New Manga for the Week of February 8: Arrietty, GTO, and a Girl Who Speaks Her Mind

This week brings a shoujo debut, the return of GTO, the beautiful Arrietty books, and a couple of new volumes in action-packed series. It's a good week to be a manga reader.

Viz has a new shoujo series starting this week, vol. 1 of A Devil and Her Love Song. Maria Kawai has been expelled from Catholic school after a violent incident with a teacher, and now she is starting fresh in a public school. She has a keen ability to read people but a blunt nature that pushes them away, and she is bullied in school. Her beautiful singing voice, though, draws two boys to her, making for some interesting plot possibilities. In her review at Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba says, "I know this is only the first volume, but I already feel I can say that Maria may become one of my favorite female characters, up there with Tohru Honda, Kyoko Mogami, Haruhi Fujioka, Shurei Hong, Revy, Tsukasa Kozuki, Amir Halgal, and Mafuyu Kurosaki. She’s a strong, no nonsense kind of girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, but at the same time, she just wants to be liked for who she is." If you're a shoujo fan, this is definitely the pick of the week.

Also coming this week, just in time for the debut of the movie The Secret World of Arrietty, are Viz's tie-in books, which include a picture book, an art book, and a two-volume film comic.

Vertical goes in an entirely different direction with the first volume of GTO: 14 Days in Shonan, the sequel to Toru Fujisawa's Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO). This action/comedy manga takes the title character, Eikichi Onizuka, to the quiet town of Shonan where he is hoping to just lie low for a while but instead gets tangled up with a group of foster children. Does that sound heartwarming? Well, it's GTO, so there's plenty of ass-kicking as well. Here's Serdar Yegulalp on the appeal of this series:

The whole concept of beating the bad guys by making them into friends thanks to the sheer force of your personality is a standard shonen manga staple: it’s hard to imagine Naruto, Luffy or most of the rest of their ilk without that trait.

What makes GTO stand apart is the way those situations are derived out of the rough-and-tumble of the lower tiers of modern Japanese society (albeit with a lot more color and invention than you’d get from, say, the pages of the Asahi Shinbun), instead of being set in a synthetic fantasyland. It’s one thing entirely to use a Clone Jutsu to clobber your opponent, and another thing entirely — one a good deal more immediate — to let someone else wielding a baseball bat get the first strike in so you can beat them down, because by now you’re inured to that kind of punishment. Probably funnier, too.

Kodansha Comics brings us two action-packed titles, vol. 4 of Cage of Eden and vol. 4 of Bloody Monday. Cage of Eden is a survival series that pits high school students against prehistoric creatures on a remote island, while Bloody Monday is a complex story about a teenage hacker fighting terrorists and trying to clear his father of false charges of murder. Both are good picks if you like action and suspense.

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