Leo Aoi looks like a crazy animal with wild eyes–and no one at his new high school will go near him! he does seem to have a special connection with animals though, which intrigues overzealous animal lover Yuiko Kubozuka. In reality, Leo isn’t as frightening as he appears, but Yuiko find out that he goes berserk whenever he sees blood! Will Yuiko be able to get through to Leo during these violent fits? Or will Leo’s ferocious side eventually devour her?
Kenji and Shiro continue on their journey of discovery and acceptance as Shiro leans why Kenji fell for him, Kenji finally meets Shiro’s parents, they take a vacation to Kyoto together, and the pains of parents and themselves growing old sneak up on them. And through it all, Shiro continues to cook inventive yet simple-to-make dishes as well as adding new ones to his repertoire.
Kazumi, a teenage girl, wakes up in a suitcase without any clothes or memories. She soon learns that she is a magical girl, and part of a team know as the Pleiades Saints, who fight to protect their town Asurano from witches. But something about the Pleiades seems off and as Kazumi learns the truth about them, magical girls and herself, will anything be right again?
For five years, Eren Yeager has nursed a grudge against the Titans. Now he’s about to enter junior high with these massive creatures as classmates, and he won’t let his chance for revenge go to waste! Watch as your favorite trainees take on the Titans…in class, music club and dodgeball!
Attack on Titan Junior High Volume 1
By Saki Nakagawa
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
Attack on Titan has had a lot of spin-off titles. Some have been serious, like No Regrets and Before the Fall, adding to the mythos of the world. Junior High is not that kind of spin-off. Following a trend that seems to have become popular, it takes the characters from the main series and drops them into a high school setting so the hilarity can ensue. It is an irreverent take that is meant to be funny, but is more hit and miss with its humor.
Once Shinji didn’t care about anything; then he found people to fight for–only to learn that he couldn’t protect them, or keep those he let into his heart from going away. As mankind tilts on the brink of the apocalyptic Third Impact, human feelings are fault lines leading to destruction and just maybe, redemption and rebirth.
Neon Genesis Evangelion Volume 1-3
By Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Price: $19.99 USD
Neon Genesis Evangelion is an anime from the 1990s that defined a generation, and changed the mecha genre. I was never able to watch more than a few episodes of the anime, so I thought reading the manga adaptation would be a better way to go. Nope. My first instincts were correct. These first three volumes are slow and boring with a protagonist that you spend most of the time wanting to slap silly.
Once a loner, Hikari “Picasso” Hamura has helped so many people that he finds himself surrounded by friends! Picasso’s going to need them as he faces his most difficult “portrait” yet. It’s easy to deal with other people’s problems. But it’s another story when you have to face your own…
Back when I read volume 1 of Genkaku Picasso for the Usamaru Furuya Movable Manga Feast, I said I was definitely going to be picking up the last two volumes, which I did, but didn’t get around to reading. Have I mentioned I can be a bit of hoarder when it comes to books? Anyway, I finally decided to read the final volumes, and I am really glad I did. The classmates they help and the problems they deal with are both timely and poignant. The final volume has one of the best twists I’ve ever read in a book, and just elevates this series to a whole ‘nother level.
Haruka and Mamoru finish off the invisible enemy and its operator, the hit man Fang. Sierra is injured and is off the case for a while, leading to the introduction to the abrasive Juliet, who Haruka doesn’t get along with. Turus ups the ante by offering a bounty on Haruka and Mamoru that draws in killers from around the world. Mamoru becomes the bait for them while Haruka has an adventure of her own with some friends from school. Meanwhile, Wiseman, one of those attracted by the bounty makes his move, finding Mamoru’s weak spot, setting up a trap meant to take care of the blind swordsman for good.
Once again, there is a lot going on in these two volumes of Until Death Do Us Part, but not much happens. Mamoru and his sword still dominate the action, but there are a few shining moments here and there that keep me just interested enough to keep reading.
As Paperboy starts to issue video warnings of crimes they plan to commit against ever-larger targets of internet outrage, Lieutenant Yoshino and the Anti Cyber Crimes Division attempts to get on step ahead of the newspaper-masked terror group. But even as they contend with the authorities, the greatest threat to Paperboy’s master plan may come from a totally unexpected place–within…
Prophecy Volume 2
By Tetsuya Tsutsui
Publisher: Vertical Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
I really enjoyed the first volume of Prophecy and found it hard not to want to cheer on Paperboy over the ACCD who were trying to catch them. It seems they are always one step ahead of the police as they play a long game where the goal is still unknown, and they continue their mast manipulation of social media to reach it.
Once again, I am finding myself sympathizing with the antagonists of this series, Paperboy. They take on an environmentalist group called “The Sea Guardians”, who target Japanese fishing boats in the name of the environment, but are made up of some really slimy people. Like the “justice” they administered in volume 1, Paperboy’s vigilantism feels wholly appropriate and well deserved. But this act, along with their previous acts, are just more social engineering. Their huge success with “The Sea Guardians” creates copycats that then creates a backlash against an open internet. But the question remains, to what end?
