Zombie Loan (Yen Press Extravaganza Part III), by Peach-Pit

This should be our last installment of this series... at least for a while!

Zombie-Loan: Vol. 8, by Peach-Pit

Zombie-Loan, an ongoing manga from the female writing/artistic duo Peach-Pit, offers a blend of both shojo (girls' manga) and shounen (boys' manga) clichés. There's a love triangle featuring a klutzy schoolgirl torn between a Type A perfectionist and a messy-haired delinquent... but there are zombies, guns, and the occasional scythe-fight, too.

The heroine of Zombie-Loan is Michiru Kita, a soft-spoken, biddable girl with a tragic past and a mysterious ability: she sees a black ring around the necks of people who are about to die. When she notices rings around the necks of two of her most popular classmates, she rushes out to warn them of their impending doom, but discovers that she is way too late. Both boys actually "died" in an accident six months earlier, and their current existence is the result of a supernatural bargain—in exchange for their lives, they hunt and exterminate other zombies.

Zombie-Loan's biggest flaw is its artwork, which ranges from mediocre to outright bad. Backgrounds are nearly nonexistent, and we spent most of the fight scenes wondering who was fighting who. Still, the central premise is interesting, and over the course of the series the heroine has grown from being a spineless wimp to—well, a slightly less spineless wimp. (Hey, as shojo heroines go, this counts as serious character growth.) We won't be waiting for the next Zombie-Loan volume with bated breath, but we'll probably go back when the series is completed and read it from the beginning.

Black God: Vol. 8, by Dall-Young Lim and Sung-Woo Park

For a manga with way more than its fair share of scenes featuring a girl fighting in a nonexistent skirt, writer Dall-Young Lim and artist Sung-Woo Park's Black God is both more complex and more entertaining then it looks at first glance.

Black God's main character is a selfish, lazy young man named Keita Ibuki, who is enjoying a bowl of ramen at a roadside stand when a fight breaks out between a small girl and a massive, sword-wielding thug. Keita (showing a rare flash of concern for someone other than himself) steps in... but promptly passes out when his arm is severed. When he comes to, he discovers the girl he tried to help is actually a supernatural warrior called a Mototsumitama, and she saved his life by cutting off her own arm and switching it with his, allowing her otherworldly healing powers to work on both limbs. Unfortunately (for her, mostly), she needs to stick around until their arms are repaired, so Keita ends up with an unwanted new roommate who attracts trouble like a magnet.

Keita takes a lot(!) of warming up to, but Black God's heroine is charming, and its artwork is gorgeous—as long as you don't mind a lot of very realistically-drawn violence. Despite its supernatural underpinnings, Black God is essentially a fighting manga, and Park's style leaves very little to the imagination: these kicks and punches look like they hurt, and watching a tiny young woman being pummeled by dudes twice her size is tough to take... even if she's doing plenty of pummeling, too. We suggest that readers take this series' "Older Teen" warning seriously, but if you're into hardcore action scenes with a side of fantasy you could certainly do much worse.

[Review copies provided by publisher.]
Posted by: Julianka


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