ViIZ Media’s Shonen Jump Adds Yuki Tabata’s Black Clover to Its Regular Line-Up

This week’s issue of Viz Media’s Weekly Shonen Jump digital magazine has announced that it will begin serializing Yuki Tabata’s Black Clover manga beginning in next week’s issue. Chapter Four will run in next week’s issue and VIZ will release subsequent chapters quickly to catch up to the Japanese release.

Tabata launched the series that “takes us on an enchanted journey into a world of magic and fantasy” in Japan on February 16, 2015.

VIZ Media published the first three chapters earlier this year as part of its “Jump Start” initiative. The magazine launched the initiative in North America in September 2014. Under this initiative, VIZ’s digital English version of Weekly Shonen Jump will run the first three chapters of “almost every single” new series that debuts in Shueisha’s original Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan.

Source: ANN

Weekly Shonen Jump (March 30, 2015)

This issue includes chapters for Food Wars!, My Hero Academia, Nisekoi: False Love, One Piece, World Trigger, Toriko, Bleach, Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal. The fourth chapter of Claymore is also included for Weekly Shonen Jump‘s “Jump Back” initiative, and the fourth chapter of Boys Over Flowers Season 2 is included for Weekly Shonen Jump‘s “Jump Start” initiative.

For the series that carried over from previous issues I’ve read, I tried to put a little more focus in my write-ups about the progression of the story from the previous chapter. I will warn you that these write-ups will more than likely contain spoilers.

I only started reading Weekly Shonen Jump back in late February/early March of 2014, which means there’s a number of series published in the magazine that I jumped in the middle of. Since then, I’ve been able to start reading older chapters of some of the titles, but I haven’t managed to do this for all of the titles yet. Because of this, there may be times I might inadvertently include incorrect information in the write-ups. If you see something in a write-up that’s incorrect due to my having not read earlier chapters of a series, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know. Not only can I correct the incorrect information in the write-up, it will also help provide information for me to have when reading future chapters of a series in Weekly Shonen Jump.

Of course, you can always check out Weekly Shonen Jump for yourself by subscribing to the digital publication at VIZManga.com.

Food Wars! CH:112

Soma thinks that even though he’s so far behind, but he swears that by the last day he’s going to catch up. Afterward, Soma is told by Shinomiya that after seeing his work today, Shinomiya almost wishes that Soma wasn’t there. We then see Soma studying to learn various things he needs to know, and the chefs are surprised to this when the arrive the next day. When Soma asks for advice, the head chef tells him they need to clean and get things ready and that they don’t have time to help him. But then he sees that everything is already clean and that the peeling is done. Lucie is then told to answer Soma’s questions.

We then see that Soma has been asking questions for three days straight. And then we see that Soma is starting to get what he needs to know. It turns out he’s absorbing the knowledge he needs at an unbelievable pace. Shinomiya seems to think that Soma is finally able to do more than just base prep. Afterward, Soma is told that he can’t make any mistakes the next day, since it will be his last day.

This chapter shows Soma going from not knowing all the preparation techniques and falling behind to picking up the skills and what he needs to do in a rather quick manner. The growth Soma shows during this chapter is incredible, but the next chapter should have his final day included in it. I suspect that the real test for him will be that final day, especially since Shinomiya made it clear to Soma that he isn’t allowed to make any mistakes.

My Hero Academia CH:036

This chapter focuses on the match against Uraraka and Bakugo. Uraraka tries to get the upper hand, but Bakugo manages to keep reacting faster than she anticipates. And Bakugo tries going all out. so all Uraraka can do is try to dodge. A group in the crowd starts booing Bakugo for toying with Uraraka. It’s revealed that Uraraka was keeping Bakugo’s attention focused on the ground so she could set up her weapons above them. But before her meteor storm can affect Bakugo, he launches an attack. The chapter ends with Uraraka unable to continue, and Bakugo advances to the second round.

