The Best New Manga of November 2015

myheroacademiaNovember’s manga releases mix things up a bit, with a moe zombie series (yes, you read that right!), a magical-girl story with an adult (sort of) protagonist, a high school dreamboat who makes shoujo manga, a new JoJo arc, and the second volume of a zany superhero series. Plus, for those who can’t let go, more Naruto…

Naruto: Kakashi’s Story, by Masashi Kishimoto and Akira Higashiyama
The Naruto manga may have ended, but the stories keep coming. Naruto: Kakashi’s Story is the first of a number of prose novels about different characters from the series. Kakashi’s story is a new one, but refers to many elements of the manga, so it’s a good read for the serious Naruto fan.

Uzumaki Naruto Illustrations, by Masashi Kishimoto
Or maybe you just want to look at the pictures? We can do that: this oversized, luxurious art book features covers and color pages from the latter part of the series.

And now for something completely different:

My Hero Academia, Vol. 2, by Kouhei Horikoshi
It’s not too late to jump on board this crazy shonen superhero-school series. In the world of My Hero Academia, almost everyone has a superpower–anything from shooting lasers from your navel, to suspending gravity, or even erasing other people’s special abilities. Our hero, Midoriya, is one of the few who can’t do anything special, but he’s fascinated by superheroes nonetheless, and has been studying them and recording information about them in a notebook since he was a child. In volume 1, he met his hero, All Might, who passed along his super-strength—but Midoriya can barely control it. Nonetheless, it was enough to get him into the special superhero school, UA, and now he and his classmates (including the bully who tormented him in middle school) must learn how to be superheroes in the real world—and face down supervillains along the way. This series is a lot of fun, featuring over-the-top characters with a variety of superpowers and never taking its subject matter too seriously.

Idol Dreams, Vol. 1, by Arina Tanemura
There’s nothing like a high school reunion to make you feel like a loser, but Chikage Deguchi’s class reunion is particularly disastrous: she was hoping to hook up with the cute guy who confessed his love for her on graduation day, but instead, the word gets out that at 31, she’s still a virgin. Distraught and despairing over her boring life, Chikage tries to drown herself, but she’s rescued by a hunky classmate with a handy solution to her problems: a pill that makes her 15 again. Now she has a chance to make up for all the things she missed, and she jumps right in by becoming the opening act for a boy band. Arina Tanemura is the creator of a slew of popular shoujo series, including Phantom Thief Jeanne, The Gentlemen’s Alliance +, and Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura. She’s breaking some new ground with Idol Dreams, which is her attempt at a magical-girl manga for adults (as she explains in the back of the book), but it’s still full of her characteristic energy, busy layouts, and unlikely coincidences—although there’s a hint of a solid romance under it all.

School Live, Vol. 1, by Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus)
This story starts out like your typical cute-girls-doing-stuff-at-school comedy, with a baby-faced lead, Yuki, who is filled with love for her school and the School Living Club, the point of which is… to live at the school. It takes a while to see what is really going on, which is that Yuki and her three companions are the sole survivors of some sort of zombie apocalypse. Yuki is blocking it out, hallucinating a normal life with normal classmates, and the her two friends are working to keep the illusion going: shovel-wielding Kurumi clears out the zombies, while big-sisterly Yuuri fixes dinner. Their teacher, Megumi Sakura (or Megu-nee, as Yuki insists on calling her), keeps an eye on things. Although Yuki’s childlike enthusiasm for every aspect of the School Living Club fuels the story, what makes it interesting is the tension between the façade of everyday life and the reality of the post-apocalyptic world. It’s cuteness laced with horror, and there are hints of an underlying story just beginning to emerge.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun, Vol. 1, by Izumi Tsubaki
When Chiyo confesses her love to the curt and rather hunky Nozaki, she’s startled to be invited back to his house right away. But it’s not for canoodling—Nozaki is a manga-ka, and he needs help getting the beta (solid blacks) done on deadline. That’s not the only surprise in store for Chiyo: although he’s not the sensitive type by any means, Nozaki’s manga is a shoujo romance story. Told in 4-koma (four-panel) gag style, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun is a light, clever comedy that also tosses in a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes information about how manga is made.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Part 2—Battle Tendency, Vol. 1, by Hirohiko Araki
This volume kicks off the second story arc of the saga of the Joestar family. Set in 1938, it is the story of Joseph Joestar, grandson of Jonathan Joestar from the first arc. Joseph heads off to Mexico to investigate the mysterious death of another character from the first arc, Robert E.O. Speedwagon, and winds up tangling with Nazis. In a slightly larger than usual hardcover format, with gorgeous cover designs, these books look classy on the outside, but it’s all fists and fury on the inside.

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