It was announced in the 12th volume of the manga adaptation of the light novel series Spice and Wolf would be starting its final arc in the next volume.
New York Comic Con saw its largest number of manga publishers not only attending the show, but in having panels and making announcements! And manga publishers really made this last major con of the season count.
Diamond Distributors is getting the Viz Shonen and Shojo titles out a week early. There are plenty of old favorites such as Assassination Classroom Vol 6, Library Wars Vol 14 and My Love Story Vol 6, as well as a new debut. QQ Sweeper is by Kyousuke Motomi, the creator of Dengeki Daisy. It was her first series after Dengeki Daisy ended. It’s a supernatural romance about a new girl transfer student who gets involved with a boy who cleans up the school, but physically and metaphysically. I’ve been looking forward to this series and can’t wait to read it.
There’s a lot of manga coming out this week. Kodansha releases the first volume of Devil Survivor, the adaptation of Shin Megami Tensei, the game that the Persona is a spin-off of. I’ve been interested in Shin Megami Tensei, as well as Persona, thanks to my older daughter’s obsession, so I’ll be checking this title out. Vertical Comics does the seemingly impossible as it releases the final volume of Mobile Suit Gundam Origin, the series that not even the publisher believed would sell. But Vertical and Western fans proved them wrong, and now the series comes to an end with Vol 11.
On their Twitter feed last week, Yen Press made two quick announcements that if you weren’t watching carefully, you might have missed. One was the announced license of a new series, and the print release of a previously announced digital only series.
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?
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.
It’s a big Yen Press release this week, with several long-awaited titles debuting. Durarara!! the light novel makes its debut. This is the source material for both the manga and anime, and has had fans waiting in anticipation for it since its announcement back in January. Along with it is the final volume in the Yellow Scarves manga arc, making Durarara!! fans very happy. Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story is adapted from the video game Final Fantasy Type-0 and follow the character Kurasame, the Ice Reaper. First Love Monster is a rom-com where high school student Kaho falls in love with her landlord’s son, only to find out later that he is a 5th grader. Prison School is a mature title that has the premise of boys joining a previously all-girls school, but things might not turn as rom-com-y as they hoped. Finally, Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura’s Revenge is another alternate telling of Madoka’s story, this time with Madoka knowing what is in store for her and how that affects her decisions. Of all of these, Durarara!!, and Homura’s Revenge go on my buy list, though I might check out First Love Monster.
Outside of Yen Press’ debuts, Kodansha has a new volume of My Little Monster, and Dark Horse is nearly done with the gory Gantz, which is weirdly balanced by the cute Oreimo Kuroneko. Viz releases several of their Signature titles including Monster and Sunny. In Yen Press’ non-debut must haves, there is a new Black Butler, Inu x Boku SS, Soul Eater Not, and the debut of Svetlana Chmakova’s new graphic novel Awkward. While not a manga per se, it is a great all ages title about art and science and surviving middle school. And it’s by Svetlana. Manga fans as well as tween-teens will love it.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
DARK HORSE COMICS
Gantz Volume 36 TP, $13.99
Oreimo Kuroneko Volume 2 TP, $10.99
My Little Monster Volume 9 GN, $10.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Magical Girl Apocalypse Volume 4 GN, $12.99
Monster The Perfect Edition Volume 5 TP, $19.99
Resident Evil The Marhawa Desire Volume 5 GN, $12.99
Sunny Volume 5 GN, $22.99
Terra Formars Volume 7 GN, $12.99
Accel World Novel Volume 4 SC, $13.00
Accel World Volume 4 GN, $13.00
Akame Ga Kill Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Awkward HC, $24.00
Awkward SC, $11.00
Black Butler Volume 20 TP, $13.00
Certain Magical Index Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Devil Is A Part-Timer Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Durarara Light Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Durarara Yellow Scarves Arc Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story Volume 1 GN, $13.00
First Love Monster Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Inu x Boku SS Volume 8 TP, $11.99
Kagerou Daze Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Karneval Volume 2 GN, $20.00
Log Horizon Light Novel Volume 2 SC, $14.00
No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 2 SC, $14.00
Prison School Volume 1 GN, $20.00
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Homura’s Revenge Volume 1 GN, $13.00
So I Can’t Play H Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Soul Eater Not Volume 5 TP, $13.00
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, Viz, Vertical, Crunchyroll, Kodansha Comics and Yen Press all announced titles, some of which nearly had fans swooning from shock and excitement.