Even though Uraraka lost, you hvave to give her credit for trying. She did manage to successfully distract Bakugo so she could make her plan work. It’s just too bad that the best that she could do still wasn’t enough to take down Bakugo. Now that this match is over, I wonder if the next chapter is going to rush through any remaining matches in order to advance to next round. I also wonder if, once we get into the next round, that the matches won’t be rushed through quite so much.

Nisekoi: False Love CH:164

Onodera thinks she’s found the missing pages of a picture book and wonders why they were in Haru’s room.

We then see Chitoge and Raku walking down the street, and Chitoge realizes it’s Christmas Eve when she receives a text from her mother. Chitoge has made plans to spend Christmas Eve with her mother since she’s in Japan at the moment. Raku receives an email from Haru, asking him to come over. When he gets there, she tells Raku to go to her room and wait. He finds the picture book on a desk and discovers pages he’s never seen before in it. Onodera sees him just as he discovers them. The pages include references to “Zawswe in love,” as well as a locket and a key. Onodera mentions that Raku had said that the first time he met the girl he made the promise with he wrote in the picture book she was reading to give it a happy ending. She wonders if this picture book might be it. He recognizes the handwriting as his in the pages that were found. Unfortunately, they still haven’t found the ending pages yet. Right at the end of the chapter, Haru asks Ichijo to go on a date with Onodera.

Well, then, perhaps we haven’t entirely returned to the status quo after all. While there’s obviously still some pages from the book missing, I really hope that maybe this is finally the clue they need to start resolving this locket and key business. I wouldn’t be surprised if Onodera was the girl he made the promise with all along. But what’s this about with Haru asking Raku to take Onodera on a date. Hmm… I don’t know. I smell something fishy here, but I’m not sure what.

One Piece CH:781

It’s announced that the terms of the game have changed. The birdcage surrounding the city is slowly closing in, and in one hour, it will slice through everything in the country. Luffy begins launching attacks on Doflamingo again, but before he can do anything, Law gets up and hits him first. And after Doflamingo talks badly about Corazon, Law attacks him again. It looks like Law has the upper hand, but it turns out that with enough time, Doflamingo can perform emergency care on himself. But just as Doflamingo is about to strike Law, Luffy gets in the way.

This was a very action-packed chapter, and it’s pretty much continually in motion. It’s wonderful to see the focus being on Luffy and Doflamingo, and it was quite a pleasant surprise to find that Law wasn’t dead after all. But it was disappointing to see that Law wasn’t able to take Doflamingo down. But hopefully Luffy can pick up from where Law left off and finally finish Doflamingo off.

World Trigger CH:097

Now that the bridge is gone, it’s harder for the squads to meet up. Yuko, Ko and Yuma begin battling it out. Meanwhile, Osamu is up against Rei. Nasu is also showing how good her sniping skills are with her Viper. At the end of the chapter, we see the other members of Tamakoma Branch watching what’s going on, and it sounds like Hyuse may not be very confident that Osamu’s team can make it.

Overall, this chapter jumps around a bit between Yuma’s position, Osamu’s position, and Chika’s position. But of the three, Chika definitely gets the least amount of focus in this chapter. Even though we see some action in the chapter, there’s not much in the way of any real progression in the battle. The chapter basically keeps the story in a holding pattern. Hopefully the next chapter will find a way to progress this battle for the B-Rank War.

Toriko CH:318

The first few pages of the chapter focuses on Komatsu and the others having a tearful reunion. Actually, it’s Komatsu that’s tearful; the others are dealing with the effects of the Sundoriko pollen. Komatsu tells them the flowers and edible and that if they eat them, the symptoms might stop. It turns out that Komatsu’s guess is right. When they realize they don’t know what’s happened to the Monkey King, and then 100 G Mountain completely crumbles. With the mountain gone, they discover a house standing in the middle of the rubble; the Monkey King is inside the house. They also learn that they had done the Monkey Dance right all along, and that they were mistaken about what the Monkey King had wanted to do at the end.

