April brings us a varied assortment of new manga, with something for everyone: new volumes of Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan, second volumes of Planetes and Yowamushi Pedal, and series’ debuts with subjects that range from the zombie apocalypse, to a quiet story about children making their way in the world without benefit of adults. Read on for the best new manga in April.
Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 6, by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul is one of those manga that pulls you in by showing you a whole new world a little at a time; in this case, it’s the world of man-eating ghouls that lives side by side with ordinary humans in Tokyo. This volume brings us in deeper with a detailed explanation of ghoul anatomy, and it also kicks off a new direction to the story with the introduction of a ghoul gang, the Aogiri Tree. As always, our hero Ken Kaneki is caught in the middle, and the relationships developed in the past few volumes are getting more complicated, making this a can’t-miss volume.
Attack on Titan, Vol. 18, by Hajime Isayama
The Survey Corps has a new strategy for retaking Wall Maria, but their enemies have some new twists as well. Attack on Titan continues to be a great read, and this newest volume is available both on its own and as a special edition, bundled with a DVD of the Attack on Titan: No Regrets anime, which tells the backstory of Captain Levi.
I Am a Hero, Vol. 1, by Kengo Hanazawa
Bakuman meets The Walking Dead in this zombie story that starts out slow but comes on strong halfway through. The lead character, Hideo, is a hard-working manga creator who almost made the big time and now toils alongside several others as an assistant on a popular series. He’s so wrapped up in his own obsessions and his emotionally fraught relationship with his girlfriend, Tekko, that at first he doesn’t notice the odd things happening around him. Hanazawa takes his time with the story, building up Hideo’s world (which is a fascinating look behind the scenes at the lives of manga assistants) before he unleashes the zombie apocalypse. This two-volume omnibus is a great start to a very promising series.
The Gods Lie, by Kaori Ozaki
The Gods Lie is a story about children, but it’s not really for children. Two misfit sixth-graders are tossed together by a couple of chance meetings (and a kitten) and end up spending summer vacation together. Natsuru Nanao is trying to get out of the way of his single mom, who is struggling to finish a novel, and he plays hooky from soccer camp to get away from a bullying coach. Rio Suzumura is working hard to take care of herself and her younger brother while they wait for her father to return from a fishing trip to Alaska. There’s a fun angle of camping out without the grownups to this beautifully drawn story, which has many light moments, but things come crashing down toward the end. This story is complete in one volume.
Servant x Service, Vol. 1, by Karino Takatsu
Servant x Service is a gag manga, mostly done in the four-panel vertical format known as 4-koma. Think of Azumanga Daioh, but with civil servants in a public welfare office instead of schoolgirls. The gags are a mix of character humor and reflections on the absurdity of bureaucracies, making it an amiable workplace comedy.
Danganronpa: The Animation, Vol. 1, by Spike Chunsoft
This story is a completely bonkers mashup of the ordinary-guy-at-an elite-school and battle royale genres, with a school trial mixed in for good measure, all presided over by an evil teddy bear. Hope Academy is a school that selects only top-notch students, although their skill sets are a bit odd—rather than, say, math and science prodigies, these students have “skills” like fashionista, fanfic writer, and biker gang leader. At the welcome assembly, they are told that in order to “graduate”—i.e., escape—a student must murder a classmate. But when the first murder occurs, the psychotic teddy bear Monokuma rolls out a new twist: The students must hold a trial to identify the murderer, and if they pick the wrong one, everyone but the murderer is executed. This manga is based on the video game and anime, but it stands well on its own as an absurd, violent spin on standard manga tropes.
Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter, Vol. 1, by Keiichi Hikami and Shin Yamamoto
This series is a manga spinoff of Capcomm’s Monster Hunter game, and it jumps right in with some monster-hunting action. After that it backs off a bit to tell the story of Raiga, who wants to be a big-time monster hunter but is a bit immature, as he travels to the land of Lac Loc, finds some companions, and starts hunting monsters. This is a good shonen adventure story with quests and obstacles and friendships, and you don’t have to be familiar with the game to enjoy it.
Planetes, Vol. 2, by Makoto Yukimura
Yukimura’s story of space debris collectors wraps up in the second omnibus volume of this slice-of-life-in-space series. I picked the first volume as one of the best new manga of 2015, and this one promises to be just as good, with Hachi heading off on a dangerous new mission that will test his abilities and the rest of the gang facing down the U.S. military in order to head off a space catastrophe.
Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 2, by Wataru Watanabe
In the first volume of this story about bicycle racing, we met super-otaku Sakamichi Onoda, who is so obsessed with manga, anime, and figurines that he doesn’t realize he has made himself into a cycling prodigy. His classmate, hardcore biker Shunsuke Imaizumi, figures it out, though, and he brings Onoda into the cycling club, ushering in a whole new set of challenges along with some unexpected friendships. Onoda takes it to the next level in this second volume, as he competes in his first road race and trades his “granny bike” for something more spiffy. With a combination of likable characters, biking knowhow, and a dynamic art style, Yowamushi Pedal is a fascinating and delightful read.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse Omnibus, by Gainax
Because you can never have too many Neon Genesis Evangelion stories, here’s one about Shinji Ikari’s school life. Of course, no one spends much time in the classroom when there are secrets to be uncovered and enemies to be vanquished. This hefty 700-page omnibus collects all four volumes of the series.
What new manga are you reading this month?