Sasaki and Miyano, Vol. 1
Miyano is a Boys Love (BL) manga fan and Sasaki is an older boy who seems to constantly get into trouble. When they meet, Sasaki realizes pretty quickly that he has a crush on Miyano. What follows is an leisurely-paced first volume featuring the flirty Sasaki and an oblivious Miyano, who sometimes brushes off the advances as a joke. The chapters vary from longer form story-telling to quick, 4-koma bursts of bite-sized moments between the characters. It’s a slow burn story about a blossoming friendship as they share an appreciation for BL manga, with romantic overtones strewn throughout. It’s cute and innocent so far, and I may give the next volume a go when it drops. ~ MDMRN
Sasaki and Miyano is published by Yen Press.*
Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement, Vol. 2
It took a while, but we finally got volume two of this series. It’s a FUNA story. In case you’ve never read the author’s other works—Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! or I Shall Survive Using Potions!—then you should know that a FUNA story means absurd, comical isekai adventures with a nerdy, wisecracking heroine who wishes she had a larger bust (no, seriously, why is this a thing with every FUNA protag? I don’t get it?). The unique aspect of 80k Gold is that protagonist Mitsuha can freely, effortlessly jump between our world and the fantasy world. She exploits this for all its worth—literally. While pursuing profit, she also has a chuuni moment where she calls herself the “Lightning Archpriestess,” helps a family restaurant, brings in otherworldly backup to defeat dragons, starts a blog, promotes rural economic development, and trolls Russian spies in absolutely magnificent fashion. Like FUNA’s other stories, 80k Gold is a generally lighthearted, silly tale; don’t expect especially deep characters, world-building, or plot. I had a blast reading this volume, and happily recommend it (but start with vol. 1, obviously). ~ JeskaiAngel
Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement is published by Sol Press.*
Do you like penguins? Would you like to read an educational manga that teaches you more about different species of penguins with window dressing of pretty manga boys running a restaurant? But mostly, do you really, really want to learn about penguins? Then Penguin Gentlemen is the manga for you. This single volume is mixes in gags while educating readers about the different kinds of penguins in the world, all the while beefy gentlemen serve as anthropomorphized versions of the individual penguins. That’s about it. There’s not really a plot to speak of—the manga is almost entirely interesting facts about penguins. But I do mean interesting! The writers provides information about mating practices, different head shapes, the differences between an Emperor and King penguin, and more. I never knew there were so many different kinds of penguins in the world! Definitely recommend even if you are only remotely interested in penguins. While it’s a Teen-rated manga, there really wasn’t any content that was problematic enough that I wouldn’t let my 9- or 11-year-olds read it if they were interested. ~ MDMRN
Penguin Gentlemen is published by Yen Press.*
Ride Your Wave
This adaptation of the lovely Masaaki Yuasa film is extremely faithful to its source material—even more so than most anime-to-book adaptations. Despite essentially being my third experience with Ride Your Wave, however, I found Mika Toyoda’s novel to an engaging read as he capably rearranges and moves the movie to narrative form, thereby creating a story that stands on its own—quite a feat considering that Yuasa’s film is visually sumptuous. Explaining the tale of the love that develops between admirable firefighter Minato and bumbling surfer Hinako, Toyoda’s writing is most effective in its gentle, funny, and sometimes weepy material centered on the relationship between the two, and particularly in how each moves the other (and others around them) to grow. The fantasy components that make up the latter half of the book never quite feel right—they’re less whimsical and moving and more disquieting and awkward—though the earnestness of the story, those elements included, pushes it forward toward a satisfying conclusion to this lovely romantic tale, which perhaps is the perfect, quick read as summer approaches. ~ Twwk
Ride Your Wave is published by Seven Seas.*
Turning Point: 1997-2008
Between 1997 and 2008, Hayao Miyazaki directed perhaps his four biggest hits: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo. Focusing on this period of unmatched success, during which Miyazaki challenged himself thematically and creatively while receiving international acclaim, Turning Point: 1997-2008 is at once a rich collection of essays, poems, interviews, and other documents by and involving the master that animation historians can bury their heads into, and a work that provides sharp insight into some of the most beloved of Studio Ghibli’s works and the director himself for those desiring a less academic read. For instance, it was fascinating to read how historic ironworks and the Emishi people fed into Princess Mononoke, but just as intriguing is Miyazaki’s philosophizing on a variety of other related subjects, from how parents and the education system do a poor job with Japanese youth to his thoughts on (and sometimes criticisms of) those he admires, like Osamu Tezuka, Akira Kurosawa, Roald Dahl, and Gary Cooper. As a collection of pieces divided by film, Turning Point sometimes lack the flow of a secondary work, but like his films, Miyazaki’s words—yes, sometimes accompanied by a grumpy, old man vibe—are imbued with an immense heart for children, the environment, and Japan, making for a work that equal parts enlightening and inspiring—much like the films of the master himself. ~ Twwk
Turning Point is published by Viz.*
The Ancient Magus Bride, Vol. 1
Purchased at a disreputable auction and spirited into the home of an imposing, demon-like entity, Chise is surprised to discover that her purchaser’s plans for her aren’t nefarious at all. In fact, she is to become the mage’s apprentice, and her natural talents and ability to see magical creatures will be honed and developed under his awkward but warm tutelage. Volume one of The Ancient Magus Bride sets the stage for a magical tale with beautiful illustrations of faeries, dragons, and Elias, the ancient mage, himself, whose character design is one of manga’s most memorable. The rest of the volume isn’t quite as outstanding as the art and design, particularly with the mangaka struggling to convey the dialogue of Britain and the language of the isle’s mythical beings, but there’s enough here, particularly with a beautiful interlude involving dragons and a conflict that ends volume one, for me to anticipate future volumes—even without personal experience from watching the anime informing me that this series is headed toward somewhere magical. ~ Twwk
The Ancient Magus Bride is published by Seven Seas.*
Reader’s Corner is our way of embracing the wonderful world of manga, light novels, and visual novels, creative works intimately related to anime but with a magic all their own. Each week, our writers provide their thoughts on the works their reading—both those recently released as we keep you informed of newly published works and older titles that you might find as magical (or in some cases, reprehensible) as we do.
Featured illustration by reinforced (reprinted w/permission).
*Thank you to Yen Press, Seven Seas, Viz Media, and Sol Press for providing review copies.