Solid but unremarkable. That's my assessment of the manga arriving in comics stores this week: There are plenty of good, middle-of-the-road titles but nothing that stands out from the crowd and says "Drop everything and buy me!" Still, there's plenty of good reading on this week's list.
OK, there is one standout manga for me, although it's the middle of the series: vol. 16 of 20th Century Boys, which just won a well-deserved Eisner award. If I could only buy one volume of manga this week, this would be it; creator Naoki Urasawa's tightly wound story and expressive art make this an awesome manga experience. Unfortunately, if you haven't started the series yet it's a bit tough to catch up, as Viz doesn't have the earlier volumes available electronically yet; my advice would be to check your library, as this is the sort of book librarians love. Another solid mid-series choice is the eighth volume of their VizBIG omnibus of InuYasha, Rumiko Takahashi's classic fantasy story. The VizBIG editions bind up two volumes in one, and at the moment this one is marked down to $12.14 in the Viz Store, making it a particularly good buy. It seems like everything Viz is releasing this week is the middle of a series: vol. 7 of Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, vol. 3 of Itsuwaribito, vol. 27 of Kekkaishi, vol. 6 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix. Good stuff, but nothing new to jump on to.
Kodansha Comics has just two volumes hitting the shelves this week: vol. 2 of I Am Here, by Ema Toyama (creator of Pixie Pop), a high-school shoujo story about a quiet girl who is often overlooked by her friends, and the first volume of Deltora Quest, an OEL (original English language) manga with a strong fantasy feel.
Seven Seas is publishing Amazing Agent Jennifer, a spinoff of their global manga Amazing Agent Luna, on their Zoom Comics website, but if you prefer your manga in print, they have the first volume available this week.
For those who partake of the madness that is Gantz, Dark Horse is scheduled to release vol. 18 this week.
Like Viz, Yen Press has no new series launching this week, just new volumes in a number of established series, although there should be something for just about everyone in this mix. Both Michelle Smith and Melinda Beasi chose vol. 8 of 13th Boy as their Pick of the Week at Manga Bookshelf, which is as solid a recommendation as you can get, while Sean Gaffney chose vol. 4 of Higurashi When They Cry: Eye Opening Arc. Yen has two new volumes for Haruhi fans, vol. 9 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and vol. 3 of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi-Chan. Vol. 3 of K-ON!, vol. 4 of Omamori Himari, vol. 9 of Sumomomo Momomo, and vol. 4 of Ugly Duckling's Love Revolution round out the list.
Bandai Entertainment has vol. 1 of Tales of the Abyss: Asch the Bloody, a story based on the Tales of the Abyss RPG. Peering into my crystal ball (with a bit of help from Amazon), it looks like Bandai will be releasing the second volume in November, and they will also another Tales of the Abyss series told from the point of view of Jade the Necromancer.
As always, this is a list of comics arriving in comics stores—bookstore dates may vary—and it is gleaned from the always useful ComicList.