Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 15

Kamisama Kiss Volume 15 is a manga by Julietta Suzuki, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of Kamisama Kiss is Nanami Momozono. She’s a high school student who ends up becoming a kami at the land god’s shrine after the land god gives her a kiss on the forehead that gives her the power of a kami. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

Volume 15 opens with Nanami still in the past, where an injured Tomoe (who has disguised himself as a child) stays at Yukiji’s home while Nanami. Nanami claims that Tomoe is a child from her village and that his name is Himetaro. While all this is going on, Nanami has to try not to get too involved and inadvertently change what happens to Tomoe in the past. Once Tomoe appears to be getting better, Nanami leaves. Unfortunately, just as Nanami is about to talk to the kami that placed the curse on Tomoe, she is pulled back into the present because her time ran out.

After Nanami is able to get some rest and gets encouragement from her friends, she returns to the past. When she returns, she encounters Akura-Oh. He is out in search of Tomoe, because he had heard a rumor that Tomoe had fallen in love with a human girl. Akura-Oh makes Nanami take him to the capital so he can try to find out why Tomoe would be interested in a woman from there. The time Nanami has to spend with Akura-Oh is actually rather amusing to read for the most part.

I have to give Nanami credit for the actions she takes in the past. While she wants to do what she can to save Tomoe, she’s still rational enough to realize that she can’t do anything to tamper with the past, because it would change her world in the future. But could her encounter with Akura-Oh have unintended consequences that cause changes in the futue? Hopefully Volume 16 will answer that. But by doing this storyline, it allows Suzuki to show the audience more of what happened to Tomoe in the past than what we’d seen in the flashbacks provided in previous volumes, and it allows the audience to see a lot of what happened through Nanami’s eyes. There are still some scenes that take place without Nanami around, but for the most part, she was there in some way, shape or form.

This volume also includes two “special episodes.” The first one has to do with Nanami trying to figure out what’s in a package that is given to Tomoe by Tanuko. The second has to do with Nanami’s friends convincing her to buy lingerie, and her attempts to hide it from Tomoe. Both of these stories don’t really have much of anything to do with the main storyline, but they were light-hearted and amusing to read.

At the end of Volume 15, I’m wondering how much longer Nanami will remain in the past and if she’ll succeed in talking with the fallen kami and find out how to break the curse.

After reading this volume, I have to say that if you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 14 volumes of Kamisama Kiss, then you should also enjoy reading Volume 15.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Kamisama Kiss Volume 15 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Shojo Beat’s Announcements at Anime Expo

Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint announced the following releases during its Anime Expo panel:

  • The Vampire Knight: Life bonus chapter by Matsuri Hino that takes place during the same timeline as the manga’s story. This chapter will be released as a digital exclusive.
  • The limited edition of Vampire Knight Volume 19 will be released in October 2014.
  • Vampire Knight Box Set 2, which compiles Volumes 11-19, will be released in November 2014.
  • The imprint has acquired the license for Meteor Prince by Meca Tanaka. The first volume of the manga will ship in January 2015.
  • The imprint has also acquired the license for The Demon Prince of Momichi House by Aya Shouoto. The first volume of the manga will ship in July 2015.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume 10

Strobe Edge Volume 10 is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading the entire series, I would agree with this rating.

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

At the beginning of Chapter 10, Ninako and Ren have a very awkward encounter and nothing is resolved between them. Later, Ando learns from Ren about Ninako turning Ren down when he confessed his feelings to her. When Ando asks Ninako about it, he learns that Mao filled her in about Ando and Ren’s past. Ando catches Ninako by surprise when he kisses her, but she pushes him away and realizes why he did it. Ninako realizes that she truly loves Ren and runs after him. Mao also declares that she’s going after Ando.

Ninako manages to find Ren and she explains her thoughts when she turned him down and then says that she loves him. Ninako and Ren become a couple, but the transition from being friends to being a couple is a bit awkward…

Overall, I have to say that this was a satisfying ending for Strobe Edge. After everything that has happened between Ren and Ninako, their awkwardness when they become a couple feels very realistic. If it hadn’t had that awkwardness to it, that transition wouldn’t have felt nearly as believable.

