Matsuri Hino, creator of shojo series Vampire Knight returns to Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint with a new series about a school girl whose a ninja. This isn’t any kind of surprise. With the success Viz experienced with Vampire Knight, it was a no-brainer that her next series would be licensed here as well. I wasn’t impressed or interested in Vampire Knight, so I’m not feeling any impetus to pick this on up either. It’s gonna be a pass for me, but check out the first volume yourself if you like Hino’s work or are interested in any way.
I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m drawn to titles that have delinquents who hide a softer side, so I’m looking forward to this release. It’s got a lot of potential for misunderstandings, and mismatched friends. It’s a great way to start out the new year.
I haven’t read a lot of Tanemura’s work that’s available in English, and of the titles I have, it’s been hit and miss. But this new series, featuring a mature woman has definitely caught my interest. The fact that she turns into a teenage idol doesn’t lessen my interest. If anything, it increases it as a sort of mirror image of the magical girl anime of the 80s, where young girls got older to be idols. I’m intrigued to see how Tanemura handles this one.
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?
Maki Minami has become another of Viz Media’s go-to creators with this, her third series to be published by the Shojo Beat imprint. It’s starting up at a perfect time as well, as Voice Over! Seiyuu Academy has just ended. I don’t know if I’ll read it, since it uses the Rich-to-Poor trope that I don’t care for, but it can some times work for me, so may be I’ll at least check out the first volume.
On her sixteenth birthday, orphan Himari Momochi inherits her ancestral estate that she’s never seen. Momochi House exists on the barrier between the human and spiritual realms, and Himari is meant to act as guardian between the two worlds. But on the day she moves in, she finds three handsome squatters already living in the house and one seems to have already taken over her role!
Demon Prince of Momochi House Volume 1
By Aya Shouoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
I was really looking forward to reading the first volume of Demon Prince of Momochi House, and was lucky enough to get a friend to pick it up for me as SDCC (along with one of Viz’s con bags). I read it the same night it arrived, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was let down by the stale characters and a story that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
Anime Expo occurred over the Fourth of July weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and there were certainly a lot of fireworks as publisher exploded with new license announcements. Over the four-day holiday weekend, Vertical, Viz, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
The first manga panel on Saturday was for Viz Media’ Shojo Beat. The imprint is celebrating its 10 year anniversary which included tea with mangaka Julietta Suzuki, the creator of Kamisama Kiss. They announced two licenses, sadly one of which was NOT Suzuki’s Karakuri Odette. It would make a great Viz Select title. Instead, Shuriken and Pleats by Matsuri Hino, the creator of Vampire Knight, was announced. It is about school girl Mikage, who has trained as a ninja to work in her family’s security company, which is a front for her clan’s ninja activities. She worked as bodyguard for an English businessman, who cared about her like a daughter. When he is killed, she learns he has bought her freedom from the clan, and follows his wish to go to school in Japan like a normal girl. The series started in September of 2014 in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine, and will end in the September issue this year. The series will be two volumes, with the first coming out in Japan this month. Viz will release the first volume in Winter of 2016. I’ve been hit and miss with Hino titles, but for such a short series, I’d be willing to give the first volume a try.
The second license was also from a well-known mangaka to western readers. Behind the Scenes is by Bisco Hatori, the creator of Ouran High School Host Club and Millenium Snow. It is about Ranmaru, a super negative college student. He runs into a mysterious drama group on campus who end up turning his life into turmoil. There’s only one volume out so far. Viz will release their first volume in the spring of 2016. I’ve only read Millenium Snow by Hatori, and first two volumes were a lot stronger than the final two, so I’m not sure where to stand on this one. I guess I’ll just wait and see.
