Monday, November 07, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/5


Yen Press sent me a gigantic box this week -- they're are too nice to me, I admit it -- so I don't want to waste time and energy up here. So, here's the scoop:
  • These books came in the mail
  • I haven't read them
  • You might love them
  • Here's what I can tell you
Most of this list will be from Yen, either light novels or manga, which are coming out this month. But I'll start out with two skiffy books first.

Dan Wells, author of the John Wayne Cleaver books (most recently Over Your Dead Body) is back just a few months after that aforementioned book with a new standalone, Extreme Makeover. (A subtitle, Apocalypse Edition, appears only on the title and copyright pages.) This one is satirical SF, in which the beauty company NewYew is testing an anti-aging hand lotion. Good news: it really does make people younger. Bad news: it also changes their DNA to make them a younger someone else. But is that a good enough reason not to go to market? Extreme Makeover is a Tor trade paperback, available November 15.

Ten years ago, Ellen Datlow had a big anthology called Darkness, collecting her picks for the best horror stories of the previous two decades. (Since, basically, she started working in that field and paying close attention to it.) But there was no reason that she had to wait two decades to do it again, and so Tachyon is bringing out Datlow's Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror as a trade paperback. (It officially published on October 31, as so many horror books of the fall do.) Nightmares collects twenty-four horror stories from the past decade, from writers including Laird Barron, Garth Nix, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Richard Kadrey, Margo Lanagan, M. Rickert, Reggie Oliver, Lisa Tuttle, Gene Wolfe, my ex-co-worker Livia Llewellyn, and more than a dozen others. Datlow is probably the best-known and highest-regarded horror editor out there, so if you have any interest at all in the form, you'll want to take a glance at this.

From here on, everything is from Yen and everything is coming this month. I'm going to start with the stack of larger-format books (light novels and some fat manga volumes), just because it's slightly closer to my hand. Hey, we've all got to make decisions based on something....

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 6 is a light novel by Kazuma Kamachi with illustrations by Kiyotaka Haimura, continuing the series about a city filled with magical schools and the obligatory "average guy" who is the protagonist. This time out, there's a big athletic tournament, the Daihasei Festival, in which all of the previously established characters are competing.

Turning to manga, we see there's ain't no party like a Corpse Party: Blood Covered, Vol. 3. ('Cause a corpse really disgusting? I don't know where I'm going with this.) This comes from Makoto Kedouin (story) and Toshimi Shinomiya, and is one of those horror stories about seeing a lot of teenagers in peril and/or murdered in inventive ways. In this case, it's a passel of unquiet ghosts from a dead elementary school ("dead" in several senses) and the modern teens have to lay those ghosts before they're all murdered.

The cover of the next book declares itself DRRR!!, Vol. 5, but if you try to search that on popular on-line book-shopping services, you might not find it. The actual title is Durarara!! (still with the two bangs), and it's by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda, who does not get a cover credit. (Call your agent, Yasuda!) This light novel series has a bunch of loosely-connected plot threads in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo -- or at least it did when it started; it might have turned into something else by now. This book focuses on spring break, which I did not know was a thing for people old enough to be out of school. Maybe it is in Japan?

Continuing the republication of Natsuki Takaya's well-liked series in larger double-size volumes: Fruits Basket Collector's Edition, Vol. 7. It has the currently-popular manga cover style, "Here, have a character or two per cover until we get them all in color. No it doesn't have much of anything to do with the interior. Why?"

A new entry in the long title sweepstakes! A side-story to the light novel series, in what may be a new light novel series, launches with (deep breath) Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 1. It's written by Fujino Omori with illustrations by Kiyotaka Haimura. I think this is one of those "retell the story from the girl's POV" things, made popular by Sword Art Online. And I'm going to pointedly avoid any of the "Singing Sword" puns that are coming to mind.

OK, I think the title pieces of this next book come together like this: The Isolator: Realization of Absolute Solitude, Vol. 3:The Trancer. It's a light novel by Reki Kawahara (author of Accel World and Sword Art Online), with illustrations by Shimeji. It seems to be one of those teens-with-super-powers books, in which our hero is working for the usual shadowy government agency to defeat slavering evil, along with other teens with strange powers. (The girl on the cover, who seems to be very sorry for whatever she did and hopes you won't ground her, is I would guess one of them.)

The next manga is Karneval, Vol. 6 by Touya Alikanagi, and I don't have a good sense of what this series is about. (And it consistently neglects to have any description on the back cover to help us out.) So my best guess is that it's about interdimensional circus-cops and the normal kids who gets caught up in one of their operations.

Hey! Anybody want a light novel about people being trapped in a MMO? (OK, how about yet another one?) Log Horizon, Vol. 6: Lost Child of the Dawn will scratch that very specific itch, though this one seems to be heavier on the building-society stuff and less about dungeon-crawling. As usualy, the book is written by Mamare Touno, and it has illustrations from Kazuhiro Hara.

