What do the latest batch of Seven Seas releases have in common? Well, a lot of naked women. Then again, that’s to be expected when two of the new releases are tied to Go Nagai…
Cutie Honey a Go Go!
Shimpei Itoh (Art and writing), Go Nagai (concept), Hideaki Anno (story)
Older fans likely need no introduction to Cutie Honey, but for the younguns: Cutie Honey, originally released in the ’70s, is one of the earliest examples of magical girl as a genre. It was one of the first to use the magical girl as a warrior instead of a witch, as well as promoting the ever-favorite naked transformation scene. In it, the titular Cutie Honey, a.k.a. Honey Kisaragi, is an android chosen to fight against the terrorist organization Panther Claw and their mysterious leader Sister Jill.
Cutie Honey a Go Go! is an adaptation of the 2004 live action movie, which retells Honey’s origin and squishes the battle against Panther Claw into a single movie. As such, you don’t need to know anything about Cutie Honey to fully get this single volume book. The plot covers both Honey’s initial clash with Panther Claw and a side plot in which Honey and her quasi-friend, Natsume Aki, go undercover at a rich girls school (a nod to the original series, where Honey initially lived at a Catholic school). Aki, a strict, heavy-smoking, passionate policewoman who initially wants to arrest Honey, is an original character added for the adaptation, and I adore both her character design and her attitude. (For the Pet Shop of Horrors fans in the audience, think female Leon.)
Itoh’s artwork remains pretty faithful to the original style, and his writing also captures the Go Nagai essence of veering between humorous gags and dark violence. It actually feels like Itoh leans less into the ecchi gags than classic Go Nagai, which I appreciated, letting the character conflicts provide the humor for the most part. Cutie Honey a Go Go! was originally supposed to be a three-volume work, but it was cut into two instead, which explains why the ending feels a bit abrupt and doesn’t conclude like one might expect. As such, I feel like it makes a good prequel work to the classic collection coming out in August.
Devilman vs. Hades, Vol. 1
Go Nagai (Writer), Team Moon (Artist)
And on the heels of that one, another Go Nagai work. Devilman vs. Hades is a crossover of two of his darker series, Devilman and Mazinger Z. Set in the Devilman universe after the initial storyline, it has the main character, Akira Fudo, a.k.a. Devilman, facing off against the villain of Mazinger Z, the Emperor of Darkness, Hades. It’s like the anime equivalent of “who would win in a battle, Superman or Batman,” only one’s a bad guy and the other’s not much better, and thankfully, it’s not directed by Zack Snyder.
Unlike Cutie Honey a Go Go!, Devilman vs. Hades will make more sense if you’ve seen or read Devilman first. The first volume does touch on the setup that pits Devilman and Hades against each other, but still assumes you’re at least passingly familiar with the plot and setup of Devilman. It also does spoil the ending for the original series, so you may not want to read this one if you’re hoping to go into that one fresh. That said, once the initial explaining is done, the book ventures into some fun and lighter post-apocalyptic-esque storytelling, pairing Akira with a talking crow and a naked catgirl (it makes sense in context) as they wander around a destroyed Tokyo, looking for Akira’s target. Team Moon brings a great level of detail to the pages, fully capturing the dark, gritty, monstrous look. I wish there had actually been more pages of non-fighting, because I feel like the good character work is sometimes lost among all the violent and inhuman things.
Dragon Half, Vol. 1
Ryusuke Mita (Art and writing)
Dragon Half is one of those series from the ’90s that gained a cult following after the two-episode anime somehow got released in the US. Now those cultists can finally put down the uniforms and questionable cookies, and pick up the manga in English. Dragon Half follows the story of Mink, the daughter of a dragon and dragon slayer who eloped, and her quest to defeat the lord of all evil get a potion that will make her human so she can go out with her crush, the singer/dragon hunter Dick Saucer. Along the way, she does battle with an evil selfish king, tons of monsters, and some mooks who aren’t terribly competent.