Kodansha was the second manga panel of the day, and announced three new titles. They also dropped the second bomb of the con by announcing that they would be releasing the Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime). This title has been on people’s wish lists for several years now, especially after the anime was released. It is a josei series, and follows Tsukimi, a young woman who lives in a “fangirl-only” dorm. She has come to Tokyo to be an illustrator. She has loved jellyfish from a young age, and sees one in danger at a local pet store. A beautiful woman comes to its rescue, and they go back to the dorm, Amamizukan, together, where Tsukimi discovers the woman is really a man. Kodansha has licensed the first 12 volumes of this title, and will release them as 2-in-1 omnibuses starting in February 2016. Whether or not they pick up the remaining 3 volumes will depend on sales. At least they are being up front about it this time. I’ve heard this title bantered about, but never really looked into it since is seemed so unlikely to be licensed. But now that it has, it sounds really interesting. It’s one I’m definitely going to want to check out.
Real Account is another “virtual game becomes deadly in real life” series. This time, it’s a Twitter like game, where members of a social networking site known as Real Account find themselves inside a virtual world. The rules of the game are simple, if you die, all of your followers die too. If you lose all your followers, you die. There are currently 5 volumes, and Kodansha will release the first volume in March 2016. I am not a fan of these virtual reality becomes deadly titles, so it’s not one I’m looking forward to.
Kodansha’s third license fits with their male gaze titles. Magatsuki is about 15-year-old Yasuke Arahabaki. He wants to ask out his childhood friend and crush Akari Inamori. While rushing to do the chores at his family’s shrine, he accidentally breaks a mirror and is cursed by the goddess it releases, Seoritsuhime, a goddess of misfortune. Now, Yasuke must stay close to Seoritsuhime, or he will die, and the only way to life the curse is to help her achieve happiness, even though she is constantly surrounded by bad luck. The first volume will be published in February of 2016, but if you want to check it out first, Crunchyroll is simu-pubbing the series. I’m gonna pass on it though. It doesn’t sound like it would pass my standards on rom-coms.
Two other tidbits announced at the panel; Noragami will begin publishing monthly starting in October 2015 to catch it up with the Japanese releases, due to “excellent sales.” See? Buying pays off! Fairy Tail will also start to see omnibus editions. The first was announced for September and will collect he first 5 volumes. Build up those hand muscles now. That is going to be a killer book to try to hold.
Crunchyroll Manga had the final panel of the con, and added 5 new titles to their streaming service, one of which will sound familiar. Princess Jellyfish will be streamed starting July 15 with the first 4 volumes. If you can’t wait for Kodansha’s print volumes, then check out the digital, and then go buy the print ones. Also out July 15 is Sweetness and Lightening. It’s another “single dad must cope with raising a child alone” title. This time it’s math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka who has lost his wife and must raise his daughter Tsumugi by himself. He’s not a very good cook, but with the help of one his students, Kotori Iida, cooking becomes a new homemade adventure. There are currently 4 volumes available. It looks like something foodies will enjoy.
Already available is Takahashi-san is Listening. This gag-manga is about high school student idol Ena Takahashi. She has a hobby she can’t tell anyone about; she likes to listen in on the ridiculous conversations of class representative Nara-kun and plain-boy Mikage-kun. She wants to retort, but if anyone found out about it, everyone’s trust in her would be destroyed! There are currently five volumes available. This title sounds like shades of My Neighbor Seki, so it might actually be fun, depending on what the conversations she eavesdrops on are about. I think it would be fun to try out at least.
Crunchyroll’s description of Scum’s Wish doesn’t do the series justice. The description and cover makes the series sound like something dark and dirty. It’s about a couple, Hanabi and Mugi, who seem perfect for each other but have a secret they are hiding from the rest of the world. They are both in love with other people. They are drawn together by loneliness and a need to share their hopelessness. Crunchyroll only used the first sentence to describe the series, it the remaining two that make this manga appealing. It’s currently at 5 volumes, and sounds like something I like to read. Get it together Crunchyroll! Series descriptions should attract readers, not repel them!
