New Manga for the Week of January 23: Blackmail, Brides, and Black Butler

Last week was slow, but this week brings us the first novel by "Vampire Hunter" D illustrator Yoshitaka Amano as well as new volumes in some favorite series: "Black Butler," "A Bride's Story," "Flowers of Evil," and "Genshiken."

I'm going to start this week's new manga list with a book that isn't actually manga, Yoshitaka Amano's illustrated novel "Deva Zan," out this week from Dark Horse. Amano did graphic and character designs for the game "Final Fantasy" and has illustrated a number of novels, including the Vampire Hunter D series, the Guin Saga novels, and Neil Gaiman's "Sandman: The Dream Hunters." "Deva Zan" is the first novel that Amano wrote as well as illustrated, and it has been ten years in the making; when I talked to him at New York Comic Con, he explained, "When I draw one picture, it's just a representation of something I are thinking of—it's not so much I am a story writer, but when you draw 200 pictures of something with the same theme, then a story naturally comes out of it." That is how he created "Deva Zan," which is about an amnesiac samurai who must restore order to the universe in an epic story that spans time and space, from ancient Japan to modern-day New York (which Amano thinks of as his second home). At $49.99 for 300 pages, the book is a bit of a splurge, but Amano fans will find it hard to pass up; take a look at this preview to get a taste of what's inside.

Yen Press leads off its list this month with a couple of fan favorites that are very different from one another, vol. 12 of "Black Butler" and vol. 4 of "A Bride's Story." The current story arc of "Black Butler" finds super-butler Sebastian and his young master, Ciel, traveling aboard a luxury ocean liner as they investigate tales of resurrection of the dead; the story kicks off with a new character (check out the guy on the cover) popping up out of nowhere to clobber a reanimated corpse with a lawnmower-shaped reaper. Meanwhile, in "A Bride's Story," which is set along the Silk Road in the 19th century, Kaoru Mori switches the focus of her story from the young couple to the English researcher, Mr. Smith, and follows him on a trip to Ankara; along the way he meets a lively set of twins who are looking for a pair of brothers to marry. Also up from Yen this week are vol. 18 of "Black God," vol. 3 of "The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan," and vol. 12 of "Soul Eater."

Vertical has just one new book this week: Vol. 4 of "Flowers of Evil," the story of a teen boy who is blackmailed by a classmate who catches him stealing his crush's gym clothes. That's the setup, but the book goes off in some strange directions, and it has been surprisingly popular for a book with such a narrow premise. Shuzo Oshimi's polished artwork helps make the story a smooth read despite the unsettling premise.

And finally, Kodansha wraps up this week's list with vol. 3 of "Genshiken," the omnibus edition of the story of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, basically a college club for otaku. Basically a character comedy, "Genshiken" is filled with in-jokes but can be enjoyed by both casual readers and hard-core fans. Rounding out the week are vol. 9 of "Bloody Monday" and vol. 4 of "Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations."

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