New Manga For The Week Of March 13: It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

This week we get a fresh look at three series that have been around for a while, with new volumes of Ai Yazawa’s “Paradise Kiss,” CLAMP’s “Tokyo Babylon,” and the classic mecha story “Neon Genesis Evangelion.”

Let’s start with “Paradise Kiss,” which wraps up this week with volume 3. Tokyopop’s original edition ran to five volumes, but Vertical gave it a new translation and a larger trim size and squeezed the five volumes into three. It’s a universal story—a strait-laced high school girl runs into a group of free spirits and falls in love—with a very distinctive setting—the free spirits are fashion design students, each with his or her own special look. Mixing romance, drama, and the gritty behind-the-scenes work that goes into making something fabulous, all drawn in Yazawa’s elegant style, “Paradise Kiss” is both beautiful and fascinating.

Times have been good for CLAMP fanatics lately, and this week is extra special, as Dark Horse launches vol. 1 of “Tokyo Bablyon,” the prequel to “X/1999.” It’s the story of a 16-year-old magician, Subaru Sumeragi, and his sister, Hokuto, who do battle to protect Tokyo from various supernatural threats; there’s an eight-page preview here. The series was first published in 2004 by Tokyopop, and here’s Melinda Beasi’s assessment:

I love everything about this series—its overblown comedy, its sometimes-clunky drama, and its eighties fashion sense—but mostly I love it for its slow-developing characterization and, well, its cruelty. CLAMP goes at this story with full force, and isn’t satisfied until they’ve beaten you into an hysterical, bloody heap. If you think I’m exaggerating, you haven’t read Tokyo Babylon.

Viz has another reprise of a classic for us this week: The omnibus edition of “Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Again I’m going to defer to another critic, in this case ANN’s Carlo Santos, to sum up what’s special about this volume:

This volume covers the period where Yoshiyuki Sadamoto started taking years to work on the Evangelion manga—and as a result, his storytelling starts to mature dramatically. In this volume, the series ceases to be just a dazzling mecha-action piece and starts to deliver the jaw-dropping plot points—Adam, SEELE, Instrumentality, dummy plugs—that made Evangelion legendary. Still, it takes more than sinister buzzwords and a conspiracy against humanity to be a true masterpiece, and that’s where the series’ emotional dimension comes in.

Viz wraps up a good week with vol. 3 of “07-Ghost,” vol. 4 of its omnibus edition of “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and two Shonen Sunday titles, vol. 13 of Yuu Watase’s “Arata: The Legend” and vol. 11 of Rumiko Takahashi’s “Rin-ne.”