Morose Mononokean is a title that is definitely up my alley. It follows the a mononokean, the owner of a small tea room that helps to guide yokai that wander into this world, to go to the next. We meet him through Ashiya, a boy who missed the first 5 days of school after a yokai attached itself to him, and he has to go see the Mononokean to ask for help. There are currently 4 volumes. I love yokai, and will always be interested in checking out a new series about them. This title also has the plus of having bishonen as the leads. It’s definitely one I want to check out.
I was hoping to only do two post about the manga licenses at Anime Expo, but after seeing how much Yen Press announced, I’m gonna need a third post just for them to cover it all! And I haven’t forgotten Tokyopop’s announced return. That is another thing that needs its own post. With them reportedly having a panel at SDCC as well, I am very interested to hear if they have anything new to add.
Viz Media is celebrating Shojo Beat’s 10th Anniversary by bringing Shojo manga artist Julietta Suzuki to Anime Expo this year. Her latest title, Kamisama Kiss, is published by Viz, but she’s got a few other titles that would be to see brought over/back. Karakuri Odette was her first title to be published here by Tokyopop. It’s a short series at 5 volumes and was actually published complete. It would be a great addition to the Select line. Then there’s Akuma to Dolce, a two-volume series that is unfortunately on hiatus, possibly due to Kamisama Kiss‘s popularity. Hoshi ni Naru hi is both the name of her debut title and a collection of short stories that would also make a great license since it also includes the prototype story for Kamisama Kiss. Any of these would make a great Anniversary present!
Makoto Amano wants to be come an actor instead of taking over the family dojo. His stern father decrees he can only do so if he spends the last two years of high school disguised as a girl and no one finds out. Ito Miura is a popular girl in her school’s drama department, but is always being given boy’s roles due to her tomboyish ways. The two become friends after Ito discovers Makoto’s secret, but as they constantly protect Makoto’s secret, they start to become something more.
W Juliet Volume 1-5
Age Rating: Teen
Price: $9.99 print/$6.99 digital
When I was tracking the new releases on Vizmanga.com, the release of W Juliet in digital caught my eye. I remember seeing the series in my local comic book store back in the day, but I never got around to picking it up. With it out in digital, and my daughter taking drama in school, I decided to try it out. It wasn’t a bad series, but neither did it ring any bells.
The two leads, Makoto and Ito are likable enough. Makoto is very earnest in his desire to be an actor and takes playing a girl seriously. He pulls off pretty well too, as everyone is convinced he’s a girl. It’s funny how he reacts to the girls swarming around him and questioning him relentlessly. But he is still a man, and is very protective of Ito, and risks his secret being discovered to be with her. Ito is the tall, tough, straight-figured girl who is constantly being mistaken as a boy. She thinks she can’t be feminine, and doesn’t look good in skirts, so she doesn’t try. She very insecure about her femininity, and is even slight jealous that Makoto makes a better girl than her. She discovers Makoto’s secret by accident, but it becomes the bond that draws them closer.
The story in these first five volumes involve one of two things; either Makoto’s secret is about to be discovered, or a boy falls for Ito and Makoto has to come to her rescue. Having these two elements be an issue occasionally would be okay, but when they are the problem in every single chapter, the story quickly becomes tedious. In first volume, Makoto is investigated twice and is thought to be a guy, Makoto Narita (who he really is) but his detractors are fooled by theater prosthetics. Makoto also has a fiance, Takayo, who tries at first to force him back, but later transfers with her brother to get between him and Ito. Ito gets a pair of suitors in Toki, an alumnus of the drama club, and Sakamoto, a boy she meets on a school trip who transfers to her school. Both are determined to make her theirs despite what she wants.
Makoto and Ito have plenty of allies, both willing and not so helping them out. Makoto’s older sister Akane is his biggest supporter. She is a make-up artist and helps him with his make-up, wig, and bringing him clothes when he’s in a jam. Ito has two older brothers and a younger brother, all of whom look are very overprotective of her. This comes in handy when Makoto’s father sends men to watch him when he is staying at Ito’s home over New Year’s. I liked the brothers a lot, but I do have a soft spot for overprotective brothers.
