My Brother’s Husband (Vol. 1)
On the last day my library was open before it was closed due to the pandemic, I picked up all of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame. The story follows a Japanese Dad and his daughter following the death of his twin brother, who was living in Canada. He is then suddenly visited by his late brother’s husband. The story deals very delicately with how Japanese culture handles homosexuality and homosexual people. It also forces the main character to confront the mixed emotions about how he treated his brother when he was still alive. The art and story evoke a lot of emotions in how we treat our family, how we love them, and how we relate to others who may be different from us. I thoroughly enjoyed this series. – MDMRN
My Brother’s Husband (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon.
The Underdog of the Eight Greater Tribes (Vol. 2)
Here is a somewhat-overlooked light novel series I enjoyed quite a lot. It features a “city of duels” where people of eight different races can enter virtual spaces and fight to the “death,” but afterwards they’ll be more or less okay. (It’s like a VRMMO without it actually being a video game, but the video game inspirations are clear.) The protagonist, Yuri, is a mixed-blood boy, and mixed-bloods are considered the “weakest” because they cannot use any of the race’s special abilities, so they never could quite break through to the highest ranks, but Yuri is out to prove everyone wrong and become the strongest. It definitely has the feel of a shounen battle story and is quite fun. Volume 2, though, puts the focus more on side events, and in particular looks at a guy who in vol. 1 seemed to just be your typical bully that Yuri defeats. In vol. 2, we get to see that there’s more to his character, and it makes for a nice “redemption” story for him. It’s also interesting to see that, despite the seeming lack of a threat of “death,” there are still ways for people to make life miserable for others, so it’s not like there are no stakes involved. Throw some fun, cute girls into the mix and this is definitely a light novel series I’m cheering for. – stardf29
The Underdog of the Eight Greater Tribes (Vol. 2) is available from J-Novel Club.
The Engagement of Marielle Clarac (The Tales of Marielle Clarac, Book 1)
In this bland and uninspired romantic comedy, Marielle, a young noblewoman of low status, gets engaged to the prestigious Duke Simeon and worries what he’ll think of her dark secret: she writes romance novels under a pseudonym. The first third of the book contains a paint-by-numbers girl-thinks-her-fiancé-plans-to-dump-her plot. The rest of the book recounts how Marielle and Simeon investigate a mystery surrounding an aristocratic heir. Annoyingly, the story claims Marielle is a perceptive, keen observer of human nature, but this is directly contradicted by her continual failures to understand the nature and intentions of other characters. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that the plot twists are so incredibly transparent to the reader, I got bored waiting for them to actually happen. There’s nothing here that you can’t find in other, better-written light novels. I recommend you read them instead of this. – Jeskaiangel
The Tales of Marielle Clarac, Book 1 is available through Amazon.
Zipman!! was an ongoing manga series from Shonen Jump that recently ended. It’s the story of twin brothers, one a brilliant engineer (Koshiro) and the other a strong, passionate lover of toku (Kaname). One day tragedy strikes Koshiro…as well as a whole lot of things involving mech suits. At one point, Kaname is operating a mech suit that his brother’s soul is captured inside. All of this is being motivated by the love of each other and the love of a woman. The series is action packed and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 90s. At only 2 volumes and 17 chapters, it is a very quick read. I read it as it came out, but you can totally read it all now in totality at Shonen Jump. – MDMRN
Zipman!! is available through Shonen Jump.
Featured illustration by 杉８７ (reprinted w/permission).