Manga in Minutes: Catchup Corner

Welcome to this weeks Manga in Minutes! As mentioned back in January, I’ll be playing around with some ideas and formats for the column over the coming year, and this week is one of those ideas! Every now and then, instead of a single weekly review, I’ll be posting multiple short reviews instead. But first, some news...

On to the first Catchup Corner, featuring Fairy Tail, Vols. 33 + 34, Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 3 + 4 and Trigun Maximum, Vol. 2!

Fairy Tail, Vols. 33 + 34Created by Hiro MashimaKodansha ComicsRating: Teens (13+)

Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail, Vols. 33 + 34 continues the Grand Magic Games tournament, as the plot thickens! The web of intrigue that’s ensured the members of Fairy Tail grows as plots are revealed, new allies are made, and new enemies encountered.

There’s so much going on in these two volumes that it’s a bit hard to keep up with and process at times. There are half a dozen plot lines entwining and overlapping, some of which may be interconnected while others seem to be standing on their own based upon pre-existing relationships. Throughout it all dozens of characters are introduced and thrown at readers for the purpose of populating this tournament arc. Mashima’s artwork is creative and his character designs range from interesting to slick, and ugly to silly. The use of a wide variety of body types, facial features and clothing mean that there’s almost always something interesting to look at on every page of the book. The fight scenes tend to be a bit short and often feel like Mashima’s going for a quantity over quality thing with most of them.

With so much going on Fairy Tail is difficult to follow at times, but at least it’s rarely slow. I must admit to being a little curious about how many of the various plot lines will ultimately tie in to each other, and what will directly relate to the simmering plot in the background involving a conspiracy within the kingdom hosting the tournament.

Fairy Tail, Vols. 33 + 34 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 3 + 4Created by Tsutomu NiheiVerticalRating: NA

World building abounds as Tsutomu Nihei’s Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 3 + 4 gives us glimpses into the world’s past, complete with some interesting revelations regarding Sidonia’s history and Nagate’s place in it.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the series after the first two volumes. It was certainly interesting and I liked the ideas and concepts it was playing around with, but the characters didn’t light me on fire and the plot wasn’t quite holding me. These two volumes go a long way towards fixing that. While Nagate is still a bit bland, Nihei does a lot towards setting up a central plot, introducing new antagonists and developing some of the supporting cast. Nihei’s artwork continues to be lovely, though I still find myself wishing it was his older style at times. There are shots which are clearly meant to impress, but just don’t quite do so on the level the architectural or setting shots did in Biomega. That said, the action scenes are becoming a bit clearer and easier to follow, and Nihei seems to be finding his groove with them in these two volumes.

Things within Knights of Sidonia are certainly picking up and I found myself wishing I had subsequent volumes already. Looking forward to cracking open volume five and hunting down the rest of the series!

Knights of Sidonia, Vols. 3 + 4 are available now from Vertical.

Trigun Maximum Omnibus, Vol. 2Created by Yasuhiro NightowDark Horse, 600 pps.Rating:

Yasuhiro Nightow’s Trigun Maximum rolls onward, as Vash’s battle against his brother, Knives, continues more players step onto the stage as alliances are strained and Vash’s commitment to non-violence is tested.

Though there are a few moments which echo certain scenes and episodes, we’re pretty firmly in non-anime territory with this volume. Vash’s battle with the Gung-Ho Guns escalates as their numbers dwindle despite his attempts to keep each one alive. Nightow spends a little time developing the remaining Guns, giving us just enough to get a handle on what drives them to take part in Knives’ scheme. What’s most interesting is a twist that comes towards the end, showing that even the Guns aren’t necessarily mindless followers of the Vash’s genocidal brother. Nightow also ups the anty nicely by tossing the world of Gunsmoke a life line, something that also serves to set up a ticking clock for Vash to work against lest Knives plans for humanity expand beyond the desert world. The artwork is still a tad messy and cluttered at times, but there’s no denying that Nightow can crank out some fantastic looking moments, exciting scenes and lovely character designs. Unfortunately it often seems like he sacrifices clarity for intensity or dynamic poses, rendering some action scenes in this volume difficult to follow and very unclear.

Trigun Maximum is becoming a really enjoyable sci-fi action tale. The new twists and turns introduced in this volume are unexpected and add a new dimension and urgency to the Knives situation, and the flashbacks do a lot to flesh out the cast and the history of the world as well.

Trigun Maximum, Vol. 2 are available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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