Tag Archives: Kodansha Comics

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1

Homely and shy, Himé is burdened by the name her mother gave her, “Princess.” Wanting nothing more than to be unnoticed and live a modest life, Himé gets a jolt of inspiration when she tries a dance class where she meets Tango. her teacher/dance partner, Tango happens to also be her classmate at school. Unfortunately, Tango is desperate to keep his ballroom dancing a secret, believing it will ruin his cool image if anyone at school finds out. Will Tango quit teaching Himé in order to keep his secret or will he be the partner Himé believe he is destined to be?

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1
Let's Dance a Waltz 1By Natsumi Ando
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Romance/Dance
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

I haven’t read a Natsumi Ando series before. It’s not like I haven’t had the chance. I’ve had her series Zodiac P.I. in a to-read pile for ages, but have always had some reason to pass it up. The start of this new series is the perfect opportunity for me to stop procrastinating and finally read one. Let’s Dance a Waltz is about competitive ballroom dancing, a subject you wouldn’t think would be all that interesting, but Ando makes it so with engaging characters and an almost shonen take on dance.

Four characters make up the core of this first volume. Himé Makimura is the protagonist. She is shy and rather mousey in looks and personality. She comes to the Minami Dance School to try out dancing after the owner encourages her by telling her she could become a princess. Tango Minami is the son of said owner, who used to ballroom dance competitively, but has since given up. He works at the dance studio to make extra money. He prefers dancing on his own, and is considered good-looking and cool at school. Yusei and Sumiré are the star dance couple at the studio. They are also Tango’s childhood friends. They both want Tango to start dancing competitively again, and see Himé as the chance they’ve been waiting for.

I really liked this first volume. I wasn’t too thrilled by the emphasis on body image and conforming to societal expectations, but Himé’s hangup about her looks and living up to what she thinks is her mother’s expectation is completely believable. I actually liked Himé with her round face, and fuller figure. I also liked that other than one jerk boy, no one criticized Himé’s size or appearance. Even Tango was more worried about his reputation being ruined than Himé’s appearance when he first dances with her. Sumiré admired Himé’s muscle structure and both Yusei and Sumiré were supportive of Himé’s abilities with little concern for her weight. This made the reveal at the end more believable and easier to take.

The relationships were handled very well. I especially liked Tango’s and Himé’s up-and-down relationship. Himé just wants to dance with Tango, but he ignores her, for fear their schoolmates will find out, but when she starts avoiding him to keep her practices with Yusei a secret, Tango is suddenly bothered by the loss of her attention. Sumiré was a bit of a trap too. Just when it seems like she might be jealous of Himé, she turns out to actually be very supportive of her wanting to dance, and dance with Tango.

I also liked how Ando portrayed the ballroom dancing. Instead of just showing the couple dancing around a dance floor, she likened Himé’s partners to a different experience. When she first dances with Tango, she feels like she is a princess, but when she dances with Yusei, it is like she at a fancy 8-course dinner. These scenes reminded me a lot of The Drops of God, where wines are described in wild and far out ways. While it’s exciting to see to talented dancer at work, the addition of these other sensations adds to the experience.

Let’s Dance a Waltz Volume 1 was a really fun read. The characters are very engaging and the story has sparked my interest. Ando’s art is superb. The characters are varied in appearance and dress. The dancing was well done as well, with some of the ballroom gowns looking gorgeous. I can’t wait to see what a dance competition will be like, and what new experiences Himé will have on the dance floor.


This Week’s Manga: Heroic Panty

This Week's Manga

Panty and Stocking with Garter BeltDark Horse Comics debuts a new manga this week that has had tongues a-waggin’! Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt is a manga adaptation of the anime by the same name. The mix of mature language and situations with cute and cartoony art will hit readers with right about of shock and humor and appeal to Dark Horse’s main demographic. To appeal to a different type of reader they are also releasing Drug and Drop Vol 2 this week. A continuation of Legal Drug, it features two hot guys solving supernatural problems. Another must for CLAMP fans, and a different kind of gaze for others.

