Upcoming 2/9/2011

It’s a huge week for Viz via Diamond, though some books have already shipped through other venues. (See my pick of last week and my pick of this week, and bask in the bafflement!) If you buy your manga shopping via Diamond-dependent comic shops, you have many, many choices, at least according to the ComicList.

Had Viz not sent me a review copy of the second volume of The Story of Saiunkoku, adapted from Sai Yukino’s light novels by Kairi Yura, I probably would have camped out at the local bookstore and repeatedly mispronounced the title as I asked if it had arrived yet. Such was the force of my reaction to the first volume. But does the second hold up? Yes, it certainly does. While not the same kind of revelation, I still ran to my computer to make sure there are more volumes to come. (There are.)

This was a concern, since the first two volumes form what must be an adaptation of Yukino’s first novel in the series. Having established the leads, seemingly feckless emperor Ryuki and his frugal, forceful tutor, Shurei, Yura and Yukino put them in danger in the form of palace intrigue. To be entirely honest, the details of the scheme are much less interesting than Ryuki and Shurei’s individual and collective responses to it. But their shifting but well-balanced relationship is still a complete treat, and the prospect of reading about their next encounter is pure, happy anticipation.

If you like stories about smart, feisty girls sparring with deeper-than-they-seem boys, this series can be injected directly into a vein for that sweet, sweet rush of shôjo romance between the very different but equally matched.

In other Viz news, there’s the seventh volume of the always welcome Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina. This one promises lots of holiday activity, which is always fun.

There’s also the less welcome but still potentially intriguing second volume of Genkaku Picasso, written and illustrated by Usumaru Furuya. I wasn’t especially impressed with the first volume, but I find Furuya kind of fascinating, so I’ll probably succumb at some point.

What looks good to you?