Dragon Half is a parody of the fantasy/RPG genre. As such, don’t expect much in the way of serious character developments or gripping plots. Nearly every other line is a gag or a setup for the next gag. That said, the gags are really quite good; this is one of the few manga that’s managed to make me laugh out loud. I read this ages ago in the original Japanese, so I was curious to see how well the translation holds up, and dang, it is solid. Andrew Cunningham and the Seven Seas team take a lot of little creative liberties to introduce relevant puns and one-liners, bringing the story from a ’90s Japanese work to a 2018 English speaking market. And speaking of little things, I appreciated that the translation explicitly labels Lufa (Mink’s elf BFF) as bicurious. (I could’ve done without the “which boy/girl is your perfect match” bonus quizzes being labeled “for girls” and “for guys,” though.)
Mononoke Sharing, Vol. 1
coolkyousinnjya (Art and writing)
Mononoke Sharing is a slice of life story revolving around a human girl, Yata, living with five types of Japanese monsters and the various trials and misunderstandings that come from being, you know, different species.
Coolkyousinnjya is the author of another Seven Seas series, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Mononoke Sharing resembles it in a number of the themes and tropes: a girl-centered cast, some pretty standard ecchi (there’s literally a chapter called Boob Story), girl on girl crushes, comedy with light heartwarming moments, and even Momi’s horns resemble the dragons of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Yata, the human narrator of the story, works both as a lens for the human reader and as a character with her own goals and worries. Of the mononoke, so far I’m digging Yuki (the snow woman with the crush on Yata) and Roku (the long-necked woman whose goal is to be a comedian) the most. Mizuchi doesn’t really stand out, and most of Yooko and Momi’s characterization seems to revolve around the ecchi gags. I wish the story had started out with the first meeting (which happens in the second chapter) as the first chapter really serves just to halfheartedly introduce the characters, interspersed with some of the less funny gags of the volume.
And in less ecchi news…
Nameless Asterism, Vol. 2
Kina Kobayashi (Art and writing)
The second volume following the story of three girls—Tsukasa, Washio, and Kotooka—in a love circle with crushes on each other. In this volume, we get to see the answer to the will-they-or-won’t-they between Tsukasa and the strange boy, Asakura, who’s asked her out. The volume also covers a storyline from Kotooka’s point of view as the balance between the three and their secrets teeters dangerously, and some plotline following Subaru, digging a bit into his motivations when he gets thrown together with his sister’s would-be suitor.
With the introductions and setup out of the way in volume 1, the story really starts diving into the characters themselves, focusing especially on Kotooka and Subaru. I especially loved seeing the point of view of Kotooka and her anxieties about the relationship quagmire, coming from a character that often appears laidback and untroubled. Meanwhile, Subaru’s backstory and motivation is … interesting. I don’t dislike it. It’s one of those things I hope he’s going to be able to overcome. Also, confession: Subaru and Asakura? I totally ship it now. Let’s make it happen.
So if the ecchi offerings of this batch (or the shipping opportunities) aren’t to your liking, here’s what else has come out:
Absolute Duo, Vol. 3 by Takumi Hiiragiboshi (Writer) and Shinichirou Nariie (Artist): The shield-wielding Tor becomes the rope in a tug of war between his Scandanavian partner and the new interloper from Britian.
Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor, Vol. 3 by Hitsuji Tarou (Writer) and Tsunemi Aosa (Artist): Wow, this series really is magic Denpa Kyoushi. The lazy, but apparently talented teacher, Glenn, decides to whip his fourth-string class into top mages in order to take home a teacher’s bonus.
Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 1 by Ryo Shirakome (Writer) and RoGa (Artist): An isekai about a classroom transferred to another world, where they all gain significant powers in order to save that world. That’s boring, so our main character, Hajime, has been given a weak ability and left behind. Time to get creative!
Beasts of Abigaile, Vol. 3 by Spica Aoki: A shoujo story about a girl bitten by a wolf, who starts turning into one. Sent to the country where magical creatures live, she has to figure out how to protect herself, mostly from the beautiful young men in her path.
Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage, Vol. 4 ny Leiji Matsumoto (Writer) and Kouichi Shimahoshi (Artist): Space battles against overwhelming odds? Sounds like a Tuesday. Tadashi also returns home to Earth to dig deeper into the mystery of the Mazon.
Devils and Realist, Vol. 14 by Madoka Takadono (Writer) and Utako Yukihiro (Artist): When destiny in the form of being the one to choose the next Demon Lord comes calling, William tells it to go away unless it can help pay rent.
