It’s deja vu all over again this month, as the November selection of new manga releases includes plenty of spinoffs and homages, plus new volumes in long-running series. There are also some cool new titles, though, including a trio of new yuri series, one set in the world of doujinshi creators, and a charming all-ages story about a girl exploring a magical underground.
Dragon Ball: A Visual History, by Akira Toriyama
Almost 35 years after the first chapter came out, Dragon Ball continues to be one of the most popular manga and anime franchises in the world: The latest iteration, Dragon Ball Super, makes the best-seller charts every time a new volume is released. Dragon Ball: A Visual History does just what the title says, gathering original artwork, including concept sketches, along with Toriyama’s own account of what went into making Dragon Ball the phenomenon that it is.
Nicola Traveling Around the Demons’ World, Vol. 1, by Asaya Miyanaga
Nicola is a little girl who is traveling through a magical underground in the company of her demon friend Simon, making new friends and dodging the guards who would capture Nicola and throw her out because she is human. This is an all-ages story, so the demons are neither sexy nor particularly scary, and round-headed Nicola and top-hatted Simon make an engagingly mischievous pair as they make new friends in a world filled with fantastical creatures.
Still Sick, Vol. 1, by Akashi
Makoto Shimizu is an engineer with a large company, and her hobby is making doujinshi (fan comics) that pair up her favorite female characters in non-canon ways. When her co-worker, office lady Akane Maekawa, finds this out, the game is afoot—because the worst fate for an otaku, at least in manga, is for her co-workers to find out about her hobby. The plot of this delightful yuri manga has plenty of twists and turns, and the romance angle takes a back seat to the whole manga aspect, which is especially delightful as there aren’t too many manga that focus on the world of doujinshi. The art is shoujo style pared down to its essence, as if Akashi was trying to use the minimum number of lines to get the story across. This only works if the artist is skillful, and Akashi is. Bonus points for showing workplace situations in which the woman is the boss!
A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow, Vol. 1, by Makoto Hagino
The rural high school in this manga has an aquarium club, and while there are plenty of fish (and a shy salamander), the club has only one member, Honami. When a new student, Konatsu, arrives at the school, she joins the club and the two girls strike up a friendship that may become something more. This story feels more relatable than the standard school-romance manga, with less of the artificial social hierarchy that infests manga classrooms; instead, Konatsu and Honami obsess over small things, as teeangers do. The aquarium club adds an interesting theme, and Hagino makes nice use of a salamander motif, weaving it into the story in different ways. As a bonus, she reveals at the end that this was based on a real high school that does indeed have an aquarium club.
Our Wonderful Days, Vol. 1, by Kei Hamuro
Koharu and Mafuyu lived in a country town and were best friends until Mafuyu moved to the big city. Now she’s back, and the two are reunited as they start high school together. This sweet slice-of-life yuri romance draws heavily on the setting, as feelings begin to grow between the two heroines as they wander around the countryside together.
Seven Little Sons of the Dragon, by Ryoko Kui
Ryoko Kui, who brought food and fantasy together in the series Delicious in Dungeon, presents seven short manga stories, all fantasy tales, and no two alike. Delicious in Dungeon has quickly become one of our favorite ongoing series, which means November gives us additional reason to celebrate the work of this masterful manga-ka: this month brings us the first new volume (the seventh) in the delightful cooking-meets-dungeon crawling manga this year.
Tales of Berseria, Vol. 1, by Nobu Aonagi
This revenge-fueled fantasy/action story is adapted from the RPG of the same name, part of Bandai Namco’s “Tales” series; the game is the prequel to Tales of Zestiria. The good news is that even if that last sentence meant nothing to you, there’s still a lot to like about this story. It has echoes of similar series such as Blue Exorcist or Akame ga Kill, but it also has plenty of original elements. The basic story is that the hero, Velvet, becomes part-demon and hunts down the man who killed her little brother, assisted by a supernatural being. The series is just four volumes long, so revenge may not be a dish served cold in this case.
My Hero Academia: Smash!!, Vol. 2, by Hirofumi Neda and Kohei Horikoshi
My Hero Academia doesn’t exactly take itself seriously, but there is an earnestness to it that’s part of its charm. My Hero Academia: Smash, on the other hand, takes nothing seriously. It’s a four-panel (4-koma) gag manga that starts with the events of the original series and then takes a hard swerve toward the absurd. This volume includes the Sports Festival, Class 1-A’s internships, and other assorted weirdness, including transforming everyone into babies. Basically, this is another volume of in-jokes about My Hero Academia, a great companion read for fans of the series.
Overlord: The Undead King Oh!, Vol. 1, by Kugane Maruyama, Juami, and so-bin
A 4-koma gag manga based on the manga/anime/light novel franchise Overlord, this volume features the characters having a field day (literally), trying to make Lord Ainz laugh, putting on a play, and generally indulging in the sort of lighter, slice-of-life activities that somehow don’t make it into the main story. Amazingly, you don’t have to be an Overlord fan to enjoy this—the humor is pretty universal—but obviously it helps if you can get the in-jokes, as well as the notes the editor has added in the margins.
Kemono Friends a la Carte, Vol. 1, by Various
Cute animal girls are cute in this anthology of stories set in the world of Kemono Friends, where the girls have ears and tails. Kemono Friends started out as a game and then became a short manga (published as one volume in English) and an anime, as well as more games. For those who just can’t get enough of these zoomorphic cuties, Kemono Friends a la Carte is an anthology of stories by various creators, and offering the same sort of not-very-taxing slice-of-zoo-life pleasures as the original.
Reprise of the Spear Hero, Vol. 1: The Manga Conmpanion, by Aneko Yusagi
First there was The Rising of the Shield Hero, a light novel series about a young man trapped in a game-like fantasy world. Those novels gave rise to a manga companion, and now that has spun off a new novel and manga series, this one featuring the Spear Hero, Motoyasu Kitamura, who was killed in the original but comes back in this book with his powers intact. It’s nice to see the world of this entertaining fantasy series expanding even more.
Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 4, by Kamome Shirahama
If you haven’t been reading this series, it’s worth getting all four volumes to catch up. Witch Hat Atelier is a school-for-witches story with the usual accoutrements—tests to be passed, challenges to be surmounted, plus a full complement of friends, enemies, and frenemies—all drawn in a beautifully detailed style that brings to mind classic children’s books of the early 20th century. There’s more to this story than the usual plucky kid struggling against the odds; it’s quite complex and a joy to read. The book is rated for readers 12-17, and a set of these would be a great holiday gift for any fan of Harry Potter or witch stories, but the gorgeous art (especially the amazing depiction of magic) makes it a truly all ages story that adults should not miss.
Boruto, Vol. 7, by Ukyo Kodachi, Mikio Ikemoto, and Masashi Kishimoto
The sequel to Masashi Kishimoto’s long-running Naruto follows the story of Naruto’s son, Boruto, as he forges his own path. In this volume, Boruto encounters Kawaki, a boy who has the same karma mark as he does. That’s the only thing they have in common, though, and Kawaki is suspicious of Boruto. The situation gets even more serious when members of the sinister Kara organization come to take Kawaki away.
Black Butler, Vol. 28, by Yana Toboso
It’s impossible to describe this volume without spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the previous volume yet, but suffice it to say that everything you ever learned is wrong! A cascade of revelations brings new energy to the series and send Ciel and Sebastian off in a new direction. It’s amazing that Toboso is still coming up with plot twists 28 volumes in, but she is still keeping all her characters, as well as the readers, on their toes.
What new manga are you grabbing in November?