The actual story only takes up about half of the volume. The rest of the volume includes three bonus stories. The first focuses on the character of Manabu, and we see when he falls in love for the first time. Unfortunately, he has no real chance with her, but he keeps pursuing her anyway. It was nice to see Manabu get his own story, since he was seen throughout the series but never truly played a major part throughout it. But this story does help explain why we never saw Manabu actively pursuing anyone or looking for love.

The second bonus story focuses on Ren and Ninako, and it takes place after the end of Strobe Edge. While the ending of manga was a nice way to end the story, I believe that this story could have been added on to make the main story a little longer; the ending of this side story would have also made for a good ending for the main story.

The third bonus story takes place when Ren, Ninako, Ando, and the others find out if they made it into the high school that they attend during the series. It’s rather short, and in the long run, I’m not entirely sure if it truly added much. It only truly enforced the idea that Ando isn’t happy about the fact that he’s in the same high school as Ren. This fact was made really clear in the series, so this bonus story is kind of redundant in that way.

In the end, I have to say that I did enjoy the Strobe Edge series. While I hadn’t been too sure about it after the first volume, I’m glad I continued reading the series. While the story itself may have fallen into the “typical shojo” category, the characters were well defined and I came to care about them as a reader. If you enjoy reading shojo romances, then I think you’ll enjoy reading Strobe Edge.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume 10 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Viz Media’s Shojo Beat Imprint Releasing My Love Story!! Manga

Viz Media has announced that the company’s Shojo Beat imprint will be releasing the first volume of the My Love Story!! manga series on July 1, 2014.

The new release, written by the author of the bestselling manga High School Debut, is rated ‘T’ for Teens and will carry a print MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN. Future volumes of the continuing series are scheduled to be published 4 times a year.

A digital version also will launch on July 1, 2014 for $6.99 (USD/CAN) on VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA App for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Android-powered smart phones, as well as for the NOOK, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and Google Play stores.

In My Love Story!!, Takeo Goda is a giant guy with a giant heart. Too bad the girls don’t want him! (They always go for his good-looking best friend, Sunakawa.) Used to being on the sidelines, Takeo simply stands tall and accepts his fate. But one day when he saves a girl named Yamato from a harasser on the train, his (love!) life suddenly takes an incredible turn! Takeo can hardly believe it when he crosses paths with Yamato again, and he finds himself falling in love with her… But with handsome Sunakawa around, does Takeo even stand a chance?

Amy Yu, Editor, says, “MY LOVE STORY!! is a wonderful laugh-out-loud comedy sure to delight any reader that has ever rooted for, or been, the underdog in a relationship. This is a different type of shojo story, told from the standpoint of the sweet but blundering main male character, Takeo. We invite fans to complement their summer manga reading with this fun, new romantic comedy from Shojo Beat!”

Manga Review: “Midnight Secretary” Volume One

Midnight Secretary Volume One is a manga by Tomu Ohmi, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2013. The series is rated “M” for Mature; after reading the first volume, I would agree with that rating.

Kaya Satozuka works as a secretary for Tohma Corp., and she reassigned to the office of the company’s director, Kyohei Tohma. She thinks he’s jerk, but remains the consummate professional while working for him. One day, she stumbles upon a secret: Kyohei is really a vampire. After she discovers his secret, Kyphei decides to keep her on as his secretary, because her knowing his secret makes things a bit easier. And in order to make Kaya stay, Kyohei essentially blackmails her because Kaya’s mother has a job at a Tohma retail store.

One night, Kaya has to accompany Kyohei to a dinner meeting, which turns out to be in a church that was converted into a restaurant by a couple of devout Christians. Kaya discovers that it’s spiritual faith that weakens Kyohei. His energy has been sapped, so Kaya offers her blood to help him.

At the end of the volume, Kyohei requires Kaya yo accompany him to a Christmas party at a hotel, and even going so far as to buy her a dress to wear. Unfortunately, a church choir is part of the festivities, so Kaya tries to get Kyohei away. She ends up having to beg for a hotel room. When he awakens, he asks for her blood, and she agrees. However, it ends up going a little further than just taking her blood…

After reading through this volume, I can see why it was given an “M” rating. This rating is due primarily to a few scenes in here where there is some female nudity included. If not for the nudity, this volume might have been able to get away with a “T+” rating. But for all I know, there could be worse content in later volumes, which would really necessitate the “M” rating.

