The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, Vol. 1
When a proficient assassin gets “taken care of” after he is no longer needed, a goddess gives him the opportunity to be reincarnated in another world, but with a task to complete. The hero who will defeat the Demon King who is projected to go crazy with power and destroy the world himself, and he needs to be killed once his job is done. To that end, the newly-reincarnated Lugh is born into a noble house that secretly conducts assassinations to eliminate problematic nobles in the country. From here, this is pretty standard isekai fare: Lugh makes use of powerful skills and knowledge of his previous life as he meets girls, invents items from Earth, and prepares for his eventual encounter with the hero. A few things help this novel out, though: For one thing, as far as the romance/harem aspects go, things are not dragged out much at all. Lugh is explicitly in love with one of the girls, and is made well aware how other girls feel about him, so overall the romance aspect is more pleasant than frustrating. There’s also a running theme of Lugh wanting to live for himself instead of blindly following orders from those above him like he did in his past life, and how that affects both his current assassin life and his greater mission. This leads to the possibility of keeping the hero (who we do not yet meet in this volume) from being corrupted without killing him, which definitely has potential. Overall, though, this is still a fairly “standard” isekai that is mainly for established fans of the genre, who are okay with something that is entertaining even if it isn’t particularly groundbreaking or amazing. ~ stardf29
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, Vol. 1 is available from Yen Press, who provided a review copy for this article.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 10.5
After an increasingly seriousness tone, compounded for the last several volumes, 10.5 features the fluff of a date chapter involving Irohasu and Hikki and the special treat a chapter devoted to Zaimokuza. These initial stories, the earlier adapted into an OVA, reflect much of what makes the series special: outstanding and unique voices, the hilariously self-deprecating thoughts from Hikki, and the interplay between the characters. That last component is especially uproarious in the dating chapter, one of the rare instances in which the Oregairu anime doesn’t nearly do justice to the written volume. To be sure, this entire light is a special treat for Irohasu fans, with Watari himself stating in the afterword, “With Iroha on the cover, it’s been like, this volume has been all Irohasu! Irohasu 100 perfect!” But as expected of the author, even for a “.5 novel,” there’s more here than just romantic moments and humor. The third and most lengthy chapter reminds readers that the characters are all growing as they each, in their own ways, reach for that “something genuine.” So while volume 10.5 may be a respite from those coming immediately before, it’s not a throwaway, but rather a worthy addition to this popular and engaging series. ~ Twwk
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected Vol. 10.5 is available from Yen Press.
Talentless Nana, Vol. 1
Let’s take a group of high school kids with super powers and place them in a separate high school where they learn to defeat enemies of humanity. Sound familiar? It sure feels very similar, after all, to the premise of My Hero Academia. Yet by the end of the first chapter, Talentless Nana has sets itself apart. The students of the series have super powers called talents, and are separated and trained to supposedly use their powers against the “enemies of humanity.” But that’s not the whole story. The first chapter ends with the titular Nana murdering one of the students in the name of protecting the world from these same “enemies of humanity.” According to her and the people who brought her to the school, the true enemies are the talented humans. She has a cell phone telling her predictions on how many deaths each student will cause from their misuse of powers. It’s a psychological manga that makes you question every character and their motives continuously, and also a fascinating tale of paranoia and misinformation. ~ MDMRN
Talentless Nana is currently simulpublished by Crunchyroll.
Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, Vol. 1
This light novel has an anime adaptation airing this season, and since I enjoyed the first couple episodes, I became curious to check out the source material. I’m sorry to say, of that I’m not a fan. Lloyd moves from a strange village on the edge of civilization, where everyone is so OP that Lloyd is considered weak, and comes to a more normal municipality, where everyone but him can see that he’s totally OP; comical adventures ensue. On the bright side, this story is quite funny and has some interesting characters. Unfortunately, I had other issues with it. An extended scene near the beginning of the tale features the villagers heaping ridicule on Lloyd and describing all the ways he is “weak.” It’s supposed to be funny, but frankly, their criticism is so unreasonable and hurtful to Lloyd that it qualifies as abuse. Besides knowing the truth yet not dealing with this situation, the village chief, Alka, is also petty, cruel, capricious, deceitful, needlessly destructive, and OH YEAH SHE’S AN OVERPOWERED AUTHORITY FIGURE WHO’S MORE THAN 100 YEARS OLD AND SHE’S GROOMING A KID (Lloyd) SO SHE CAN GET IN BED WITH HIM. Sorry, but being a sexual predator just isn’t funny. It’s a pity that she keeps showing up to ruin scene after scene. I won’t be continuing with this series. ~ jeskaiangel
Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town, vol. 1 is published by Yen Press.
Skip Beat, Vol. 16
The boys take center stage in volume 16 as Reino’s actions bring a surprisingly physical reaction from Sho, while the fallout of his insertion once again in Kyoko’s life has implications for Ren. So while this volume remains as interesting as the rest, that has less to do with the intricacies of the idol (and now acting) world and more so with its introspective look at Ren and Sho. The latter continues to be humanized as the series forces us to consider the question, Has he changed? It certainly seems as much, though readers’ feelings may turn based not only on his repentant treatment of Kyoko, but also the seriousness with which he approaches his craft, focused on for the first time in these chapters. Meanwhile, Ren is an absolute mess, with his worry about and desire for Kyoko finally bubbling to the surface in the form of…a stomachache? An unexpected side of Ren, for sure, but one that adds additional layers to his characterization. ~ Twwk
Skip Beat Vol. 16 is available through Viz, who provided a review copy for this article.
Shadows of Spawn: Collected Edition
Shadows of Spawn was a manga adaptation of the American comic of the same name…kind of. Instead of Al Simmons, though, a Japanese-American street thug named Ken Kurosawa dies and goes to Hell. He is then brought back to life years later as a hell-spawn after making a deal with a devil named Malebolgia. So, same general concept, but instead of a former government assassin, Shadows features a common criminal / martial arts expert as the main character. Kurosawa sells his soul for the primary purpose of returning to Earth to protect his sister, and spends the remainder of the three-volume series trying to do just that from the shadows while battling and befriending fill-in characters that represent similar ones from the mainline Spawn comic series. The thing about Shadows of Spawn is that the plot starts slowly, but the cast grows quickly as it tries very rapidly to build an ensemble cast for a new (manga reading) audience while staying inside the existing foundation of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn universe. The saddest part of all is that by the time the series really hit its stride with storytelling (volume 3), the series was cancelled. It’s a shame, as concept definitely had potential. ~ MDMRN
Shadows of Spawn: Collected Edition was published by Image Comics, but is currently out of print.