October 4, 2015
Q Hayashida – Viz – 2013 – 20+ volumes
Every volume of this series is sublime. The story is getting more complicated without explaining much, but at the same time, the weirdness of this series has always attracted me, so I can’t complain.
This volume starts off with some pure nightmare fuel when a “shadow” descends into Ritsu, and Ritsu begins to sprout fingers through his palms, another mouth inside his, a second pair of eyes, et cetera. The resulting mess calls itself “Curse” and messes up the remainder of the Cross Eyes gang.
Elsewhere, Aso wakes up in the forest with what he believes is the human body of Caiman (sans lizard head). The “shadow” is implied to be linked to Caiman, though the shadow is clearly a destructive force and doesn’t seem to possess his will or personality. Neither does his new human-headed form, who would like to be called Aikawa. Except he has dreams about being Caiman, and killing Nikaido, et cetera. His face is partially obscured in the dream, but is clearly the same at the end. But he might just be faking that Aikawa is his name, and that he doesn’t remember anything?
There’s a showdown with En. It’s not clear if the “shadow”/Ritsu has merged with Caiman/Aikawa’s body, or if En’s opponent is actually Caiman/Aikawa. But the character fighting En is pretty badass and ruthless, and seems a lot like Caiman. En is worried because it was only an accident that he won in their last duel. En should worry. This fight doesn’t last long.
Another plot thread is that Fujita is trying to bring Ebisu back to life with Judas’s Ear. En reveals that Judas’s Ear can’t be compelled to use his magic, so there’s several comical scenes of Fujita dragging around Ebisu’s dead, mangled body and trying to get Judas’s Ear to revive her. Which is how this series rolls.
And there’s a Cross-Eyes subplot where Dokuja breaks in and kills everyone in a gang that deals in healing smoke so he can bring the smoke back to the injured Cross-Eyes.
The extra evil is more about devils playing pranks. This will never get old.
I don’t have a whole lot else to say, other than that this is still one of the most unusual, unique manga series out there. The art is fantastic, and the story is so far-out and strange that it’s hard to put it down. In fact, it’s better to read volumes back to back precisely because the stories are so weird, and have so much going on. Volume 16 comes out on Monday, and I think I’m going to be caught up by then. (edit: I am comically far behind on posting reviews).
October 4, 2015
Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2015 – 16 volumes
Hooray, the end! This only had one chapter of the main story, then a handful of side stories along with an unrelated short story (that happens to be Motomi’s debut story).
The close to the main story was… ehh. It started with a good joke (the cliffhanger from last volume left everyone’s lives in the air, and it proceeded down that path), but was mostly just wrapping up boring loose ends. We didn’t see Teru graduate. Nothing happened with her and Kurosaki.
The first set of side stories was interesting. We got some different POVs, including one from Teru’s brother and one from Riko. Some past stuff, some stuff that explains some of the last few things about the main plot, et cetera. There was also a very short story about Teru painting her nails that has one of the sexiest lines I’ve ever seen in a shoujo manga in it. A shame that NOT EVEN THE SHORT CHAPTERS TAKE PLACE AFTER TERU GRADUATES.
The final epilogue is one of those “take care of someone else’s baby” stories. I hate these, because I prefer to see a flash-forward with the couple’s child. This one didn’t even make a whole lot of sense. Pretty much nothing about the way they got the baby made sense, but I don’t want to get into it too much because that’s the mystery of the story. But a good preview is the fact they did call the police when they got the baby, and the police didn’t seem interested.
The debut story was cute. It was about a girl at archery camp who was constantly bullied by an upperclassman. The one she had a crush on and wound up joining the team for. But she can’t hit the target, and he’s demon-like in his training and punishment chores, et cetera. It’s rough, but Motomi’s right, it does contain some of the charm that makes Dengeki Daisy so great.
Ehh… eh. I still love this series, and would highly recommend it. This ending isn’t terrible, it just… is. Which is fine, and I’m happy to see it after all these years.