Heroic Legend of Arslan 3The title I’m most interested in this week is Heroic Legend of Arslan Vol 3. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this series initially, but I should never have doubted Hiromu Arakawa. I loved the series right from the start and torn through the first two volumes. Waiting for the next one has been difficult, but it great to have more Arakawa art to love. I would really like to get the new Ranma 1/2 2-in-1 Editions, but space has really become a concern for me. Even 2-in-1s, which don’t take up as much space are still pretty hefty when it comes to bookshelf space, especially for a 36 volume series. I really wish Rumiko Takahashi would let her titles be released digitally legally. They are already out there, being read digitally with questionable quality and translation. Wouldn’t it be better to have more control with a legal release?

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Drug And Drop Volume 2 TP, $10.99
Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt TP, $9.99

Heroic Legend Of Arslan Volume 3 GN, $10.99

Dance In The Vampire Bund Part 2 Scarlet Order Volume 2 GN, $12.99
Lucifer And The Biscuit Hammer Volume 3 TP, $18.99

Love Stage Volume 1 GN, $12.99

07-Ghost Volume 16 GN, $9.99
Ranma 1/2 2-In-1 Edition Volume 8 TP, $14.99

This Week’s Manga: MangaHOLiC

Weekly Top Ten Manga

xxxHolic Rei 3 Kodansha and Seven Seas Entertainment is getting the lion’s share of releases this week. Kodansha releases more of their newer titles with Maria The Virgin Witch Vol 2 which seems to have a lot going on under the surface. Noragami: Stray God has been doing well, so I expect to see vol 4 hit the NYT bestseller list in the next few weeks. The third volume of xxxHolic Rei is released just as it is announced in Japan that CLAMP will resume work on the series. Good timing for Kodansha. Dark Horse got stuck with the still on hiatus series Gate 7, but then, with Dark Horse’s sometimes glacial release schedule, who would notice?

Certain Scientific Railgun 10Seven Seas releases a new Alice in the Country of title; Alice in the Country of Clover: The March Hare’s Revolution. Elliot has done pretty well in the Alice pairings. How many does this make now 3? 4? 5?? A Certain Sceinetific Railgun Vol 10 is released this week, catching the series up with its Japanese counterpart. It’s a good thing Yen Press has the main series, A Certain Magical Index coming out in both light novel and manga formats to tide fans over until the next release. Vol 6 of Dragonar Academy is also coming out this week, and is sure to hit the NYT bestseller list at least for its first week. The monster girl fans are really supporting their releases. If you’re not interested in monster girls, Viz has vol 15 of Dorohedoro, which has a completely different kind of monsters, but is also really fun. Or if drama is more your cup of tea, Vertical Comics has their very successful deluxe release of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin Vol 9. Excellent writing and art.

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Gantz Volume 35 TP, $13.99

Attack On Titan Junior High Volume 3 GN, $16.99
Maria The Virgin Witch Volume 2 GN, $10.99
Noragami Stray God Volume 4 GN, $10.99
Say I Love You Volume 7 GN, $10.99
xxxHOLiC Rei Volume 3 GN, $10.99

Alice In The Country Of Clover The March Hare’s Revolution GN, $13.99
Certain Scientific Railgun Volume 10 GN, $12.99
Devils And Realist Volume 5 GN, $12.99
Dragonar Academy Volume 6 GN, $12.99

Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin Volume 9 HC, $29.95

Dorohedoro Volume 15 GN, $12.99

Sword Art Online Novel Volume 4 Fairy Dance SC, $13.00

This Week’s Manga: April Showers

This Week's Manga

Clay Lord 1 Lots of titles debuting this week. Kodansha starts out with two new titles. Let’s Dance A Waltz is by Natsumi Ando, the mangaka of Kitchen Princess, and the recently ended Arisa. I have yet to read an Ando title, though Kitchen Princess is on my “someday” list, but I’ll definitely give the first volume of this series a try. Your Lie In April was Kodansha’s last announced license of 2014. It’s a music title that has been compared to Nodame Cantabile, which was only partially published by Del Rey back in the day. I’m looking forward to giving this volume a try as well. Seven Seas has two debuts as well. 12 Beast is another monster girl title, and is by the same mangaka as their runaway hit Monster Musume.  I expect this title to do just as well, I just won’t be experiencing it first hand. Clay Lord: Masters of Golems is much more my type. It’s a fantasy with plenty of adventure and competition.

DevilIsAPartTimerV1_Prose_TPYen Press is the serious player this week with four new light novels and 2 new manga debuting. Yen On gets a big push with Devil is a Part-Timer, Kagerou Daze, No Game, No Life, and Log Horizon all debuting their first volumes this week. No Game No Life and Log Horizon has seem a bit of hype from fans, but Devil is a Part-Timer is the one I’m most interested in. I don’t know why but the thought of a demon lord working in fast food just sounds really funny to me. Of the new manga, the title I’m looking forward to the most is of course Puella Magi Tart Magica. This time it’s a magical girl from the past, so I’m looking forward to how the historical setting works. Also out this week is the final volume of Tena on S-String. I never thought this title would ever be finished. Before its return in December, the last volume was released in 2010. That volume finished well enough that it could have been the end, but there is a proper ending now, which I’m looking forward to reading.

Full List per Diamond Distributors

Let’s Dance A Waltz Volume 1 GN, $10.99
Your Lie In April Volume 1 GN, $10.99

12 Beast Volume 1 GN, $12.99
Clay Lord Masters Of Golems Volume 1 GN, $12.99

Witchcraft Works Volume 4 GN, $12.95

Vagabond Volume 37 GN, $9.95

Akame Ga Kill Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Barakamon Volume 4 GN, $15.00
Devil Is Part-Timer Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Inu X Boku SS Volume 7 TP, $11.99
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon Novel Volume 2 SC, $14.00
Kagerou Daze Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Log Horizon The Beginning Of Another World Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Puella Magi Tart Magica The Legend Of Jeanne D’Arc Volume 1 GN, $13.00
So I Can’t Play H Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Spice And Wolf Novel Volume 14 SC, $13.00
Sword Art Online Progressive Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Tena On S-String Volume 7 GN, $30.00

Kodansha at Anime Boston


While Yen Press was kicking it up in Seattle at Sakura-Con, Kodansha was staying cool at Anime Boston. They had announcements for 5 new titles as well as news about current titles.

ninja-slayer-kills  Starting with the new titles, Kodansha picked up Ninja Slayer Kills. This is another adaptation of the novel series Ninja Slayer, about salary man Kenji Fujikido, who is possessed by the Ninja spirit Naraku. Kenji’s wife and child was killed in a ninja turf war, and his thirst for vengeance matches Naraku’s lust for killing. Together they become Ninja Slayer. Veritcal Comics already announced another adaptation, Machine of Vengeance. It’s not surprising Kodansha picked up one as well, especially with an anime set to run this year. This series has two volumes out so far and is ongoing. I will probably pass on this one, since ultra violence just isn’t my thing.

Cat DiaryA title I am excited about is Cat Diary: Yon and Mu by horror manga creator Junji Ito. A semi-autobiographical comedy, it is about a horror manga artist and his fiance’s cats. I’ve been interested in this title since I heard about it in 2009. Ito’s creepy art combined with the mysteries of cats who are probably planning our demise anyway, just seems to be the perfect combination. I will definitely be picking this one up. It’s about cats, you shouldn’t be surprised. It is complete in one volume.

