Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (Vol. 1) (light novel)
When a shut-in girl gets isekai’d to the world of her favorite MMORPG, she’s given a set of bear pajamas that are both embarrassing and ridiculously overpowered. This title is definitely panda-ing to fans of fluffy slice-of-life isekai with low stakes and easily-solved conflicts, which might put off some grizzled fans, but if that is your cup of honey tea, then this is a fine read. That said, the actual writing feels a bit too simplistic. I normally like to read light novels as opposed to anime or manga because the extra words allow for more insight into the thoughts of the characters, but here it just goes from one event to the next, while bearly giving Yuna a chance to reflect on what’s going on around her. As such, this is one case where I feel like either a manga adaptation or the upcoming anime adaptation would be more bearable. – stardf29
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon (light novel).
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (Vol. 1) (manga)
Thankfully, there is a manga adaptation that has also been released, and I liked it a lot. While it only covers about half of the first novel’s story, it is full of the unbearable cuteness of Yuna in her bear costume, and naturally allows for the constant flow of events to work in its favor. Maybe it’s a polarizing opinion to say that the adaptation is better than the source but I did like the manga more than the light novel in this case (though I still liked the novel enough that I plan to continue with it). Either way, this is a sweet, cuddly series worth bearing in mind if you’re up for something lighthearted. – stardf29
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (Vol. 1) is available through Amazon (manga).
Way of the Househusband (Vol. 3)
The whole routine of a yakuza turned househusband has got to get old, right? Right? After three full volumes, the answer is nope, at least not yet. The thing about Way of the Househusband is that the attentive reader knows what the gag will be, knows it’s coming, and even knows that it revolves entirely around a former yakuza acting and speaking like a yakuza still but acting as a great househusband instead, and yet the jokes consistently hit, chapter after chapter. And because the laughs keep coming, if you read the volume through it feels as if there’s a rise in the comedy. By the time I’m 2/3 through and seeing Tatsu’s former boss calling his newly dressed pup a “widdle cutie,” I’ve busted a gut. Can we hurry up and get our anime adaptation? – Twwk
Way of the Househusband (Vol. 3) is available through Viz.
My Dress-Up Darling (Vol. 1)
My Dress-Up Darling is a manga series I would never have picked up on my own. However, I won the first volume in a Twitter contest from Manga Mogura, so had to check it out! It was…very fan service-y. Yet, even so, I felt myself drawn to the character driven story between Wakana Gojo and Marin Kitagawa. He’s a hina doll dress maker, she’s an aspiring cosplayer. The two just seem to match up in an interesting way. I can see the series progressing where Marin continues to help bring Wakana out of his shell. The series is rated mature and Marin’s first cosplay is for an eroge with…very adult themes, so I would definitely not recommend it for younger readers. That said, I enjoyed volume 1 and am interested in checking out volume 2 when it drops in August. – MDMRN
Dress Up Darling (Vol 1) is available through Square-Enix.
Love Me, Love Me Not (Vol. 1)
It’s been a long time since I’ve jumped into shoujo, but I had to try Love Me, Love Me Not (Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare), which has become beloved among fans of the genre in this generation. The results? Well, if volume one is any indication, I might just have fallen into the shoujo trap once again. The opening chapters carefully delineate the differences between Yuna, who has a “one true love” mentality toward romance, and Akari, who is more willing to date and less head-in-the-clouds. But there’s an underlying tension there, between the girls who become friends, and the boys intertwined in their lives, that creates a welcome discomfort in the midst of all the doki doki. I will definitely be continuing this series! – Twwk
Love Me, Love Me Not (Vol. 1) is available through Viz.
Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha! (Chap.1-3)
I have never used Shonen Jump app before, so after getting access to it recently I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I’m not a big manga reader, as I prefer watching anime, but manga often have these one-shots that are interesting. This one based on Dragon Ball was pretty funny. It deals with a Japanese student while walking with a friend, wants to check out a girl who has a short skirt. He slips whlie running down some stairs, dies, and is reincarnated as Yamcha! After realizing this sudden change of life, he decides to train hard so he isn’t defeated by the Saibaman in the Vegeta/Nappa battle. I won’t ruin the plot, but it’s a fun and short read for DBZ fans and it pokes fun at some of the plot of the series. I hope I can find more of these stories from other series in Shonen Jump! – samuru
Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha! is available through Shonen Jump.
Your Lie in April (Vol. 7)
Kodansha’s late May Humble Bundle included ALL of Your Lie in April. As I had been reading it pre-pandemic from the library, I had to jump on it. Let me tell you, it’s an emotional roller coaster. However, you probably already knew that from how often we’ve discussed the anime here. With each successive volume, the artwork continues to be gorgeous. I can’t get over what Arakawa can present on the page and the emotions they evoke through the artwork. Reading this while I’m also doing a re-watch of the anime has been interesting as I witness the subtle differences between the two. It’s been good and I’m so glad I’m finally able to continue my journey through this series. – MDMRN
Your Lie in April (Vol. 7) is available through Amazon.
Featured illustration by Ixy (reprinted w/permission)