Tag Archives: Viz Media

PR: Viz “Jump Starts” New Manga

Viz Media continues to push the boundaries of digital manga and simultaneous release with their new Jump Start initiative. WSJ readers will get essentially sneak peaks at new titles the same time as Japanese readers, titles that could potentially become regular titles in the English edition. Sports, Sci-Fi crime thriller and sports medicine manga will start the program. It will be interesting to see how well the more niche titles do.


Digital Publishing Campaign Eliminates Time And Distance Barriers To Offer International Fans The Opportunity To Sample Hot New Manga Titles; New Series JUDOS Launches Today!


San Francisco, CA, September 8, 2014 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, generates additional synergy between its English language WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP digital manga magazine and the original Japanese print counterpart with the launch of the new “Jump Start” initiative. WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is the world’s premiere manga brand and leading international weekly manga magazine.

WSJ2014_09_08_CoverMoving forward, VIZ Media will simultaneously premiere the first three chapters (one chapter per week) of every brand new, first-run manga series that appears in the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump in its digital English language edition on the same day of that issue’s general print release in Japan.

The first “Jump Start” title to be featured is the high impact martial arts series – JUDOS – by Shinsuke Kondo, which launches TODAY in the latest issue of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. Hana Yanagi is just fifteen and aims to be the best judo practitioner in his village – a remote hamlet that just happens to produce the world’s most powerful fighters. Get ready for hardcore over-the-top martial arts action!

VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is also set to feature the English language premiere of Ippei Goto’s new sci-fi crime thriller – HI-FI CLUSTER – beginning in the September 15th issue, and will offer Yuto Kubota’s sports medicine manga – SPORTING SALT – debuting the September 23rd issue. Future series premieres will be announced as news becomes available from Weekly Shonen Jump (Japan) publisher and VIZ Media parent company, Shueisha, Inc.

By delivering simultaneous English language access to future series on the same day of their Japanese general release, “Jump Start” seeks to build greater international awareness and support for a new vanguard of compelling titles and manga creators launching in the most widely read weekly manga publication in the world.

VIZ Media encourages WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP members/subscribers to submit their “Jump Start” feedback and thoughts on the new series and chapters by completing the survey that is contained at the end of each digital issue and also at: http://shonenjump.viz.com/website-survey.

“The ‘Jump Start’ initiative begins a new era in digital manga publishing that will give seasoned readers as well as those new to the genre seamless, same-day, simultaneous access like they’ve never enjoyed before to what’s hot and brand new in the world’s most popular manga magazine,” says Andy Nakatani, Editor-in-Chief of VIZ Media’s WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP. “‘Jump Start’ gives new titles an important opportunity to develop an international following. Our readers can play a more active role than ever to help VIZ Media and Shueisha discover what new series resonate on an international level and decide what might possibly be featured on a regular ongoing basis.”

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is published digitally every week by VIZ Media and features the latest installments of some of the world’s most popular manga series released to English readers across North America on the same day as the magazine’s general print release in Japan.

VIZ Media offers North American fans single issues of WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP for only $0.99 each. Exclusive 1 Year Memberships are available for only $25.99 and include 48 weekly digital issues as well as special premiums such as Yu-Gi-Oh! Collectable Trading Cards, rare one-shot manga releases, digital-only promotions, and access to additional subscriber-only content including creator interviews and insightful promo videos.(*Note: Yu-Gi-Oh! cards are only available to annual subscribers in the US and Canada.) Current subscribers can also access their accounts via VIZManga.com, the VIZ Manga App, or with the Apple iPad Newsstand App.

WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP is also available to readers in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa via the WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP Newsstand App available for the Apple iPad®, iPhone and iPod touch or the WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP App on the Google Play Store for Android devices. International issues debut each Monday at 10:00am (PST) and monthly subscriptions are available with automatic monthly renewals. Additional information on international subscriptions is available at:http://shonenjump.viz.com/international-wsj-app.

For more information on WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and exclusive subscriber offers, please visit shonenjump.viz.com.

For more information on VIZ Media manga titles, please visit www.VIZ.com.