Persona Q P3Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth P3/P4 are adaptations of the Nintendo 3DS game. Each title features the protagonist from Persona 3 and Persona 4 and their friends attending a school cultural festival when a mysterious bell rings out. Each title starts out as their own story line, but they begin to merge as the story progresses. I’ve been learning a lot about Persona Q, as my oldest daughter as been obsessed with it, and has played it through twice now. It will be interesting to see how the manga handles the merging of the storylines. Kodansha has pretty much guaranteed sales for both these titles. The titles just began at the beginning of this year, so there is no volume count or release date, but for those who can’t wait, Crunchyroll has both titles available for streaming. I’ll be happy to wait for the print books.

devil-survivorRelated to Persona Q indirectly is Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. This title is also the adaptation of a Nintendo 3DS game. The Persona series is also a spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei series. The Comp is a popular portable game system that doubles as a smart phone. It has also become a portal for demons to come to our world. Protag Kazuya receives three Comps from his genius programmer cousin, and he and his friends must learn to use them to fight and capture the demons before they take over Japan. I’m game to check this title out as well. I was interested in the Shin Megami Tensei that Tokyopop had licensed back in the day, but only one volume was released. There are currently 5 volumes out of the ongoing series.

Kodansha also had two bits of news. First, Vinland Saga, which had gone on a sort of hiatus was given release dates for Volumes 6 and 7. Volume 6 will be out in September and Volume 7 will be out in December. They also warned these would be the last two volumes in English if sales didn’t improve. When the original release date for Volume 6 was pulled, there were lots of thoughts that is was because of low sales. Kodansha has now confirmed that, but the series hasn’t been abandoned as was also thought. It is now in the fans’ hands if this title lives or dies. Pre-order if you want Vinland Saga in English to continue.

The second bit of news was a new limited edition of Attack on Titan Vol 16. It will be released in August on the same day as the regular edition, and will include a set of playing cards printed by US Playing Card Company. Each card will have different full color art. There will also be a variant dust cover by an American Artist that is yet to be announced. All of this, and it will only cost $19.99 MSRP. Attack on Titan fanatics will definitely want this.

Attack On Titan No Regrets Volume 2

Erwin’s political enemies have hired Levi and his crew to take back some incriminating documents. Their reward: the right to live a proud life above ground, in the royal capital. But deep in titan territory, it’s going to be tough to break formation and steal from a squad leader, and Levi still insists on killing the man who humiliated him after the mission is complete. Of course, beyond the walls anything can happen, and a sudden change in Levi’s fortunes will force him to face the greatest regret in his life…

Attack On Titan: No Regrets Volume 2
Attack on Titan no regrets 2Written by Gun Snark (Nitroplus); Art by Hikaru Suruga
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Horror/Drama
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★★

I really enjoyed the first volume of Attack On Titan: No Regrets, and was really looking forward to this one, and again it didn’t disappoint. The series takes a darker turn from the lighter first volume, but keeps all the drama and excitement to deliver an ending you won’t regret.

After their first encounter with a titan, Levi, Isabel and Furlan all start to change a little. Isabel is drawn into the Corps more, sympathizing with their cause. Furlan goes in the opposite direction, wanting to push his plan forward and get out of the Corps and into the life of luxury they’ve been promised. Levi, as usual, remains a mystery, his true feelings being veiled by his desire to protect his friends. I do like that about Levi. Part of his appeal is his silent, stoic demeanor. Hearing his thoughts would ruin some of his mystery. We meet Hange Zoe in this volume, as he barges in on the trio to ask Levi about his tactics in taking down the titan. I love his expression before and how he deals with Isabel constantly interrupting him. It was a smile-inducing moment.

With a subtitle of No Regrets, it should come as no surprise that regret is a major theme throughout the volume. Erwin speaks of the sacrifices members of the Survey Corps make to further their cause and do so without regret. Levi must struggle with regret as well after he makes his own fateful decision. It leads to a fantastic confrontation between Levi and Erwin. Erwin’s speech says so much about what he believes and shows how he is able to get people to follow him even to face the hell that the Titans represent.