Overall I look at this series favorably, but I have to admit it had trouble holding my attention. It took two tries to read all five volumes. The monotony of Makoto’s secret always being on the verge of being discovered, and the guys that kept forcing themselves on Ito made it difficult. And I know this is a shojo series, but the fact that Makoto was always having to save Ito, despite her having martial arts training started to grate after a while. The stories I enjoyed most were where Makoto and Ito worked together as partners, such as during the ugly duckling performance the club put on to bring in new members. These chapters didn’t happen as often as I would have liked.
I wanted to like W Juliet more, but in the end, it was just average. The art was serviceable, but it was nothing to get excited about. I liked the characters and the story was fun at times. I don’t know if it would have been better to string out Makoto’s secret before Ito found out. I like it being the thing that bonds Makoto and Ito, and brings them together, and through the story, keeps them together. W Juliet definitely works as a rom-com, but it’s one of the more forgettable ones.
Review copies provided by publisher.
I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since the debut of Shojo Beat. I remember resenting my Animerica subscription being turned into a Shojo Beat sub, but I never regrets not canceling it. I loved Shojo Beat the magazine and still have every single issue. I wish there was a way to resurrect it digitally. I didn’t just love the comics, I loved the features and stories that were in the magazine as well. The magazine introduced me to so many titles I would never have read otherwise. It was great and I still miss it. At least we still have the line that is still going strong!
Since Shojo manga doesn’t tend to get the attention shonen does, its encouraging when it gets a big update like this, especially to a site mainly known for US comics that doesn’t cater to feminine tastes. There are a lot of really good titles in this update. I would personally recommend Library Wars: Love and War, Otomen, and Skip Beat. Please Save My Earth and Ouran High School Host Club are on my list to check out as well. They all should be on yours too if you haven’t. Most of them are complete and there’s no waiting for the next volume.
There has been plenty of new titles announced for Viz’s Shonen Jump line, especially with the new Jump Start for Weekly Shonen Jump, but this week Viz Media let Shojo Beat shine with the announcement of two new titles to join the drama-based line.
The first title announced was Bloody Mary. This supernatural series is about 400-year-old vampire “Bloody” Mary who has tired of life and just wants to die. He has been searching for one who would inherit the “Blood of Maria”, that would give them the power to kill him. He finally finds an exorcist who has inherited the power, but he doesn’t know how to use it. But because he possess the power, he becomes the target of lots of other vampires. Mary makes a deal with Maria. He will be his body-guard until Maria can figure out how to use his power and end Mary’s life. The series is only four volumes so far, and will be published quarterly starting in December 2015. This title has two potential strikes against it. One, it’s about vampires. I really am done with the whole vampire thing. Two, the series is a shounen ai/BL series. It’s only four volumes in, and so far the story has pushed the shounen ai and not stumbled into full BL territory. So far. I’m more tolerate of shounen ai that of BL. I don’t mind the flirting and the tension, so as long it keeps on that track I might like it.
Honey So Sweet was the second series and is the kind of teen romance one would expect from Shojo Beat. It is about Nao Kogure, who in Middle School left an umbrella and bandages for injured delinquent Taiga Onise. They meet again in High School, and while Nao doesn’t want anything to do with violent Taiga, he surprises her with a bouquet of flowers and request that she date him. It’s a bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold series, but that’s not so bad. It’s a romantic comedy about love and friendship with an ensemble high school cast. The art looks cute too. Viz has done well with this genre with titles such as Kimi ni Todoke and Strobe Edge, so the chances of this one being just as entertaining is very good. There are six volumes available and this series will also be published quarterly starting in January 2016. I’m more inclined to try out this series as I’m more attracted to the gentle romances than vampire dramas.
Both of these titles will be available in both print and digital as same day releases.