About VIZ Media, LLC

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan.  Owned by three of Japan’s largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages.  VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products.  Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.

Manga at the Harveys 2014

AoT 1This last week at Baltimore Comic Con, the Harvey Awards were held. Like the Eisners, the Harveys honor the best in comics and sequential art. Unlike the Eisners, the Harveys are nominated and voted on by the comic professionals themselves. It’s about creators honoring other creators for their work. While the awards center mostly around American comics, manga does get a nod in the “Best American Edition of Foreign Material” category. This year, three manga got nods: Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama and published by Kodansha Comics, Sunny by Taiyo Matsumoto and published by Viz Media, and Showa: A History of Showa Japan by Shigeru Mizuki and published by Fantagraphics.

All three titles have their merits. Attack on Titan, while sorely lacking the art department has a compelling story and interesting characters, things that have made it a huge franchise both in Japan and here in the States. Volume 1 of the series has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for almost 70 consecutive weeks. Sunny is a semi-autobiographical slice of life story about several kids living at the Star Kids Home orphanage, and one of the few constant things in their life is the old yellow Sunny in the backyard that the kids use to escape their real life problems. It won both the Slate Book Review and Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies’ Best Graphic Novel Prize earlier this year. Showa: A History of Showa Japan covers the events of the first 14 years of the Showa period, from 1926-1939. It won the 2009 Asahi Prize in Japan for its contributions to culture and society.

While all three titles are worthy, only one could claim the prize. And the winner, surprising or not, is Attack on Titan. Having read the second half of the series out so far, I can understand it winning. The story touches on lots of different topics, and is a suspenseful, thrilling adventure. I can only imagine the story won on these merits. While the art has improved a lot since its first few volumes, it still has problems.

cyborg_009_coverAlso nominated, but not in the Foreign Material category was Deron Bennett’s Cyborg 009, a comic adaptation of Shotaro Ishimori’s manga of the same name, and published by Boom! Studios. The series got several nods in the categories Best Original Graphic Novel, Best Letterer, and Special Award for Excellence in Presentation. Unfortunately, it lost in all three categories, but the book is an interesting adaptation that stays true to the spirit of the original while trying to appeal to a wider audience.

This Week’s Manga: Wanna Catch Up!

This Week's Manga

It’s a slow release week this week, so it’s all about the titles I want to catch up on, but other shinies keep distracting me! Kodansha has picked up the pace lately by adding many titles I want to read. I’ve read the first volume of Sherlock Bones and did enjoy it, but 2-4 have been languishing on the shelf waiting for me to pick them up. With the release of volume 7, the final volume, I may as well just wait and read the whole rest of the series in one go! Seven Deadly Sins vol 4 comes out this week, adding to another growing stack of unread shonen. I have a lot of those I keep meaning to wheedle down, but then things like new Attack on Titan volumes come out and I’m off after the shiny things again.

Viz Media is my usual point and click into a virtual basket, but this week there is only one title that I am of course woefully behind on. 07-Ghost vol 12 comes out this week, bringing the series only 5 volumes from finishing, and me 7 volumes behind. At least it has an end in sight and I unlike so many shonen titles.

Dark Horse Comics occasionally grabs my attention, and their score of CLAMP manga is one of the ways they’ve done it. Legal Drug Omnibus collects the three volumes published before it was put on hiatus. The series returned in 2011 as Drug and Drop, which will drop in 2015, that appears to be ongoing, but with CLAMP, who knows. I was put off by the title when it first came out, but I’ve since learned to appreciate CLAMP and their works, and am interested in reading this series, especially with just one volume to lug around. Unless it also gets a digital release.

Sherlock Bones 7Seven Deadly Sins 407-Ghost 12 Legal Drug Omni


PR: New Digital Manga From Viz

Viz Media has plenty of digital manga ending and beginning this month, even a few surprises for their VIZ Select imprint. They are seriously mining the Tokyopop catalog, and from their weekly top tens, it’s been doing alright for them. I might even check out their newest acquisition. Find out what it is and more after the break!

