New Manga For The Week Of Sept. 20: Alchemists, Vampires, And An Apprentice Artist

After all the excitement last week, this is a slow week for new manga, although some of last week's releases will be showing up in comics stores for the first time.

This week brings vol. 26 of Fullmetal Alchemist, and the story hurtles toward a final showdown before winding up in volume 27 (due out in December). If you're new to the adventures of the Elric brothers, or if, like me, you started reading it and then wandered off, Viz is making it easy to catch up by publishing the early volumes in 3-in-1 editions that bind three volumes into a single hefty omnibus.

Viz only has one other new volume of manga coming out this week, but it's a beauty: Vol. 4 of House of Five Leaves, Natsume Ono's tale of a shy samurai who winds up working for the leader of a group of criminals. Ono excels at drawing tall, willowy men in period costumes, so this book is a delight for the eye. Leroy Douresseaux has a brief review of this volume at The Comic Book Bin.

Kodansha has just one new manga out this week: vol. 2 of Deltora Quest, which is a Japanese manga adaptation of a series of Australian adventure novels by Emily Rodda. The story is, as the name suggests, a classic fantasy quest tale, and Rodda brings in an element of video games by having her protagonists solve various problems to advance toward their goal. (In a classic case of life imitating art, the books have now been adapted into a video game.) The Deltora Quest books have been published in a number of countries, and this version runs in Kodansha's Comic BonBon in Japan. Lissa Pattillo didn't care much for the first volume, but hope springs eternal...

Seven Seas also has a single manga out this week: Vol. 4 of Blood Alone, which follows the relationship between a vampire and a vampire hunter. The twist in this story is that the vampire is a young girl and the vampire hunter is a young man; in this volume, we learn how the two first met.

Finally, this week sees the release of Jiro Taniguchi's A Zoo in Winter, a story drawn from the creator's memories of his life as an apprentice in a manga studio in Tokyo in the 1960s. It's pretty much the opposite of Fullmetal Alchemist—quiet, thoughtful, and drawn in a clear-lined, deceptively simple style—but enjoyable in on its own terms. If you're interested, Kate Dacey has a thorough review at The Manga Critic.

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