Otaku USA Magazine
On The Shelf – February 29, 2012

This past weekend was North America’s only convention dedicated solely to manga, MangaNext. What an amazing sounding convention by concept alone! I heard it went well and looks to have had some fantastic guests. Any of our Otaku USA readers get to attend? It wasn’t in the cards (aka, my wallet) this year, but you can bet it’s on my radar for 2013! In the meantime I’ll continue to be pleased over the bit of industry news we got from it over those manga-ful days.

Dark Horse has my personal top pick of the week – Gate 7 (Vol.02). The first volume was a little shaky on story but I think most series deserve more than a single book to impress. As usual CLAMP didn’t need more than the cover to impress with their artwork, though. The first book ended at the start of a magical confrontation so my fingers are crossed we get to learn more about this new cast of characters by seeing them in action here in volume two.

DARK HORSE

• Gantz (Vol.21),
  ($12.99/US, $14.99/CAN)
• Gate 7 (Vol.02), ($10.99/US, $12.99/CAN)

From one group of pretty boys to another, Digital Manga is releasing Border (Vol.03) this week. It’s a boys’ love story, but focuses more on the action-oriented espionage carried out by its cast of talented young men. Each have their own motivations for doing what they do and learning what those are has been one of the story highlights. The group’s youngest member, Kippei, reluctantly takes the spotlight in this third book as we get to find out what brought this chipper computer programmer to where he is today.

Digital Manga’s second book, Bad Teacher’s Equation (Vol.03) is by the same creator and, while sharing some quirkiness, is a whole different kind of story with multiple couples, entertainingly unbelievable circumstances, and plenty of humor. Will Atsushi finally get some alone time with his lover? In a series that often chooses wackiness over drama, I’m guessing that isn’t likely.

DIGITAL MANGA

• Bad Teacher’s Equation (Vol.03), ($19.95/US, $21.99/CAN)
• Border (Vol.03), ($12.95/US, $14.50/CAN)

Three continuing titles from Kodansha Comics hit shelves today. I wish I could get more excited about Air Gear (Vol.22), but I’ve finally given into the fact it just doesn’t make much sense anymore. Remember back when rocket-powered roller-blades were cool and breasts were neat? Those were the Air Gear days…

Monster Hunter Orage (Vol.04) wins for coolest looking cover of the week, sporting some slick armor and a monster massive and impressive enough to warrant wearing it. This is the series’ last volume so it’s our final chance to watch Shiki and Ire on the road to victory seeking one of the world’s rarest monsters.

KODANSHA COMICS

• Monster Hunter Orage (Vol.04),
  ($10.99/US, $11.99/CAN)
• Air Gear (Vol.22),
  ($10.99/US, $11.99/CAN)
• Cage of Eden (Vol.04),
  ($10.99/US, $11.99/CAN)

Breathe Deeply was originally released by One Peace Books back in late 2011, launching at New York Comic Con. This week it’s finally out on the direct market, making its way to comic and speciality shops around North America. It’s a bleak medical story about two young men who end up competing in their fields with differing theories and beliefs. Their drive stems from the death of a woman they both loved years before. The book brings up a lot of hard questions and the ‘bad guys’ seem to outweigh the truly good as a person’s motivations constantly battle with others’ moral decisions. Breathe Deeply isn’t likely to appeal to the majority of manga readers, but for those who have their interest piqued by the synopsis, it’s worth at least a single read through.

ONE PEACE BOOKS

Breathe Deeply, ($16.95/US, $16.95/CAN)

Vertical Inc’s No Longer Human (Vol.03) is another dark dive into the human psyche and comes to an end with the third volume this week. Volume two was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs for lead character Yozo. It ended on a pretty good note though, which makes me assume this book is going to be a long, winding, agonizing spiral downwards for Yozo to become the man foreshadowed in volume one. I can’t wait!

Ending the week on a much, much lighter note is Chi’s Sweet Home (Vol.08). Chi is growing older and her curiosity is growing just as quick. In this book she takes to the streets with fellow cat, Cocchi, as the two seek out new places to find some fun and score a meal. Still full color, high quality, and absolutely adorable if you’re a cat fan, there’s even more Chi to enjoy over at Vertical’s dedicated Chi website. [http://www.chisweethome.net/] 

VERTICAL

• Chi’s Sweet Home (Vol.08),
  ($13.95/US, $16.95/CAN)
• No Longer Human (Vol.03),
  ($10.95/US, $11.95/CAN)

That does it for this week’s On The Shelf – what on the list are you most eager to buy? Any must-have recommendations? Share your thoughts in our handy comment area for all our readers to see!

* All dates are based on distributor listings and may not necessarily reflect exact release dates. Some books may ship prior to or after the date listed above varying by location and availability.

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