Continue reading PR: New Digital Manga From Viz

Weekly Top Ten Manga – September 6, 2014

Weekly Top Ten MangaEvery week, Viz Media and the New York Times posts the top ten bestselling books. For Viz Media, it is the bestsellers on their site, Vizmanga.com. The New York Times gets their numbers of print sales from retailers. Offered here is a listing of these books with their status this week compared with the previous week, and some way-off analysis of the activity.

Viz Digital


Vizmanga.com for the week of August 26, 2014

  1. Food Wars 3Food Wars Vol. 3     ↔
  2. Chibi Vampire Vol. 12     ∗
  3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3 Vol. 15     ∗
  4. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3 Vol. 16     ∗
  5. Future Diary Vol. 5     ∗
  6. D • N • Angel Vol. 12     ∗
  7. Fate/Stay Night Vol. 8     ∗
  8. One Punch Man Vol. 4     ↓ 6
  9. St. Lunatic High School Vol. 1     ∗
  10. Trinity Blood Vol. 4     ∗

Digital-only titles absolutely dominate this week with new volumes and some new titles. Only two titles survived from last week, Food Wars and One Punch Man. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3 finishes its release just in time for Part 1 to start. Maybe we’ll be seeing a triple-tap next week. St. Lunatic High School is another Tokyopop rescue title. It is only 2 volumes long and is by Majiko, the artist who did the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion manga adaptation. I read the first volume of this series, and really didn’t care for it. I don’t like the “being poor is funny” trope, so I never picked up the second volume back then, and I won’t now.



New York Times Bestseller List for the Week Ending August 30, 2014

  1. Attack on Titan 13Attack on Titan Vol. 13     ∗
  2. Sword Art Online Aincrad Vol. 2     ∗
  3. Monster Musume Vol. 4     ↓ 2
  4. High School DxD Vol. 2     ∗
  5. Attack on Titan Vol. 1     ↓ 2
  6. Maximum Ride Vol. 8     ∗
  7. No. 6 Vol. 8     ∗
  8. Say I Love You Vol. 3     ∗
  9. Attack on Titan No Regrets Vol. 1      ↓ 4
  10. Attack on Titan Vol. 2     ↓ 1

Monster Musume loses its spot at the top as a new Attack on Titan appears. There are still 4 titles volumes on the list, but Before the Fall seems to have fallen off. Yen Press returns with a new Sword Art Online Aincrad light novel, High School DxD, and Maximum Ride. I wonder how well this perennial favorite will do against the Titans. Besides a new volume of the Attack on Titan main series, Kodansha also has new No. 6 and Say I Love You volumes. I really enjoyed the first two volumes of Say I Love You, and am looking forward to what’s going to happen next.


∗ = New Release
↑ = Title moved up specified # of spots
↓ = Title moved down specified # of spots
↔ = Title didn’t moved from previous week
↵ = Title returned after dropping off list


This Week’s Manga: Stray Killers

This Week's Manga

This week has some interesting titles coming out, as well as ending. Kodansha has just one title; Noragami: Stray God Vol. 1. This title was announced to some excitement last year, as it also has an anime that was streamed on Funimation, giving it name recognition that may help move the volume. We’ll have to see if it makes to the NYT bestseller list next week.

Vertical Inc., releases the 4th volume in their foodie series, What Did You Eat Yesterday? Seriously, if you’re not reading this series, why not?! It has something for everyone, foodie or not, and Vertical always puts out great editions.

Viz Media says good-bye to two of its titles. Midnight Secretary, the josei-as-shojo ends this week with Vol. 7. I did enjoy the first two volumes with caveats, but am still interested in reading more. It’s on the to-read list. Dawn of the Arcana, a true shojo also ends it’s run with Vol. 13. I have the first two volumes that have been languishing in my to-be-reviewed pile for a while now. Maybe this is a good time to pick them up and finally check them out. Finally, Time Killers by Kazue Kato comes out. It is a series of short stories by the creator of Blue Exorcist, another series I should read the first volume of some day.

