Tena on S-String (Yen Press Extravaganza Part IV), by Sesuna Mikabe

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Tena on S-String: Vol. 2, by Sesuna Mikabe

While Sesuna Mikabe's Tena on S-String is typically described as a seinen (young men's) manga, the series' second volume focuses more on romance and humor than fantasy or fight scenes. 24-year-old music teacher Kyousuke Hibiki has ruefully accepted his new role as unpaid servant to Tena Fortissian, an imperious teenage girl with the ability to manipulate "soul scores", the musical manifestation of the threads of fate. While the first book in this series devoted considerable time to Tena and Kyousuke's hunt for the discordant notes warping the souls of the local animal population, volume two is mostly about their relationship, which is further complicated by the introduction of two new characters, Tena's arrogance, and Kyousuke's general cluelessness.

We're not big fans of harem-type stories, nine-year age gaps between romantic partners, or goth-loli jokes, so we're actually kind of amazed we liked this series as much as we did. It helps that neither character is currently interested in the other romantically, although the author is clearly laying the groundwork for an eventual relationship, and it really helps that Tena is the dominant half of the duo, while Kyousuke is surprisingly cute as her beleaguered, under-appreciated "slave". (The scene where he gets lost in a fantasy of finding a girlfriend who loves him for his laundry skills was great.) We won't be holding our breath until we can read the next volume, but we've read worse—much worse.

Soul Eater: Vol. 2, by Atsushi Ohkubo

Atsushi Ohkubo's Soul Eater is a hyperactive shounen (boys') manga about a group of students attending the Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school for "weapon meisters" and their half-human, half-weapon classmates. Talented meister-in-training Maka and her partner, a living scythe named Soul Eater, are determined to transform Soul Eater into the ultimate weapon, but first they need to collect tainted souls from ninety-nine humans and one witch—no easy task, especially when every opponent they take on is weirder than the last.

Soul Eater is stylish and fast-paced, with a great Tim-Burton-esque setting. We definitely could have lived without all the fanservice shots of half-dressed women with ridiculously huge breasts (particularly seeing as the male characters in this series are totally unprepossessing!), but the non-sexual scenes in this manga are undeniably fun, particularly for action-fantasy fans.

[Reviews based on publisher-provided copies.]
Posted by: Julianka


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