Well, it appears that the Monkey King story is finally reaching a conclusion. The truths about the Monkey King and 100 G Mountain that are revealed during this chapter are actually rather sad. But at least Komatsu is alive again, so that made this story arc worth it in the end. Hopefully the next chapter will begin a new story arc.

Bleach CH:621

Urahara and the Soul Reapers discover the Seireitei is being closed off. Meanwhile, we see a torrent of Reio’s power that was released from Ukitake’s seal becoming an unstoppable torrent passing through Yhwach’s body. Soi Fon takes it upon herself to try to take care of the situation on her own. The unstoppable torrent reaches the Soul Reapers, and they try to destroy it. Right at the end of the chapter, a character from the past makes a surprise appearance.

This chapter basically focused on the Soul Reapers, and there was nothing to indicate what happened to Ichigo and the others after Uryu’s attack. Hopefully we’ll find out what happened to them sooner rather than later. But from what we did see in this chapter, it appears that the Soul Reapers could have quite the uphill battle against the torrent. And how will the surprise appearance by a particular character affect what’s going on?

Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment CH:016

Abaku presents evidence that was found in the pool, which is an aquarium. Abaku performs a magic trick which has to do with light refraction. Abaku then points out that Inako’s testimony verified the aquarium was in the 5-meters deep area when she said a boy thought he saw the face of a child staring up. Abaku also explains how the perpetrator made the fish appear right on time during fifth period. This also involves the court-ordered necropsy of the fish by the science club. Abaku then points out when the tank had to be placed there and the only person who could have done it at that time. Abaku is right, and the motive is revealed. In the end, Pine’s father concedes. Pine also tells her father that she doesn’t want to change schools. Pine’s father allows her to stay.

The resolution to this case rather interesting. However, I have to wonder if perhaps how the case was carried out might be a little too complex for sixth graders. Oh well. If I can overlook rather complicated explanations in Case Closed, I should be able to overlook them in Gakkyu Hotei: School Judgment as well. I’m glad to see Pine’s father get shown up during the classroom session, but his change of heart at the end felt a little rushed. But if he hadn’t had that change of heart, Pine wouldn’t still be at the school.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal CH:52

We see some of the characters return to Heartland, but it’s pointed out that Yuma, Kaito, and some of the others haven’t returned. We see the others are still in the other world, and Astral asking them to return their Number Cards to him. They are Astral’s memories and must not remain in their world. However, Yuma refuses to hand over Utopia. Instead, Yuma challenges Astral to a duel, and he accuses Astral of trying to duck out with a secret; when E’rah disappeared, the two of them had become one and Yuma learned what Astral’s other mission is: to seal E’rah’s fragmented soul forever by sacrificing himself. Astral explains that while they defeated E’rah, they have not completely destroyed her. Astral ends up agreeing to the duel, with Yuma wagering his Utopia card.

The duel between Yuma and Astral begins. Astral quickly demonstrates a lot that he’s able to do on his first turn. The chapter ends just as Astral is finishing his first turn.

Even though E’rah has been defeated, there’s still a little more of the story left to tell. Darn it, I was hoping this story was closer to ending than this. But now that Astral has regained his memory, he knows what he needs to do, but it’s something that Yuma disagrees with. So now Yuma plans to duel Astral, and I guess it’s an attempt to keep Astral from going through with his mission. At this point, it appears that the cards are stacked against Yuma, but knowing what I know of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, I expect Yuma will be able to pull something unexpected off and ultimately defeat Astral.

Claymore CH:004

The “Jump Back” initiative continues with the fourth chapter of Claymore.

Raki and Clare begin traveling together, and Raki learns that Claymores only have to eat once every couple of days. Clare suddenly gets up and tells Raki not to follow her. It turns out she’s meeting with the guy who arranges the jobs for the Claymores, and he hands her a black card. When Clare returns to Raki, and she tells him that they’ll be crossing Mount Shire the next day. The next day, Raki learns that Clare is being sent to take down another Claymore, because she has become a full-blown monster. The black card was sent to Clare by Elena, because she specifically wants to be killed by Clare. Clare and Raki find Elena. When Elena begs for Clare to kill her, Raki tries to intervene. But Clare does the job that she was asked to do.

