Manga Tipsheet: Open Sesame!

This week we have a small list of new releases, but there are some good picks, including two new series from Viz. Plus Yen Press announced they have licensed a spinoff of “Blood Lad.”

Viz debuts a new series and a new anthology this month. The new series is “Magi,” a fantasy adventure story by Shinobu Ohtaka, the creator of “Sumomomo Momomo.” “Magi” is set in the fake Middle East of the movies, with all the trappings—camels, bazaar, bandits, treasure, etc. The main character, Aladdin, is a kid who is getting by on his wits, with the help of his djinn, Ugo, whom he carries in a flute. Ugo sprouts powerful arms when strength is called for, but he is also terribly shy and faints if a woman touches him (and we never see his head). As the story progresses Aladdin teams up with Alibaba to search for hidden treasure. Despite all the references to Arabian legends, the story is original, and it is very much of a shonen manga (the series runs in “Shonen Sunday” in Japan). In her in-depth review, Rebecca Silverman compares Aladdin to Luffy from “One Piece,” and this series does have a bit of the same manic, comic energy. Note that Viz is having a digital sale this month, so you can check out the first volume on their digital service for just $3.99.

The new anthology is “Tiger & Bunny Comic Anthology,” a double-size omnibus of stories about the reality-show superheroes who debuted in the original “Tiger & Bunny” anime and manga. These are sort of behind-the-scenes stories that ask the hard questions like “What do superheroes wear on Halloween?” and “How do they keep their good looks?” all delivered with a smile and a wink.

Viz rounds out the week with vol. 26 of “Excel Saga,” vol. 16 of “InuYasha” (the VizBig omnibus edition), vol. 9 of “Itsuwaribito,” and vol. 4 of the 3-in-1 omnibus of “Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Vertical’s sole release this week is vol. 4 of “Knights of Sidonia,” a sci-fi story about teenagers fighting a giant menace in space. They live on a spaceship that left Earth a thousand year ago, and in that time the humans aboard that ship have re-engineered their species, adding extra genders and the power of photosynthesis. It’s a cool story, if a little hard to follow at times.

This week sees vol. 2 of “No. 6,” a new series from Kodansha Comics about teens on the run in a futuristic city that’s supposedly a perfect place to live but in fact is tightly controlled. And if you’re a “Battle Angel Alita” fan, set aside some time, as the second volume of their “Battle Angel Alita: Last Order” omnibus is out. At a hefty 672 pages for $19.99, this book delivers value for the money.

New licenses: Yen Press announced this week that they have licensed “Bloody Brat,” a collection of short stories and four-panel gag manga based on the series “Blood Lad.”

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