Upcoming 3/9/2011

Pick of the Week: done! ComicList rundown: go!

Viz sent out a dedicated press release on the debut of Izumi Tsubaki’s Oresama Teacher, and I’m never quite sure how they pick which titles get this treatment. There isn’t a readily evident pattern, as near as I can tell. I’m not sure how Tsubaki’s other Viz title, The Magic Touch, sold, because I couldn’t be bothered to read any of it beyond the first volume.

I’m happy to report that I liked Oresama Teacher more than The Magic Touch. That wouldn’t have in difficult, but Tsubaki seems to have improved measurably over the course of her earlier title. Oresama is about a fight-prone girl who gets sent to a private school with a lenient admissions policy regarding problem kids. Mafuyu wants to change her ways, but circumstances keep intervening, and she doesn’t really know how to behave like her image of an average schoolgirl. When she sees someone being bullied or ganged up on, she has to intervene.

Unfortunately, her first blow for justice is struck on behalf of her creepy, conniving homeroom teacher, Saeki. Saeki seems to take an unseemly delight in messing with Mafuyu’s head, which isn’t any more difficult than me liking Oresama Teacher more than The Magic Touch. When she isn’t trying to evade her teacher’s random acts of weirdness, Mafuyu is trying to win the friendship of a classmate, Hayasaka. No stranger to combat, Hayasaka reads Mafuyu’s intensity as aggression, which results in some genuinely funny bits.

It’s not immediately evident where all this is going, but it doesn’t seem like Tsubaki is making it up as she goes along. Oresama Teacher is a much more assured bit of shôjo than I expected. It’s not exceptional by any means, but it seems like it could turn into something very good.

(Comments based on a review copy provided by the publisher.)

Of course, if your budget only allows you the purchase of one volume of Viz shôjo this week, I’d have to recommend you pick the second volume of Julietta Suzuki’s Kamisama Kiss. The relationship between inadvertent shrine priestess Nanami and grumpy demon boy Tomoe inches along in the face of adversity, and it’s clear that Suzuki likes to develop these things carefully. While she throws some fairly conventional obstacles in the pair’s path, the pacing is always interesting, and the protagonists’ responses are always interesting and specific. Basically, all the strengths of the first volume are in place, and some new supporting characters add spice and humor to the proceedings. It’s a charmer.

On the “I haven’t read these yet, but I certainly will” front is the sixth volume of Kou Yaginuma’s excellent coming-of-age tale of student astronauts, Twin Spica (Vertical), and the sixth volume of Yuki Yoshihara’s gleefully tasteless, shouldn’t-really-work-but-does Butterflies Flowers (Viz).

What looks good to you?