Yen Press started out the last day of the con with an overload of licenses and announcements. They just piled on the titles, some digital only, some digital going print, some light novels, and plenty of manga.
Starting with print, a title that had been previously announced as a digital only at Sakura Con has moved up to print before even coming out. Handa-kun is the prequel series to Barakamon, which as been doing really well in Japan, reportedly better than the main series. I really liked Barakamon. I binge-read the first four volumes, so this series has moved up from a wait and see to a want. It was also announced to be a simul-pub which Yen Press will begin in October with several other Square-Enix titles.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong As I Expected started as a light novel series. It follows antisocial high school student Hachiman Hikigaya who has a distorted view of life. He has no friends or girlfriend and has a very pessimistic view on his classmates and his future. In order to change his twisted outlook, he his forced by one of his teachers to join the volunteer service club, which also has Yukino Yukinoshita, the school’s prettiest girl as the sole member. There are 11 volumes of the light novel series and four of the manga series, both of which Yen Press has licensed and scheduled for release in 2016. Despite the long and awkwardly worded title, this series sounds interesting as it looks at the psychological motives behind teen interactions in high school.
Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade is a side story to Log Horizon and follows Sojiro and the members of the West Wind Brigade. Yen Press already has the main manga and light novel series of the users of the online game Elder Tale being trapped in the game and having to fight to survive. There are 5 volumes so far, but no release date was announced. Fans of Log Horizon or this genre will enjoy the side story. I will pass.
These next two titles are no brainers. Sword Art Online: Phantom Bullet and Mother’s Rosario continue the 3rd and 4th story arcs of the light novel series Sword Art Online. Yen Press has already licensed and released several other manga adaptation and side stories, so these next to arcs should come as no surprise. Phantom Bullet is at one volume so far which will be released in September 2015 and Mother’s Rosario is at two with the first to be released in December 2015. I wasn’t impressed with SAO, so I don’t think these two titles will do anything to change that.
Demonizer Zilch is a supernatural series that follows Io Haruomi. He is haunted by his past where his sister and friend died and he was powerless to help them. Despite his guilt, he tries to live a normal life as an average high school student, until he meets a girl with glowing red eyes known as an Eda. She has escaped from the “Seven Great Gospel Organizations” and shows Io that he is an Eda too, throwing him into the midst of the battle between humans and the devil. There is only one volume so far, and Yen did not announce a release date. I’m getting a “meh” feeling from this one.
Taboo Tattoo is an action title about Justice Akazuka, aka Seigi, a young man who is good at martial arts. He rescues an old homeless man from some thugs and is given an object by him that imprints a tattoo on his palm. The tattoo imbues Seigi with supernatural powers such as warping space-time. He is then pursued by Ijii, a female American agent sent to retrieve the tattoos, which are actually secret weapons in an arms race. Seigi offers to help Ijii, and becomes entangled in a cross-nation conspiracy. This title sounds interesting, but has a lot of male-gaze potential as well. I hope the former will be greater than the latter. I’d give this one a read. I love conspiracy stories.
How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is a manga adaptation of a light novel series that surprising Yen did not license as well. It is about otaku Tomoya Aki who meets a beautiful girl over summer vacation. He models her after the heroine for his own doujin game he is working on for Comiket with two of his fellow students helping with the art and writing. She turns out to be his classmate that no one seems to notice. There are five volumes so far. I’m not seeing the point of this series. Tomoya has no talent for writing or art, and yet he wants to create this game? Is he the coder then? This is too much of a head scratcher for me to get behind.
