A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{September 15, 2013}   Comics and manga of the week (105 & 106)

happy-manga-volume-15-deluxe-72164Black Butler, volume 13 & 14 by Yana Toboso

  • Two wonderful volumes that really capture what’s great about this series. The zombie storyline is wrapped up with some shocking revelations about Elizabeth and the undertaker. We also delve into Ciel’s past and his early days with his demonic butler, Sebastian. That is a special treat and reveals a lot about the two characters.

Happy, volume 15 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • The final volume of an incredible series. (Does Urasawa write any other kind?) Some of the earlier volumes were hard to read because of the sheer, senseless cruelty of the antagonist and the suffering Miyuki has to go through. But the last few volumes blew me away. This is really the perfect ending to the series, everything is wrapped up in a satisfactory way that is true to the characters and their world.Miyuki finally has her confrontation against Nikolic, the Queen of tennis, at Wimbleton. Meanwhile the two men who love her fight to save her siblings for the Yakuza, risking their lives in the process. I’m especially happy that Sakurada got a happy ending; he was always my favorite character despite his disreputable past.

His Favorite, volume 5 by Suzuki Tanaka

  • As the girls compete to have a day alone with Sato, he is finally able to spend some quality time with his boyfriend Yoshida. A silly little BL series but there isn’t really anything new here; it could have ended a couple of volumes ago. There are also some disturbing ideas about romance. Sato’s sadism aside, girls, do you really think it’s ok to make someone a prize without his consent?

Ippo, volume 43 to 46 (French) by George Morikawa

  • These 2 volumes deliver 2 intense story lines: first Takamura’s match against the brutal World Champion Brian Hawk and then, a story from the coach’s youth and boxing career shortly after WWII. Both stories were incredible and excting but the second was especially poignant including a friendly rivalry, a tragic love story and a country struggling to recover after a humiliating defeat. Some of the best volumes in a while and we haven’t even reached the halfway point of the series. I look forward to what else Morikawa has in store for us.

Istuwaribito, volume 9 by Yuuki Iinuma

  • In their quest to find the Kokonotsu treasures, Utsuho and his companions must infiltrate a country where only women are permitted. He must also face down the Itsuwaribito who killed his caretaker and fellow orphans. This series is a little unknown gem of a shonen manga, wonderfully paced and full of action and humour.

Kaze Hikaru, volume 21 by Taeko Watanabe

  • In the continuing story of young Sei, a girl who cross dresses in order to join the Shinsengumi and avenge her family, Okita is overcome by his feelings for her and tries to deal with this by distancing himself from her. Sei is hurt by this rejection and considers joining a convent. In the process we learn about the hard times just after her family’s death that led her on the path to revenge. This is one of my favorite stories (history! romance! cross dressing! humour! samurai!) and it is still going strong. I can’t wait for the next volume!

Master Keaton, volume 3 (French) by Naoki Urasawa

  • This is a quieter volume than the first two though no less engaging. Our intrepid insurance investigator, investigates a purported miracle, negotiates with kidnappers, helps a man fly, disarms a bomb and helps preserve and ancient temple of a matriarchal tribe… among other things. He’s a busy guy but he always pulls it off with intelligence and style. As a long time love of Indiana Jones, this archeologist/adventurer was written for me.

Otomen, volume 15 & 16 by Aya Kanno

  • These two volumes focus on two of the side characters. Tonomine struggles between his duty to follow his father into politics and his desire to become a make up artist. And Yamato struggles with growing feelings for the girlfriend of a man he respects and comes to accept his girliness in the process. This remains a silly series but I appreciate its message: your sex need not dictate your interests or your behaviour. Kanno is building up for the big finale; just one volume left.

Prince du Tennis, volume 1 & 2 (French) by Takeshi Konomi

  • I’ve been meaning to reread this sports manga classic for a long time and I still love it as much as the first time. The young, slightly cocky, tennis prodigy Ryoma never fails to bring a smile to my lips as he shows up boys bigger and older than himself. In these first two volumes, he starts high school and competes for a spot on the team. Full of humour and a love of tennis, it’s a real pleasure to read.

Silver Diamond, volume 11 (French) by Shiho Sugiura

  • This series is another surprising, unknown treasure. Rakan and his friends continue their trip to the capital, bringing life to the barren land as they go. Meanwhile his twin in the capital, a self-proclaimed prince who withers all he touches just as Rakan can foster life, is in for a surprise: his supposedly loyal servant has betrayed him and he suddenly finds himself imprisoned and powerless. A wonderful environmental fantasy that should please fans of Basara.

Silver Spoon, volume 3 (French) by Hiromu Arakawa

  • In this volume Yugo, who as you might remember joined an agricultural school in Hokaido, deals with his conflicted feelings about a pig he knows will be slaughtered. I’m a vegetarian but even I appreciate the informed and nuanced reflection Arakawa offers about the meat industry. This new series is very different from Full Metal Alchemist but it continues to impress me with its humour and intelligence.

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