Monday, November 14, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/12

Yeah, Monday again. What can you do? On my end, what I do is list some books that came to me by the fine folks in American book publishing, hoping that you the home viewer will find something that you will clasp to your bosom forevermore. (Or, being more realistic, read with moderate appreciation and then argue internally about donating to the library sale.)

This week, I have five manga volumes from my friends at Yen Press, all coming out this month. I have them organized basically in order of size, because why not?

Anne Happy, Vol. 3 comes to us from the mono-named Cotoji, and continues the story of the unluckiest class in Tennomifune Academy. (They seem to be officially unlucky, as if this is set in a world where karma can be quantified, as in a video game, and students can be sorted based on it.) It seems to particularly focus on three very, very unlucky girls, and I understand the aim is light, mostly positive comedy.

A very different school figures in Dragons Rioting, Vol. 5 by Tsuyoshi Watanabe. It's (I think) about a boy at a very competitive and formerly all-girls school -- and that "competitive", in best manga fashion, extends to martial arts, so these kids are beating the crap out of each other as well as taking tests.

Then there's Sword Art Online: Girls' Ops, Vol. 3, another side-story about those poor kids trapped in an MMO (as opposed to all of the other manga stories about other poor kids trapped in their own MMOs). This one has art by Neko Nekobyou and credits original story (the light novel Sword Art Online, I think) to Reki Kawahara and character designs to the enigmatic entity known only as abec. This seems to be just a side-story about a group of female characters, presumably fan-favorites. (And if you wonder why manga keep having "who's your favorite character" polls, this is why: they're trying to figure out whose side-stories you'll buy.)

And we're back to dangerous high schools with Akira Hiramoto's Prison School, Vol. 5, about what seems to be the maximum security prison for Japanese teenage murderers. (Yes, in this world, there are enough of them to fill a school. And yes, they do all look super-attractive, like most young manga characters.) In this volume, the boys battle the power of the girls of the Shadow Student Council, showing some things never change in manga high schools, even if all of the kids there are felons. Also, the back-cover copy un-subtly promises lots of "butts," and the book is shrinkwrapped to help sell that.

Last for this week is the complete-in-one-volume Scumbag Loser by Mikoto Yamaguti (which seems to have been published in three smaller volumes other places). Our main character is the second worst "scumbag loser" in his class...until the absolutely worst one suddenly gets a girlfriend, dropping him into the crapper. He invents a fictional girlfriend to try to save his place, but she then appears, and, sadly, she's creepy and murderous and quite possibly some kind of supernatural being. It's tough out there for a scumbag loser, forced to procure new bodies for his pseudo-girlfriend so she doesn't kill him.

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