Bookshelf Briefs 5/30/23 – Manga Bookshelf

Bookshelf Briefs 5/30/23 - Manga Bookshelf

Blue Box, Vol. 4 | By Kouji Miura | Viz Media – We finally tip the balance of this sports romance series back to romance in this volume, as Taiki’s cold means that Chinatsu ends up taking care of him, which leads to standard teen romance manga “I fall on top of you” shenanigans… but this is Blue Box, not Love Hina, so the reactions for both of them are very realistic and incredibly awkward. Chinatsu, unfortunately, is simply not ready for any kind of romance in her life right now, despite what her heart seems to be telling her, and Taiki accepts that for now, I think. As for Hina… hang in there, kid. I think until you get a spare to pair with, you’re pretty screwed. I expect we may go back to sports next time; I do like the back and forth. – Sean Gaffney

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction, Vol. 12 | By Inio Asano | Viz Media – There probably wasn’t a good way that this final volume was going to wrap up for me. Asano’s series have always generally been too depressing for my tastes, and this is the only long-form one I read till the end. To its credit, all the timey wimey stuff happening throughout the series does mean that we get a happy ending of a sort, and the ending is somewhat optimistic, and ties in with Isobeyan. On the downside, I was not at all interested in the front half of this book, which basically involves a lot of freedom fighters and innocent civilians getting brutally murdered to show off what a terrible world this is now. Still, at its best, this series was magical. – Sean Gaffney

In/Spectre, Vol. 17 | By Kyo Shirodaira and Chashiba Katase | Kodansha Manga – Most of this volume is taken up by a new arc, written especially for fans who wanted to see more of the yuki-onna that settled down with her human lover, and it’s pretty good. But man, that first chapter is really something, as it just casually drops that there is no way that Kotoko can EVER be happy with him, she’s always going to have to end up killing him, because of the nature of who they both are. Fortunately, whenever Kotoko is NOT around, Kuro proves to be a lot more vocal about his feelings for her, and he’s working on a way to change that. All this and only ONE mention all book of Kotoko being sexually perverse. Possibly as she and Kuro are separate most of it. – Sean Gaffney

My Girlfriend’s Child, Vol. 1 | By Mamoru Aoi | Seven Seas – The title of this series seems to be a bit ironic, as we follow the POV of Sachi throughout the book (it is shoujo, from Betsufure), and it’s her thoughts and especially her fears that drive the book. It’s content to let us view Sachi almost through gauze, as her muted emotions slowly start to realize that she is, in fact, pregnant. Her boyfriend is there for her, as is her brother, but you get the sense that decisions about her future will need to come from her, and have been narrowed significantly because of this. That’s probably what leads to the cliffhanger ending to this volume, to be honest. It’s a riveting work, highly recommended if you like a series that rests entirely on mood. – Sean Gaffney

Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 28 | By Yuki Midorikawa | Viz Media – Yay, Taki shows up! She’s the most normal of the cast, but I always like seeing her, and she helps her brother with what appears to be a yokai following him around on a tour of temples. Well, OK, she tells Natsume and Natsume helps him. Taki is never going to be that involved. In the main story, which will continue in the next book, we dig deeper into Natori’s past and family, as he goes back to his old home and ends up caught in a yokai’s trap… which, to be fair, he was expecting. This arc relies heavily on the fact that Natsume tends to sympathize with the yokai he’s helping, and the cliffhanger implies that it can be used against him as well. Still a fantastic shoujo series. – Sean Gaffney

Queen’s Quality, Vol. 17 | By Kyousuke Motomi | Viz Media – This volume technically ends with a death, and it’s handled really well, but it’s also a rebirth of sorts, so I think we come out ahead in the end. It also has some truly terrifying art inside—I’ve talked before about how I think there’s too many people in this cast, and that I can’t follow the plot, but I don’t talk enough about Motomi’s skill as an artist, which is exceptional. Oh yes, and we also get some nice little set pieces, including the “I was taken over by evil, I’m good now!….. jjuuuuuuuust kidding!” sort of character who you’re supposed to be happy to see the back of, though I don’t think this series can ever write someone being brutally killed without a bit of regret and sadness to it. Still reading it. – Sean Gaffney

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, Vol. 1 | By Osamu Nishi | Kodansha Manga – This is probably just me, but the first volume of this book is almost exactly like the first volume of Hayate the Combat Butler, right down to the incredible powers that the hero has all being products of the abuse of his parents. Iruma doesn’t become a butler, though, but instead ends up, as the title suggests, in a school where he’s the only human, and has to hide that fact. Most of the humor here is “I am trying not to be noticed, and fail miserably,” and to be fair it is a lot of fun—I can see why the series has a following. The one flaw might be Iruma himself, who in this first book is a bit TOO milquetoast for my liking, though again, abusive parents, so it makes sense. Good start. – Sean Gaffney

The Yakuza’s Bias, Vol. 1 | By Teki Yatsuda | Kodansha Comics – I didn’t realize initially that The Yakuza’s Bias is basically a gag manga. I don’t generally fare too well with those, but I was fairly amused by this one. Ken Kanashiro, second-in-command of the Washio Clan, is introduced by the boss’s daughter to the Korean idol group, MNW, and is immediately taken by one of the members, Jun, who teaches him what it means to be a man. Subsequent chapters involve Ken’s underlings noticing a change in him, a rival yakuza (Mizuhara) who sets out to whack him but ends up a MNW convert instead, and Ken’s growing Twitter fame. Any time I’d start to get weary of the joke, Yatsuda-sensei would find a way to make it fresh again. I might eventually get impatient with this series for not going much of anywhere, but I will definitely be back for volume two. – Michelle Smith

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