There’s a flood of Viz titles coming in to Midtown Comics this week. Check out the Battle Robot’s picks of the bunch below!
DAVID: It’s the first week of the month, so Viz follows its customary practice of flooding the shelves with new volumes of shônen and shôjo series. While they could certainly learn to pace themselves, I won’t complain if it means I can get my hands on the fifth volume of Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss. This series is turning into a fine example of Suzuki’s ability to balance antic comedy and nuanced emotion, which is always a good recipe for satisfying shôjo. One of the things I particularly like about Suzuki’s work is that she respects her readers’ intelligence and doesn’t need to underline every romantic beat, choosing instead to highlight unexpected moments rather than dwell on the ones we can all recite by heart. The result is a series that fluxes confidently between sweet, silly, urgent, sad, and suspenseful. I’m always happy to spend more time with these characters.
KATE: My vote goes to the fourth volume of Blue Exorcist. I’d be the first to admit that the series covers well-trod territory: it’s got combatants of the cloth, a magical academy where exorcists learn their trade, and a tortured hero who straddles the demon and human worlds. But Kazuo Kaito’s elegant art and quick wit bring this very tired premise to life, making it easy to forgive the frequent capitulations to shonen cliche: characters declaring they’ll “do their best,” sloppy but talented fighters winning the grudging respect of their more disciplined peers. I’m not convinced I want forty more volumes of Blue Exorcist, but what I’ve read so far is good, solid fun.
MICHELLE: There’s a lot on this week’s list—which includes the final volumes of both Eyeshield 21 and Seiho Boys’ High School—that I personally plan on purchasing, but the one I look forward to with the most glee is volume 25 of Yoshiki Nakamura’s Skip Beat!. Although our heroine Kyoko Mogami is still fueled largely by the desire for revenge, she gets more serious about the craft of acting every day while remaining believably oblivious to the romantic feelings of her biggest mentor, renowned actor Ren Tsuruga. Somehow, Nakamura is able to make all of this feel fresh and new, and in volume 24 revisited the well-trod shoujo territory of Valentine’s Day with truly amusing results. I look forward to seeing what happens next!
SEAN: As always with Viz blitz weeks, there’s any number of titles I could talk about, including the aforementioned final volume of Seiho (I love Eyeshield, but it should have ended 3 volumes before it did). And I really want to pick Hark! A Vagrant as well, but it manages to not be manga. So my pick this week goes to a new Weekly Shonen Jump series, the first from Viz in quite some time. PSYЯEN sounds like a standard battle manga, with the only difference being the tournament arc starts right away as opposed to 9-10 volumes in. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many of the more recent Jump efforts (Nura, Blue Exorcist), and the art looks good. I’m hoping for another fun, exciting series that manages to have fights without letting the manga get overwhelmed by them. And Volume 1s are the best place for that!
MJ: Well, it’s been mentioned a few times, but I’ll be the one to come down firmly on the side of volume eight of Seiho Boys’ High School. This is the final volume of the series, which has managed to remain as brash and funny as ever, while also presenting one of the most moving, realistic portrayals of teen romance I’ve seen in a while. I’ll be discussing this more in this week’s off the shelf, but it’s not that often that shoujo manga successfully balances both the all-consuming heart-burst of young love right alongside its inevitable transience, without degenerating into serious melodrama. This fun, light-hearted series has turned out to be much more poignant than I ever expected, and at just eight volumes, it’s a nice, easy-to-collect length, too. Definitely recommended.
Readers, what looks good to you this week?