Kaya is a very competent woman, who has a childish-looking face. Because of this, she pulls her hair back and wears glasses in order to hide the childish-looking features in order to be taken seriously as a secretary. For a lot of the volume, Kyohei gives her a hard time about how she looks; however, after getting a chance to see her without her glasses on and her hair down, he understands why and tries to do things to try to make her look more appealing while maintaining her professional look.

Prior to working for Kyohei, Kaya did work for Kyohei’s brother; unfortunately, Kyohei doesn’t like his brother. Kaya appears to be smitten with Kyohei’s brother, but after Kyohei takes her blood, she seems to be starting to develop feelings for him. And at the end of the volume, Kyohei suddenly demands to have her blood because he now desires it. In fact, right at the end, he insists on having her change her hours so she can serve as his course of blood.

In a lot of ways, there’s basically a typical shojo setup going on here, except the characters are a little older, there’s some content here that you wouldn’t see in a shojo manga aimed at teens, and there’s also the vampire element.

I have rather mixed feelings about this series after reading Volume One. On the one hand, the concept and story is kind of interesting. On the other, some of the execution, especially the way Kyohei keeps blackmailing Kaya, is a little on the disturbing side to me. At this point, I’m not sure about whether or not I’m willing to continue the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Midnight Secretary Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Nine

Strobe Edge Volume Nine is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from the nine volumes that I’ve read of the series, I would agree with this rating.

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

Ninako tries to suppress her feelings for Ren because she thinks she’ll be able to make Ren and Ando friends again. Ren, meanwhile, realizes he’s in love with Ninako but is too afraid to say anything. However, he realizes that he needs to say something, so he’s determined to tell her after the school sports festival is over.

During Volume Nine, Ando gets a surprise when Mao admits that she’s still in love with him. Unfortunately, this does nothing to sway Ando away from having feelings for Ninako.

When the festival is over, Ninako has an after-party for the cheer squad to go to. However, Ren says he has something to tell her so he’ll wait for her in the classroom. Unfortunately, Ninako stays until she needs to go to work, so Ren’s already gone from the classroom. Ninako calls Ren and leaves a message on his voicemail, saying she needs to talk to him.

When Ninako’s shift is over, the boss insists that Ando escort Ninako because some rough guys have been hanging around lately. They have an encounter with the rough guys, and Ando gets beaten up in front of Ninako. After helping Ando out, Ninako feels guilty about what happened. So when Ren tells Ninako how he feels, she surprises herself by turning him down…

When I got to the scene where Ren and Ninako finally talk and Ren confesses his feelings, I nearly wanted to scream when Ninako turned him down. Here I was, so excited that it looked like the two of them would finally get together, that I was thinking, “No, Ninako! You’re messing this up!” when she turned him down.

I have to give Ando some credit for the fact that he didn’t simply go back to Mao after she admitted that she was still in love with him. However, I really couldn’t feel sorry for him when he was depressed when he thought there was a chance that Ninako and Ren had become a couple after meeting up face-to-face.

There’s only one volume of Strobe Edge left, so I’m really hoping that Ninako and Ren are able to work things out by the end of the next volume. If they don’t, I’m going to be feeling disappointed and gypped. The two of them make such a good couple, and I’ve been rooting for them for so long, that anything less than Ninako and Ren ending up together is going to be a letdown of an ending. I also hope that the ending of Strobe Edge doesn’t turn out to be like the ending of A Devil and Her Love Song, where it was essentially a non-ending after building up the story for 12-13 volumes. I’m really wanting to reading Volume 10 of Strobe Edge in order to find out how the series will ultimately come to an end.

If you’ve read the previous volumes of Strobe Edge, I think you’ll like this volume… although you may find yourself getting a little frustrated with Ninako for blowing her chance with Ren.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Nine that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Kamisama Kiss” Volume 14

Kamisama Kiss Volume 14 is a manga by Julietta Suzuki, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of Kamisama Kiss is Nanami Momozono. She’s a high school student who ends up becoming a kami at the land god’s shrine after the land god gives her a kiss on the forehead that gives her the power of a kami. Nanami has two familiars serving her: Tomoe the fox demon and a snake incarnation named Mizuki.

At the beginning of Volume 14, Tomoe’s condition has suddenly worsened, which causes the spells that have been maintaining the shrine to dissipate. As Nanami is at a loss as to what to do, the Land God returns and places Tomoe in a mirror.