“Gates”, the leader of Paperboy, shows himself to be a master strategist as well as programmer. He has been planning this for three years, and while he couldn’t predict the details, he has predicted what certain people would do and how they would react to their incidents. This leads up to the surprising announcement at the end of the volume. While I have no doubt “Gates” would do it, I’m still left wondering what their endgame is, because I can’t believe it is that.
Trouble is stirring in the ranks of Paperboy as one of their members, “Nobita”, starts to have second thoughts and essentially wants out of the plan. Some of this background is shown as is what he’s been going recently, that seems to be fueling his change of heart. He makes his move at the end as well.
ACCD continues to try to piece Paperboy together. Yoshino tries to resign when who she thinks is the wrong Paperboy is caught in her sting. Ichikawa has the completely wrong read of Paperboy, making him dismissive of them. It’s Okamoto, the non-techie, who starts to see behind the social media flash, and that Paperboy’s motives are not all about notoriety. He also has dogs at home that he cares for, so that up his estimation with me. It would be even higher if they were cats.
Prophecy Volume 2 is a good middle volume that pushing both plot and character forward while retaining the hook that makes volume 3 a must have. Paperboy seems to have legitimately good reasons for doing what they are doing, but it is the endgame that will show if the end actually justifies the means. “Gates” seems certain. “Nobita” does not. I’ll just have to wait to see who is right. Prophecy continues to be a great thriller and a must read.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Teenage manga artist Kanna Tezuka’s series about a high school for Buddhist statues is facing cancellation! Meanwhile, the manga course that’s given her so much free time to draw at school is under threat from a principal taken with the next big thing: light novels! Their teacher’s solution to this existential crisis is an inspiring field trip, but will it be enough to get these dogs to start drawing at last?!
Manga Dogs Volume 3
By Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Age Rating: Older Teen
I didn’t really care for the first volume of Manga Dogs. The characters weren’t interesting and the stories weren’t funny. But I was given the opportunity to read the final volume, so I decided to give it a try to see if anything had improved. I can safely say, the series didn’t get any worse, but neither did it get any better.
Kanna continues to struggle to keep her series from being canceled. She gets a new editor who believes in her talent, but doesn’t actually do anything to help her improve the story. The boys continue to be delusional, and be more of a hindrance than help to Kanna, until they are given an ultimatum. Produce a manga that will be published or the program will be shut down in favor of a light novel program.
Not much has changed from the first volume, something I shouldn’t be too surprised by after reading Missions of Love a few volumes later. The boys are still lazy and assuming they will be great without doing any work, and are still annoying as all get-out. Kanna at least has grown slightly as a character, and it shows by the end. After a year with the boys, they have grown on her some, and she doesn’t object to spending some time with them.
Most of the chapters didn’t appeal to me again, as they were more of the same, the boys messing things up for Kanna more than helping. They chase away a potential new student while trying to act cool, and answer some interview questions that were for Kanna. I did like the cultural festival chapter, where they do a version of a haunted house, but instead do what it’s like to be a mangaka. Their version is more scary than a haunted house. I also like the pilgrimage their teacher takes them on to all the places where the gods of manga stayed and worked to give the kids inspiration, and also so she could pray to the gods of manga to help save the program.
Overall, I did like this volume a little more than the previous. Kanna’s growth, and some of the humor did work for me, but those things were too few or far between to really make this volume work better. I still spent more time shaking my head than smiling, though I did feel a bit of vindication when it truly sank in how much work the boys would have to do get a story ready for a contest.
As a satire, Manga Dogs does lampoon much of the industry. Editorial gets hit the hardest with Kanna’s editors being ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. The boys are shown to be what most hardworking artists hate most in fans; those who think they can do just as well or better without the work. Even Kanna represents what artists shouldn’t be like by just going along with what other people say than craft a story herself. It might have worked too, if Kanna had been in any way appealing as a character. Manga Dogs had its moments, but there are better manga-about-creating-manga that deserve your money more.
After coming to the realization that Kirishima-sensei was her first love, Yukina goes to face him on her own to finally know the love that she’s been seeking all this time. Meanwhile, Shigure hears a rumor that reveals Kirishima-sensei’s dark past and rushes off to tell Yukina, but before he can catch up with her, Yukina is whisked away by Kirishima-sensei in his car. Can Shigure reach them in time before Kirishima-sensei repeats an action from his sordid past?
Missions of Love Volume 9
By Ema Toyama
Age Rating: Older Teen
I liked the first two volumes of Missions of Love that I read, so when I was given the opportunity to read more, I couldn’t wait. But after two volumes, it seemed that little had changed, and I was bored with seeing Yukina still being completely clueless, Shigure still as cagey about his feelings for her, Akira is still plotting against Shigure and Mami is still holding out hope that Shigure would love her back.
Honestly, I don’t know what exactly I was hoping for, but this volume wasn’t it. I just felt frustrated at the complete lack of movement with the characters. Everything felt the same as it had back in volume 6. I guess I had hoped for something to have changed in those two intervening volumes, but it really felt like nothing had. What frustrated me most was Yukina. She’s had all these “missions” with Shigure and it seems like she hasn’t learned a thing. After eight volumes you would think something would have sunk in, but she’s still as oblivious to feelings of love as she was at the beginning. She makes big proclamations, but when she finally gets some true feelings she still can’t figure it out? Seriously? I also didn’t care for the cheap shot of using her teacher to set up a seduction when all he really wanted was to find out if she was being bullied or abused by Shigure. The set up was too obvious.