This is a very moving chapter of Claymore, and it shows that they have to learn to put duty above friendships and their own desires. Raki is learning some awful truths while on his journey with Clare, and I’m sure he’ll learn more as they continue to travel together.

This chapter of Claymore is the final one being highlighted for the “Jump Back” initiative, and I have to say that these four chapters establish a very strong story. While I’ve already seen the anime, I know that the story diverges at some point. Reading these four chapters makes me want to pick up the manga and catch up with the more recent volumes that I read and reviewed for my blog.

Boys Over Flowers Season 2 CH:004

Haruto tells Oto not to think that he was coming to her rescue or anything. But he slips and says he wasn’t following her or anything. She asks why he’s following her, because that’s creepy. Oto runs off, but comes face to face with Kaito. He tells Oto that she’s right about what Haruto is doing not being normal. Kaito tells her that Haruto is afraid that she’ll blab his secret, and he gives her a cold look as if she’s trash. Later, as Oto thinks about what happened with her co-worker, she finds herself thinking about what would have happened to her if Haruto hadn’t come.

We then see Haruto at home, and he’s upset over what happened. Before he can talk to the butler, a maid tells him that someone has come to see him and that they’re waiting by the gate. When Haruto gets to the gate, he finds Oto standing there. She’s come to thank him for saving her.

And this is the end of this “Jump Start” title. After reading these four chapters, I have to say that Boys Over Flowers Season 2 isn’t a bad manga, but at the same time, there wasn’t much about it that stood out to me in the long run. I think it’s due in large part to the fact that the main audience for this series is teen girls, and there’ not much here to really grab a 40-year-old woman.

Manga Review: “Nisekoi: False Love” Volume Seven

Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7 focuses on Raku, the son of a yakuza boss. He made a promise 10 years earlier with a girl that they would get married someday. The girl gave him a locket, and she holds the key to open it. Raku hasn’t seen her in 10 years, and has no memory of who she is or what she looked like. He’s crushing on a girl named Kosaki Onodera, but he has to pretend to date Chitoge Kirisaki in order to keep the peace between their parents’ gangs. During the series, Raku acquires other love interests, who all just happened to make a promise with a boy 10 years earlier that included a locket and a key.

Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7

Written by: Naoshi Komi
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 6, 2015

Volume 7 introduces a new character named Paula. She’s a member of the Beehive, the gang that’s run by Chitoge’s father. Paula has come to settle a score with Tsugumi, and Raku finds himself being pulled right into the middle of Paula’s challenge. Not only is he brought into the middle of it, he becomes the goal: the winner of the challenge is the one who can steal a kiss from Raku first. Of course, this leads to hijinks as Raku tries to run away from the two of them as they’re shooting guns at each other and chasing him. For the most part, this particular story didn’t do much for me, but I have to give Tsugumi some credit for how she creatively wins the challenge.

Next is a story where the characters’ class grade point rankings are posted. Chitoge comes in fifth for their class, whereas Marika is near the bottom. Marika wants Raku to tutor her as a way to get him alone, but since Raku isn’t even in the Top 50 in the rankings, Chitoge decides to go along and help. This is yet another story where Marika plots to get “dearest Raku” alone, so that’s already a black mark against it for me. When you add in the fact that I really don’t care for Marika as a character, it made this chapter my least favorite one to appear in Volume 7.

The next story sees Chitoge using lip gloss and Raku not noticing. She becomes frustrated and starts changing more noticeable things about her, and Raku still doesn’t seem to notice. It gets to the point that Chitoge becomes nearly obsessed with getting Raku to notice changes she makes. At the end of the chapter, Raku surprises Chitoge by what he says. While this was a decent story, it wasn’t the best one that appeared in Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7.

