Otaku USA Magazine
On The Shelf – August 3rd, 2011

Welcome to the first installment of Otaku USA’s new manga column, On The Shelf! Every week I’ll be letting you know what comes out at your local comic shop, bookstore or favourite online venue. There may be no such thing as a perfect list of what’s coming out when (every source gets things a little differently!) but we hope this feature keeps you informed and excited for all those books you’ll soon be able to line your shelves with.

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Viz Media has ensured that my first manga release column here is a lengthy one as they continue their domination of the first shipping week of each month. They’ve got not one, not ten, but twenty-one new books out this week! Other companies may be saving the bulk of their books for a less Viz-busy week, but they’ve still got some exceptionally good ones to tide us over as well.

From Dark Horse Comics we have the long-awaited second volume of CLAMP’s Cardcaptor Sakura. The series itself is more than worth owning in any form—a fun and heartwarming story about a girl saving the world by harnessing the power of magical cards—but Dark Horse’s edition makes it a buy hard to pass up even for those who already own it. With 570+ pages, full-colour illustrations and a fresh new translation—it’s a fantastic package all-around and highly recommended for readers of all ages.

Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus (Vol. 02), ($19.99/US, $24.99/CAN)

Another classic worth every penny is the newest volume of Black Jack from Vertical Inc. It’s one of the fan-favourite titles from the vast library of works by Osamu Tezuka and, in my personal opinion, is definitely one of his best! In this volume the morally-gray doctor must treat a girl made ill by the sunlight and then deal with the affections of another young woman who wants something other than medical treatment, among several other stories making up the newest collection of Black Jack adventures.

Black Jack (Vol.  15), ($16.95/US, $18.95/CAN)

While just about every one of Viz Media’s titles are a continuation of currently running series, there’s a new set of Pokémon books coming out to offer up a volume one. The first two volumes of Pokémon Black & White are being released in a format similar to the way Pokémon Adventures was during its early run—fewer pages but a larger trim size. It’s perfect timing for those wanting another fix of the series’ newest incarnation now that the games have been out for a while.

With so many other books coming out, it’s hard to pick only a few to make special note of. As a big shoujo fan, I can’t ignore the significance of a new volume of Kaze Hikaru—it’s been a year since the last volume after all. It’s one of my favourite series and really fills itself out with a lot more than the relationship between the cross-dressing Sai and her debatably one-sided love, Soji. In fact the ‘romance’ often sits second place to the vast assortment of entertaining secondary characters, almost all of whom are members of the Mibu- Roshigumi/Shinsengumi during the final years of Japan’s Edo period.

For another story of a young woman facing political intrigue in feudal Japan, I recommend Story of Saiunkoku. If its story about a young woman barred from politics helping the country by guiding its King (and surviving assassins!) doesn’t grab you, then the gorgeous clothing designs and pretty boys very well might! For a more modern-day story about a girl at odds with tradition, there’s a new volume of Kamisama Kiss. More comedic than the previously mentioned, Kamisama Kiss is about a teenager dealing with her role as the goddess of a temple and controlling her attentive but impressively sarcastic fox-spirit servant.

If your shopping cart is looking a little unbalanced with all the shoujo, there are plenty of shonen series as well. If you were ever curious about the manga industry in Japan, I definitely recommend picking up Bakuman. You can learn the ins and outs (albeit dramatized ones) of not just making manga, but what artists go through to get it published and  then stay that way. Another big favourite of late has been Blue Exorcist. It’s much more like your ‘classic’ shonen series—fiery main character with special abilities battling evil, etc. etc.—but its fun cast of characters, interesting setting in a school of novice demon exorcists and some eye-catching artwork really makes it stand out.


Finally (but only the tip of the list!), if it’s the best value you’re seeking, then it’s hard to go wrong with Viz Media’s new omnibus editions of popular series. This week sees the second 3-in-1 omnibus collections of Tite Kubo’s Bleach and Hiromu Arakawa’s Full Metal Alchemist. They’re a huge help for collecting those series that look more than a little daunting at 25+ volumes.

Ai Ore! (Vol. 02), ($12.99/US, $14.99/CAN)
Bakuman (Vol. 06), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Bleach 3-In-1 Omnibus (Vol. 02), ($14.99/US, $16.99/CAN)
Blue Exorcist (Vol. 03), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Fullmetal Alchemist 3-In-1 Omnibus (Vol. 02), ($14.99/US, $16.99/CAN)
Gin Tama (Vol. 23), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Haruka: Beyond The Stream Of Time (Vol. 13), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Kamisama Kiss (Vol. 04), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Kaze Hikaru (Vol. 19), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Natsume’s Book Of Friends (Vol. 08), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Nura: Rise Of The Yokai Clan (Vol. 04), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Otomen (Vol. 11), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Pokémon Adventures (Vol. 14), ($7.99/US, $9.99/CAN)
Pokémon Black & White (Vol. 01), ($4.99/US, $5.99/CAN)
Pokémon Black & White (Vol. 02), ($4.99/US, $5.99/CAN)
Sakura Hime: The Legend Of Princess Sakura (Vol. 03), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Seiho Boys’ High School (Vol. 07), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Slam Dunk (Vol.  17), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Story Of Saiunkoku (Vol. 04), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee (Vol. 06), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)
Yu-Gi-Oh: GX (Vol. 07), ($9.99/US, $12.99/CAN)

Last but certainly not least is Yen Press, who finishes off this week’s release list similar to how it started—with CLAMP! Kobato, one of their newest series, is about a girl trying to fill a glass jar with the hearts of those she’s healed. A highlight of the story is her extremely temperamental sidekick, a foul-mouthed plush dog named Ioryogi. With turmoil between a kindergarten and some ruthless gang-members coming to its climax, there should be events to look forward to in the new book, not to mention the romance and magical mayhem brewing at the same time.

Kobato (Vol. 04), ($11.99/US, $12.99/CAN)

That does it for this week’s On The Shelf—what on the list are you most eager to buy? Any must-have recommendations? Share your thoughts in our handy comment area for all our readers to see!

* All dates are based on distributor listings and may not necessarily reflect exact release dates. Some books may be ship prior to or after the date listed above varying by location and availability.