My Week in Manga: September 19-September 25, 2016

My News and Reviews

Last week at Experiments in Manga I posted an in-depth review of Human Acts, an incredibly beautiful, tremendously powerful, and absolutely devastating novel by South Korean author Han Kang. (Some may recognize Kang as the author of The Vegetarian which has earned her a fair amount of international attention and acclaim.) Human Acts is one of the best books that I’ve read in quite some time, but it’s a chilling and challenging read due to its subject matter. The book focuses on the violent Gwanju Uprising and its long-lasting aftermath, however it’s not at all necessary to be familiar with that particular incident to understand and appreciate the novel.

Elsewhere online, there was some very exciting licensing news: Pantheon Books will be releasing Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband! The impending English-language release has been hinted at, but now it’s official and I’m absolutely thrilled. Digital Manga’s Juné imprint also had a few licensing announcements from Yaoicon: Velvet Toucher’s Eden’s Mercy, the third volume of Yoneda Kou’s Twittering Birds Never Fly, and Junko’s The Prince’s Time. And over the weekend Yen Press slipped in an announcement for the acquisition of Tsukumizu’s Shojo Shumatsu Ryoko. A few other interesting things that I came across last include a video of Viz Media’s SDCC 2016 Panel, the Comic Book Resources feature “20 Years Ago, Dragon Ball Z Came to America to Stay,” and Otaku Champloo’s BL Manga Starter Kit. Also, a couple of recent queer comics Kickstarters caught my eye: Ngozi Ukazu’s already massively successful campaign to release Check Please!, Year Two and a project to raise funds for the final volume and omnibus edition of Jennie Wood’s Flutter.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 19Attack on Titan, Volume 19 by Hajime Isayama. For a while there I was starting to become a little weary of the sheer number of plot twists in Attack on Titan. Instead of renewing my interest in the story, I started to lose confidence in it. However, the more recent volumes of the series have regained some focus. The story developments and turns in the story are more exciting because of it, even if there are still a few major mysteries which have yet to be fully explained. The nineteenth volume of Attack on Titan is an exciting one as a massive confrontation between a contingent of intelligent Titans and the decimated Survey Corps begins. Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and the rest will have to directly face off against the Armored Titan and the Colossus Titan, knowing that the humans controlling them were once their comrades. It’s a kill-or-be-killed situation with very little room for negotiation. The action sequences in the nineteenth volume are dramatic and well-done, but the most notable aspect of the manga is probably the psychological impact that the battle for survival against one-time friends has on the characters. Also, for Attack on Titan fans who are interested in Levi and Erwin, the special edition of the nineteenth volume comes along with the second and final part of the No Regrets OVA anime adaptation. I haven’t had a chance to watch it myself yet, but I am glad that it’s available and am looking forward to seeing it.

CurveballCurveball by Jeremy Sorese. Although I’m only now finally getting around to reading Curveball, I’ve actually been meaning to for a while now. The comic was first brought to my attention when it became a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for best LGBT Graphic Novel. And then at TCAF 2016 I had the opportunity to hear Sorese talk about Curveball specifically and queer science fiction in general. There are two things in particular that I especially love about Curveball. The first is the inherent queerness of the characters and worldbuilding. Numerous genders are represented in the comic and relationships, romantic and otherwise, occur in a multitude of combinations. The main character, Avery, is non-binary and there are a fair number of others who are genderqueer or genderfluid as well. This isn’t at all a big deal in the comic, it’s simply a natural and unobtrusive part of the setting. The second thing that I particularly enjoyed about the comic is Sorese’s use of color. The illustrations in Curveball are primarily grayscale except for the use of an extraordinarily vibrant and literally fluorescent orange to represent technology, and more specifically energy. The effect is very striking. Curveball is mostly about relationships, but the characters are also dealing with a developing energy crisis. The fluorescent orange and the occasional lack thereof is a constant visual reminder of this.

Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 15The Seven Deadly Sins, Volume 15 by Nakaba Suzuki. The stakes can’t get much higher than they are at the moment in The Seven Deadly Sins seeing as the fate of the entire world is in grave peril now that the extraordinarily powerful demons known as the Ten Commandments have been released. Granted, just about everyone and everything in The Seven Deadly Sins is extraordinarily powerful, so it’s sometimes difficult to get a good feel for the grand scale of the series; the shock and awe is frequently lost. Despite the tremendous abilities that everyone has and despite the massive amounts of damage dealt to both people and property, it ends up coming across as common rather than impressive. Recently Suzuki has resorted to having Hawk actually announce the combat classes and magic levels of the various characters are, but that just seems superfluous when there is effectively no difference between a class level of 3,370 and 5,500 on the page. Even so, the fight scenes and battle sequences somehow still manage to be engaging and entertaining and are honestly one of the best things about the series. The fifteen volume of the manga sees the Seven Deadly Sins starting to fight off the Ten Commandments on two separate fronts. First they must try to fend off the Commandment’s minions and are largely successful, but eventually one of the demons appears to confront them directly. By the end, things aren’t looking good for the Deadly Sins.

Yona of the Dawn, Volume 1Yona of the Dawn, Volume 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi. Even if it wasn’t for the fact that I tend to enjoy epic fantasy series with strong female leads, the amount of excitement surrounding the anime adaptation and the licensing announcement for the original manga series in English would have been enough for Yona of the Dawn to catch my attention and interest. Admittedly, Yona spends a large part of the series’ first volume in shock and barely able to function. The reason is understandable–she has witnessed the murder of her beloved father the king at the hands of one of the people she most loved and trusted in the world. The unexpected betrayal leaves her stunned; the only reason she avoids a similar fate is that her personal guard whisks her away from the palace. However, the very beginning of the volume implies that Yona will take control of her own destiny. That’s the story that I really want to read. I want to see Yona overcome her tragic circumstances, to find the strength to protect herself and those she loves. If the manga is able to deliver its promise (and I suspect that it will), Yona of the Dawn will indeed be a series well-worth following. While Yona comes across as weak and helpless for a significant portion of the first volume of Yona of the Dawn, showing Yona at her lowest does provide the necessary setup required for dramatic story and character developments. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Yona of the Dawn.



My Week in Manga: May 30-June 3, 2016

My News and Reviews

Since it was the end of one month and the beginning of another, there were a couple of different things posted at Experiments in Manga in addition to the usual My Week in Manga feature. First of all, the Paradise Residence Giveaway Winner was announced along with a list of some manga licensed in English that feature boarding schools, dormitories, or other communal living arrangements. As for the first in-depth manga review of the month, I was absolutely thrilled to write about Shigeru Mizuki’s The Birth of Kitaro, the first volume of Drawn & Quarterly’s new Kitaro series designed to appeal to readers of all ages. I am so incredibly happy that more Kitaro manga is being released in English. I loved Drawn & Quarterly’s original Kitaro collection from back in 2013 (it was one of my most notable releases of the year), but if The Birth of Kitaro is any indication, I’m going to love this series even more.

I’m still keeping plenty busy at home and at work, but there were I couple things in particular that caught my eye online last week. For one, the fourth part of “The Sparkling World of 1970s Shojo Manga,” focusing on Moto Hagio, was posted at The Lobster Dance. Also, Seven Seas made a slew of new licensing announcements over the course of the week. The one that I’m most excited for is The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún by Nagabe (coincidentally, Jocelyne Allen recently reviewed the first volume at Brain vs Book and it sounds fantastic), but Seven Seas has also picked up four more yuri manga—Milk Morinaga’s Secret of the Princess and Hana & Hina After School, Hiromi Takashima’s Kase-san and…, and Hachi Ito’s Kindred Spirits on the Roof—as well as Seiju Natsumegu’s Ghost Diary, Tsukasa Saimura’s Tokyo Undead, Kawakami Masaki and Hato’s There’s A Demon Lord on the Floor, and a collaboration with Mamenosuke Fujimaru to create an English-first manga, Captive Hearts of Oz.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 16Attack on Titan, Volumes 16-18 by Hajime Isayama. It’s been a little while since I’ve read Attack on Titan proper as opposed to one of the spinoff manga or novels. Granted, part of that is because the North American release of the manga has more or less caught up with the Japanese release; with number twists and turns in the series’ plot, I find that Attack on Titan generally works better for me if I can read several volumes at once. These three volumes delve into the backstories of several of the characters including Levi and, probably more importantly, Historia. There are also several important reveals regarding the nature of the world and of the Titans. Overall, an exciting few volumes with some legitimately interesting developments. Although the series is still ongoing, it feels as though Isayama is beginning to set up the series’ finale. I’m hoping for a satisfying conclusion, and I’m starting to believe that Isayama might actually be able to pull one off. With the sixteenth volume, Kodansha Comics has also started releasing special editions which are packaged with other merchandise. Some of the extras, like playing cards, I’m not personally interested in but others, like the No Regrets anime, I’m definitely glad to have.

Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral, Volume 2Fairy Tail: Blue Mistral, Volume 2 by Rui Watanabe. Recently, I’ve been sampling quite a few of Fairy Tail‘s spinoff manga being released in English. Some I’ve actually liked while others I’ve merely tolerated, so it was anyone’s guess as to whether or not I’d appreciate the franchise’s shoujo offering, Blue Mistral. I’m happy to say that, for the most part, it’s not a bad series at all. The plot of Blue Mistral, Volume 2 may seem to oversimplify what is really a rather complicated situation and some of story’s resolutions feel like they come a little too easily, but considering that the series original intended audience was preteens and early teens I don’t necessarily consider that to be a true fault. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing to read such a sweet, cheery, and bright version of the world and characters of Fairy Tail. Blue Mistral follows the adventures of Wendy Marvell, an impressively skilled twelve-year-old sky-dragon slayer magic user. She’s a likeable and earnest protagonist who believes in friendship and in helping others whenever she is able. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Blue Mistral‘s shoujo version of Wendy may be even more adorable than Fairy Tail‘s shounen version, in part because Watanabe’s artwork tends to be fairly cute.

Wild ButterflyWild Butterfly by Hiroki Kusumoto. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through reading Wild Butterfly that I realized that I had previously read another of Kusumoto’s manga, the first volume of Vampire’s Portrait. I didn’t especially like Vampire’s Portrait (I never got around to reading the second and final volume), but it did have one thing in common with Wild Butterfly—when called upon, Kusumoto can draw some fantastically frightening scenes with shocking reveals. Wild Butterfly is a collection of five unrelated short manga. Despite the fact that, because the volume was released under Digital Manga’s June imprint, “yaoi manga”  is emblazoned on the front cover, only one of the five stories could even arguably be considered boys’ love. Most of the stories have a bit of horror or some supernatural elements, although the titular “Wild Butterfly” is more of a period piece about the tragedy of war. There aren’t really any overarching themes in Wild Butterfly, but the stories do tend to be fairly melancholic and somber. The collection isn’t outstanding or particularly refined, but there are some interesting aspects to the stories. I did at least enjoy Wild Butterfly much more than I did the beginning of Vampire’s Portrait.

My Week in Manga: May 11-May 17, 2015

My News and Reviews

Well, I was hoping to post the recap of my recent visit to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival last week, but I haven’t actually managed to finish writing it yet. (Things have been very busy at work and home, and the taiko performance season is ramping up, too.) So, the plan is to post it sometime later this week instead. Fortunately, I did have a couple of in-depth manga reviews in reserve for last week just in case the TCAF post fell through. The first review, Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi, Volume 3, is a part of my ongoing monthly horror manga review project. Mushishi continues to be one of my favorite series. This particular volume is notable as it reveals some of Ginko’s backstory. Last week I also reviewed the most recent installment of Bruno Gmünder’s Gay Manga line, Mentaiko Itto’s Priapus, which is a highly entertaining collection of gay erotic manga. The volume marks Itto’s official English-language debut and contains some pretty ridiculous stories and characters.

While I haven’t managed to fully report back on TCAF 2015, other TCAF posts are already being made. The Comics Reporter is making an effort to create an index of stories and references, but I specifically wanted to point out the recordings of some of the panels at The Comics Beat. Other items of interest from elsewhere online include Ryan Holmberg’s most recent What Was Alternative Manga? column at The Comics Journal—Blood Plants: Mizuki Shigeru, Kitaro, and the Japanese Blood Industry—and the 2015 edition of Advice on Manga Translation from Manga Translators over at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. As for licensing news, Kodansha Comics announced a deluxe omnibus edition of Fairy Tail and Dark Horse will be adding a few new titles: Kentaro Miura’s Giganto Maxia, Spike Chunsoft and Takashi Tsukimi’s Danganronpa, and Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero, in addition to rescuing CLAMP’s RG Veda.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 15Attack on Titan, Volume 15 by Hajime Isayama. Although it certainly has its moments and its own peculiar charm, Isayama’s artwork has never really been one of the strengths of Attack on Titan. There has certainly been improvement over the course of the series, and some of the individual panels and sequences are fantastic, but the artwork in this particular volume is terribly inconsistent and sometimes doesn’t even make sense to the point of distraction. But what Attack on Titan lacks in artistic finesse, the series makes up for with its large, engaging cast of characters and its constantly evolving story. Granted, with plot twist after plot twist after plot twist, the story is frequently on the verge of getting out of hand. Fortunately, Isayama reins it in a bit with this volume, allowing several of the story threads to play out and come to some sort of resolution before throwing something completely new into the mix, once again ending with a cliffhanger. Sometimes I miss the days when Attack on Titan was closer to being straight up horror, but all of the recent political intrigue can be interesting, too.