Along with My Youth Romantic Comedy, Yen Press licensed two more light novels. Another: Episode S is a spin-off of the horror novel Another, of which both the manga and novel was released by Yen. Episode S features the story of Mei and her cousin Fujioka Misaki before the start of the novel. It will be a hardcover like the first novel and will be bundled with manga Another 0, which is a prequel that tell the story of Kouichi’s mother’s time in Class 3. I loved Another and am totally looking forward to this, especially with the manga bundle. No release date was announced unfortunately.
The final OMG of the con was Yen Press’ license of Baccano!, a light novel series by Narita, the creator of Durarara!! The story takes place in America, 1930. Each story in the series involves unrelated plots that intersect, causing events to spiral further out of control. Rooted in a desire for immortality by some alchemists 300 years about, they have scattered around the world, and the incident on the soon-to-be-retired train Pussyfoot starts the chain reaction of atrocities. This series had an anime back in 2007 which propelled it to the top of many fan’s wish lists. The series is currently at 21 volume and is still ongoing. No release date was announced.
Yen Press then announced eight digital only titles. Aphorism is a school survival story where the students of Nara Shika High School must fight to survive everyday. There are currently 13 volumes. It’s first volume will be out in November. Pass. I am so done with all the high school survivor titles. Sekirei is a male-gaze battle series that follows Minato Sahashi, a total loser until he discovers he is an Ashikabi, one who can master the 108 human-like creatures, who all turn out to be girls. It is 18 volumes and will also be out in November. Another pass, not doing a title where the girls are constantly getting their clothes ripped off.
Saki is a game manga about Saki Miyanaga, a high school student who hates mahjong, but due to circumstances has learned to play a zero sum game. She gets dragged to her school’s mahjong club by an old friend. There are currently 14 volumes and the first volume will be out in November. I love gaming manga, and this is a series I’ve been interested in for a while. I will definitely be checking the first volume at least. Corpse Princess is about Makina Hoshimura an undead girl who must hunt down 108 corpses in order to go to heaven. It is complete at 23 volumes, and the first will be out in November. It’s about zombie killing, so I’ll give this a pass.
Crimson Prince is a romantic comedy about Kojiro Sakura, a demon prince who has come to Earth to start taking souls. Due to circumstances, he ends up meeting Hana Koumeda, starts living with her, and maybe having a change of heart. There are 16 volumes, but it has gone on hiatus indefinitely due to the artists’ health. The first volume is slated for November. This series looks sweet so I would give it a shot. I love detective stories, so Black Detective is another title that needs to go on my must have list. It is about naive Arata Toiro who is tricked into become the assistant to Yu Kuroba, aka The Black Detective, who likes to use his deductive powers to destroy his targets physically and mentally. There are six volumes so far, and the first volume will be available in December.
Aoharu x Machine Gun follows high school student Hotaru Tachibana, a girl disguised as a boy who gets drawn into the world of survival games by host Matsuoka and his childhood friend ero-manga artist Tohru Yukimura. There are seven volumes available, and the first will be released in December. Again, survival games, not interested. Renaissance Eve is a supernatural title about people who have strange blood that bestows special abilities. The story follows Chiaki Kaminaga who has blood type “C” for clairvoyance, and his friend Kaguya Daidoji who has blood type “D” for death. This is a short 4 volume series and the first volume will be out in December. This series looks interesting so it’s another I’d be willing to check out.
The final announcements from Yen Press was several titles would be starting simultaneous release with Japan starting in October. The titles include Black Butler, Today’s Kerberos, The Royal Tutor, and three new titles: Kake Gurui, a psychological drama that is currently at 3 volumes. My Monster Girl’s Too Cool for You is a comedy about a boy attending a human-yokai co-ed school who gets dumped by a Yuki Ono. There is only one volume out so far. Demon King Ena-sama Goes to Manga School is another comedy with two volumes out so far. I can’t find anything else about it.
