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Winter’s End Manga Minis 2024

It’s finally spring, so that means we’ve got a Winter’s End Manga Minis column for those still thawing. From the end of Alice in Borderland to the beginning of Gannibal, we have five great manga titles that should be on your radar. Read on below for our thoughts on some new releases!

Alice in Borderland Volume 9 (VIZ Media)

Well, we’ve made it folks. After 8 omnibuses of sadistically psychological thrills, we’ve reached the end. This last installment of Alice in Borderland collects the final two standalone volumes of the series, and it nails the landing perfectly.

Resolving the skirmish that occurred in the previous volume, Arisu resolves to participate in the games once again. Reuniting with previous survivors, he and Usagi participate in the last remaining game: Queen of Hearts. A deceptively simple game awaits as the final opponent, Mira Kano, tries to derail Arisu’s journey to escape Borderland. Will Arisu get the answers he needs, and will he be successful in leaving this desolate battleground?

As a finale, Croquet isn’t what one might expect to be intriguing, but the circumstances around the game make this heart-pounding. I wasn’t expecting anything that was coming, even though in terms of the story’s logic, everything was reasonable. To see Arisu’s character development come to a head was a sight to see, and the resolution to everything is well-earned. If I may add, this is probably the manga that perfects the power of friendship trope, and its inclusion makes the overall narrative ten times better.

The artstyle of the Queen of Hearts game is also disturbingly striking, with psychedelic imagery mixed with some gruesome gore. It’s something that makes perfect sense as an allusion to Alice in Wonderland, and contributes well to the urgency of the situation.

While the ending itself might grasp at straws for the last couple chapters, it weirdly works in a strange way. It has the reader wondering what exactly was going on and questioning everything that happened during the series. This volume will stick with me for months to come, and I’m so glad that this manga managed to make its way to the west.

Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs

Tokyo Aliens Volume 6 (Square Enix Manga)

In my last volume review, I finally gave Tokyo Aliens the coveted 4 UwU rating. Does this next volume have what it takes to keep up the good work?

Akira goes on a reluctant date with Raika Nadeshiko when twin sister Ririka shows up. Trying to clear her name, Akira starts to understand what’s going on here. However, Sho still thinks Raika is guilty of her crimes, so Akira needs to protect the potential criminal. 

After the dust settles, how will Akira and Sho defend themselves from the coming threat? In addition to the main plot, we also get references to Alpha Xeno, a species of stronger aliens that may be important in the future; perhaps one of our characters is one?

I like how this volume humanizes the bubbly criminal Raika while mostly absolving her of her past crimes. (At least, there’s justification for why she did what she did). It’s a basic “clear my name” plot element that has a nice twist in the form of an evil twin, and I’m excited to see how this situation resolves itself. We focus a little more on Akira’s father’s backstory and some references to past characters as well. This volume might not be as well-rounded as the previous one, but it’s still something I love reading every time.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

Rocopon Volume 2

Last column, I wrote about how the Kodansha release of Rocopon surprised me. Its blend of gory and goofy action reminded me of some great recent shonen manga. This volume continues the brutal life-and-death battles Rocopon endures while retaining its signature style.

Locked up for protection, Rocopon yearns for a real fight. He gets one in the form of Zem, a humanoid experiment not unlike our alien. However, after an initial beatdown, Rocopon gets fired up to hold a rematch. After getting a mission to hunt the don of the Shadow Fight Society, Rocopon meets his next rival. Bai Wu, the White Crow, was a former candidate for Rocopon’s position at the Department of Murder. Eager to get back in the department’s good graces, the White Crow takes aim at Rocopon. Has our alien friend met his match?

The more I read this series, the greater my comparison to Assassination Classroom and Sakamoto Days gets. I love the action scenes here, and introducing two rivals (an antagonist and potential deuteragonist) is a good contrast. Rocopon’s sillier attributes take a backseat to his competent killer mode, and it works well with these foes. (After all, Rocopon at risk of losing early in the story helps the tension). A new powered-up mode showcases the unorthodox fighting style of Rocopon, and it brings into question WHAT exactly he is.