This is followed by a story that focuses on Ruri, which is rather uncommon in this series. Ruri loses her glasses, and Raku and Onodera try to help her find them. Ruri tries to get Onodera and Raku alone as they search, but her plan backfires. Shu ends up playing a role in this story as well. Having a story focusing on Ruri is a nice change of pace, especially since she’s one of the few females in this series that isn’t chasing after Raku.

Roughly the final third of Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7 is set in the days leading up to Christmas. Chitoge’s mother, Hana, is coming to Japan for a visit, and Raku is asked to meet her. Chitoge’s mother is nothing like how I imagined her. Hana looks like she should be Chitoge’s older sister instead of her mother, and she doesn’t dress like I would expect such a successful businesswoman would.

This is a rather touching story, since you have Chitoge believing that Hana doesn’t love her, and Hana thinking that Chitoge hates her. Hana brings in Raku to serve as her secretary for a few days, and Raku does what he can to try and bring mother and daughter together. I liked seeing all the lengths Raku went to on Christmas Eve to try to get Chitoge to Hana before she has to leave. This, by far, was the best story to appear in Volume 7. Not only did it provide some more backstory and development for Chitoge, it also genuinely tugged at the reader’s heartstrings. Not many stories in Nisekoi: False Love manage to accomplish this.

While Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7 isn’t quite as strong as Volume 6, at least we get the storyline about Chitoge and her mother. It doesn’t quite make up for the Marika story being included, but it comes close.

While I’m personally not much of a fan of Nisekoi: False Love, I expect that readers who have been following and enjoying this series will appreciate Nisekoi: False Love Volume 7 much more than I did.

The reviewer read a copy that she checked out through the King County Library System

Manga Review: “Requiem of the Rose King” Volume One

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 1 is based on William Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III.

Requiem of the Rose King Volume 1

Written by: Aya Kanno
Publisher: Akita Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Requiem of the Rose King is set in medieval England during the War of the Roses, where a fierce battle rages between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The story ultimately focuses on two characters: Henry from the House of Lancaster and Richard from the House of York.

Henry is portrayed as “beautiful boy” character, and he is currently king. He wants no part in any fighting or any war and is a devout Christian. It’s his wife, Margaret, who is leading the campaign against the Yorks.

Richard is the third son of the House of York, and his father wants to ascend the throne. While Richard is loved by his father, his mother hates him because she sees him as a demon spawn. It appears that Richard has an ability to see what’s going on far away in his dreams and can inadvertently communicate with those he sees in his dreams. There’s also a secret about Richard that could have major repercussions if the wrong people discover it, and it explains why his mother treats him like she does.

As fate would have it, Henry and Richard have a chance meeting when Henry has snuck away from the castle and Richard finds a way to escape from the cell he, his brother, and his mother are kept in at one point in the story. Neither one realizes who the other is, but Henry wants to be friends. While Richard never outright agrees to be Henry’s friend, the fact that Henry asked him at all keeps coming back to him. If Richard ever finds out who Henry really is, it could complicate things for him, since Henry is the man his father wants to overthrow.

One of the strangest parts of Requien of the Rose King is the ghost of Joan of Arc that floats around Richard and can only be seen by him. For the most part, I really didn’t understand the purpose for her being around. At best, she dropped one or two hints about Richard’s secret. Hopefully she’ll play a bigger role in future volumes of the series.

The art in Requiem of the Rose King tends to focus on many of the male characters looking like beautiful boys. The main male character to not have this look is Richard, and this is due in large part to the secret that he’s trying to hide from the world. The two main females, Richard’s mother and Henry’s wife, both have a haughty look about them, and Kanno takes the time to put a lot of detail into their dresses to emphasize the fact that this story is set in medieval England. When it comes to the art for the overall story Kanno’s style works very well.

