By Julie Opipari
I know that pre-orders are due pretty quick if you order your comics from your local comic store, so I thought it would be fun to troll through the latest issue of Previews together. I order most of my graphic novels from Right Stuf or Amazon, because most of my local comic stores have closed. There is one that remains, but they treat me like I am an alien, so I try to avoid it other than for emergencies. I’m really not that weird – trust me on that!
Here are some releases that I am looking forward to, and why. And you will see, based on these titles, that I am really not an alien!
Bride of the Water God v6: When Soah is sacrificed to the Water God during an devastating drought, she expects to meet a very painful end. Instead, she is rescued by Habaek, the water god, and she becomes his bride. She is quickly caught up in the jealousies and intrigues of the water god’s court. Torn between Habaek and the handsome Mui, Soah struggles to find her place in her new home. This is a series with stunningly lovely art, but a convoluted plot that made little sense until the fifth volume. That’s ok, because the eye candy alone makes it worth the purchase. There isn’t another series being published right now that looks as beautiful as this one.
Gantz v13: When Kei and his friend are killed by a train, they don’t expect to wake up in a room with other accident victims or bossed around by a large, mysterious sphere. They are forced to fight in deadly battles against aliens, all seemingly for the amusement of Gantz. This title is violent and exciting and good old brainless fun. It’s a sci-fi adventure with horror elements, and I love it when Kei is duking it out with his terrifying alien opponents. It’s when the action drifts into the background that I get a little restless reading this series. Kei doesn’t have many of the qualities that I look for in a hero, and I don’t like him when he’s not blasting everything in sight and proving how brave he is.
Fire Investigator Nanase v5 is a series that doesn’t get much love. Nanase is a clever, resourceful heroine, and she matches wits with arsonists and murderers. The blazing fires make for an exciting backdrop in this suspenseful series. I could do without the fan service, but the story is solid enough that I overlook the needless panty shots.
Animal Academy v5 is a title that has caught me by surprise. The first volume didn’t really hook me, but I stuck with it, and I am so glad that I did. It skews to younger readers, but I am finding it a satisfying read. Fune is the only human at Morimori, and she has to keep that a secret. All of her classmates are magical shape-shifting animals who are learning to blend into human society. Fune has a lot to learn herself, and the biggest lesson is what it really means to be human.
Kekkaishi v22: If you aren’t reading this series, you are missing out on a treat. At its core, it’s a fun action/adventure title, but it has so much more to offer. Yoshimori is a hero you can’t help but like, and his fellow guardian, Tokine, is likeable too. The teens are the guardians of a sacred site, which just happens to be located on the grounds of their high school, and they spend their nights warding off supernatural threats. Trying to keep up on your studies when you work all night is tough, so Yoshimori spends a lot of his day trying to sneak in a nap or two. The series keeps getting better and more complex, so give it a try if you haven’t taken the plunge yet.
Skip*Beat v21: Kyoko is a girl out for revenge after she’s dumped by the love of her life. Sho was just leading her on, so she would pay all the bills and do all the housework while he struggled to make it big in show biz. After Kyoko learns the truth, she snaps! She and her little Kyoko demons are going to get back at Sho if it is the last thing she does! She is going to become a bigger star than he is, and laugh at him as her popularity eclipses his. I love the humor, I love that Kyoko is a spaz, and I love Ren, the new man in her life. Unfortunately for Ren, Kyoko is so consumed with getting back at Sho that she doesn’t even notice him! There are some pacing issues, but overall, this remains one of my favorite titles.
Hikaru No Go v20 is about a boy who likes to play go. Yes, this series is about a game that makes little sense to me, and to many others, I’m sure, but I still get caught up in all of the excitement as Hikaru works to become the best go player in Japan. The title is character driven, and the personalities are strong enough, and well-rounded enough, to make the book work.
Now that you know what I’m ordering, what’s on your list?
When Julie Opipari isn’t mucking around the barn, she can be found trying to make a dent in the massive pile of manga that keeps following her home from the bookstore. Not wiling to admit she has a problem, she blissfully continues to anticipate the latest releases despite the cries of agony from her credit card. She cheerfully blames her addiction on the stresses of college and post traumatic work disorder, and is grateful that her family grumbles only occasionally about the amount of time she spends buried in her books. In addition to reading Your Manga Minute every Wednesday, you can read more of Julie’s work on her blog, Manga Maniac Cafe.