Fairy Tail, Volume 47Fairy Tail, Volumes 47-48 by Hiro Mashima. Thanks to Mashima’s afterword in the forty-seventh volume, I think I’ve finally figured out why Fairy Tail has been frustrating me recently—it’s his admitted lack of foreshadowing. The sudden plot developments that seem to come out of nowhere, although some of them are admittedly pretty great, make the series feel very disjointed and to some extent even directionless. Instead of inspiring feelings of excitement in how the story is progressing, Fairy Tail often inspires bafflement over its twists and revelations. In the same afterword Mashima indicates that he hopes to improve the foreshadowing, but he also says that he’ll be including plenty of red herrings as well, so I’m not sure how much that’s going to help. But even considering the unevenness of the series’ narrative, there’s still some good fun to be had in these two volumes. There are dragons, epic battles, and plenty of opportunities for the characters to demonstrate just how powerful they have become and just how badass they can be. Mashima is even able to work in some additional backstory for some of the characters amidst all the chaos.

Love at Fourteen, Volume 1Love at Fourteen, Volumes 1-2 by Fuka Mizutani. I was actually taken by surprise by how much I ended up enjoying the first two volumes of Love at Fourteen. I had heard good things about the series, but I didn’t really expect that I would be so taken with a series about the romantic turmoils of middle school students. Tanaka and Yoshikawa have been close friends for some time and that friendship has started to blossom into something greater. They are becoming more aware of themselves and of each other. But their school doesn’t allow dating at such a young age, so they do what they can to keep their relationship a secret. So far the series is a chaste, slowly developing romance, but realistically that’s how it should be. Love at Fourteen is charming and somewhat nostalgic without being syrupy sweet. There’s even some queer representation—a girl who has fallen in love with another girl—which I’m always happy to see. However, I will admit that I am a little concerned about how the relationship between the music teacher and one of the other students may develop since some of her behavior towards him has been has been borderline if not blatantly inappropriate.

Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage RanCarried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran directed by Akitaro Daichi. I am just now discovering Carried by the Wind; I completely missed when it was first released and happened across the thirteen-episode series more by accident than anything else. I’m glad that I did, though, because it is a tremendous amount of fun. Carried by the Wind is a comedic homage, without quite being a parody, of samurai films and television series. Tsukikage Ran, a skilled swordswoman, is a wandering ronin who would much rather drink a good bottle of sake and take a nap than get into a fight. Meow is a talented Chinese martial artist who means well but tends to get herself into trouble with her meddling. Although their attitudes and personalities are almost complete opposites—Ran is cool and collected while Meow is brash and prone to outbursts—the two end up becoming traveling companions of sorts. Each episode of Carried by the Wind stands completely on its own and generally follows a somewhat predictable story arc with Ran and Meow righting some sort of wrongdoing. But with its humor, marvelous lead characters, and great fight scenes, Carried by the Wind is a highly entertaining series.

My Week in Manga: March 16-March 22, 2015

My News and Reviews

Two more reviews were posted at Experiments in Manga last week. Only one was of a manga, but the other book does include illustrations! I’m a little behind in reviewing the series, but I finally wrote up my impressions of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 6. (Just in time for the seventh volume to be released later this week!) There’s some really nice character development for Shiro and, as always, delicious-looking food. The second review posted last week was for Haikasoru’s anthology of short fiction Phantasm Japan: Fantasies Light and Dark from and about Japan which collects twenty-one horror-tinged stories. It has a great range of contributions and authors and is an excellent followup to the The Future Is Japanese anthology.