From what I know of the War of the Roses, it appears that Kanno is playing it fast and loose when it comes to historical accuracy. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the drama of the story that Kanno is telling. Even though this series may not have historical accuracy, Requiem of the Rose King is intriguing enough to potentially cause readers to want to read more of the series in order to find out what will happen next.

In a lot of respects, Requiem of the Rose King can be seen as a more modern and English version of The Rose of Versailles shojo historical manga from the 1970s, which was set in France and focused on Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Requiem of the Rose King isn’t bad for what it is, and Kanno effectively depicts that this series is on the darker side

Personally, I think that manga readers who enjoy historical fiction that doesn’t necessarily strive for accuracy will have the most appreciation for Requiem of the Rose King.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “07-Ghost” Volume 15

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

07-Ghost Volume 15 focuses on Teito Klein, a former slave with amnesia who learns that he was once the prince of the Raggs Empire, a kingdom that was destroyed by the Barsburg Empire. He also harbors the Eye of Mikael, an artifact that’s said to bring either the world’s salvation or destruction. Teito had been at the Barsburg Empire’s military academy because he has an ability to use a rare supernatural power called Zaiphon. Teito finds himself on the run when he learns the truth about his past, and is attacked by Chief of Staff Ayanami. Teito is rescued by three bishops from the 7th District who provide him with sanctuary.

07-Ghost Volume 15

Written by: Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara
Publisher: Ichijinsha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Volume 15 sees Princess Ouka becoming distraught when she discovers that she’s a replica and not the real princess. But Teito tells her that unlike the other replicas, she has a soul, and isn’t a fake. Teito’s words calm Ouka down and help her find some new strength. The excitement in the volume builds as an attempt is made on the life of the Emperor of Barsburg, and the scientist behind the Ouka replicas gets schooled by Ouka. I loved seeing Ouka standing up to the professor and using her power to destroy every replica in the area. While that may sound mean, the professor showed his true colors when he attempted to choke Ouka because she wouldn’t do what he commanded her to do.

We then see that the emperor wasn’t killed, and we also get an interesting backstory on how the emperor’s obsession with Teito’s mother ultimately led him to wage war on the Raggs Empire. The emperor was definitely one messed up person in his youth, thanks to the influence of someone calling himself “The Warmonger.” But with help from Ouka and Teito, the emperor is able to receive redemption for all he’s done after The Warmonger is chased off. With Ouka, I can see why she’s willing to forgive, since the emperor is her only family. But I was actually surprised as how easily Teito was able to forgive him, since it was ultimately the emperor’s fault that his father is dead and that his mother is incapacitated.

We also get to see backstory of when Teito was young, and how his mother fell into a deep sleep because she was poisoned by The Warmonger. The emperor still has the antidote, and this allows Teito to have a touching reunion with his mother after all these years. This was definitely the most emotional section of Volume 15.

Then the manga places quite an emphasis on the backstory for Ea and Landkarte, who are two of the 07-Ghosts. And through these flashbacks, it appears that the audience has been given a hint as to who “The Warmonger” is. Verloren, the evil death god, launches a plan, and both Ouka and Teito are determined to stop him. Karr also wants to get in on the action, and he gets what he hopes for when he runs into a long-lost friend right at the end of Volume 15.

07-Ghost Volume 15 is an intense read, due to all of the background information that’s provided and revealed, in addition to the buildup in the action as the story heads toward a major conflict between two of the major characters. The volume ends with a major cliffhanger that will make readers want to read the next volume to find out what’s going to happen.

From the way the story in Volume 15 builds, it’s rather blatant that the series is quickly heading toward its climax. A lot of information was revealed in this volume, and everything that’s revealed builds up to the showdown that begins right at the end of it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this volume. Readers who have followed this series from the very beginning should be satisfied with the progression of the story and with the answers and backstories that are provided in 07-Ghost Volume 15. When it comes to the 07-Ghost series as a whole, I’d have to say that I think it would appeal to manga readers who enjoy compelling stories with supernatural elements.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “Arata: The Legend” Volume 21

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Arata: The Legend Volume 21 tells the story of two boys named Arata-one from modern day Japan, the other from a fantasy world called Amawakuni. One day, the two boys switch places and are mistaken for the other. The Arata from modern day Japan discovers that his counterpart from Amawakuni has been framed for murder, and that he has the ability to wield a special sword called a Hayagami that his counterpart was unable to use.

