband of Fuyumi Ono). I also reviewed Hirohiko Araki’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Part 1: Phantom Blood, Volume 1 which continues to be marvelously strange and over-the-top.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Volume 2 by Kore Yamazaki. The first volume of The Ancient Magus’ Bride was one of my favorite debuts of 2015 and I continue to thoroughly enjoy the series with the second volume. Although overall there is a disconcerting, dark, ominous, and creepy atmosphere to the manga, but there are also moments light; the horror and mystery are accompanied by touches of humor and hope that help keep the series from becoming too oppressive. Yamazaki also captures the capricious nature of the fae perfectly. I was rather pleased to see Titania and Oberon, the queen and king of the fairies, introduced in this volume as well. Although more is hinted about Elias’ past—he has connections to the fae, mages, and alchemists, but isn’t really accepted by any of them—he’s still reluctant to open up and talk about it. He largely remains shrouded in mystery, but it seems as though he may have more in common with Chise than would initially appear. Their relationship has a peculiar dynamic to it in addition to a significant imbalance of power, but I’m very curious to see how it develops; there may be healing involved for both of them.
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, Volume 1 by Nami Sano. The exceedingly odd Sakamoto doesn’t seem to care at all about what other people might think of him, making him immune to bullying and giving him the reputation of being the coolest student in school despite his weirdness. Somehow, he is able to take control of any situation and use it to his advantage; he always ends up looking good. The girls all love him and the guys, though they would like to hate him, can’t help but admire and respect him. And that’s what makes the manga so funny. So far, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is fairly episodic although there are some recurring characters and running jokes. Both the series and Sakamoto are admittedly strange, but the comedy is played seriously with an incredibly straight face. At the same time, Sano’s artwork highlights the drama and humor of the various situations. Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is kind of absurd and yet highly entertaining. I’m not sure for how long Sano will be able to keep the gags fresh, but I’m looking forward to reading more of the series and finding out.
UQ Holder!, Volume 5 by Ken Akamatsu. Up until this point, my feelings toward UQ Holder! have been fairly lukewarm. I’ve enjoyed the wide variety of immortals and some of the action sequences can be highly entertaining, but the story and characters more often than not are frustratingly directionless and shallow. That being said, I was surprised by how much I actually liked the fifth volume of UQ Holder!. I didn’t have much hope for it at first as the opening battle ends up being extremely anticlimactic. I’m sure this was meant to be an amusing development, but Akamatsu’s sense of humor in the series doesn’t always work for me. But then four of the UQ Holder members are sent undercover as high school students to investigate a string of serial murders in which an immortal may be involved. Not unexpectedly, some silliness ensues alongside the seriousness of the killings. The murder case is interesting, though, even if its solution ultimately feels forced. And while I liked some of the newly-introduced characters, the lead’s oblivious optimism and aggressive friendliness continues to be both an asset and a detriment to the series.