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!
A couple of long-awaited titles from Viz Media finally debut this week. Tokyo Ghoul has been on reader’s radars since it was announced, and even with the first volume being released digitally early, it doesn’t seem to have stifled reader’s desire for the print edition. I expect it to debut pretty high on the NYT bestseller list next week. Also out from Viz is the short story collection Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito, the master of Japanese horror manga. You have to really love horror and be able to stand disturbing or gory images to get through some of his titles, but for the true horror connoisseur, it is a must have. My must have this week is Master Keaton Vol 3. I still have read Vol 2, but that not because I don’t want to, it more like I’m saving it to savor it, like saving dessert for last, so you can enjoy every last bite.
Seven Seas has quite the collection of releases this week. The first volume of Freezing Omnibus collects the first two volumes of the series and is very male gaze heavy. It’s that not your thing, you’ve been warned. Also coming out are the second volumes of two of their newer titles; Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary and Servamp, both of which I’ve heard promising things about, even though Nurse Hitomi leans on the male gaze side. Gen Manga Entertainment, who started out releasing their titles digitally has been recently sending them to print. This week debuts the first volume of Eden, an epic fantasy series. Finally, Fanfare Presents Ponent Mon releases the fifth and final volume of Summit of the Gods. This title has had a long release schedule, as the first volume came out in 2009, but readers can relax now that the final volume is out.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
DARK HORSE COMICS
New Lone Wolf And Cub Volume 5 TP, $13.99
FANFARE PRESENTS PONENT MON
Summit Of The Gods Volume 5 GN, $25.00
GEN MANGA ENTERTAINMENT
Eden Volume 1 GN, $10.95
xxxHOLIC Omnibus Volume 6 TP, $14.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Freezing Omnibus Volume 1 GN, $19.99
Haganai I Don’t Have Many Friends Volume 11 GN, $12.99
Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary Volume 2 GN, $12.99
Servamp Volume 2 GN, $12.99
Dogs Bullets And Carnage Volume 10 GN, $12.99
Fragments Of Horror GN, $17.99
Gene Mapper SC, $14.99
Master Keaton Volume 3 GN, $19.99
Tokyo Ghoul Volume 1 GN, $12.99
I must confess I have read any Junji Ito titles. They either freak me out or gross me out too much. The one title I will even try is his cat manga, Cat Diary: Yon and Mu that Kodansha is releasing. I’m not sure if a collection of short stories would be either better or worse than a full length title. Being short they would be over fast, but sometimes a shorter story can be more creepy, and gross. I’ll just have to wait to see if I can stomach these stories. Fans of Ito and horror in general should snag this title up regardless.
I’d heard about this series when the anime came out, and was curious, until I read about how graphic it was, and was about the flesh-eating undead. Not my cup of tea. But fans of the series have been pre-ordering this series like gangbusters, even with releasing the digital version early, so Viz has another potential hit on their hands. This is one series I’ll have to watch from the sidelines, but readers with no qualms about characters that don’t eat just brains, but the rest as well should check this series out.
And we go from feast to famine as this week’s list is tiny in comparison to last week. I love that we’re getting all these new licenses, but I really wish the release schedule was a little more even. It makes buying (and writing) about them much easier. Only three publishers have anything coming out, and Udon Entertainment’s title is only tangentially related. Of course I’m going to recommend Say I Love You Volume 8. This is an auto-response in my brain. I can’t not. Viz also releases their Shonen Sunday titles with a dash of Jump added for good measure. I would recommend Magi vol 12 and One Piece 3-In-1 Vol 12 which moves the series into one of the best (and longest) arc of the series, “Waters Seven.”
I’m gonna give Udon Entertainment a shout out for their Manga Classics series. I’ve been enjoying them a lot, as well as finally reading the classic literature I never got to when I was in school. This time it’s Emma, another Regency romantic comedy by Jane Austin. I really enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, the first Jane Austin novel they adapted, so I expect to feel the same about Emma.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
Say I Love You Volume 8 GN, $10.99
Manga Classics Emma SC, $19.99
Arata The Legend Volume 22 GN, $9.99
Deadman Wonderland Volume 9 GN, $9.99
Magi Volume 12 GN, $9.99
One Piece 3-In-1 Volume 12 TP, $14.99
Seraph Of The End Vampire Reign Volume 5 GN, $9.99
Viz has raided the old Tokyopop vaults to come up with three new titles to debut under their Select digital imprint. Welcome to the N.H.K. was one of the first light novel manga adaptations to come to the states, and arrived shortly after the anime, giving the title a lot of name recognition. Aion is by Yuna Kagesaki, the creator of Chibi Vampire. This follow-up didn’t do as well as Chibi Vampire, a sentiment I agree with. I didn’t find the first volume all that great. Metamo Kiss is by a mangaka not previously published here, and is a gender/body switching shojo, if you’re into that sort of thing.
They’ve got some good bundles this month too. Saint Seiya, Knights of the Zodiac, is an awesome series that didn’t get the love it deserved in print. That can be corrected with one of the two bundles they have available: vol 1-14, or the whole thing, 1-28. Also available is the older teen historical, time travel series Red River, filled with action and romance. A very addictive series. I recommend both!
It’s a good week for variety, with most of the major publishers releasing something. Perfect Square is an imprint of Viz Media for their all-ages titles, and gets mentioned here most often for their Pokemon Adventures titles. Back when Pokemon Black and White came out, Perfect Square released essentially chapter books just to get the title going quickly and later collected them into full volumes. They appear to be following the same pattern with Pokemon XY, the third volume of which is out this week. They are quick hits to keep younger fans who can’t wait happy. Older manga fans can be happy for Vertical Comics’ Ajin Demi-Human. I finally sat down and read the first four volumes and there were fantastic! I was afraid it would be gory, but it wasn’t really. It is a compelling tale with some great cliffhangers and tantalizing mysteries to keep you coming back, so you can be sure I’ll be picking up vol 5, out this week.