Noragami 1What did you eat yesterday 4Midnight Secretary 7Dawn of the Arcana 13Time Killers


Weekly Top Ten Manga – August 27, 2014

Weekly Top Ten Manga

Every week, Viz Media and the New York Times posts the top ten bestselling books. For Viz Media, it is the bestsellers on their site, Vizmanga.com. The New York Times gets their numbers of print sales from retailers. Offered here is a listing of these books with their status this week compared with the previous week, and some way-off analysis of the activity.

Viz Digital


Vizmanga.com for the week of August 19, 2014.

  1. Food Wars 3Food Wars! Vol. 3     ∗
  2. One-Punch Man Vol. 4    ∗
  3. Lucky☆Star Vol. 1     ∗
  4. Chibi Vampire Vol. 11     ∗
  5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Vol. 13     ∗
  6. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3: Vol. 14     ∗
  7. D•N• ANGEL Vol. 11     ∗
  8. Fate/stay Night Vol. 7     ∗
  9. Bleach Vol. 61     ↓ 5
  10. Naruto Vol. 66     ↓  2

New digital releases wipe nearly all the new print titles out from last week. Only Bleach and Naruto survived, and they only just barely scrapped by, taking the last two spots. All the rest of the list are either digital only or digital firsts. I really wish I knew how JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure kept doing the double taps. Are all JoJo fans in sync with each other psychically? Lucky Star is a new digital only rescue from Bandai. It’s a four panel series about four girls and their more otaku ways. I had a hard time getting through the first volume. Actually, I never did. I found it really boring. But, your mileage may vary.



New York Times Bestseller List for the week ending August 23, 2014.

  1. Monster Musume 4Monster Musume Vol. 4     ∗
  2. Deadman Wonderland Vol. 4     ↑ 2
  3. Attack on Titan Vol. 1     ↑ 7
  4. Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Vol. 2     ∗
  5. Attack on Titan: No Regrets Vol. 1     ↑ 2
  6. Fairy Tail Vol. 41     ↓ 2
  7. Food Wars! Vol. 1     ↓ 1
  8. Dragonar Academy Vol. 3     ↑ 1
  9. Attack on Titan Vol. 2     ↵
  10. Rosario+Vampire Season II Vol. 13     ↓ 2

No big surprise with what’s on top. Seven Seas entertainment’s Monster Musume takes it with ever new volume. And can sometimes even hold on to it for while. But with the debut of a new Attack on Titan title, Before the Fall vol. 2, it may not be able to hold it for long. At least it’s not alone, with Dragonar Academy holding over from last week. Viz Media kept some of their titles on the list, but not the ones you’d expect. Bleach got booted completely, but Food Wars! Deadman Wonderland, and surprisingly, Rosario+Vampire Season II held on. Kodansha holds the most titles as usual, four of them being Titan titles.  We’ll see if the Titans can keep holding on, with this week being a big week for Viz Media and their shonen and shojo titles.


∗ = New Release
↑ = Title moved up specified # of spots
↓ = Title moved down specified # of spots
↔ = Title didn’t moved from previous week
↵ = Title returned after dropping off list

21st Century Boys Volume 2

The climax of our story is finally at hand! Mankind faces a crisis and Kenji is hustling to save the world and the people he loves. But he also must solve the mystery of the Friend. Who is he and why did he become evil? The answer is tied to a memory Kenji has from when he was a twentieth century boy.

21st Century Boys Volume 2
21st Century Boys 2By Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Price: $12.99USD
Rating: ★★★☆☆

In my previous review of volume 1 of 21st Century Boys, I had hopes of the this part would redeem what I thought was a non-ending of the first part, 20th Century Boys. While this volume does tie up many of the loose ends and does finally answer the question “Who is the Friend?”, it still doesn’t satisfy like I had hoped.

The search for the remote to the proton bomb continues, both in reality and in the virtual world. The UN Forces show their distrust of Kanna and the rest of the group, but that doesn’t stop them from continuing the search. Kanna’s powers come into play in discovering the bomb’s button and the location of the remote. Kenji and Yukiji work in tandem to stop the bomb from going off, and then Kenji returns to the virtual reality to tie up some personal loose ends, that if he had done in the real world at the time, might have kept Friend from being created.