DNA Doesn’t Tell Us, Vol. 1 by Mintarou: An adorable slice of life about an all-girls school filled with animals that have turned into quasi-humans.
The Girl From The Other Side: Siúil A Rún, Vol. 4 by Nagabe: A human girl from the Inside makes friends with a creature from the Outside. Shades of Ancient Magus Bride with beautiful, thematic art.
Hatsune Miku Presents: Hachune Miku’s Everyday Vocaloid Paradise, Vol. 3 by Ontama: More light 4koma humor revolving around Hatsune Miku of Vocaloid.
Made in Abyss, Vol. 2 by Akihito Tsukushi: Riko and Reg are starting their journey to the very bottom of the Abyss! But given that they’re only rookies and the adults are surely going to try and bring them back, is their journey over before it begins?
Magical Girl Apocalypse, Vol. 14 by Kentaro Sato: Kii and friends gear up to fight the cause of the apocalypse that unleashed deadly magical girls on his world.
Monster Girl Doctor, Vol. 2 by Yoshino Origuchi (Author) and z-ton (Artist): The doctor and his assistant head to a harpy settlement to treat the sick, and also apparently to get hit on.
Monster Musume, Vol. 13 by OKAYADO: Monster girls are sent by the government to live with a horny boy for the purpose of cultural exchange. Given that interspecies banging is outlawed, will he be able to keep it in his pants?
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Vol. 7 by Rifujin na Magonote (Writer) and Yuka Fujikawa (Artist): A classic isekai setup where the protagonist dies but retains the memories of his old life while he lives out a new one.
My Monster Secret, Vol. 10 by Eiji Masuda: Tagged by Seven Seas as “literally no one can keep a secret.” What secret is not getting kept in this volume? A confession of love!
Nirvana, Vol. 2 by ZOWLS (Writer) and Sayuki (Artist): Isekai with a female protagonist! When do-gooder Yachiyo dies in a plane accident, she awakens in a new world–and is promptly mistaken for a goddess. Happens to all the cute young girls, right, Yuri?
Not Lives Vol. 8, by Wataru Karasuma: The final battle in this deadly virtual “game” looms.
Perfect Blue: Awaken from a Dream by Yoshikazu Takeuchi: The second volume of the Perfect Blue light novels, Awaken from a Dream focuses on different pop stars, but the same situation of terrorizing them with obsessive fans.
Sorry for My Familiar, Vol. 1 by Tekka Yaguraba: When you’re a demon who can’t summon your own animal familiar, just slap a collar on a weird man off the streets and call it a day.
Soul Liquid Chambers, Vol. 1 by Nozomu Tamaki: Post apocalyptic zombie carnage from the author of Dance in the Vampire Bund.
Spirit Circle, Vol. 3 by Satoshi Mizukami: The website description for the next volume of this adventure through past lives is so vague, I can only assume huge spoilers that will likely make me cry are on the horizon.
The Testament of Sister New Devil, Vol. 8 by Tetsuto Uesu (Writer) and Miyakokasiwa (Artist): The sister series to Testament of Sister New Devil STORM!, it follows the same general plot. Toujo’s new stepsisters are a succubus and a demon lord, who end up becoming his servants.
The Testament of Sister New Devil STORM!, Vol. 3 by Tetsuto Uesu (Writer) and Fumihiro Kiso (Artist): With four hot women living in his household, it’s not a question of if Toujo is going to have some sexytimes, but when and with who.
There’s a Demon Lord on the Floor, Vol. 5 by Hato (Writer) and Kawakami Masaki (Artist): An injured Demon Lord fleeing the RPG-esque heroes hides out in the human world. There, she falls in love with a restaurant’s food. But the food doesn’t come free, so time to teach a demon lord how to bus tables.
And from Ghost Ship:
World’s End Harem, Vol. 1 by LINK (Writer), Kotaro Shono (Artist), and Kotarou Shouno (Contributor): In the future, a virus has killed most of the men. In a bid to save procreational sex, some men are cryogenically frozen and awake to a future where they are expected to impregnate as many women as possible. Naturally, the main character, rather than seeing this as all his dreams come true, just wants to find his missing true love.
Yokai Girls, Vol. 2 by Kazuki Funatsu: A guy who can see spirits becomes the ersatz protector of some female yokai. Harem series and mature, so you know where this is going.