Suruga does a wonderful job with the art again. His action sequences continue to be thrilling as Levi shows once again why he is called “humanity’s greatest soldier.” The few moments of emotion that Levi shows for Isabel and Furlan are all the more moving because he shows his feelings so rarely. Levi and Erwin’s expressions are superb in their confrontation, which leads into a beautifully symbolic awakening for Levi.

Attack On Titan: No Regrets is a great piece of storytelling with some very compelling characters. Even though you don’t get to spend a lot of time with them, you care about what happens to them. I was happy at the end that we got some side stories about Levi, Isabel and Furlan set before they joined the Survey Corps. I would gladly welcome more like them. If you have even a passing interest in Attack On Titan, pick this series up. You won’t regret it.

8th Manga Taisho Awards Announced

Manga TaishoBack in January, the nominees for the 8th Manga Taisho awards were announced. This year there are 14 titles, and again, there are several titles manga readers will be familiar with. Koe no Katachi, A Silent Voice has been announced for print from Kodansha Comics, and was streamed digitally on Crunchyroll. Maho Tsukai no Yome, The Ancient Magus’ Bride has been licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment, and Boku no Hero Academia, My Hero Academy has just been announced by Viz Media to run simultaneous with the Japanese releases. The rest of the nominees include Innocent, Osama-tachi no Viking, Kakukaku Shikajika, Kasane, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Kodomo wa Wakatte Agenai, Dimitri Tomkins, Blue Giant, Houseki no Kuni, Ballroom e Youkoso, and Boku dake ga Inai Machi.

nozakikun01Several of these titles look interesting, the problem with most them being they are seinen. One of the titles that isn’t and should be a no-brainer for license is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. This comedy series follows Sakura Chiyo who tries to confess to her crush Nozaki, a shoujo manga artist, but instead he asks her to help him with his manga. The anime of this series was streamed here and was well received. It’s from Square Enix, so Yen Press really needs to get on licensing this one!

Ballroom e Youkoso is one of those unusual sports manga that might make it here, especially with the popularity of Dancing with the Stars. The story follows middle school student Fujita Tatara who has no goal in life until he is saved from some delinquents by a mysterious man. He leads him to a dance studio where Fujita becomes inspired to join in dancesport. This shonen could be the one to break the sports manga curse. This is from Kodansha.

housekinokuni01Innocent is a historical series about an executioner during the French Revolution, while Osama-tachi no Viking follows a genius hacker and a spoiled rich kid who join forces. Blue Giant appears to be about a school-aged jazz musician who plays the tenor saxophone. All three of these are seinen titles that Viz would have to be convinced to look at. Houseki no Kuni, Kingdom of Gems is a fantasy series about a new life form known as Gems who have to fight to keep from being made into decorations. This seinen series is from Kodansha.

Since three of these nominees have already be licensed, there’s a good chance some of these others will be too. I was pretty good with predictions last year, when the two titles I highlighted ended up getting licensed, so I hope at least a couple of the titles I mentioned will get the nod.

The Manga Taisho Award nominees are nominated by bookstore staff in charge of their stores manga section. Manga titles released in 2014 and that are under 8 volumes are eligible for nomination. There will be second round of voting that will decide the winner, and will be announced later this year.


Manga Dogs Volume 1

Kanna Tezuka is a serious 15-year-old manga artist, already being published as a pro. So when she finds out her high school is starting a manga drawing course, even she gets excited. But it’s a fiasco! The teacher is useless, and the only other students-three pretty-boy artist wannabes-quickly adopt Kanna as their (unwilling) sensei. But they all have ridiculous delusions about being an artist, and if Kanna can’t bring them back down to Earth, she’ll never get any work done!

Manga Dogs Volume 1
Manga Dogs 1By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Comedy
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Manga Dogs is a manga about being a mangaka, somewhat in the vein of Bakuman. But where Bakuman is a serious take about what it takes to be a successful mangaka, Manga Dogs takes a more satirical route, poking fun at the fans and wanna be creators. It’s only problem is that it’s just not that funny.

