This is a light week for new manga releases, but what there is, is choice: A collection of short stories and the first volume of a new sci-fi series, plus some new volumes in a couple of interesting ongoing series.
My first pick of this week's new releases is "Hiroaki Samura's Emerald and Other Stories," a collection of seven short stories in a variety of different genres and settings. Samura is the creator of the long-running samurai manga "Blade of the Immortal" as well as one-shot "Ohikkoshi," which is probably closer to this book as it comprises three slice-of-life stories set in modern times. I liked Samura's quirky characters and scratchy, expressive art in "Ohikkoshi" and I'm hoping "Emerald" will serve up more of the same.
My next choice is equally promising: Vol. 1 of "Knights of Sidonia," a sci-fi story about life in the far future, when Earth has been destroyed by aliens and the human race has taken to space, evolving in interesting and surprising ways (photosynthesis and new genders, according to the solicit text) during that time. The main character, Nagate, pilots a giant robot, but the story is really about him leaving the isolation of the spaceship where he has spent his whole life and coming into contact with society. I started it the other day and liked it a lot—the art is smooth and appealing, and the story has some hooks, although it's a bit hard to follow. This one looks like a keeper.
Kodansha has two new releases this week, vol. 30 of "The Wallflower" and vol. 9 of "Cage of Eden." I'll cop to not having read "Cage of Eden" for a while, but since this volume has a TV psychic joining our castaway high school students on an island full of prehistoric animals, I think it's time to pick it up again. As for "The Wallflower," well, either you're reading it or you're not; it's not my cup of tea, but a few years ago a librarian friend found it was the top circulating manga in her library. Back at the beginning, it was a Pygmalion-type story about an awkward, angry girl living in a house with four handsome guys who were trying to get her to comb her hair and take an interest in the opposite sex; just glancing at the solicit text ("Sunako and the handsome foursome cannot be stopped! Sunako dresses up as a pirate to get her aunt's jewelry back! For Halloween, Sunako and the Princess host a horror party! And then, the Princess' fiance Ranmaru gets close with Sunako in bed… How will Kyouhei react?") I'd say it hasn't strayed too far from that premise in the succeeding 29 volumes.
Good morning, Viz! What do you have for us this week?
Surf! Sun! Gratuitous bikini shots! Battle nuns!
Oh, vol. 21 of "Hayate the Combat Butler" then? Very well, carry on. I haven't read this volume yet, but my experience of "Hayate" in the past is that it is relatively continuity-free, so if that description whets your appetite, you can jump right in with this volume. Viz also has vol. 14 of "InuYasha" in its VizBig omnibus format for those who like their Rumiko Takahashi stories in big chunks.