New Manga for the Week of June 20

The list is short, but it's all good: We have the debut of a hot new series from Kodansha and later volumes in a couple of other solid series from Viz and Vertical—series you may want to catch up on now that summer is here.

This week sees the debut of the much-awaited new series Attack on Titan, a post-apocalpytic tale about a world in which giants hunt down humans and eat them—and one valiant boy's struggle against them. The series was a sleeper hit in Japan and won the 2011 Kodansha Award as well as being nominated for a 2012 Osamu Tezuka Award. There aren't a lot of reviews out yet, but Melinda Beasi liked it quite a bit:

As I said, I enjoyed this volume, though it does have its weak points. While it seems clear that there are some characters here who will eventually be great, they aren’t great yet, and the opening chapters feel a bit sluggish and shallow because of that. Isayama also has a habit of creating a lot of small, single-face panels (especially when characters are arguing), which diminishes the tension of several scenes and makes them somewhat awkward to read. Furthermore, I found many of the action shots to be difficult to follow.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of really compelling stuff here, and regardless of any issues I might have had, I left the volume feeling anxious for more. Isayama’s world-building is genuinely intriguing, and though the volume ends on a fairly dark note, it plays as exciting rather than simply grim.

If you want to know more, check out our preview and interview with creator Hajime Isayama. Kodansha does have one other release this week: Vol. 6 of Cage of Eden, in which high school students continue to battle prehistoric creatures on a remote island.

My next choice this week is vol. 4 of Drops of God, the delightful soap opera about wine connoisseurship. Remember how Hikaru no Go made a board game seem exciting? Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto do the same thing for wine tasting and lengthy discussions about terroir.

Also well worth a look is vol. 7 of House of Five Leaves, Natsume Ono's tale of a diffident ronin who falls in with a bad lot. Ono's loose, expressive art is far from the standard manga tropes, and this series is really quite unusual. This volume features some revelations about the past of Yaichi, the leader of the Five Leaves criminal gang, so it should be an interesting read. And there's one more up from Viz this week: vol. 6 of Bokurano: Ours, an interesting oddball sci-fi story about teenagers battling robots.

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