Maria+Holic by Minari Endo
In an effort to save the ailing TokyoPop I have decided to cover another recently licensed manga that has a charming story and wonderfully delightful characters. Just like Future Diary. OK. I lied. Most everyone is both series is a bunch of horrible human beings. But like Future Diary it turns out Maria+Holic is quite fun.
Kanako Miyamae decides to go to her mother’s former alma mater and all girls Catholic high school. She hopes to find her true love among her fellow students. The first person she runs into on campus is a charming blonde girl named, Mariya Shido and her maid. Kanako instantly falls in love with Mariya only to later find out that Mariya is actually a secret, cross-dressing boy. Mariya attaches himself to Kanako to make sure she does not give away his secret. Kanako learns that the seemly sweet Mariya is a sadistic controlling monster. Will Kanako ever find her destined love? Is it the boy who is torturing her?
This series has something for everyone. Cross-dressing boys, yuri subtext, comedy, drama, and tentacle monsters from the sea. Most of the humor comes from Kanako being a complete and total yuri crazy moron. So you have to enjoy humor at the expense of another because it is almost always at our protagonist’s. The supporting cast is quite amusing with Mariya’s maid who by admission is 100% tsun and 0% dere; the female samurai who does more harm to those she protects than anyone out to get her charges; and the eternally happy girl who can pull anything out of her school bag. I am curious if it will ever focus on the potential relationship between Kanako and Mariya or will it stay pure comedy. But no matter which way it goes, it is a fun series. Please do read this mother up in heaven.
Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning by Kyo Shirodaiya and Eita Mizuno
Ayumu is brilliant in his own right but he constantly struggles with the shadow his brother left. Since his older brother’s disappearance Ayumu and his sister-in-law Madoka are still seeking the truth about the last case he was working on, The Blade Children. When a murder takes place at Ayumu’s school and the words Blade Children are uttered, he he becomes entangled in a world where nothing is simple. Ayumu’s amateur sleuthing is charming and his aloof attitude makes him the right amount of eccentric. Hiyono, the nosey school journalist, sticks herself like glue to Ayumu during his first case eventually becoming his indispensable partner. Her energetic and bubbly nature contrasts Ayumu perfectly. Many mysteries arise during the series, everything from a locked-room murder to riddles and puzzles, each one brings Ayumu closer to understanding The Blade Children. Spiral is an example of one of those rare occasions when the writer is not the artist. This is also the first manga for both creators. In its pages unfolds a good mystery with science fiction elements and a boy detective who, through wit and brains, unravels it.