Arata: The Legend Volume 21

Written by: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Volume 21 is set in Amawakuni, and Arata and his traveling companions arrive at an island. Suddenly, everyone except Arata begins to act differently for no apparent reason. This leads to Kannagi and Yataka fighting each other, while Kotoha, Mikusa, and Nasake become lethargic. Arata believes that Ikisu, the member of the Six Sho with the kamui of smell, is somehow behind it. But Arata is surprised to discover that Kanate, a boy who once traveled with him, has released scents that control emotions.

This section of Volume 21 places a strong focus on Arata and Kanate, and on Kanate’s jealousy of the other boy. Kanate wants to fight with Arata, but he doesn’t want to fight against someone who he thinks of as a friend. Kanate is being controlled by Ikisu, but the jealousy that Kanate feels is quite real. Arata tries so hard to reason with Kanate, but the art shows Arata looking almost desperate. I felt so bad for Arata as I read this scene, because it reminded me so much of what he was like back when he was bullied in modern day Japan.

It appears that Arata’s friendship with Kanate is heading in the same direction as with Suguru, a boy who pretended to be his friend back in modern day Japan. But just as it seems Ikisu’s “inferiority complex” scent will triumph over Arata, he finds the strength to get a good hit in on Kanate. I was glad to see that Arata didn’t give up, because he had made such strides in character development from the kid who was being bullied at his high school in modern day Japan. I would have hated to see all that development be for nothing.

Even though Kanate and Arata make up, Kanate decides to go on his own to settle a score with Ikisu. Arata desperately tries to chase after Kanate to stop him, but Ikisu finds Kanate first and begins beating him up. Just as it seems like Kanate is going to lose, Arata’s rival Kadowaki appears and defends the other boy from Ikisu’s attacks. Kadowaki’s arrival surprised me, because I didn’t expect to see him pop up like this.

After being saved, Kanate willingly submits himself to Kadowaki. Arata arrives just as this happens and doesn’t realize Kanata did this act willingly. Kadowaki decides to egg Arata on by claiming that he forced Kanate to do it. Of course, this gets a rise out of Arata, and the two boys begin fighting each other. The fight becomes so intense that Arata demonizes, and it’s up to Kotoha to try to stop him. Unfortunately, Kadowaki was the main kid bullying Arata back in modern day Japan, and he brought that attitude with him when he was transported to Amawakuni. But at least in this world, Arata has the guts to stand up to him. This is another example of how much Arata has grown as a character from the beginning of the series.

When it comes to the art in Arata: The Legend, Watase has done a great job with her character designs. Each character has a very distinct look, and this even includes the two Aratas. While they have a very similar look in their faces, they still look just different enough that the reader can distinguish between the two of them.

In Arata: The Legend Volume 21, one thing that really stood out to me was the expressions that Arata had throughout this volume. Watase did a fantastic job conveying Arata’s desperation as he tries to reason with Kanate, as well as capturing Arata’s rage when he believed that Kadowaki had forced Kanate to submit to him. As a reader, I thought I could feel Arata’s emotions just as much as I could see them on the page.

I believe that Arata: The Legend will appeal to manga readers who enjoy fantasy stories where the characters go to completely different worlds and have to learn to adjust to their new environments. And long-time readers of the series should enjoy the action and revelations that are made over the course of Arata: The Legend Volume 21.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

Manga Review: “RIN-NE” Volume 17

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

RIN-NE Volume 17 focuses on a high school girl named Sakura Mamiya who gained the ability to see ghosts when she was a child. She befriends Rinne Rokudo, a boy who is half-human and half-shinigami. Sakura and Rinne work together to investigate strange happenings and to guide spirits whose regrets keep them from moving on to the afterlife. They are joined by Rokumon, Rinne’s Black Cat Contract, and Tsubasa Jumonji, a young exorcist who has strong feelings for Sakura.