None of these simultaneous releases really stand out which really makes me wonder why Yen Press is doing it, especially for the titles that are 2-3 volumes in and haven’t been released yet. And how are the releases going to work? I hope they aren’t going to continue their $2.99 a chapter like Secret was. It not worth it to buy chapters at $3 when the collected volume will be $10 in print or less in digital. But Yen Press has said so little about their digital initiative other than pile on the titles, it’s really hard to say where it will all go.
It’s like Noah’s Ark this week, as publishers march out their new releases 2×2 just before Anime Expo. Kodansha Comics releases the final volume of Maria The Virgin Witch. I’ve seen mixed reviews on this series, so it’s hard to tell whether this is good or bad. Fans will know either way this week. Also out from Kodansha is their Science of Attack On Titan reference book. This one might be interesting for new information about the world of Attack on Titan. Seven Seas debuts a new series, Non Non Biyori, a slice of life comedy about city girl Hotaru Ichijo and her having to readjust to a slower, rural life style. This series looks like it would fit in with the likes of Yotsuba& and Barakamon.
Just in time for Anime Expo, Veritcal Comics releases the art book of creator Makoto Shinkai, Sky Longing For Memories. He is both a film director and manga artist. Vertical released his manga 5 CM Per Second, which also has an anime adaptation. The series has done extraordinarily well for Vertical. Other anime of his include Voices of a Distant Star, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and Garden of Words, which Vertical also released the manga adaptation of last year. Yen Press has another highly anticipated life novel out this week. Pandora Heart Caucus Race is a short story collection that delves deeper into the four great houses, and features not only new facts about the world, but also manga shorts by Jun Mochizuki, the title’s creator. I liked Pandora Hearts well enough that I’m looking forward to this novel.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
Maria The Virgin Witch Volume 3 GN, $10.99
Science Of Attack On Titan MMPB, $10.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Centaur’s Life Volume 6 GN, $12.99
Non Non Biyori Volume 1 GN, $12.99
Sky Longing For Memories The Art Of Makoto Shinkai SC, $34.95
Witchcraft Works Volume 5 GN, $12.95
Pandora Hearts Caucus Race Novel Volume 1 SC, $14.00
Sword Art Online Novel Progressive Volume 2 SC, $14.00
An imperial capital in an era of splendor and romanticism… Orphaned in an earthquake, Sorath is taken in by Baron Kamichika, the lord of “Blood Blossom Manor.” There, he pledges eternal friendship with Garan, the Baron’s heir, and Kiyora, Garan’s fiancée. But their friendship turns grisly by events none of them could foresee. The tender feelings each secretly harbors, the machinations of Baron Kamichika and his strange and seductive female companion, and a fateful encounter with a young girl with bizarre powers…all draw them to the Walpurgis Night and the nightmare’s climax!
Demon From Afar Volume 1
By Kaori Yuki
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Teen
In general, I’ve enjoyed more of Kaori Yuki’s works than not. Her blend of bishonen characters with elements of horror and a touch of humor usually appeal to me. In Demon From Afar, all of the elements are there, they’re just not striking the right chord for me.
Sorath, the protagonist, is a boy with no memory of his past and is saved by Garan, the heir to Baron Kamichika, after a terrible earthquake strikes the capital. There really isn’t anything remarkable about Sorath. He is devoted to Garan, taking responsibility for anything Garan might get punished for, and always holding himself back to make Garan look good. He acts as a bodyguard to Garan and his fiancée Kiyora. But beyond that, nothing seems to motivate him. He is content in his role, not interested in finding the meaning behind the symbol on his hand or learning about his past. He’s the character we are supposed to be most invested in, but there’s nothing interesting about him.