The race to stop the proton bomb was actually exciting. Yukiji getting to kick Shikishima’s daughter’s butt with her judo skills was cool, as was Kenji using those same skills to stop the robot from detonating the bomb. Kanna’s supernatural powers do come into play, but at least they are minimal, mostly just communicating with Kenji in the virtual world. I really didn’t find any of the supernatural elements to be compelling, so I’m glad they were kept to a minimum. Once again the twists run wild, but they are believable and kept the action moving.

Going into this final volume, you may start to wonder if everything will be tied up. It takes most of the volume to stop the robot, with Kenji and the gang getting obstacles thrown at them left and right. But some how, Urasawa is able to do it. The major loose ends are tied up, all for the better. Manjome and Sadakiyo got happy send offs. Kanna got her man and her mom, and Otcho returns to be Shogun, fighting human traffickers. But the end that needs most to be tied is Friend’s.

Who was he and did Kenji really know him? The answer relates back to the scene at Jijibaba’s shown in the previous volume. Older Kenji finally realizes the truth, and has younger Kenji do what he didn’t all those years ago. Not that this fixes anything for anyone but Kenji. But it does make him take a look at the choices he’s made and how he can make better ones. He and Yukiji come to an understanding too about their feelings in a way that only Kenji and Yukiji could.

It’s not until the last few pages is Friend’s identity revealed in one of the most anti-climatic ways possible, in a single frame with next to no explanation about who he was. This is where the volume and ultimately the series let me down. The whole series was touted to be about the question “Who is Friend?”, but in the end that question and his motives are left to the reader to figure out. While this is usually fine in a mystery, in order for it to work the author has to leave enough clues to lead the readers to the right answer. Anything else is just a cheap twist, which is ultimately exactly what this series boiled down to.

Overall, 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys is a decent enough series. It was enough to get Urasawa not only a nomination, but ultimately an Eisner Award. But I think the execution could have been better. The series went off the rails after volume 15, and while these last two volumes brought it back, it was too little, too late. I would still encourage people to read this series, just be prepared for some bumps in an otherwise smooth road.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Cross Game Volume 8

The Seishu Gakuen baseball team is one win away from fulfilling Wakaba’s final dream of seeing Ko pitch in front of a packed crowd at Koshien. But they’ll have to beat powerhouse Ryuou Gakuin in the North Tokyo Tournament finals in order to get there. Meanwhile, Akane Takigawa’s health takes a turn for the worse, and she’s scheduled to have surgery…on the day of the big game.

Cross Game 8By Mitsurs Adachi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Sports
Price: $14.99US
Rating: ★★★★½

When Cross Game first came out, it got a lot of praise. It was also featured in a Manga Movable Feast, but the first chapter preview Viz made available didn’t interest me. So, I passed on the series, until I received a copy of the final volume. I decided to give the series a shot and see what everyone was so excited about. I did enjoy the volume. It was easy to  get into, even with being the final volume, but ultimately it still didn’t make a convert out of me.

This volume starts out with Ko and the Seishu Gakuen baseball team departing to play the final game that will decide who will go to Koshien. Any potential drama with Akane’s health problems are swiftly dealt with so the characters and the reader can concentrate on the game which is the majority of this 2-in-1 omnibus volume. It is a very tense game, as both pitchers are determined to pitch a no-hitter. The sides switch quickly, and the few hits that do get through puts the game into extra innings, with the twelfth ending it all.

In many ways this feels like a final volume. Everything the characters have been working for is leading up to this moment, this game. As the game is played, there are call backs to previous moments in the series with Ko dealing with Wakaba’s death, and working to become a baseball player good enough to go to Koshien. Ko and Aoba’s relationship is also strengthen throughout this volume, tying things up for the last scene.

While there are a lot of characters, and many of their stories are tied up, this volume is really all about Ko. This final game is his. He goes into it with a calm confidence that many of his teammates don’t seem to feel. He is relaxed before the game, sleeping on the way to the stadium, and all through the game itself, he never seems fazed. He doesn’t get mad when his no-hit game is ruined, and his only surprise is when a ball flies at only 98 mph, not the 100 mph he had hoped for. It almost makes you want to shake him, he is so placid throughout the game, like a still lake. This is a moment he has worked for since he was in the 5th grade, and he will let nothing stand in his way.

