It's nice being able to pick these up on my own, as now I feel like I can consistently talk about the covers a few days after they've been released in Japan. I also think (when possible) that I'll talk about the sales of the new releases in the same entry to keep things interesting! I say "When possible" simply because I depend on other people to get this info, as numbers are definitely out of my purview. If they don't have any info for me, I can't talk about it. Anyway, lets start things off with some of those accurse--er, blessed numbers.
Souboutei #8 - 4→7→11
ZKC #51 - 20→29→34
Birdmen #12 - 26→30→38
Yugami-kun #13 - 27→33→48
Ariadne #1 - 45→50→64
Hatsukoi #11 - 52→72→127
Xeno #1 - 154→175→189
Marry Grave #1 - 249→224→284
So since I started talking about them above, let's start with the newbies --with Marry grave leading the pack. There's something about this cover that's....not shounen? I'm not sure how to put it, honestly. I just feel like this is a manga I'd expect out of a seinen magazine looking at this cover, maybe it's the large text accompanied by a simple (and very effective) visual. It helps too that Yamaji's artwork is extremely detailed, eschewing the sometimes more simplistic and stylish flair a lot of shounen manga go for. No, rather than style, Yamaji goes for something more "realistic" for the lack of a better term. Unfortunately the cover does suffer from being a little too simple and thus not really illustrating what the series is about at first glance which is necessary for a new serial to do, especially in a magazine like Sunday that doesn't have the pedigree of others. Still, it's a good cover that I like a lot.
Next is Xeno which, ah. I can kind of get what they were going for with this, but man is that red box not doing this cover any favors. I'm not a big fan of the logo obscuring the artwork on volume covers, especially when it's as garish as this. Now, to be fair if they turn this into a motif, it'll probably work really well, I think --with each cover either with Xeno or another character looking head on into the "camera" and the box being different colors (hopefully). Sugiyama's color artwork is pretty great, especially for a newbie(?), so I would have liked to see this without the center box, but again, I get that as a mystery manga you're not supposed to get too much information from the cover. Just wish this had been executed a smidgen better.
I've ragged on Ariadne's color artwork before, but I honestly really like this one. The logo take up the back as it should, the two main characters are front and center, and the floating island as well as the shadowed out characters in the back keep a high level of intrigue. Not only that, but I think the muted colors of Rashil and Leane complement Yagi's artwork greatly. I think it's fair to say that this is the cover of the month for me --it's bright, but not too bright, the composition is great, and the logo is elegant yet subtle. Not only that but the manga has improved greatly in the last few chapters too so that potential the series had feels like it's back in full force and that fills me with hope that the Ariadne will soar once again.
Zanka takes up the 8th volume of Souboutei in a slightly less bold cover at least compared to the ones we've had in the past. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't make it bad at all, just a little less impressive than most. Still, Fujita's composition is in great form with the bold title in English and Japanese on top, and the choice of using Japanese lettering for the volume numbers gives it this old fashioned vibe which compliments the time shenanigans in the series proper.
Hatsukoi Zombie's cover composition wise is simple --as most of them are, but Minenami's strength is color, and that is represented very well with the lighting and soft yet vibrant colors on this cover. The whole thing has this soft glow that I particularly like, even if my issues with the logo and how it's placed still remain as they have with the past covers of this particular work. At least this time around the volume # is less intrusive, but I feel like the title of the manga could be a little smaller and placed on one side. Still, the expert use of tone and lighting should be noted.
Birdmen's covers are what I'd like to see out of Xeno's if it's going for a similar motif. I am a little sad that Tanabe didn't go with something more complex like her Kekkaishi Covers, but I think this works for Birdmen which feels more "modern" than Kekkaishi, even if the latter took place in the present (of the time of release.) Kekkaishi was old-timey in a sense, while Birdmen feels like an up and coming story so it makes sense that the logo and cover designs have this very streamlined "pop-art" feel. The important thing here of course is that Tanabe has the logo positioned that it compliments her strong character designs, and her name is there, but not obtrusive. This is 12 volumes in, so we know who she is, after all.
Maybe I should have an award for "Covers that really make me wish I kept up with this manga". If so, ZKC would be a shoo-in. I have no idea what's going on here, but the really cute animal versions of the lead girls has me intrigued. Takashi Shiina had upgraded the logo for the final arc, and it still looks really nice. Granted the white space does leave a bit to be desired, but his strong artwork bridges the gap somewhat. I also like that the logo, his name, and the volume # all lean to the side as so not to get in the way of the artwork, which works wonderfully.
Through no fault of it's own, Yuugami just barely missed volume of the month. The only nitpick I have with this cover is the volume# being so huge, but otherwise splitting the logo to keep it from getting in the way of the artwork, Sakurai's name being regaled to the side as to keep things from being cluttered, and the composition/BG of the work are all wonderfully done, plus seeing the Yuugami siblings together is really nice too. Overall this is one of my favorite covers of the series, simply because it knows what it wants to show and accomplishes it well. I do think the tiny Chihiro is a bit superfluous as by the #13th volume we don't need a reminder of who she is, but again minor nitpicks. You were close Yuugami, but not quite this month!
A bit of Deja vu with Maiko-san's fifth volume, though I think I know why --it's very similar to a color page the series recently had, and I think that's by design. In fact, "similar" doesn't cut it. It's exactly the same, and I just noticed it! It's a sort of before and after scene here, with the one on the left being the color page from chapter 64 and the right volume 5. I really like how Koyama connects events here. As this series is sold under the "Sunday Comics Special" imprint, I wonder if the color page from the magazine will be included in the volume? Hm. In any case, I like the creative use of color page and cover here. Also, that Koyama uses traditional media(?) as the BG characters and architecture look like they were drawn with watercolor rather than computers. Like Souboutei before this, it gives this old-fashioned vibe which really helps sell how quaint Makanai is as a series.
Last but not least is Maoujo's 7th volume. Kumanomata seems to find a way to make these even more elegant and cute with each release. The green hue is it's greatest strength and weakness to me, however. It works for the border where the title and the author's name are, but not so much for the BG for Sakkyun and the princess, I think. It would have been better if Kumanomata had gone with more traditional coloring for the BG --like a night or day scene or even just the castle proper. Still the elegant cuteness that is this series is still covered (hah) well here, and I can't wait to see how the artwork will improve in the future.
That's it for the covers (and sales) this month! What was your favorite and why? Hit me up in the comments with your opinions, and look forward to the proper blog entry in a few hours. See you then!