Welcome to the reading recap!
I only completed one novel this month, and that was Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino..It was interesting if you like character profiles and social studies, but it wasn’t my favorite of Kirino’s books. It definitely leaves you on a down note, but if you’re reading Japanese literary fiction so you can feel warm and fuzzy, then you probably have the wrong expectations anyway. My review for this book is available here.
Conversely, I have a heftier manga list than usual. Blue Exorcist, volume 13, by Kazue Kato was finally released, and though Rin hasn’t been in the books nearly enough of late, he did do a few useful things in this past volume. We meet the unmasked Lucifer and also come to really hate his lead scientist for being horrible in every possible way. Overall, Izumo’s story is pretty heartrending, and I’m hoping they resolve it soon.
There’s not a lot I can say about Natsume’s Book of Friends, volume 18, this month. I feel like we’re steps away from having something really interesting happen, or learning something new about Natsume’s family history (perhaps), but we’re just not quite there yet. I like the episodic stories—I’ll never not like them—but I’m really a fan of over-arching plots, so it would be fun if something a little more involved were to happen soon.
Sort of like in Black Butler, volume 19, where we’re continuing the werewolf arc, although this is probably one of my least favorite story lines in the series so far. Ever since the circus arc ended, I feel like the story is meandering, and I’d love it if I could get a real grasp on what was happening as a whole. Suffice it to say that I’m sure Undertaker will show up at some point, because he just can’t keep to himself (as if I’d want him to). That said, there are moments in this volume that are laugh-out-loud hilarious, and you shouldn’t miss them.
I realized suddenly that I never finished reading CLAMP’s Blood C, so I picked up volume 3. Essentially it comes down to complete asshattery and the main character being used as part of an experiment. I couldn’t tell you if this is on par with the original Blood the Last Vampire concept, as I’m not as well versed in that series as I could be, but it’s certainly very CLAMP. What I’m not sure about now is whether there’s supposed to be a fourth volume released in the States or not. The wikis on this series have four volumes listed from the original release, but only three were published here, so I can’t be certain whether the volume I have is the final one or not.
I had a similar question regarding xxxHolic Rei after finishing the third volume (though I only read volume 1 in June). It turns out that it’s currently on hold while they work on Tsubasa: World Chronicle, which is another sequel linked to xxxHolic Rei (the first volume should be out in the States on October 27th).
CLAMP…I can’t even do this with you right now.
As far as the story of xxxHolic Rei, volume 1, it initially seems as though the stories have reset and returned to a time when Yuuko was still owner of the shop and Watanuki was her hapless part timer. As the story progresses, though, you notice strange little things happening that suggest that not everything is as it seems. It isn’t until volume 3 that you really understand what’s going on, though you begin to have suspicions about it well before that.
As if new CLAMP material wasn’t enough, I stumbled over a new Kaori Yuki series in Barnes & Noble one afternoon, just in time to read the first two volumes and preorder the third.
Demon From Afar is classic Kaori Yuki, from the creeptacular otherworldly creatures to some of the main characters’ daddy issues (because, per usual, Kaori Yuki-made fathers are detestable people). But so far so good. I’m interested in the story and in the main characters. Mephistopheles is easily my favorite, which is no surprise. I’m wondering if we’ll see his original form before the end of the series or not. There are still a few characters who have yet to be used extensively, so I’m hoping we’ll see them again soon.
After realizing that Kaori Yuki had a new manga out, I looked up a few of my other favorite mangaka to see what new series they might have available. I discovered Requiem of the Rose King, volume 1, by Aya Kanno (of Otomen). I was surprised to learn that the story is a version of the War of the Roses, starring Richard III and an interesting twist regarding his deformity. So far I’m really liking this manga because it’s such a departure from Otomen (except for the terrible mother), and also because I loved Richard III. I can’t wait to see where this is going.
While looking up this manga, however, I did learn of the existence of the manga Blank Slate by Aya Kanno, which I didn’t know had been released in English. Has anyone read that series? I’d be interested to know how it was.
That’s it for June. July is dragging a little. I’m still struggling with Gardens of the Moon, but here’s hoping I can pin down a few chapters in that novel soon.