New Manga For July 20

There's a lot of excitement brewing over San Diego Comic-Con, which launches with Preview Night tomorrow, but if you're staying home this week, there's plenty of new manga to keep you busy.

The release of volume 8 of Twin Spica coincides with the end of the U.S. space shuttle program, and this seems like an appropriate moment to pick up this earnest story of aspiring astronauts. The main character, Asumi lost her mother at an early age in a rocket accident, and her father was pushed out of the space program as well, but she still wants to go into space herself. Buoyed by friends and a mysterious lion-headed ghost, she has been pursuing that objective for eight volumes now. This manga reads like a really good chapter book; the characters are complex and likeable, and Kou Yaginuma's art really captures the settings and the characters. If summer is starting to drag a bit, pick up this series and start reading from the beginning. Trust me, the rest of the world will drop away. (You can read an introductory story online at the link above.)

La Quinta Camera is the sort of story Natsume Ono always seems to do well: It's about four slightly eccentric single men who share an apartment, and the gentle disruption of their equilibrium by the changing occupants of the fifth room. This was Ono's first comic, which she originally published as a webcomic; it brought her into the public eye, and eventually the book was published in print by a Japanese publisher. Check it out if you liked her later books, Ristorante Paradiso and Gente. Viz has two other good bets coming out this week: Vol. 6 of Ooku, Fumi Yoshinaga's gender-switching historical drama, and vol. 10 of Vagabond (the omnibus edition), Takehiko Inoue's epic swords-and-samurai drama.

Kodansha has no new series launching this week, but they do have some new volumes of established series. The first one to attract my hard-won dollars would be vol. 3 of Arisa, Nastume Ando's high school mystery. It's not quite as light and fluffy as Ando's previous work, Kitchen Princess, but it's a great summer read. Also due out this week are vol. 14 of Fairy Tail, vol. 6 of Ninja Girls, and vol. 11 of Shugo Chara!

Yen Press is also having a quiet week, with just a handful of volumes of ongoing series coming out. The pick of the lot is the quietly beautiful vol. 6 of Time and Again, an episodic Korean tale of two traveling exorcists. Pick this up and find a spot in the shade. If you're in the mood for more action, though vol. 6 of Laon, which wraps up the series, is a good bet; go back to the beginning and follow this supernatural story of a nine-tailed fox trying to get his tails back. Like Twin Spica, this series has a hook to today's news, as an unscrupulous tabloid journalist gets mixed up in his own story.

New releases drawn from this week's ComicList.

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