Viz Media releases their shonen and shojo titles this week. One new title debuts, So Cute It Hurts. This is a gender bender rom-com that might actually be interesting. I wouldn’t mind checking it out at least. Anime Expo is coming up fast, so fans of Julietta Suzuki will want to pick up Kamisama Kiss Vol 18 to prepare for her visit at the con this year. Her other title in English, Karakuri Odette, was published by Tokyopop, and is no longer in print. Two other “can’t miss” titles are Kimi ni Todoke and Natsume’s Book of Friends. Both of these I consider comfort titles. Their stories are more quiet and laid back, but that doesn’t mean they are boring or lack plot. They just move at a slower pace, or the action is less dramatic, making them good titles to read when life has gotten too hectic.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
Fairy Tail Volume 48 GN, $10.99
My Little Monster Volume 8 GN, $10.99
Pokemon XY Volume 3 GN, $4.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
D-Frag Volume 5 GN, $12.99
Girls Und Panzer Volume 4 GN, $12.99
Ajin Demi-Human Volume 5 GN, $12.95
Assassination Classroom Volume 4 GN, $9.99
Blue Exorcist Volume 13 GN, $9.99
Dragon Ball 3-In-1 Volume 9 TP, $14.99
Food Wars Shokugeki No Soma Volume 6 GN, $9.99
Kamisama Kiss Volume 18 GN, $9.99
Kimi Ni Todoke From Me To You Volume 21 GN, $9.99
Naruto Volume 70 GN, $9.99
Natsume’s Book Of Friends Volume 18 GN, $9.99
So Cute It Hurts Volume 1 GN, $9.99
Toriko Volume 28 GN, $9.99
Voice Over Seiyu Academy Volume 11 GN, $9.99
As much as you love a title, at some point it’s got to come to an end, usually. There are the few exceptions that got 10, 20, 45 years, but they are not the rule. Most manga titles do (and should) have an end. Lately, the end for some titles released here have been announced to be ending serialization in Japan.
Chi’s Sweet Home is a cute, heartwarming series about a family who find and adopt a grey and white tabby kitten. Each short chapter shows the family and kitten, Chi, interacting as well as Chi’s adventures with other pets in their apartment complex and neighborhood. The series recently when on a year hiatus and only just returned. It has now been announced that the next volume to be released, Volume 12, would be its final. The series was being released by Vertical Comics, and has been a big hit for the company, with fans of all ages picking it up. The series has been fun, heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking, but always a great read. I will certainly miss it when it’s gone. Vertical will release the final volume in August, and will follow-up with a re-release of the series in omnibus editions.
Mission of Love is a romantic comedy from Kodansha Comics. The series is about a high school girl named Yukina who has the reputation of being an ice queen at school, but is also the author of a very popular cell phone novel. To help her writing, she blackmails popular fellow student Shigure into helping her complete “missions of love” to improve her writing. Kodansha’s Nakayoshi magazine has announced the series will end in the issue out in June. There have been 17 volumes released so far, with the series most likely ending at 18. Kodansha USA has only released 10 so far. Frankly, I’m surprised the series went for so long. The last volume I read, vol 9, felt very stale and repetitive. It’s not a series I’m going to miss.
Most recently announced was the that the final chapter of QQ Sweeper would be released in Shogakukan’s Betsucomi magazine out May 13. It is a supernatural romance about Kyutaro Horikita, the tall, dark and handsome cleaning expert of Kurokado High School. He soon meets transfer student Fumi Nishioka. With Kyutaro’s help, Fumi will learn how to cleanse the spirits from the school and maybe from her heart as well. The newest series by mangaka Kyousuke Motomi, creator of the recently ended Degenki Daisy, just started last March, and Viz only just announced its license in February. Also included with the announced ending, was that a sequel series would in the August issue out in July. It seems kind of odd to me to end one series just to continue it a few months later. I don’t have an opinion on QQ Sweeper yet. The first volume isn’t scheduled to be released until October. But, I’ve like her titles I’ve read so far, so I think I will probably like this one as well.
Gender-Bender titles aren’t usually my thing, but because it’s twins switching places rather than some science/magic causing it, it might not be too bad. We’ve seen lots of titles of a girl passing off as a boy in an all-boys school plenty of times. Seeing how a boy deals with pretending to be a high school girl would be much more interesting. Hopefully it won’t hurt to read.
One of the advantages to digital manga is exactly this; being able to quickly and easily sample titles. Sampler packs were one of the things I really looked forward to picking up at SDCC. All the manga publishers would have them, though supplies could be limited, so it was best to get them on the first or second day. Even my kids, who really are manga readers would grab one for the ride on the shuttle back to the car or hotel. This new pack from Viz only features shonen titles, but not only do they offer the first chapters of some of their most popular titles, it previews the next big chapters in the stories, such as after time jumps in One Piece and Naruto, and a new story arc in Bleach. While I do like this sampler pack, I hope Viz will do one for Shojo as well.
Of the new titles Viz is adding this month, two were already published by them in print: Cheeky Angel and Honey Blood Tale Zero. Flower of the Deep Sleep and Glass Wings are license rescues from the Tokyopop days while Eureka Seven is a Bandai Manga rescue. We haven’t seen one of those in a while. The bundles this month are a continuation of their big Shonen titles, with the Shaman King bundle completing the series while the One Piece bundle covers the “Baroque Works” and “Alabasta” arcs, both good arcs. I’d also recommend the Yu-Gi-Oh! bundle. I thought the first arc was the best of the series.
Dark 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.
The 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
DARK HORSE COMICS
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
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
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