The End of xxxHOLiC: New Manga for the Week of February 22

It's another slow week for manga, with the big Viz release week behind us and Yen Press books coming out next week. We have some solid choices, though, as CLAMP's xxxHOLiC wraps up and a number of solid series keep chugging along.

The big news of the week is the vol. 19 of xxxHOLiC, the final volume in the series. If it seems like xxxHOLiC has been running forever, well, the first volume came out in the U.S. in 2004, so it has had a good run. Interestingly, this manga is still published under the Del Rey imprint; it's the only Japanese Del Rey title I know of that didn't transition over to Kodansha Comics (and yes, it is published by Kodansha in Japan). For those who are new to the series, it's about a high school student who is surrounded by spirits but just wants to be left alone; like many manga characters, he finds a shop that grants wishes, but the owner, a witch, forces him to complete a series of tasks for her as the price of granting his wish. CLAMP's beautiful, stylized art makes this a manga worth checking out.

Meanwhile, Vertical has a new beginning: Vol. 11 of GTO: The Early Years, a series they rescued from Tokyopop, which published the first 10 volumes. This series is a prequel to GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, and it follows the adventures of Eichi Onizuka and his buddy, Ryuji Danma, in their biking and fighting days, before Onizuka left it all behind to become a teacher.

Viz has vol. 19 of 20th Century Boys, Naoki Urasawa's thriller about a mysterious cult whose plans mirror the childhood games of a group of boys. It's creepy and really well done, one of the best manga out there; if you're not reading it already, I highly recommend it.

Dark Horse is releasing vol. 20 of Oh My Goddess this week. If you're wondering why they are releasing vol. 20 when vol. 40 just came out, the reason is that this is a re-release; Dark Horse originally published the first 20 volumes in a flipped, left-to-right format, so this brings the first half of the series into the same format as the second half.

From Kodansha we have vol. 13 of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, the darkly humorous story of a ridiculously pessimistic teacher and his students, and vol. 4 of Mardock Scramble, a sci-fi manga about a teenage girl with strange powers.

Seven Seas has vol. 3 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, the story of a city run almost entirely by teenagers with psychic powers and the problems that arise when one of them starts looking where she shouldn't. Also up this week: The second omnibus volume of My Boyfriend Is a Vampire, which comprises volumes 3 and 4 of the original.

And that's the list. To be honest, it's a good week if you're following these series but there isn't much here for the newcomer. If that's you, hold on and have faith, because next week will bring a bumper crop of new titles, including vol. 2 of CLAMP's Gate 7 and the first volume of the manga adaptation of Soulless.

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