Okay, it's probably been too long since I've done a previews pick post but honestly, previews are one of my favorite things about reading comics and being part of the whole Wednesday-crowd experience. A good healthy list of manga titles I'd want to buy -- even three or four months in the future -- makes me happy. Maybe there is something particularly fun about the way previews builds anticipation...and after all, if you're disappointed with the actual product, well, every month there are new previews to keep you hooked occupied.
My pick of the month is Fumi Yoshinaga's Flower of Life volume 4, published by DMP. The long national nightmare of no new Yoshinaga manga will finally end. FoL is pure joy as far as I'm concerned -- as long as Yoshinaga is behind the wheel, high school seems like the place to be. This would even be my pick of the year of we didn't have Yoshinaga's new series Ooku to look forward to in August.
CMX introduces Ballad of a Shingami -- I'm not as big a fan of manga featuring death gods as a lot of folks I know, but I tend to like CMX manga and I'm more likely to try out one of their new titles than from almost any other publisher.
Bandai's one offering for the month is also a fan favorite, the first volume of Lucky Star. The few episodes of the anime I watched were sheer insanity and I can't help wondering if this story even needs to be animated. We'll see how endless discussions about how exactly one should eat a chocolate-filled pastry play out on the printed page.
Del Rey's has a much meatier line up -- volume seven of the beautiful Mushishi, volume 3 of the cracked-out high school melodrama that is Papillon, and the second volume of everyone's favorite suicidally-depressed teacher, Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei.
Tokyopop's offerings are slim pickings this month, as I'm just going to order the re-solicted third and final volume of Jyu-Oh-Sei. These volumes are over 300 pages and represent some of the best shojo sci-fi around. I can't recommend them highly enough.
As always, Viz offers an embarrassment of riches -- even on an "off" month (the months they don't offer my favorites NANA, Skip Beat, High School Debut, and Gin Tama) I can still find a ridiculous amount of titles worth ordering. First up -- a new entry into the Signature line with Daisuke Igarashi's Children of the Sea. I don't know this artist or his work but the cover art is intriguing and Viz hasn't gone wrong with this imprint yet. The third volume of Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys is already being offered, but I think a fast release schedule will benefit this complex and intricately plotted tale.
Long running shonen favorites Bleach and One Piece have new volumes offered, and on the shojo side, Boys Over Flowers finally wraps up its monumental run. We also get a new release of Ouran High School Host Club and Viz also introduces the first volume of the sequel to its supernatural shojo taleYurara, Rasetsu. Since Rasetsu features my favorite character from Yurara, the cool and collected Yako, I'm quite excited to see what our young exorcist has been up to now that he's on his own.
Finally, Viz also offers the first volume of Detroit Metal City. It looks weird. I'm so totally there.
Last but not least, Yen Pess finally releases some of its better on-going Yen Plus titles, including the first volume of Bamboo Blade (girls do kendo!) and Nabari No Ou (non-Naruto / kinda noir-ish ninjas!). Yen Press also begins releasing the "Cotton Drifting" arc of Higurashi: When They Cry. I'm curious to see how the arcs differ from each other -- how do the creators tell the story differently in each arc? There's also been some chatter about the History of the West Wing, which appears to mix Chinese politics and romance. Sounds good to me!