The story revolves around Kanna Tezuka, a mangaka who has already debuted in a shojo magazine, but her title just isn’t popular. When her high school starts a manga track, she thinks it’s a way to be able to draw manga at school. Three pretty boys going the class, and latch onto Kanna, calling her sensei, but they are all talk. They think they can become successful without doing any of the work, causing Kanna all kinds of stress.

While this might sound like a funny premise, in practice it fails. The three guys, Fumio Akatsuka, Fujio Fuji and Shota Ishinomori, are lifeless and stale. They are meant to poke fun at readers who think being a mangaka is easy, and have all kinds of delusions of being successful without doing any work. They talk about what they would do with prize money from a contest with no thought of creating anything, and give up immediately when faced with real work. They are the worse kind of fans, and annoyed me to no end.

What was worse was that Kanna was just as uninteresting as the boys. She is the protagonist, but she does nothing but react with shock to the things the boys say and do, and lets her editor, who seems to be just as bad as the boys, push her around. She has no personality and barely speaks to anyone. Almost all of her dialog is internal. Her lack of interaction with anything or anyone gets tedious very quickly.

Manga Dogs wasn’t all bad. I liked the use of manga history, with the characters last names being well known mangaka, and the name of the school is the same as the apartment building where Osamu Tezuka and several other famous mangaka lived and worked for many years. I also liked most of the chapter where Kanna is taking pictures of her school for research. It the only time where she has an expression other than blank or shocked.

I wanted to like Manga Dogs. I was really hoping for a title that would make me laugh and would have some clever satire about the manga industry. Instead it is filled with boring characters and situations that are anything but funny. The satire wasn’t so much funny as sad since a lot of it was so true. Maybe it will get better, but there are a lot better titles out there to put your money on.

This Week’s Manga: I Don’t Like This Week At All

This Week's Manga

Fairy Tail 46 Wow, I know end of the month lists can be tough, but this one is seriously rough. There are only four different titles coming out from four different companies. The only title I would really have a lot of interest in getting is Fairy Tail vol 46 from Kodansha. I am so far behind on Fairy Tail I’m thinking just looking for the beginning of the latest arc and picking it up there and going back to read the backlog later. It worked for Attack on Titan, but then I wasn’t 41 volumes behind either.

From the New World 7Seven Seas Entertainment has another male gaze oriented title with I Don’t Like You At All Big Brother that I am passing on guilt free, and Yen Press has just one title, Soul Eater. I know this has been a popular series for a long time, but I just couldn’t get into it. Not at the beginning, and especially not now. Vertical releases the final volume of From the New World with vol 7. I wasn’t thrilled by the first volume due to its heavy fan service, but I’d heard from friends that the story was good, so I’ll give it another try. I can power through 6 volumes easily.

Full list per Diamond Distributors:

Fairy Tail Volume 46 GN, $10.99

I Don’t Like You At All Big Brother Collected Edition Volume 4 GN, $18.99

From The New World Volume 7 GN, $10.95

Soul Eater Volume 24 TP, $13.00

xxxHolic Rei Volume 1

Yuko, Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari are back! xxxHolic Rei represents a “return” to the otherworldly setting of Yuko’s shop, where wishes are granted., but always for a price. The visitors are as strange as ever–two best friends whose cell phone trinkets share eerie similarities, a disembodied voice that is impossible to resist–but even by Yuko’s sordid standards, something is truly odd…Return to the elegant world of CLAMP’s metaphysical masterpiece.

xxxholic rei 1xxxHolic Rei Volume 1
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★½☆☆

xxxHolic returns after a 19 volume run to continue the adventures of Yuko, Watanuki, Domeki and Himawari as they grant wishes at Yuko’s wish-granting shop. While this is a return for the characters, only returning readers will really have an idea of what is going on.