RIN-NE Volume 17

Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015

Volume 17 opens with Rinne, Sakura, and Tsubasa investigating a male member of their school’s Folk Song Club who appears to have become a cicada. It takes Sakura and Rinne to come up with the clues they need to piece everything together and to turn this young man back to normal. This was a decent story, although in some respects, it was also a little on the strange side. It wasn’t the worst story to appear in Volume 17, but it wasn’t among the best, either.

The next four chapters all deal with some kind of cursed object. First, there’s a cursed scythe that causes mayhem for Rinne and the other characters. Next is a cursed tatami mat in the Tea Ceremony Club’s room, which is then followed by a story about a cursed cashbox. Finally, there’s a chapter about a cursed straw doll. By the time I reached the chapter about the cursed straw doll, I was getting a little tired of reading yet another chapter about Rinne and his friends dealing with some kind of cursed object. The only positives I have to say about this set of chapters is that the story about the cursed cashbox allowed the reader to get to see Rinne’s father, while the chapter about the cursed straw doll focused more on Renge and Ageha, a couple of characters who aren’t seen as much as Rinne, Sakura, or Tsubasa. While the story about the scythe focused on the characters of Right and Left, I found myself getting annoyed by these two particular characters rather quickly.

The remaining three stories in Volume 17 all involve a spirit in some way. The first of these chapters sees Rinne, Sakura, Tsubasa, and Renge competing in a relay race for their school’s athletics festival, but they have to practice on the lane of the track that’s haunted by the spirit of a student. The second spirit story sees Right and Left building a shrine and trying to summon the guardian spirit of scythe-smithing. The final spirit story sees Rinne, Sakura, and Tsubasa investigating a stray komainu shrine dog spirit and encountering the disembodied spirit of a shrine maiden who has a past connection with Tsubasa.

Of these final three stories, my favorite was the one about the stray komainu shrine dog spirit and the disembodied spirit of a shrine maiden. This particular story provided some character development for Tsubasa, and it makes him have to start seeing that perhaps he shouldn’t just set his sights on Sakura. The spirit haunting the school’s track was a decent story, and the other story featuring Right and Left just felt rather weak in comparison to most of the other stories that appeared in RIN-NE Volume 17.

When it comes to Takahashi’s character designs for RIN-NE, she seems to be relying on more blatant recycling of older character designs than she had in her previous works. Just off the top of my head, I can see that three of the major characters seem to have had their designs based on characters from Inuyasha, while another character looks rather similar to Kodachi Kuno from Ranma 1/2. Unfortunately, I find that these recycled character designs tend to distract me from what I’m reading, because I have to remind myself that the person I’m seeing on the page isn’t one of the characters from other series who had their design modified for RIN-NE.

So far, I have to say that RIN-NE hasn’t grabbed me like Ranma 1/2 or Inuyasha did. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something that those two series had that seems to be lacking in RIN-NE. I also can’t help but think that the concept of Rinne guiding spirits whose regrets keep them from moving on to the afterlife could have been inspired by the Bleach franchise. To me, it feels like Takahashi has gotten a little lazier with both her character designs and her writing for this series. There really was no good reason to have four chapters back to back that focused on cursed objects, and then having three stories back to back that focused on spirits. While this probably wouldn’t have been as noticeable during RIN-NE’s weekly serialization, it becomes obvious when these chapters are grouped together into a single volume.

Readers who have been reading and following the series up to this point may enjoy reading RIN-NE Volume 17. Long-time fans of Takahashi’s work who haven’t read RIN-NE yet could potentially be distracted by the noticeable recycling of character designs or be disappointed in the fact that the series seems to lack the ingredient that made Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha so endearing to manga and anime fans alike.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media