The game itself isn’t filled with over-the-top dramatics. Adachi doesn’t need to go to such lengths to build the tension. His game is filled with great baseball, and helped to remind me why I loved the sport so much when I was younger. Compared to other sports, baseball can seem laid back or even boring, but there is nothing boring about this game. Both teams can taste victory and are determined to win. Ko and his rival Oikawa are throwing their best pitches, both intent on throwing no-hitters. The balls fly fast and hard, and you can almost hear the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt with every pitch. It’s not an “edge of your seat” kind of excitement, but really a thrill of watching athletes at the top of their form pushing themselves even further.

Ko and Aoba’s relationship is handled much more subtly. Things that the readers probably already knew were revealed to the characters. Ko and Aoba never verbally express their feelings for each other. They don’t have that kind of relationship. Instead, they’re shown in a more subdued manner with something as simple as holding hands revealing their feelings more elegantly than any words could.

Although I enjoyed this volume of Cross Game as a whole, and really enjoyed the baseball game, I don’t know how much I would have enjoyed the journey. It’s easy to tell where Ko and Aoba came from and what it was they were striving for, but I don’t know how much I actually like them as characters. They do have the more contrary type of relationship that I prefer, but they didn’t really click with me. I appreciated Ko as a baseball player, and seeing he and Aoba get together, but I’m not sure I would have had the patience to get to there. I may the first volume though, just to see. Still Cross Game has all the elements to be a great series, and the sports parts is very well done. It was a great game, and a really good series. I’m glad I got to read it.

 Review copy provided by publisher



Slam Dunk Volume 25-28

Shohoku has made it to the second round of the Nationals, and are matched up to play against Sannoh, last year’s National champions. While Sannoh seems to be on a whole different level from Shohoku, the boys are ready to give up on their dreams of advancing just yet, especially Sakuragi. It going to take everything they got and every trick in their book to make it through this game. The question is, will it be enough?

slame dunk 25By Takehiko Inoue
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Sports
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★★★

Slam Dunk is one of those titles that can suck you in and keep you glued to your seat whether you think you’ll like the series or not. I’ve read previous volumes and have enjoyed them all, but these volumes, some of the last before the end of the series are just amazing. There really is no other way to describe it. I know nothing about basketball and really don’t care for it, but I could not put down a single one of these volumes and had to grab the next, the game was so gripping.

Slam Dunk 26The entirety of these four volumes is dedicated to a single game; Shohoku’s semi-finals game against Sannoh, the previous year’s national champions. And they don’t even end the game! These volumes only cover the game through to seven minutes left in the second half. They start out with both sides scoping out the competition through tapes of the teams playing. For Sannoh, this is no big deal. They easily spot Shohoku’s player’s weaknesses. For Shohoku, it’s more of a shock to see how far out of their league Sannoh seems. It really shakes the confidence of the players, especially Mitsui, Shohoku’s Center. Sakuragi isn’t shaken though. He goes into the game with the complete confidence that they can win, and even if that confidence seems misguided, it helps the other players to go on the court with that same confidence.

The majority of volumes 26-28 happen all on the court. Even before the game officially starts, both sides show off for the crowd and the other team. Sakuragi is right up there, trying a flying slam dunk and failing, but he isn’t fazed at all. As soon as the game starts, it becomes a battle of not just skill but also wills. Sannoh is taken by surprise by Shohoku starting play, but they soon get their rhythm and throw Shohoku off theirs and the game is like a teeter totter, the tide turning from Shohoku to Sannoh and the slowly back to Shohoku.

Slam Dunk 27It is incredible how Inoue is able to put the reader on the court and in the players heads. All through these volumes, we are constantly seeing what the player is thinking and feeling as the game progresses. We also see how easy it is to get trapped by those thoughts. Akagi gets caught up in his belief that he has to beat Sannoh’s Kawata, and it puts him and his team in the bad place. It takes his older brother and Sakuragi’s outrageous antics to get his head back in the game. While Inoue draws exciting and dramatic shots and moves down court, it’s the characters that really make this title awesome.

