The Best New Manga of January 2016

janmangaJanuary kicks off the year with some manga comfort food: a one-shot Naruto story and new volumes in some ongoing series, including the superhero spoof One-Punch Man, the shonen action series Blue Exorcist, the supernatural shoujo romance The Demon Prince of Momochi House, and the classroom comedy My Neighbor Seki.

Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, by Masashi Kishimoto
In the 72 volumes of the original Naruto, we watched the title character grow from a young scamp to a wise adult, with plenty of ninja action along the way. Now we get to see his son, Boruto, drive him crazy, just as he drove his teachers crazy in the first volume of the original series—and there’s a mystery involving Sasuke’s daughter Sarada as well. This story is complete in a single volume, and an especially good read for fans of the original series.

One-Punch Man, Vol. 4, by ONE and Yusuke Murata
In the beginning, Saitama, our hero, just dispatched a series of preposterous monsters with a single punch; now he is taking his job seriously, having joined the Heroes Association and become an officially certified hero. Of course, he’s a low-ranked hero, and has to have at least one battle a week to keep his standing. This isn’t always as easy as it seems, even in a world teeming with monsters. Writer ONE brings the humor, with a deadpan superhero and his overly eager sidekick Genos, and artist Murata (Eyeshield 21) adds in the action, with superbly drawn battle sequences. Four volumes in, One-Punch Man continues to be a ridiculously entertaining read.

Blue Exorcist, Vol. 14, by Kazue Kato
It’s been a while (six months) since the last volume of Blue Exorcist came out, but now it’s back with a new volume furthering adventures of Rin, the son of Satan who decided to become an exorcist. Blue Exorcist is an action-packed shonen manga with a touch of comedy and an over-the-top art style that gives it a bit more character than is standard, and the whole thing is available on Nook if you want to catch up quickly.

The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Vol. 3, by Aya Shouoto
If you’re excited about the return of Fruits Basket, this is a good series to pick up while you’re waiting. It’s less complex, but rests on a similar premise—Himari, a sweet-but-strong-willed girl, is thrown together with hot guys who are dogged by a supernatural curse. She inherits a house on her 16th birthday, but when she arrives, she finds three guys already living there. It turns out that the house is a portal to the spirit world, and one of the squatters, Aoi, is a human who stumbled in as a boy and became the guardian of the portal. Shouoto, who is also the creator of Kiss of the Rose Princess and He’s My Only Vampire, pulls off wonderful magical scenes, as the spirits try to fool Himari and draw her in; in this volume, she adds some complications when four of Himari’s friends come to visit—and one of them is not quite human.

My Neighbor Seki, Vol. 6, by Takuma Morishige
Seki is a high school student who sits at his desk and constructs elaborate games and scenarios. Rumi, who sits next to him, invents even more elaborate dramas in her head about what he’s doing—and somehow it’s usually Rumi who gets in trouble at the end. Every chapter of this manga is a self-contained short story, so you can jump right in with this volume. Amazingly, six volumes in, Morishige is still finding new and fresh ways for Seki to avoid paying attention in class—and torture his neighbor.

What new manga are you looking forward to this month?

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