xxxHolic Rei starts out as if it were another chapter of the xxxHolic series before it ended. Watanuki is the cook and housekeeper for Yuko, the shop owner with strange mystical powers that draw people to the shop “because they need to.” Domeki is Watanuki’s classmate who also works at a shrine, and drops by for Yuko’s help. While the opening scene shows that there is an established relationship between these three people, how or why is never explained to the reader. The assumption is made that someone picking up this volume will already have read the first series, and knows all about these people, how they are related and why they all work together. As someone who only read the first volume of the first series, this felt very alienating. There was a lot I could guess as a reader, but it diminished the potential enjoyment of the series to have work out all these things as I read it. A first volume of a series, continuation, sequel or whatever should have enough of an introduction that new readers don’t feel left out. This volume failed in this respect.

There are two stories in this volume. The first is about two “best friends”, who are drawn to the shop for some reason. As the story progresses, one of the girls keeps getting her, and her injuries are mirrored on cell phone charms both girls share. This story was okay. It showed how ugly women can be toward each other when they feel betrayed, and what lengths they will go to for some sort of retribution. The second story involves Watanuki being used by Yuko to lure a spirit to her shop where she can destroy it. This story was close to what I would call an arc story. It implies there is something about Watanuki and a choice he will have to make. I didn’t care for this story as it left more feeling confused and lost more than anything else. With there being so much I don’t know already about the series, is this a new mystery that will be played out, or is it connected to the previous series and I am just missing something? Neither story really engaged me.

The characters didn’t engage me either. Watanuki comes off as a jerk, especially to Domeki, who doesn’t seem to do much of anything to incur his wrath. Even his compliments are met with hostility. Domeki seems unemotional and apathetic, and Yuko–she’s all over the place. Mostly she’s mysterious in that frustratingly annoying way.

The art is very CLAMP. Lots of tall and lanky characters. Yuko’s kimonos are elaborate and beautiful. Just looking at the cover design with the play between Watanuki’s and Yuko’s is amazing. The styles continue in the volume along with some elaborate hair styles. CLAMP continues to do incredible art work.

xxxHolic Rei is a series that is made just for fans of the previous series. There is nothing here to help ease a new reader in, or make the characters appealing to those who don’t know how they got to this point in the series. I don’t mind a story that starts in middle, there should be something for the new reader to latch onto as an anchor. This volume doesn’t do that. A first volume is meant to pull the reader in, not push them away. Fans of CLAMP will buy this series regardless. New readers should exercise some caution.

This Week’s Manga: Say I Love My Story

This Week's Manga

Say I Love You 5It’s a new year with plenty of new manga to check out. There is a nice mix of titles this week in both shonen, shojo and the young reader demographics. Dark Horse releases the first volume in the sequel/continuation of the CLAMP series Legal Drug with Drug and Drop omnibus coming out. Viz’s kid imprint, Perfect Square has new Pokèmon, Adventures and Black and White. I’ve only just caught up with Vertical Comics’ What Did You Eat Yesterday Vol 4-5, and now I’ve got 6 breathing down my neck! Kodansha has the fifth volume of a shojo series I really enjoy, Say I Love You. I have vols 3-4 stacked up, so with vol 5 I can indulge in another binge read. This is always good and bad. I love getting big doses of my favorite titles, but then it’s a long wait for the new volume!

My Love Story 3This is Viz Media’s big shonen and shojo week, but it’s not as big usual. The Akira Toriyama One-shot Jaco the Galactic Patrolman finally makes it’s digital and print debut. Joining it is the new shojo title Meteor Prince Vol 1. I wasn’t wowed by the premise of Meteor Prince but those who have reviewed it so far have enjoyed it. The third volume of My Love Story is out, and having finally read vol 1, I’m in agreement that it’s a really cute story. Since I’m getting it digitally, I will have to try to catch up with Viz’s digital sale. I’m also looking forward to checking out World Trigger, the second volume of which is out this week. I hope it’s better than Seraph of the End.

