VIZ Media Pubwatch: February 2021

Viz Pubwatch banner featuring Nana from Viz Media

Welcome to the February VIZ Pubwatch! Love is in the air in a lot of this month’s new releases, including new volumes of Komi Can’t Communicate, Kaguya-sama: Love is War, and Shortcake Cake. This month, we’re going to be doing something a little different: instead of reviewing three new volumes, I’ll be comparing and discussing the first chapters of three new digital series that have launched since the last Pubwatch, like The Elusive Samurai. I’m excited! But first, some news.

Frozen 2 manga adaptation released

promotional image for the Frozen II manga showing Elsa on an ice horse.

Iconic shoujo mangaka Arina Tanemura, creator of Phantom Thief Jeanne and Full Moon among other works, is adapting Disney’s Frozen II to manga form. Her delicate artwork lends itself well to the fairytale story. VIZ media did an interview with Tanemura on their blog where she talks about the challenges of adapting a full-color animated film to black-and-white still images, so if you’re interested in that, check it out here!

Infini-T Force movie now on Blu-ray

screenshot from Infini-T Force movie showing the character lunging.

I’m going to be totally honest here: I saw this news item and had to look up what this movie/franchise/thing even is, but now that I have done five minutes of research I agree that it seems really cool. Infini-T Force is a crossover of a bunch of science fiction superhero action shows produced by one company in the 1970s, rebooted and updated for the modern era. If you love old-school anime and cool fight scenes, this is the movie for you. And now it’s on Blu-ray!

The Promised Neverland favorite character poll results revealed

promotional image depicting the main characters from the promised neverland flying with fish-shaped kites.

Ah, the favorite character poll, a staple of shonen manga. With season two of the Promised Neverland anime now airing (to… mixed reviews), fans are rereading the manga, which wrapped up its last chapters in June 2020. Though it’s unusual to run a favorite character poll for a long-completed series, the anime release means people are talking about the series again, making this the perfect opportunity. View the results here!

Which brings me to my next point: Shonen Jump’s new debuts!
A number of flagship series for the magazine ended their long, successful runs in 2020: Demon Slayer, The Promised Neverland, and Haikyu!!. With My Hero Academia heading into its endgame now, the magazine (print and digital) needs new stories to fill its pages, and both veteran and new creators are stepping up to the task. Let’s talk about these new series in…

What I’m Reading

The Elusive Samurai, Chapter 1
Yusei Matsui
January 24, 2021cover image for The Elusive Samurai showing the protagonist in a red and purple robe with peacock feathers streaming off of him.

I was really excited for this series the moment I saw the author’s name. Assassination Classroom is one of my favorite manga of all time and has one of the strongest first chapters of anything I’ve ever read. I don’t think the first chapter of The Elusive Samurai quite lives up to it, but it does have a lot of the qualities I first noticed in Assassination Classroom. Good comedy, strong action scenes, a good sense of pathos, and an interesting dynamic between the mentor figure and the kids in his care. The story in Elusive Samurai is more serious, the stakes more immediately relevant than the earth blowing up at the end of the school year, but that sense of humor and heart is still present. I don’t usually go for samurai stories, but I’m curious to see what happens with these characters in the future.

i tell c, Chapter 1
Kazusa Inaoka
January 31, 2021cover image for i tell c, featuring the twin detectives showing their badges

This is a really weird comic, but like, in a fun way. This is a comic for people who see other people photoshopping flower crowns on serial killers and think, “that’s wild.” i tell c (all lowercase) is about a detective who falls in love with the serial killers and arsonists she investigates, and solves every case using deeply questionable methods. The other detectives describe it as “fighting poison with poison.” It’s certainly a concept! I like the way the twist is introduced in this first chapter, and the way the mystery is presented and solved is well-executed. It’s a clever crime with clever clues. I don’t know how long I’ll keep reading this comic, but it’s an intriguing start.

Witch Watch, Chapter 1
Kenta Shinohara
February 7, 2021

Witch Watch promotional image depicting Moi and Niko.

I enjoyed Astra Lost in Space, so I was looking forward to seeing the creator’s new work. Witch Watch is a fantasy rom-com about two childhood friends reconnecting after years apart… except one of them is a witch and the other is her familiar/bodyguard. I really like the dynamic between the two leads and how it’s established here. They’re not pointlessly hotheaded or bickering, and in fact, get along pretty well already. I am also always a fan of a serious no-nonsense character paired with a ditzy lighthearted character. Astra Lost in Space had a well-rounded cast of interesting and developed characters, and while Witch Watch is primarily focused on Niko and Moi so far, there are some hints of more to come. I don’t know if it’s going to be another short series like Astra or if it’s intended to be a long-runner, but either way, I’ll be sticking around to see more.

That’s all I’ve got for you this month! Tune in next month for more VIZ news and reviews!