Hero Tales (Yen Press Extravaganza Part VI), by Jin Zhou Huang

Hero Tales: Vol. 2, story by Jin Zhou Huang and Hiromu Arakawa

Hero Tales is the story of Taitou, a powerful young warrior with a legendary sword and a hot temper. When his sword is stolen and he discovers he is one of the seven heroes prophesied to save the world, Taitou sets out with his little sister Laila and his friend Ryuukou on a quest to hone his powers—with the ultimate goal of defeating the evil general who controls the nation's child emperor.

Fans of Hiromu Arakawa's previous work (which includes the enormously popular Fullmetal Alchemist) will enjoy Hero Tales. It's classic shonen manga: short on character development and coherency, but long on fight scenes and jokes. I wouldn't suggest thinking about it too hard, but if you're in the market for some Saturday-morning-cartoon-style action you've come to the right place.

Nabari No Ou: Vol. 3, by Yuhki Kamatani

The main character of Nabari No Ou is Miharu Rokujou, a deadpan 14-year-old Japanese schoolboy with zero interest in the people around him. When he discovers his body is the unwitting carrier of a powerful ninja secret, Miharu's dearest wish—to be left alone—is pushed aside in favor of his new reality: the life of a ninja leader-in-training.

If Hero Tales is the quintessential boys' manga, Nabari No Ou is designed for the same audience when they're five years older. It has just as many fight scenes, but the plot, relationships, and artwork are more complex, and the book's ninja politics add a touch of sophistication to what would otherwise be a straight fighting manga. I wish the main character was more appealing (Miharu's snide one-liners can be mildly funny, but mostly he just seems like a total snot), but I suppose some readers might take that chilly sarcasm for effortless cool.

Sumomomo Momomo: The Strongest Bride on Earth: Vol. 3, by Shinobu Ohtaka

The heroine of Sumomomo Momomo: The Strongest Bride on Earth is Momoko Kuzuryuu, a cheery, childlike girl with powerful martial arts skills. Momoko is the only child of the Kuzuryuu Clan, one of Japan's twelve “Zodiac Families”. Despite her remarkable strength, her father believes a woman will never be strong enough to master their family's secret techniques, which is why he's arranged a marriage with the son of a powerful rival clan—Koushi Inuzuka, a mild-mannered boy with hopes of becoming a prosecutor, no interest in fighting, and even less desire to become the husband of the world's strongest bride.

During my many years as a manga reader, I've seen a lot of implausible fighting costumes, but the magical bikini featured in this volume of Sumomomo Momomo takes the cake. It's leather. And tiny. And it only covers the top half (maybe only the top third) of the girl's chest. And then it gets even smaller—halfway through the fight she unzips it, and it transforms into a pair of carefully-positioned leather straps.

I mention this because I want to remind readers that this is a seinen (older teen male) manga, not a shoujo. It might sound like it has a lot in common with the hugely popular Fruits Basket series (the Zodiac stuff, the impossibly sunny heroine, the unlikely couple, etc.), but readers should take both the seinen designation and Yen's “Older Teen” warning seriously.

Bunny Drop Vol. 1, by Yumi Unita

Bunny Drop is the story of a cobbled-together family. When his grandfather dies, 30-year-old bachelor Daisuke is appalled to discover that the old man left an orphaned and illegitimate 6-year-old child—but he's even more appalled when none of his family members offer to take in the silent little girl. Daisuke impulsively offers to let the kid live with him... but he soon discovers there's more to child-rearing than he'd previously thought.

This was definitely my favorite title of the eight I reviewed today. Bunny Drop has a lot in common with Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba&!, although it has a quieter, more serious vibe. I loved the way so much of the plot was devoted to the ordinary concerns of single parenthood—balancing work and family, finding a suitable daycare, dealing with childhood anxieties. It's a subject that doesn't get sufficient print, despite its rich potential for both drama and humor, so I'll be eagerly awaiting the next volume.

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


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