I’ve been busy at work and the taiko performance season is ramping up, so I’ve not had much time to pay attention to the manga news over the last week or so. (Let me know if I missed something good!) However, I did see that Manga Brog posted a translation of interviews of Inio Asano and Daisuke Igarashi from the magazine Manga Erotics F in 2012. And speaking of Asano, Vertical Comics apparently made a license announcement a couple of weekends ago—an omnibus edition of Asano’s A Girl on the Shore. Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph left a huge impression on me last year, so I’m really looking forward to reading more of his work in English.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 14Attack on Titan, Volume 14 by Hajime Isayama. The cover of the fourteenth volume of Attack on Titan has a Western flair to it (“Western” as in the genre) and, surprisingly enough, so do the contents. I found the introduction of the trappings of the American Old West to be a little bizarre in a setting that has largely been European-influenced, but it is what it is. I never expected there to be a guns-blazing saloon shootout in Attack on Titan, but it is an admittedly exciting scene even if it does feel a little out-of-place. Also somewhat surprising, not a single Titan makes an appearance in the volume except for flashbacks. The series’ focus has shifted from the fight against the Titans to the conflict inside of the walls as humans are pitted against each other. The Survey Corps is in the process of trying to reveal some major conspiracies to the general public, schemes that the Military Police and government would rather not come to light, so things get pretty violent. All in all, even considering the odd Western elements, it’s an excellent volume of Attack on Titan with some great action sequences, character development, and plot progression.

Fairy Tail, Volume 44Fairy Tail, Volumes 44-46 by Hiro Mashima. The Tartaros arc of Fairy Tail continues with these three volumes of the series. Fairy Tail is facing off with a guild of demons which is attempting to eliminate all magic except for its own curses. For the most part, it’s battle after battle without too much story development. Major sacrifices are made by Fairy Tail (sadly, some of them lose their significance and impact when Mashima doesn’t completely follow through with them), and a new antagonist is introduced, the extremely powerful King of the Underworld, Mard Geer. Reading Mashima’s afterwords at the end of each volume, it seems as though he has tried to carefully plan out the important events and battles of Fairy Tail. Even so, it feels as though the series meanders getting from one major plot point to the next, almost as if Mashima is making the story up as he goes instead of having a definite endpoint in mind. However, the fights can be exciting and the characters continue to evolve, or at least power up. I was pleased to see the forty-sixth volume turn the manga’s focus back onto Gray, though, bringing his most recent story arc to a satisfying conclusion.

Sankarea: Undying Love, Volume 10Sankarea: Undying Love, Volume 10 by Mitsuru Hattori. There have been parts of Sankarea that I’ve really enjoyed, and parts of the series that I really have not, but overall the tenth volume frustrates me more than anything else. Mostly it’s because of the narrative structure and the fact that several important backstories are crammed into the volume. I almost wonder if Hattori realized that he was running out of time to bring the series to a proper conclusion. (There is only one more volume after this one.) It is good to finally find out more about Chihiro’s grandfather and all of his research into bringing the living back to life. And there are some great horror elements to that particular story, as well. I just really wish the revelation hadn’t taken the form of a huge infodump given by a conveniently revived zombie. However, I did like the different art styles that Hattori used to distinguish Chihiro’s memories of his mother and the story about Chihiro’s grandfather from the rest of the manga. And I am curious to see how Sankarea will end. It’s been a strange if somewhat uneven series about zombies and love, part horror manga and part romantic comedy.

My Week in Manga: October 13-October 19, 2014

My News and Reviews

Only somewhat unintentionally, last week ended up being a yuri-filled week here at Experiments in Manga. My friend Jocilyn was inspired to write a guest review of Takako Shimura’s Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 1 by Takako Shimura, which is currently only available digitally. (I’m hoping that one day the series will be available in print, but as Jocilyn points out, a few fixes may be needed for that to happen.) As for the manga review that I posted last week, I took a look at Chiho Saito’s Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Adolescence of Utena for my Year of Yuri monthly review project. Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of my absolute favorite anime series and I was quite pleased with Saito’s The Adolescence of Utena, finding it to be an incredibly compelling work in its own right. And speaking of my Year of Yuri project, I only have one more review to go! I haven’t quite decided which manga (or comic) my final review will tackle, so if you have any requests or would like to see something in particular, let me know! I also posted one other (non-yuri) review last week: Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan, Volume 4. Monkey Business is a literary journal featuring a mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even a bit of manga. The stories tend to be a little strange, but that also tends to be something that I enjoy.

