The Best New Manga of March 2016

jellyfishMarch delivers a grab bag of new manga: a shoujo ninja story from Matsuri Hino, an action-packed prequel to Akame ga Kill!, and the much-anticipated first volume of Princess Jellyfish. For those with more literary tastes, the first volume of Inio Asano’s Goodnight PunPun also debuts this month, and if you’re simply looking for a good swords-and-fantasy adventure, Sword Art Online starts a new story arc. And who doesn’t love One-Punch Man?

Princess Jellyfish, Vol. 1, by Akiko Higashimura
With the anime already out in English, Princess Jellyfish has been one of Kodansha’s most requested series. The story is set in an apartment house for nerdy women, sort of a safe space for them to geek out over the things that interest them. In the case of the lead character, Tsukumi, that’s jellyfish (hence the title). A chance meeting in a pet shop brings a new person into her life, which causes some consternation. But the residents of the Amamizukan apartment building face a more serious threat—from a developer who wants to tear their haven down—and they must work together to save their building.

Shuriken and Pleats, Vol. 1, by Matsuri Hino
Matsuri Hino cooked up a splendid supernatural school soap opera in Vampire Knight, and now she is back with another shoujo tale; instead of vampires, though, this story is about ninjas. The heroine, Mikage, is a teenage ninja-in-training who is heading to Japan to continue her studies, but she gets drawn into a battle between warring factions of a ninja family. Expect plenty of romance and drama alongside the shuriken-throwing in this short series.

Akame ga Kill! Zero, Vol. 1, by Takahiro
If you’re reading Akame ga Kill!, you already know all about Night Raid, the team of assassins, armed with spectacular weapons, who are working together to overthrow the corrupt government of the Empire in which they live. Akame ga Kill! Zero, with the same writer but a different artist, fills in the origin story of the swordswoman Akame, who was raised to be an assassin… for the Empire.

Goodnight PunPun, Vol. 1, by Inio Asano
Goodnight PunPun chronicles ten years of a turbulent life, starting when the protagonist, PunPun, is in elementary school. Asano draws PunPun and his family as simple, birdlike creatures, as opposed to the warts-and-all depiction of the other characters, but their childlike appearance is deceptive. PunPun lives in a dysfunctional family, loves a strange girl, and talks to God. This is a challenging and fascinating story, not an easy read but a rewarding one. Asano’s other works include solanin, Nijigahara Holograph, and A Girl on the Shore.

Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosary, Vol. 1, by Reki Kawahara
The sixth volume of SAO kicks off a new story arc: Kirito faces a new rival, and Asuna gets a surprising invitation. All the action takes place inside a virtual reality MMO, ALfheim Online, where the players not only fight but can fly for brief periods as well.

One-Punch Man, Vol. 5, by Yusuke Murata
Saitama, the bald and almost affectless hero who can dispatch any enemy with a single punch, has joined the Heroes Association only to find that he has a quota to meet. In this volume he faces the weirdest enemy yet (which is saying a lot for this series), the Deep Sea King. The combination of crazy characters and amazing action sequences continues to make this series a highly entertaining read.

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