One more light novel for you: Re:ZERO: - Starting Life in Another World - , Vol. 2. (And, yes, the dashes are part of the title. That ZERO might actually be ZeRo, from the cover, but life is just too short to figure that out.) It's written by Tappei Nagatsuki with illustrations by Shinichirou Otsuka, and is not about people getting stuck in an online MMO. It's about one person getting stuck in an alternate universe with some game-like aspects. Totally different!

The heroine of Natsuki Takaya's Twinkle Stars, Vol. 1 has absolutely massive eyes, big enough to have their own slight gravitational field. And we all know what that means. This new manga series is about a sweet orphan girl and the boy she met in passing once who she immediately afterward latches onto as her One True Love of All Time, and is only slightly hindered by not really knowing who he is or how to find him. She also apparently heads her school's looking-at-the-stars club, because of course there would be one of those.

Last of the large books from Yen is Until Death Do Us Part, Vol. 13, ending the series by Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S about an esper girl and her blind swordsman protector. This is the big confrontation, of course, though I haven't read this series, so I can't tell you much more than that.

And now we're into the home stretch, with the regular-manga-sized manga books, if that isn't a complete oxymoron. (Also note that "home stretch" is still a dozen books; Yen publishes a lot of manga on a regular basis!)

Yana Toboso's popular pesudo-Victorian series is back in Black Butler XXIII, the series that sneers at your modern Arabic numerals. This time out, our hero the Earl and his butler are sent by Queen Victoria to investigate a popular but suspicious music hall.

Btooom!, Vol. 15 is from Junya Inoue, and is still about an island where a large number of kidnapped people are forced to murder each other with various explosive devices. And even after fifteen volumes, there are still plenty of people to be blown up.

Then there's Dimension W, Vol. 4 from Yuji Iwahara, in which a cop and his robot fight ghosts. (I think; I might have mangled that. This volume definitely has ghosts, but they might other things the rest of the time. And it's possible that I'm misremembering that she's a robot.)

I have no idea why this is called How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, Vol. 4; it seems to be a series a bout a guy and three girls (harem manga alert!) who are making a dating simulator game, but perhaps he's dating one or more of them. (Or maybe the sim is a fiendish plot to make one or more of them fall in love with him!) I think this is from a light novel; it's credited to Fumiaki Maruto (original story), Takeshi Moriki (art), and Kurehito Misaki (character design).

Hey, remember the side-story about girls in a dungeon way up above? Well, there's a new volume of the manga as well: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol 6. It's by Kunieda from Fujino Omori's light novel, and features lots of hot girl-picking action in dungeons, as you demand!

Next up is Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!, Vol. 1 by Masahito Watari (art), Natsume Akatsuki (original story) and Kurone Mishima (character design). A game-loving shut-in boy dies in a stupid way, but comes up before a ditzy cute-girl goddess, who offers him a new a fantasy universe, with the requisite quest to defeat a demon king. But things don't work out as expected, and soon he's got three goofy girls with short skirts around him. (I'm not saying this is a harem manga, but it seems to be tending in that direction.)

Nico Tanigawa's otaku heroine is back for No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, Vol. 9, featuring hot headband-tying action on the cover. This volume features the end of a class trip and the beginning (and maybe end) of a sports festival, providing lots of opportunities, I'm sure, for Tomoko to be inappropriate.

And if you like your manga to be about making manga, I have for you Izumi Tsubaki with Monthly Girtls' Nozaki-Kun, Vol. 5, which is just that thing. I think most of the characters are in high school, because that seems to be a law in Japan: no manga allowed without at least 75% of the characters still in secondary school.

I have rarely been so confused by a first volume, but here's Puella Magi Oriko Magica: Sadness Prayer, Vol. 1. (There's also a [New Testament] on the cover, but I'm damned if I know where that would go in the title.) This is part of the ever proliferating "Puella Magi" series across media, about a troupe of magical girls and the universe they save from evil (which I think is also mostly in the form of magical girls). The story is by the opaquely named Magica Quartet, and the art is by Mura Kuroe.

Books don't usually have seasons, but this next one does: Rose Guns Days, Season 2, Volume 1. It's related to an animated show somehow (adapted? telling related stories? existed first?) and I think it's semi-Victorian and set in China. But don't take my word for that.

Are you looking for a story about the zombie apocalypse, but also want to read about a bunch of bubbly girls at a high-school club? Well, you don't have to choose: School-Live!, Vol. 5 gives you both of those things in one volume! The art is by Sadoru Chiba and the story is by something called Norimitsu Kaihou [Nitroplus]. 

And last for this week is Trinity Seven, Vol. 7 by Kenji Saito and Akinari Nao. This is yet another we're-at-wizard-school story, with a side order of saving-the-world, since wizard schools now require world-saving as part of the core curriculum after the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Act of 1998. This one is also sealed in plastic, so I expect there are some cartoon boobies as well, in case any of you are experiencing a dearth of such. (If so, please remember that you are on the Internet, the greatest repository of cartoon boobies ever devised by man.)

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