xxxHOLiC Vol. 8

By CLAMP
192 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

In an ongoing serial comic, it’s easy for creators to take the easy route, keeping the status quo from one installment to the next and no real lasting effects shaking out. In some ways that’s part of what helps xxxHOLiC stand out so much for me; not only are the individual stories that make up the book interesting, but the book’s characters continue to grow and change in interesting ways.

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Kurogane Vol. 1

By Kei Toume
224 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

A young man turned into a cyborg in order to save his life after being torn to pieces. A talking sword that speaks for its new, silent master. Is this the future? No, Kurogane is set in Japan’s feudal period. But does this merging of cyberpunk and samurai era adventure mesh together? Or is it a combination of flesh and metal that simply can’t fuse together?

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Q-Ko-Chan: The Earth Invader Girl Vol. 1

By Ueda Hajime
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

What grabbed me immediately about Q-Ko-Chan wasn’t that it was another story about a boy discovering an alien in his backyard. Rather, it was that Q-Ko-Chan is anything but “another story” about a boy and an alien. Reading this book is a perfect reminder that you can take the most standard story idea in the world and still make it exciting and different in the art of the telling.

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Basilisk Vol. 1

By Masaki Segawa
Based on a story by Futaro Yamada
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Sometimes you hear about how great a series is and all the hype was true; it really is as sharp and interesting as everyone talked it up to be. And then, other times, it not only can’t live up to the hype, it just doesn’t work. Of course, you never really seem to know until it’s almost too late. That, I suppose, is half of the fun.

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Sugar Sugar Rune Vol. 1

By Moyoco Anno
224 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

By now, it’s hard to have missed out on the pop culture juggernaut that was Pokemon. Even if you were fortunate enough to never see an episode of the show, or the card game, or the multiple video games, or even the movies, you’re probably still familiar with the basic concept of kids trying to collect all the different Pokemon creatures. In retrospect, I think that’s what instantly caught my attention with Sugar Sugar Rune; it took the “gotta catch em all!” attitude and gave it an interesting twist… instead it’s about two girls competing to collect boys’s hearts.

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xxxHOLiC Vol. 4

By CLAMP
200 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

When I read the first volume of xxxHOLiC, I liked it but didn’t love it. I was more attracted to the ideas that CLAMP came up with for Watanuki’s missions for the witch Yko than I was where the series was going in the long term. Now, three volumes later, the makeup of the book has changed a bit… but is it for better or for worse?

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Othello Vol. 1

Othello Vol. 1
By Satomi Ikezawa
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Before you get your hopes up, I feel it should be pointed out that Othello is not an adaptation of the same-titled play by William Shakespeare, nor is it about the competitive world of playing the game of Othello (like other game mangas such as Hikaru no Go). It does refer to the black and white two-sided pieces of Othello, though, with opposites existing in the same unit. So it’s not such a bad title after all.

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Tsubasa Vol. 1-2

By CLAMP
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I was more than a little hesitant about reading Tsubasa, one of the comic collective CLAMP’s new series now being published in both Japan as well as North America. The gimmick of the series made me think that as someone who hasn’t read the majority of CLAMP’s work, I’d be utterly lost, since it features characters and situations from many of their previous books. I was pretty surprised, then, to discover that not only was I doing just fine in comprehending it… but that I was enjoying the series to boot.

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Negima! Vol. 1

By Ken Akamatsu
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

Now I’ll admit it—I’ve never read Love Hina. Both Negima! and Love Hina are by Ken Akamatsu, and perhaps if I’ve read Love Hina I might’ve had a better idea of just what was in store for me with his brand-new series Negima! (or Magister Negi Magi as it’s known in Japan). Since I hadn’t, though… let’s just say I was really surprised.

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xxxHOLiC Vol. 1

By CLAMP
216 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I never have the slightest idea what I’m getting into with a new book from CLAMP. The four-woman creator collective’s books range in style and story wildly, and with four different possible creators that could be taking the lead role, there’s a number of possible outcomes. With one of their three series currently running in Japan, xxxHOLiC, I knew the contents would be a surprise. The only real question was, a good surprise or a bad one?

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