October 4, 2015
Julietta Suzuki – Viz – 2013 – 21+ volumes
The Himemiko wedding arc continues through all but the last chapter of the volume. Which is fine, because it’s great! I even wound up liking Nishiki more in this volume, since he didn’t do anything outright offensive. The real villain here was his servant/mentor, Shiranui. Who is fairly unrepentant at the end, but that’s what bad guys are for.
Nishiki was actually adorable here, making even my severe grudge disappear. He seemed quite sympathetic to Himemiko’s loss, and decided he could marry a woman who felt so strongly about a lost love, since he’d never been in love before. He wrote her a series of really sweet letters to cheer her up, and was very intent on getting her to smile, though not in the ostentatious joke kind of way. And he was so sad when he couldn’t do it.
Meanwhile, Nanami has her body stolen, and Mizuki and her Shikigami are tracking it down. Meanwhile, Tomoe “entertains” the imposter. This “entertainment” gets rather… intense at the end of the book. Tomoe is an evil, evil guy. But that’s why he’s great.
This story just had so much going for it. How Nishiki felt for Himemiko, how Shiranui felt for Nishiki, and the relationship between Himemiko and Kotaro. Nanami/Tomoe takes a backseat once again, though Suzuki made up for it with the “entertainment” at the end of the story.
There’s an adorable scene where Himemiko gets her yokai body back. Just more in the long list of good stuff this series does well. Just… good characters who genuinely like each other, and are easy to empathize with. Reading it is an absolute pleasure.
In the last chapter, we get down to the serious business of Tomoe and who his previous human lover was. I’m ready.
October 4, 2015
Mitsuru Adachi – Viz – 2012 – 17 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 14-15
Dammit, Cross Game. There’s a scene in the last chapter of this volume where Senda (the comic relief character) asks Ko if he likes Aoba. Ko says he does. Then he says he also likes Senda. There’s a few panels of silence, then Ko admits to being a great liar. After a few more panels of silence, Senda gets up and leaves, telling Ko that it made him happy to hear, even if it was a lie. It wasn’t a joke. It was like a gut punch when I least expected it.
To make up for all the not-baseball of the last two volumes, this pair of volumes contains mostly condensed games, 7 or 8 of them. They comprise the playoffs before Koshien. I like that we didn’t have to sit and watch all these games. Adachi knows what the most exciting parts are, and just delivered them. Most of them were low-scoring games anyway, which are probably agonizing to read in a manga. Even if it is Mitsuru Adachi.
Even with the shortened coverage, the baseball’s still pretty exciting. We get to hear about strengths of the other teams, and how they work against the strengths and weaknesses of Seishu. The team that lets its opponents score ahead of them, then comes from behind at the last second. The team whose pitcher and cleanup are just as strong as Seishu, but whose catcher isn’t quite the star. Even Senda gets a home run in one of the games, off the first pitch of the game. Exciting stuff!
But it wouldn’t be Cross Game if it didn’t make you feel like you’re moments away from weeping. Senda’s conversation above is the least of your worries in that department. There are complications with Akane. Ko and Aoba visit Wakaba’s grave. Ko and Aoba even discuss their personal relationships, in incredibly oblique ways. It’s sad stuff. Part of me knows that a manga like this would never… end badly. But then I remember that this one began badly, and then I’m not sure.
One more volume!
October 4, 2015
QuinRose/Job – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2015 – 3 volumes
I love these Nightmare books so much! Mostly because he acts like a regular person. Sort of. And again, he’s also great because nobody else seems to like him or think much of his powers, but he’s weak because his powers are quite impressive, he just never uses them.
This book starts off with an awesome short story about Nightmare being too shy to ask Alice out on a date, so Grey has to manufacture a reason for Nightmare to go out with Alice. Alice thinks its creepy, but it ultimately ends in a sort-of romantic situation that Nightmare doesn’t really move in on and Alice walks away from. I love that he can read her thoughts, and knows that she compliments him a lot, but doesn’t really make a big deal out of it.
We also see the end of the bath scene from the last volume. Uncharacteristically, Alice puts the moves on Nightmare, who runs from the room embarrassed. That’s probably the first and only time that will happen in one of these spin-offs.