Full List per Diamond Distributors:

Drug And Drop Volume 1 TP, $10.99

Fairy Tail Volume 45 GN, $10.99
Say I Love You Volume 5 GN, $10.99

LBX Volume 3 Artemis Begins GN, $9.99
Pokemon Adventures Black And White Volume 6 GN, $9.99
Pokemon Adventures Volume 26 GN, $9.99

What Did You Eat Yesterday Volume 6 GN, $12.95

07-GHOST Volume 14 GN (not verified by Diamond), $9.99
Bleach 3-In-1 Edition Volume 10 TP, $14.99
Jaco The Galactic Patrolman GN, $9.99
Kiss Of The Rose Princess Volume 2 GN, $9.99
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Noragami Stray God Volume 1

Yato is a homeless god. He doesn’t even have a shrine, not to mention worshippers! So to achieve his ambitious goals, he’s set up a service to help those in need (for a small fee), hoping he’ll eventually raise enough money to build himself the lavish temple of his dreams. Or course, he can’t afford to be picky, so Yato accepts all kinds of jobs, from finding lost kittens to helping a student overcome bullies at school.

Noragami Stray God Volume 1
Noragami 1By Adachitoka
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Fantasy
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★★☆

Noragami is about Yato, a god who is at the bottom of the bottom of the deity hierarchy. He has dreams of gaining thousands of followers and building lavish shrine where he will be worshipped. In order to do this, he needs to be known and collect offerings. To this end, he puts up his number all around town, advertising his services, and only those who truly need it will see it. Yato’s big problem; he is unmarketable. He is egotistical, and can be a real jerk, but he does have good intentions, and truly wants to help people. It’s getting that last part across that is so difficult for him. His chance meeting with Hiyori gives him someone to help, but she isn’t the average teenage girl. She saves Yato from being hit by a bus, but in the process, her spirit is thrown out of her body. As it starts to happen more and more, she seeks out Yato to fix it.

I didn’t think I’d like this volume at first. Yato’s attitude bothered me at with his self-absorbed delusions of grandeur. But he quickly grew on me with his blunt talk. The first story, where he helps a girl being bullied by her classmates, does a good job of showing his different sides. He doesn’t show any sympathy for Mutsumi, despite his Shinki Tomone’s, pleas. Her classmates are pretty mean, but she isn’t completely without fault for the position she is in. I actually found myself taking his side when she was ready to just give up. He finally does help Mutsumi with her classmate problem, and his solution was really what she needed, despite Tomone’s protests. I really warmed up to him at the end, where he looks so vulnerable, clutching his bottle of coins in the small shine.

I liked Hiyori as Yato’s partner for the rest of the volume. She comes off as oblivious to the dangers around her, but she isn’t afraid to take on a challenge or defend herself or others when in a pinch. Her less-girlish hobby of being a wrestling fan actually comes in handy when Yato is attacked by an Ayakashi. She jumps in without thinking, using a move by her favorite wrestler to save the day.

Noragami has a good amount of humor. Both Hiyori and Yato get to be the subject of the situation, though I found Hiyori’s obliviousness more amusing that Yato being constantly disparaged. The argument Yato and Hiyori have while running away from an Ayakashi Hiyori found was one of the funnier moments in the volume.

I really liked the art. It is very realistic and detailed, reminding me a lot of Takeshi Obata’s work. I also liked how Adachitoka used Yato’s eyes to express his non-humanness. The character’s emotions are conveyed masterfully, and rarely does he revert using more cartoonish caricatures, which would feel very out-of-place otherwise.

I was pleasantly surprised by Noragami, and am looking forward to future volumes. I am interested in seeing more of Yato’s journey to becoming a proper god. While there was a majority of comedy in this volume, it did have its serious moments, and I hope we get more of these as the series goes on. Noragami is a series with a lot of potential to become another hit for Kodansha. It has an anime that streamed earlier this year, so it has name recognition. But really, it should succeed because it was just a fun read. And it has a cute cat name Milord.