And it’s Sakuragi that really gets to shine in this game. He might not know better when the others see how much better Sannoh is, but he never lets them intimidate him, and he never loses hope. He may be the loudmouth and a bit of a showboat, but he knows his teammates and what they need to get them focused on the game. Whether it’s taking big about being a “phenom”, or jumping on the tables on the sidelines to declare Shohoku will win, he knows what’s needed and isn’t afraid to do what it takes. He also finally has the skills to back up some of his words. He is the “offensive rebound king”, and it’s this skill that helps the team get their rhythm back at the critical moment in the second half.

Slame Dunk 28Slam Dunk is a Shonen Jump title that embodies the spirit without having to resort the to tropes. Building friendships, facing adversity and beating the odds, Slam Dunk does all this without being obvious about. Sakuragi was an annoying mess at the beginning of this series, but now, he is one of the strengths that the team can rely on. He smack talks his teammates, but they know they can trust him to do what is needed, and he isn’t willing to give up, no matter what is in front of them. Whether or not you like basketball, if you like a good story with some real driving action and great characters, then you should be reading Slam Dunk.

Review copies provided by publisher.

Buy Volume 25
Buy Volume 26
Buy Volume 27
Buy Volume 28

Black Bird Volume 16

Misao has made the choice to forego college and a normal human life in order to be Kyo’s wife and mother to the demon child she carries. But her pregnancy is unusual, even for the demon world. The last pages of the Senka Roku will reveal the truth of the matter, but now that Kyo has it in his hands, does he really want to know…?

Buy the Volume
Buy the Volume

By Kanoko Sakurakouji
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural Romance
Price: $9.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Black Bird for a while now. I found Kyo’s skeeviness annoying, as well as Misao’s submissiveness. A lot of that changes with this volume. After defeating his older brother Sho, Kyo has learned the final fate of the Senka Maiden, and it doesn’t bode well for Misao. Kyo sets the Daitengu to work trying to find a way to keep both mother and baby alive. A single clue left by Sho and some information from the Senka Roku just might hold the answer.

There are a lot of emotions flying around this volume. Misao is faced with the prospect of either she dying or her baby. Neither are acceptable to her. But there are a lot of tearful moments as she faces Kyo and the Daitengu about not only what will happen to her and Kyo, but also the others. It’s kind of sad that it’s surprising that she figures it out on her own. Misao would be a much better character if she wasn’t played to be so dumb.

Kyo’s internal dialog was the big draw of this volume. Now that Kyo and Misao are married, all the skeevy scenes are done and gone. Kyo is serious about his love for Misao and is desperate to find a way to keep her alive. This volume is probably the most convincing he’s been about his feelings for her. He isn’t leading her own or playing around. Everything he says and does is all for her, and it shows.

Kyo’s observations about Misao and the changes he sees in her were the most interesting parts. He doesn’t know what a pregnant human female is like, so he doesn’t connect the changes at first. But as he starts to make the connections with the Senka Roku, and some of Misao own behaviors change, it really becomes clear that what she’s going through is different. I do wonder if Misao’s fear of Kyo isn’t in some way an extension of the baby she’s carrying. The change of perspective definitely makes these revelations more interesting, and Kyo into more of a detective as he works to solve the mystery of the Senka Maiden.

Once the story gets past all the drama and emotion between Kyo and Misao, the volume of Black Bird become what I’ve been waiting for all this time. Finally, the mystery of the Senka Maiden is being delved into. While there are no answers now, with this being solidly in the final arc, those answer will be coming soon, making the final two volumes must reads. I’m actually looking forward to them now.

Viz Media Triggers New Release in Print and Digital for Fall

At Sakura-Con last week, Viz Media announced the print and digital release of World Trigger, a digital Weekly Shonen Jump only title. It looks like a fun title, so I’m glad Viz is making it available finally to those of us who don’t subscribe to WSJ. More info available after the jump.

Continue reading Viz Media Triggers New Release in Print and Digital for Fall