Garan and Kiyora aren’t much better. Kiyora seems more like comedy relief with her inept social skills and love of eating. Of course, she is more interested in Sorath than her fiancée, and Garan is oblivious to the differing feelings. Baron Kamichika is about as one-dimensional as the paper he’s printed on. The evil villain who care about no one but his own ambitions, not even his own heir. Everything and everyone is a tool for him to use to reach his goal; immortality. I didn’t really hate him as much as I hated his shallow motives. His demon servant Liece/Mephistopheles wasn’t much better, playing along, but helping to betray the Baron at the end.
What I did like was some of the horror elements. The belief by locals that the spider lilies that surround the Baron’s manor are red from soaking up human blood was made all the more creepy by the discovery that Sorath makes when he finally starts investigating what the Baron is up to. I also like the idea of the yin/yang miko, with the darker one becomes, the more pure the other. The way Noella was restored wasn’t what I was expecting and definitely one the disturbing side.
I didn’t dislike Demon From Afar, but it didn’t hook me either. This first volume feels like a prologue. It’s setting up the background and characters before getting to the real story. It feels more like it’s just spinning its wheels as it doesn’t set Sorath up with any kind of goal or motivation. The higher price for this volume is because it is printed in hardcover with a dust jacket. There is one color plate. More would have been better. Overall, it is a nice presentation and worth the extra dollars. I’ll give this series another chance and check out the next volume, but something had better happen soon.
For the last week of the month, this is quite a haul from manga publishers! Fans of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service can rejoice as they get their yearly volume with Vol 14 out from Dark Horse. Seven Seas Entertainment has a new volume for Toradora fans who have been waiting quite a while, though not as long as KCDS fans. Vertical Comics is one more step closer to the end of their surprisingly successful (to just about everyone) edition of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, with Vol 10 out this week. Only two more volumes after this.
If I had to choose just one of Kodansha’s releases this week it would be really hard. I really enjoyed Let’s Dance a Waltz and can’t wait to find out what happens in volume 2. The same with Your Lie In April. The characters were so fun and refreshing in that one, I can’t wait to see how the recital goes. I binge read vols 2-4 of Noragami Stray God and am now hooked on the title. I really want to see Yato start to get somewhere. I really just have to have all of them.
This week is Yen Press’ big week, and they’ve got a couple of debut titles. Alice in Murderland is Kaori Yuki jumping on the “Alice in Wonderland” bandwagon with her own peculiar take on the story. Chaika The Coffin Princess is the adaptation of the action, fantasy light novel series of the same name, and looks interesting. Isolator is a new light novel series by the writer of Sword Art Online and Accel World. It has a sci-fi premise that also seems to have potential. Other regular titles I want to check out include Love at Fourteen vol 3, Demon From Afar vol 3, Barakamon vol 5, Secret vol 2, and Void’s Enigmatic Mansion vol 2.
Full List per Diamond Distributors:
DARK HORSE COMICS
Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Volume 14 TP, $12.99
Let’s Dance A Waltz Volume 2 GN, $10.99
Noragami Stray God Volume 5 GN, $10.99
Your Lie In April Volume 2 GN, $10.99
SEVEN SEAS ENTERTAINMENT
Alice In The Country Of Hearts Junk Box GN, $13.99
Toradora Volume 7 GN, $12.99
Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin Volume 10 HC, $29.95
Alice In Murderland Volume 1 GN, $17.00
Are You Alice Volume 9 GN, $13.00
Barakamon Volume 5 GN, $15.00
Bloody Cross Volume 7 GN, $11.99
Chaika The Coffin Princess Volume 1 GN, $13.00
Demon From Afar Volume 3 GN, $18.00
He’s My Only Vampire Volume 3 GN, $13.00
Isolator Volume 1 HC, $20.00
Love At Fourteen Volume 3 GN, $15.00
Secret Volume 2 GN, $13.00
Void’s Enigmatic Mansion Volume 2 GN, $18.00