Reader’s Corner: One Piece, Orient, and Oregairu

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2, Vol. 1

After passing through the ornate gateway marking the threshold of the temple’s courtyard, lavished with lush floral arrangements, our pure-hearted protagonist is finally ready for her new life with the nobility at the temple…or so she wishes. In reality, while Myne was able to gain approval from the stern High Priest to become an apprentice shrine maiden, she doesn’t know the first thing about the noble life. Her attendants look down upon her commoner speech, and the twisted turns of phrase that characterize formal speech fly right over her head. Also nobles need money, and Myne’s wallet is emptying quickly. At least she can read books—that is, until she discovers the horrific conditions of the temple orphanage. Seems like a lot for a sickly seven-year old to handle. But of course, Myne will stop at nothing when books are involved. Part 2 swings open the gates to a new world for the bookworm and her friends, and with Miya Kazuki’s skillful hand guiding us along the way, I’m excited to see where this series goes. ~ sleepminusminus

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 2 Vol. 4 is available through J-Novel Club.

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 9

“Something genuine.” Even readers unfamiliar with My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong (otherwise known as Oregairu or My Teen Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, depending on the adaptation and release) know this line, spoken by protagonist Hachiman Hikigaya with tears in his eyes, and it remains the true climax of the series, which while still volumes away from completion and with lots more character (and relationship) development to go, expresses its theme most fully here as Hachiman comes to a realization during a most messy time. The service club is on the precipice of breaking apart, Hikki has agreed to help Iroha but finds himself totally unable to, and Hikki also realizes that the choices he’s made until now have contributed negatively toward others’ lives. So in the midst of all this, what can he do? Can he learn to rely on others? The answers, and his reaction, aren’t so simple—but that’s what makes this story as beautiful as it is humorous, particularly in volume nine, which is right in the middle of the best run of the series. ~ Twwk

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 9 is available through Yen Press.

One Piece, Vol. 32

With the end of the Skypeia Arc, I am officially over 300 chapters into One Piece. What a ride this has been! This most recent arc has been so fantastic. Oda hits on topics like colonialism, racism, and cults of personality while continuing his long-running story about pirates. The new characters introduced in this arc spanning the oceans of the sky have been great as well. Also, the new details revealed about the newest member of the Straw Hats, Nico Robin, have been absolutely amazing at keeping me drawn in. Did I mention that I’m really liking One Piece? This arc finishing ends my current Twitter thread as I walk through the series. Onto the next arc and next thread to see where this journey will take me. ~ MDMRN

One Piece is available through Shonen Jump

Sachi’s Monstrous Appetite, Vol. 1

Makie is a typical anime middle schooler—he attends school, crushes on girls—especially a senpai named Sachi, who seems to be attracted to him as well—and of course is able to see monstrous creatures known as watari. Lately, though, these monsters are growing in size and ferocity, though little does Makie know that the one with the most voracious appetite of all is Sachi herself! And thus begins a romantic comedy which by the of end volume one has the two leads teaming up and living together, which sounds great and all except when you realize that Makie’s “scent” makes Sachi hunger for his flesh. But it’s not that kind of series, at least not yet—it’s quite a light-hearted romantic comedy so far. In fact, Sachi’s Monstrous Appetite may be a little too light: The plot has no intricacy, the two leads are mismatched in a middle school boy’s dream kind of way, and events happens without much explanation or rationale. Too bad, since the artwork for the watari scenes is quite good—it’s the rest of the manga that holds little promise that future volumes will worth reading.  ~ Twwk

Sachi’s Monstrous Appetite, Vol. 1 is available through Kodansha.

Pokémon Horizon: Sun & Moon

Are you a Pokémon fan who loves Alola? Are you a child who likes reading manga? Well then I have something for you. In 2019-2020, I got very into the Pokémon Sun & Moon mainline adventure series manga, so when I saw there was an Alolan, two-volume Pokémon manga, I decided to pick it up on a lark. It’s okay. The plot and story are very much aimed at a younger audience than the mainline Pokémon Adventures manga series—think younger elementary aged kids. The plot is simple, the violence is toned down, and the focus is on being good friends with your Pokémon. While that’s the case in nearly all iterations of the franchise, this one takes a lot more liberties with Pokémon’s abilities just to make a quick, easily digestible story for kids. It’s not bad—it’s just very simple and cute. ~ MDMRN

Pokémon Horizon: Sun & Moon is available through Viz.

Orient, Vol. 1

The newest series from Shinobu Ohtaka, the creator of Magi, has heavy doses of action and heart working hand in hand in its initial volume. Set in an alternate reality 150 years after the Sengoku period, Japan (now known as Hinomoto) is united under demon gods rather than by a shogunate, with the people of the land worshiping these demons rather than the bushi, warriors fighting against the gods, who are instead vilified. The young miner, Musashi, is determined, however, to make good on a promise with his friend, Kojirou, for the two of them to become bushi themselves. And thus starts Orient, a historical shonen series that incorporates fantasy and even sci-fi elements. And although the action is well-choreographed, furious, and filled with interested images in the form of Buddhist iconography, what the story most of all has going for it at this stage is lots of heart. It’s easy to root for Musashi, a very traditional shonen hero, but the story already arising for the more hesitant Kojirou is even more appealing. ~ Twwk

Orient, Vol. 1 is available through Kodansha.

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