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Monday, April 13, 2015

Manga Sprites: Video Games and Time Travel

In this edition of Manga Sprites, super short reviews of recently read books, I look at the first volume of No Game No Life and the latest volumes (or near-latest) of Kamisama Kiss, Library Wars and Blue Exorcist. Spoilers for the last three series!

No Game, No Life volume 1 by Yuu Kamiya, Mashiro Hiiragi: There was an urban legend that there was a legendary, undefeated gamer called [ ], but in reality he was just a NEET brother and sister called 空 (Sora) and 白 (Shiro). These hikikomori siblings who both refer to the real world as a worthless "Kuso Game" are one day summoned to a different world by a boy calling himself "God".

I tried to enjoy this manga, since it is a favorite of my best friend, but wow it is so terrible. I found the main characters grating, especially the brother's arrogant and lack of empathy towards other human beings. There is a lot of ridiculous fanservice and the amount of panty shots, breast shots, and sexy poses in unsexy scenes had me wondering if NGNL is a h-manga in disguise. There are so many other series about people being pulled into MMORPGs and series about NEETS/hikkikomori as main characters that I don't see how NGNL can be seen as original. I'll probably not be picking up the second volume unless it drops into my lap and I'm so bored I can't help but flip through it.

Library Wars volume 13 by Kiiro Yumi, Hiro Arikawa: The Media Betterment Committee has silenced a famous writer, and Library Forces member Iku Kasahara and her supervisor and secret crush, Dojo, must fight to protect his right to speak…and live! As the Library Forces wage a fierce battle against censorship, Iku and Dojo’s burgeoning relationship provides the team with a welcome distraction, and—unfortunately for them—some comic relief!

At this point, you are probably reading Library Wars for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is the Iku/Dojo relationship. Volume thirteen is a big volume for the two of them, although it's mainly on Iku's end, but we also see how obvious their attraction to each other is to the rest of the Library Forces. Even without the romance angle, this book has enough action from protecting the life of a threatened writer and the politics of censorship that it will continue to thrill long-term fans. Plus, so much Tezuka bros in one volume! The tsundere boys with the grumpy faces are not to be missed.

Kamisama Kiss volume 17 by Julietta Suzuki: Nanami has finally found the fallen kami who cursed Tomoe, but before she can rush home to save her beloved shinshi, she must watch the past unfold. But how will her relationship with Tomoe be affected by her standing witness to the torments he and Yukiji suffer?!

This volume caps off the time travel arc for Kamisama Kiss, and it also caps off a very important, very long event readers have been waiting for since the first book. It's a really great volume on its own - the flashback to Yukiji and Tomoe's life together is beautiful, and I love how awesome Nanami is when retrieving the hair piece from the mountain - but the end of the second to the last chapter is what seals the deal for Tomoe/Nanami shippers. You guys. YOU GUYS. THEY FINALLY DID THE THING. And that's all I'm gonna say.

Blue Exorcist volume 12 by Kazue Kato: As the True Cross Academy festival reaches its peak, trouble is brewing. While Izumo confronts Nemu Takara, Rin and the rest of the Exwires race to find her. The betrayal they discover and the tragic details of Izumo’s past will shake them to the core and herald the beginning of an all-out war between the Illuminati and the Knights of the True Cross!

I was not expecting this at all! Shima, why you gonna break my heart like this? Izumo, why didn't you tell us how depressing your back story is? There's plenty of action as the Illuminati clash with the Knights, but the true strength of this book is with the characters as it is revealed that Shima and Nemu aren't what they seem and that Izumo has a pretty legit reason to be so down all the time. The series has jumped from a school festival to a rescue mission and I can't wait to see how Rin and company save both Izumo and Shima - if they can.