Why is it time for another one of these? Even after doing this I’ll still have enough manga to write about for the next month. That’s also not taking into account that my “to buy” list has almost reached critical mass before I make another order through The Right Stuf. So sit back and enjoy these in-brief thoughts on the latest volumes of “Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction,” “One-Punch Man,” “Golden Kamuy,” “Pandora in the Crimson Shell,” and “Kaguya-Sama.”
Much of Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction vol. 4 continues on as the series always has. The main difference here is that now Kadode and Oran are attending college against the backdrop of the alien presence and simmering tensions of war. That’s all well and good even if it doesn’t move the needle of my opinion on the series to this point. What actually does manage that feat is the next-to-last chapter which presents a much different perspective on the human/alien relations than we’ve been getting up to this point. It’s a shocking experience not just because of how it reframes the central conflict in the series, but because of how mangaka Inio Asano makes it clear that the violence in it stems from the personal experience of one of its characters. With this, “Destruction” gets a lot closer to the quality I’ve come to expect from Asano’s works.
In a perfect world this would be where I say that the latest volume of “Golden Kamuy” is free of the problematic issues that dragged down the last one. In the world we live in I’m forced to say that Golden Kamuy vol. 8 features a new character that’s probably going to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Why? Let’s just say that if taxidermist Yasaku Edogai were ever to meet “The Silence of the Lambs’” Buffalo Bill, they’d probably get along great! While Edogai is never actually identified as gay, the story makes it clear that he’s a faaaaaaaabulous drama queen to go along with his disturbing and appalling habits. There’s plenty of interesting stuff going on around what Edogai brings to the volume, mainly revolving around the crafty Lt. Tsurumi’s plans to sow confusion around the hunt for the missing gold. Yet your enjoyment of this volume is likely going to hinge on whether or not you think the taxidermist brings a morbid thrill to the series or are utterly repulsed by his actions and general characterization.
After the high drama of the previous volume, it’s not surprising that ONE and Yusuke Murata decided to dial things down a bit for One-Punch Man vol. 15. The good news is that this is a setup volume with a lot of stuff for the reader to chew on. Such as the conversation between Saitama and King in the second chapter that serves to illustrate a way forward for the former even with his godlike powers. There’s also the ongoing plans of the Monster Association, whose invasion is proceeding apace even if they haven’t figured out who killed Goketsu yet. We’ve also got Garo and his supervillain ambitions, which hit a Saitama-shaped roadblock in this volume. That leaves him to recover in some kids’ hideout, where he winds up lecturing one on the virtues of the strong. It’s all engaging stuff that servest to keep the title’s momentum going until the action ramps up again.
The last two volumes of “Pandora in the Crimson Shell” have done a lot to raise my estimation for this series. Pandora in the Crimson Shell vol. 11? Not as much. That’s not to say there isn’t good stuff here: Finding out Takumi’s backstory and how it ties into the overall plot is nice, while Robert’s sparring match with Clarion is fun and interesting to observe too. What drags this down is the integration of the white-clad “Clarion” into the main story. Phobos, as she’s called, is Clarion’s oh-so-smug “sister” who plays at being a damsel in distress on the run from Poseidon in order to worm her way into Nene’s life. While I can believe that Nene’s optimistic and trusting nature would allow her to take Phobos’ story at face value, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s painfully obvious to the reader (along with Clarion) that she’s up to no good. If we’re lucky, then her true nature will be revealed in the next volume and she’ll assume her role as the proper antagonist for this storyline.
Who’s that on the cover of Kaguya-sama: Love is War vol. 7? That’s Miko Ino, the ultra-strict member of the school disciplinary committee who is challenging Miyuki for the position of student council president. Her personality makes her a good foil for the current members of the student council, though her draconian disciplinary proposals and stage fright threaten to make her a laughingstock in front of the school at a debate. So it comes down to Miyuki having to find a way to defeat Miko without making her into a laughingstock. It’s a rare and satisfying moment of drama in this series that never forgets to bring the funny at the same time. What I mean is that the election arc is quickly followed up by a story where Kaguya is determined to find out if Miyuki wears boxers or briefs. Which will also clear up the issue of whether or not he’s a man-whore, because that’s how her mind works.