The Land God explains to Nansmi that Tomoe has a death curse from an old deal, and will likely die in about seven days. She’s also told that Tomoe likes her and that this broke the seal on his memories of Yukiji.

At first, Nanami thinks there’s nothing she can do for Tomoe. However, after being captured by Kirihito and hearing him talk about how he’s not going to give up on his goals, Nanami finds the will to escape and a potential plan to save Tomoe.

Nanami ends up using the incense burner that turns time to go back into the past to try to find the fallen kami that placed the curse on Tomoe to try to find out how to get rid of the curse mark. However, while she’s in the past, something happens that could potentially change the present that Nanami returns to…

Volume 14 ended up being a rather intense volume, due to the severity of Tomoe’s condition and how much Nanami struggles with her emotions and how frantic she is about trying to find a way to save Tomoe. I also liked how it was through an interaction with one of her adversaries that Nanami gets the initial inspiration for the plan she ultimately has to save Tomoe.

When Nanami goes to the past, she meets the kami that will ultimately found the shrine that Mizuki came from. Nanami also finds herself in a village and being accused of being a yokai. She has an unlikely savior in Yukiji. However, there’s a surprising twist at the point where Yukiji is supposed to rescue an injured Tomoe from the river. And it’s this surprising twist that could have a drastic effect on Nanami’s present when she returns.

Thanks to that surprising twist at the end of Volume 14, I really want to Volume 15 in order to find out what happens next. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, Volume 15 isn’t scheduled to come out for about another two months. I really don’t know if I can wait that long to find out!

If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous 13 volumes of Kamisama Kiss, then I feel very confident that you’ll really enjoy reading Volume 14.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Kamisama Kiss Volume 14 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “A Devil and Her Love Song” Volume 13

A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 13 is a manga by Miysohi Tomori, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading the series, I would agree with this rating.

The main character of the series is Maria Kawaii, a girl who transferred to Totsuka High School after being expelled from St. Katria for beating up a teacher. At the beginning of the series, she was misunderstood and bullied by many of her classmates; however, she was still able to make friends with Yusuke Kanda, Shin Meguro, and Tomoyo Kousaka. Later, Maria gets to know Shintaro Kurosu, a young man who has a major crush on her. Ayu, one of Maria’s former bullies, also becomes friends with her.

In Volume 12, Shin leaves to go to America to get surgery for his injured tendon and go through rehab in the hopes of being able to play the piano again. Shin also says they should go their separate ways because he doesn’t want her to see the person he’s going to turn into.

At the end of Volume 12, Maria begins making music videos with her friends and posting them on the Internet, in the hope that Shin will see them and understand the feelings she’s trying to convey.

Yusuke is the one filming the videos, but he still has feelings for Maria. Ayu has feelings for Yusuke, and this becomes a point of contention at the beginning of Volume 13. Ayu becomes frustrated that Maria seems to be oblivious to Yusuke’s feelings. This escalates with a confrontation between the two in the girls’ bathroom at school. Fortunately, they’re ultimately able to work out their differences with some intervention from Tomoyo.

Maria is also feeling confused about her future, and Yusuke convinces her that she should look into a career in singing. Maria begins trying to get a demo out there. She is recognized from her videos, and is asked to sing. The critique she’s given is that it sounds like she’s singing to only one person instead of many. She’s told that when she can sound like she’s singing to everyone she can come back and try again. Maria feels defeated, but she receives a surprise when Shin returns from America on a surprise visit. When Shin asks Maria to return to America with him to go to music school, she has to make a choice…

While Volume 13 did bring A Devil and Her Love Song to an end, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a satisfying ending. While Maria makes a choice, there’s really no closure. A side story was included at the end which shows something that happened early on in Yusuke’s and Shin’s friendship; personally, I would’ve rather seen those pages used as some kind of “afterword” to basically narrate what happens in the future and to bring a more definitive ending to the series.

The first four chapters in Volume 13 are told from different characters’ perspectives. The first chapter is from Yusuke’s point of view, the second chapter is from Ayu’s perspective, the third is told from Tomoyo’s point of view, and the fourth is from Shintaro’s perspective. On the one hand, it’s an interesting way to tell some of the story. On the other, though, it’s a bit jarring since only part of the volume is done in this manner, and this kind of storytelling really hadn’t been used in the earlier volumes of the series.