If you’re looking for a simultaneously silly and serious action series, Rocopon is the way to go!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness – The Beginning (Tokyopop)

Resident Evil’s an interesting franchise in that it has a lot of eastern AND western representation. From anime to live-action hollywood films, even if you haven’t played the games you probably know what the T-virus is. This comic collection bundles the prequel miniseries to the Netflix show, though there isn’t much here to recommend.

Leon Kennedy helps the local PD in Pittsburgh after a mysterious bombing at the Carnegie Museum of Art leaves a guard dead. The tragedy links another bombing to the fanatical Population Control Movement, and it’s revealed that the bomb used has stranger side effects. It’s up to Leon to protect the city and police department from a zombie infestation, even if it means making some hard choices.

Leon preventing an outbreak from spreading is a good concept in theory, but none of the other characters feel likable. Either they’re dismissive of the T-virus entirely and die within pages, or they’re flat characters that… also die within pages. Leon himself isn’t that dynamic either, with him effortlessly dodging any zombie attacks with no repercussions. The antagonists are generic doomsday villains as well, and I couldn’t empathize with anyone here. I understand that this comic is a setup to the show, but it honestly feels like a #0 issue that could have been cut in half.

The most striking visuals here are due to the fact that the story is five comic issues rather than manga chapters. While having a manga-inspired aesthetic, the art style is distinctly western. The full-color presentation also separates this series from its contemporaries. I would have preferred black-and-white art ala The Walking Dead, but the gore of the undead makes up for that. There is a lot of blood and guts during the action scenes, but sadly there aren’t enough of those to go around.

I would be more receptive to this collection if there were more engaging characters here, but there isn’t much to explore. The art is nice, but unfortunately the middling story makes for something I can’t recommend unless you’re itching for more Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness material.

Rating: 2 out of 5 UwUs

Gannibal Volume 1 (Ablaze Manga) – Available April 9

Wrapping up our Winter’s End Manga Minis is Gannibal Volume 1, a manga Kickstarter success story. Getting the chance to read this debut volume, I’m so thankful this was able to get the funding needed for wide distribution.

Police officer Daigo Agawa is assigned to Kuge Village as he, his wife, and daughter Mashiro live in the remote area. While patrolling, he tries to acclimate himself to the change of pace; the villagers seem nice, if a bit unnerving. However, he hears of a rumor that cannibalism exists in the village, which may or may not have the Goto family involved.

As Daigo continues his work, he gets intertwined with village politics and rural drama. Spurred to investigate the area’s history from the daughter of the previous officer, he realizes he’s in over his head. Will he and his family be able to survive this hellish habitat?

Gannibal is one of those series that hook you from the very beginning. From the start, there’s a mystical element that may or may not be real. The main conflict is summed up as such: What’s actually going on, and is it something supernatural or mundane? The rural setting and stringent devotion to religious tradition feels something out of Raging Loop, and I wanted so much more.

The art style matches the disorienting reality of the series. While most of the volume is made in a gritty, rough style, it changes to a chaotic one during events such as killing a bear or interrupting funeral processions. (It’s as if the main character’s psyche breaks down throughout the story.) It’s also a mix of Junji Ito and Kazuo Umezu, which is a perfect blend of horror and thriller.

It helps that Daigo is an everyman in a village of unstable family members. The supporting cast evokes a feeling of dread and remorse, and every chapter feels like Daigo and his family are in trouble. It’s this tension that drives the manga to new heights, and it’s masterful in its pacing. I haven’t been this impressed by a debut volume in a while, and I wholeheartedly recommend Gannibal for fans of thrilling suspense stories.

Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs

And there you have it for our Winter’s End Manga Minis! Before you head out for spring, check out our most recent gaming quickies article too! Stay tuned for more manga and anime news here on Miso!

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During the day, Elisha is an aspiring businessman, but at night, he's a wacky freelance writer. Born into the world with a fleeting knowledge of rhythm games, he loves shonen manga and still wants Pushing Daisies to have some closure. For any manga/anime/video game inquiries, please contact him at edeograc (at)
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