Elsewhere online, New York Comic Con articles are still being posted. At Publishers Weekly, Deb Aoki has a general roundup of the manga industry’s presence at NYCC. Justin of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses has a few interesting things from his time at NYCC, including why publishers and fans think it’s worth it to buy manga and an interview with Gen Manga’s Robert McGuire. Vertical also posted a bit more information about the Vertical Comics imprint. Unrelated to NYCC but still interesting reading, at Contemporary Japanese Literature Kathryn Hemmann has an excellent critique of Helen McCarthy’s A Brief History of Manga, specifically addressing the male-centric focus of the work. (I’ve had the volume on my “to be read” pile since its release; I should really get around to actually reading it one of these days) Also, Frederick L. Schodt wrote a bit about the history of his groundbreaking work Manga! Manga!. (Exceptionally good timing, as I am just about to start reading it.) And last but not least, Digital Manga has licensed ninth and final volume of Hinako Takanaga’s The Tyrant Falls in Love! (I mistakenly thought the eighth volume was the series’ end, so I’m doubly happy for this license.)

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 13Attack on Titan, Volume 13 by Hajime Isayama. Although I have largely been enjoying Attack on Titan since the beginning of the series, the thirteenth volume is a particularly good installment of the manga. As the series has progressed, mystery on top of mystery and twist on top of twist has been added, which is something that can only be sustained for so long. But with the thirteenth volume it feels as though some progress has actually been made with the plot and some answers are finally being given—or at least some convincing and appropriately disconcerting theories are being offered. The thirteenth volume begins with the aftermath of the Survey Corps’ rescue of Eren. The number of deaths and casualties incurred by the group is severe. Eren must come to terms with just how much ensuring his safety costs and just how much depends on him in the battles to come. The focus of Attack on Titan has shifted from confronting the Titans themselves to confronting the corruption within the government while trying to discover who or what is even behind the existence of the Titans. It’s a particularly effective development—the prospect of fighting Titans has a significantly different psychological impact than that of fighting, and even killing, humans.

A Love Song for the MiserableA Love Song for the Miserable by Yukimura. Many of the boys’ love manga released in English are about high school or middle school students, so it’s always a refreshing to encounter a story about adults. A Love Song for the Miserable is one of those stories. Asada is hoping to work in events planning while Nao is studying to become a patissier. After a chance meeting, the two of them become friends and Asada ends up acting as Nao’s taste tester, developing feelings for the other man in the process. Sadly, Asada would much rather completely ruin any chance of a relationship with Nao than risk the possibility of being rejected after opening up. Their friendship ends badly which puts them both in an awkward position three years later when Asada meets Nao again while on the job. A Love Song for the Miserable captures Asada’s personality and insecurities extremely well and the complexities of his feelings are very realistic. It’s understandable that Asada’s lack of confidence in himself and his jealousy over Nao’s success when his own career is going nowhere would interfere with him developing a stable relationship. Asada has very good reasons for being miserable, and Nao has very good reasons for being upset with him, but they might just be able to make something work.

World Trigger, Volume 1World Trigger, Volumes 1-2 by Daisuke Ashihara. In an interesting move, Viz decided to simultaneously release two volumes of World Trigger. It certainly caught my attention, so I guess the gambit was a successful one. There were several things that I liked about World Trigger. For example, I particularly appreciate that strategy and tactics come into play in the fights and that the battles aren’t all about who happens to have the greatest brute strength or power. I also liked Yuma—since he is a Neighbor his perspective is very different from that of the other characters and it shows—although I can easily see how he might get on some readers’ nerves. Other aspects of the manga didn’t work quite as well for me. Right off the bat Border is described as a mysterious organization; the general population seems oddly accepting of its presence and seems to require no further explanation as long as Border continues to fight against the Neighbors, which I found a little difficult to believe. I assume this is probably something the series will explore in the future, but as it is the lack of information is frustrating, especially when other things are over-explained. For the most part I did enjoy the first volume, but the second didn’t do much to retain my attention. Though it has its good points, World Trigger hasn’t quite managed to set itself apart from other series yet and seems a little generic so far.