Overall, I really did enjoy the A Devil and Her Love Song manga series. It was very effective at drawing me in with the first volume with its subject matter and intensity, and it made me want to keep on reading. I looked forward to when I could read each volume in order to find out what would happen to Maria. I was very excited to read Volume 13, but in the end, I didn’t quite get the payoff that I was hoping for.

If you decide to read A Devil and Her Love Song, just know that there’s a chance that you’ll fall in love with the series but that you probably won’t get a truly satisfying conclusion at the end of the series.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of A Devil and Her Love Song Volume 13 that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Manga Review: “Strobe Edge” Volume Eight

Strobe Edge Volume Eight is a manga by Io Sakisaka, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2014. The series is rated “T’ for teens; from the eight volumes that I’ve read of this series, I would agree with this rating.

Ninako Kinoshita is a high school freshman who is in the middle of a love triangle. She is in love with a guy named Ren, while Ninako’s friend Daiki has confessed that he likes Ninako. Unfortunately for Ninako, it turns out that Ren already has a girlfriend: Daiki’s older sister, Mayuka. Ninako’s friend, Sayuri, has confessed to Daiki that she likes him, and two start going out. Another potential love interest for Ninako was introduced in Volume Two: Ren’s classmate, Ando. Daiki ends up coming out of the love triangle getting into a relationship with Ninako’s friend, Sayuri. At the end of volume five, Daiki’s older sister breaks up with Ren.

Ninako spends most of this volume dealing with her confusion about her feelings with Ren. While she knows she likes him, she’s afraid that if the says anything to him that he’ll feel awkward and not want to be friends anymore.

At one point in this volume, Ninako makes the decision that she wants to pursue Ren. However, Ando’s former girlfriend Mao talks to her and tells Ninako about Ren and Ando being friends in middle school and how she came between them when she dated Ando in order to get closer to Ren. Now knowing this information, Ninako decides to try to suppress her feelings for Ren because she doesn’t want to get in the way of Ren and Ando potentially becoming friends again. Unfortunately, Ninako tells her friends that she’s no longer going after Ren but won’t explain why; this causes her friends to worry about her.

As I read this volume, I thought that Sakisaka was able to effectively portray Ninako’s conflicted feelings. Throughout the scenes that she appeared in, I almost thought I could actually feel the emotions that she was feeling. I just kept feeling so bad for her, especially since she’s unaware that Ren has actually developed feelings for her. It almost makes me want to smack Ren and tell him to just tell her straight out how he feels so Ninako can quit beating up on herself.

A new character is introduced, a loud-mouthed guy from another class who’s working with the cheerleaders for the upcoming sports festival. As he spends time around Ninako, he actually becomes the source of some helpful advice for her.

From what I’ve seen, there should only be two volumes left of Strobe Edge. At this point, I’m going to predict that these final volumes will focus on the sports festival and wrapping up the loose ends in regards to the various love interests. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sakisaka will ultimately bring the story of Strobe Edge to its conclusion.

If you’ve read the previous seven volumes of Strobe Edge, then I think you’ll also enjoy Volume Eight.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Strobe Edge Volume Eight that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Viz Media Launches Shojo Manga Series Phantom Thief Jeanne

Viz Media has launched the Phantom Thief Jeanne shojo manga series, a magical-girl fantasy by Arina Tanemura. The series is rated “T” for Teens and carries an MSRP of $10.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.

A digital version is available for $6.99 (USD/CAN) on VIZManga.com and through the VIZ MANGA app for the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Android-powered smart phones, as well as through the NOOK, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay stores.

The remaining volumes of the 5-volume series are scheduled to debut every other month.

High school student Maron Kusakabe has a secret – she’s Phantom Thief Jeanne. She sneaks into private art collections to steal paintings in which demons reside. Jeanne’s task is to seal the demons before they can devour human hearts. So far she’s been able to evade the police on her midnight outings, but now another thief has come onto the scene – Phantom Thief Sinbad – and he’s trying to take the paintings before she does!

Nancy Thistlethwaite, Editor, says, “PHANTOM THIEF JEANNE is our translated editions of the beloved Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne series in Japan. These books feature new covers by Arina Tanemura and color pages. They are must-have for new and current fans alike.”