The longer plot involves a book locked in a box in Nightmare’s library. The book and box can’t be removed from the library (they disappear when you try), and there doesn’t appear to be a key. Apparently the lock is rather famous, and people begin speculating about what treasure it must contain when word gets out. This winds up involving a gang kidnapping Alice, and the Hatters stepping in to rescue. Except Nightmare’s the one that steps in, and he puts a serious hurt on the gang for injuring Alice. Serious enough that Alice doesn’t really believe he’s the same person, and Nightmare later fears that she’ll be scared of him, just like everyone else.
Later, Alice puts the moves on him again, and he gets shy and it’s another cute scene. Again, I’ve read so many of these, that a break like this is like a breath of fresh air.
There are two very short stories in the back. One is a Nightmare story, where Alice complains about her boring dream and starts dreaming of the other characters in the series, which upsets Nightmare. The second is a Blood story, which is also cute and uncharacteristically not creepy.
I can’t wait for more!
October 4, 2015
Maki Murakami – Tokyopop – 2004 – 12 volumes
You know, this is a really silly series that I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I liked. But I read the first part of it twice, and liked it both times, so there’s something to be said about that.
But I stopped here. I don’t know if it’s because it jumped the shark (blowing up New York is a little too silly, even for this series, and it also introduced a bunch of new characters), or I got bored of the humor, or both. All the same, after reading this one, I still do like it, and I’ll finish it. I wish it had wrapped up a little earlier, though.
This volume made me proud to be an American. If you’re in the mood to read a manga that disregards any realism for its American setting, make it this one.
At one point, one of the new characters offers Shuichi “New York Juice.” I wish I knew what that was. I don’t know that I would drink it, though.
Also (especially nitpicky, since one of the characters did blow up Manhattan here), they fly Southwest to Tokyo, which I think is impossible. But you can now fly Southwest to Akron, Ohio, which is nice.
At one point, a character wakes up Shuichi wearing a fake horse head. That’s how you know the sense of humor is still good.
But seriously. I got a little tired of Rage in this volume. She just yells and blows stuff up constantly. She fights with all the characters, and now she’s going to stick around. I get that she had to stand out as a potential love interest for Shuichi, but I hope she gets toned down in future volumes.
Yuki and Shuichi have a fight in this volume, but… it didn’t seem quite right to me. Their chemistry was off. Shuichi was acting in character, but Yuki was acting strangely. He re-connects with someone from his past, but his interaction with Shuichi still didn’t quite feel in-character. And I am not looking forward to when the truth about the cue cards comes out.
But seriously. After that, do they just go back to living together? This is getting all kinds of weird.
But there’s only a few volumes left, so I guess it can derail as hard as it wants. That would be in the spirit of the thing, anyway.
October 4, 2015
Kosuke Fujishima – Dark Horse – 2014 – 48 volumes
I’m going to miss this series terribly when it ends.
The Halgal arc continues here, although this is just about the end of it. We get two very exciting, separate incidents that are a suitable ending to this really long story. It’s hard to imagine the wrap-up next volume topping this.
So the group is separated, with Keiichi and Belldandy in one group, and Urd and Skuld in the other. Hagal is about to convert Belldandy, and Keiichi has to perform a tremendous act of faith to help her. Contracts are terminated. New ones are forged. Things that don’t happen in this series happen. It’s wonderful.
Meanwhile, Urd and Skuld are out of power. Goddess power. Urd tells Skuld that she can tap her demon power to help them, but she might not be able to control it, and that they both have to put a lot of trust in each other for it to work. It gets ugly, but sisterly love is also a beautiful thing. It was quite touching.
I can’t really say more than that without spoiling it. The volume was action-packed, and the character-driven moments were what made it awesome. It’s why you’ve been reading the series this long. My sitcom took a turn for the action-packed lately, but I can’t say I don’t like it. I love it, in fact. All those sitcom moments sort of added up to make this even better. Because I really care about these characters now, and seeing them perform like this is awesome.
See? This is why I’ll be sad to see this series end.