Fortunately there was some character development, but it seemed to be all reserved for Shigure. I liked that he was against Yukina going off with Kirishima to learn “what love really is.” Considering his feelings for her, it’s natural that he wanted to be the one to show her that. Akira agreeing to let Yukina go felt fake, like he was trying to rack up points with her. Shigure also took several steps forward in admitting his feelings for her. He told Mami that he could see her as a friend, not a girlfriend, and he told Yukina that for her, he would stop acting fake. It was a relief to see someone in this series acknowledge their changing feelings and actually act on them.
It’s also about time the story looped back around the cell phone novel plot that the whole “missions” are supposed to be helping her with. She’s supposed to be applying what she’s learned to her novels to make them better. Considering her rankings, she hasn’t been doing that, or even writing at all. Hopefully contact from her rival will change that, and that by applying what she’s learned in her novel it will finally get through to her as well.
I started out liking Missions of Love, but too much of the same can really kill the fun. There has to be some development in the characters, otherwise, what’s the point in reading about them? Unless Yukina is revealed to be a robot, I’m having a hard time buying her continued inability to understand the emotion love, especially now that Shigure is stepping up his game. Toyama needs to step her game too, otherwise this title will really stagnate. I’m not looking for the proverbial lightbulb, just a few connecting the dots.
Review copy provided by publisher.
The truth behind the tragedy of Sablier, and the identities of Jack Vessalius, Glen Baskerville, Oz, and Alice are all finally revealed in these 9 volumes. But the path to these truths is filled with twists and turns, and danger hides around every corner where friends become foes, allies fall, and hope seems completely lost at times.
Pandora Hearts Volume 12-20
By Jun Mochizuki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Reading these nine volumes of Pandora Hearts was a lot like eating potato chips; you can’t read just one. I had let this series pile up, which in retrospect was probably a good thing. I ended up binge reading these volumes. So much was revealed in each volume, that I had to keep going. Things start with the calm before the storm; a tea party for Oz and his friends, and Oz’s society debut at the mysterious Isla Yura’s residence in a neighboring state. Things pretty much go down hill from there, rolling like a snowball, growing in size and showing no sign of stopping.
I loved all of the revelations that were made in these volumes. The truth of so many things is finally uncovered when Oz is able to see Jack’s memories. It all starts when Jack first meets Lacie as a young homeless boy. She gives him the encouragement he needs make something of himself, but he becomes obsessed with her, and that starts Jack down the path of destruction that leads straight to the Tragedy of Sablier. The memories also show the truth about the Baskervilles and their connection to the Abyss, as well as the origins of the B-Rabbit chain, and how Alice really died. Gilbert and Alice both gets their memories back as well, filling in a few more pieces. Finally seeing the whole picture of what lead of the tragedy of Sablier was the highlight of these volumes. Having only seen fragments so far, it was fascinating to finally see everything in order, as well as the twisted logic that led to it.
As I read these volumes, I started wondering if Mochizuki was a fan of either Joss Whedon or George R.R. Martin, with the way characters, some I really liked, were being taken out. Yes, people die in these volumes. Some death are only of personality, others are mortally wounded. Some aren’t any real big loss, like Yura. Others fall to the mysterious head hunter. A few make you go “Noooo!!!” at their passing. The first big “no” moment is very well-built up. A second has had the previous 19 volumes that not only drives the knife in, but it twists it hard.
The truth about Jack turns the world upside for a lot of people, with some who were one considered allies becoming foes, and Pandora turning on Oz/Jack. But while supposed allies turn, the true power of these volumes is in showing how important it is to connect with people. Every important choice made by many of the characters ends up being based on the importance of the others to them. Elliot is able to do what he must because of Leo. Oscar helps Oz because Oz, Gil, and Ada all saved him from his grief. Gil is able to reject his past role and embrace his new life because of Oz. Oz is able to accept who and what he is and choose to live because Elliot, Leo, Gil, Ada, Oscar and Alice all accepted him. It also give Oz the power to resist Jack, and maybe even defeat him.
These nine volumes of Pandora Hearts were a thrilling, gripping, heart wrenching ride. So many things make sense now, with most of the pieces of the puzzle put together, forming the true picture, but there is still more to learn. The Abyss and it’s center, The Intention are pieces yet to be fit in, and they are the most fascinating parts. The endgame is so close now, with only two volumes left to round things up. I will definitely be there to see the last pieces put into place.
Review copies provided by publisher.
Gyo is one of those titles, that just one look inside stays with you forever. The story of nature gone horribly wrong features some the most disturbing images, such as fish running around on crab/lobster/spider legs, as well as some of the most absurd, like a man being stalked by a shark. A shark head peering around a corner is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Together, you get a title that is quite frankly unforgettable, and well deserving of the hardcover deluxe omnibus Viz is giving it.