Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol (Rascal, Vol. 4)
My most consistent complaint about the Rascal series, which I otherwise find charming, is that the stories are too full of contrivances. with plots points and character actions often making little sense. Though these developments are often small, such as an explanation that the sisters at the center of this volume aren’t apologizing to each other after a fight because neither would accept such apologies, when that hardly seems true, the way they impact character development and the plot by changing both for the sake of reaching certain resolutions and mile markers in the text, rather than letting the characters and their situations play out naturally, is frequent and significant. The same issue continues, though thankfully at a lesser extent, with Siscon, the fourth volume of the Rascal series, which introduces Mai’s half-sister, Nodoka, an idol in her own right but one far less famous than her actress sister. Both are impacted by Adolescent Syndrome in this volume, switching bodies and being forced to act as one another in different realms and levels of show business. The dialogue between Sakuta and Nadoka is almost as delightful as between him and Mai, and features frequently throughout the text in this fun and warm read which continues the series’ delightful balance between playful adolescence and development of authentic relationships between characters, in whom I’m now fully invested. ~ Twwk
Rascal Does Not Dream of Siscon Idol is published by Yen Press.*
Yokohama Station SF
Not every robot overlord is like Skynet, intent on killing all humanity, with android enforcers that are nigh impossible to kill. Sometimes, the enforcers are turnstiles that not only keep the ticketless out of the station but eject rules violaters to unoccupied spaces to meet their deaths by starvation, and sometimes the master computer is just railroad infrastructure consuming the entire island of Honshu via slow, automated urban renewal. This unique and immensely absorbing post-apocalyptic novel begins long after the “Winter War” devastated Earth, and Yokohama Station, a concrete and metal structure growing seemingly without end, has covered almost all of Honshu and threatens the neighboring islands. Hiroto, lives on a sliver of land just outside the behemoth structure on a tiny beach community until an “Insider,” ejected from within the station, gives him a chance to explore the vast unit for five days, also charging him with finding a resistance leader, while he brings in a personal quest of his own. From the description, you may sense both Terminator and Ready Player One vibes, though its more similar in tone and eventually story to the latter, though cutting out that work’s affection for nerd culture and replacing it with efficient writing. Yokohama Station SF features a clever and well-crafted but familiar world, interesting artificial intelligence units—always a plus for me—and believable science fiction, having been written by an actual scientist, Yuba Isukari. Yokohama Station SF is his first novel, and as a compelling piece of sci-fi with anime sensibilities, it is a significant achievement. Paraphrasing another overlord of a sci-fi franchise, I shall be watching Mr. Isukari’s career with great interest. ~ Twwk
Yokohama Station SF is published by Yen Press.*
Love of Kill, Vol. 1
The quiet, beautiful Chateau Dankworth is a bounty hunter, working for an organization that contracts with mafia families to eliminate targets. Ryan-Ha Song is also an assassin, but an especially notorious one, skilled and feared for his prowess. When these two become entangled, it’s not in a deathmatch—it’s because the enigmatic Song wants to date Chateau! Volume one of Love of Kill features plenty of action and establishes the deadly world in which the protagonists work, but otherwise gives very little information about the two. Structurally and thematically, the opening volume is engaging, functioning through leaps back and forth in time and filled with grisly episodes of violence. It’s quite jarring, most particularly when the volume mixes in a romantic interlude between the leads that feels as awkward to readers as it does to Chateau, and for the same reason: Song appears to be entirely psychotic. That also makes it hard to root for the killer, while younger assassin displays so little personality that she’s also difficult to care for. With such coldness, it’s hard to imagine why this manga, which in its initial version was published through the Japanese art site, Pixiv, necessitated a fuller release. Perhaps future volumes will reveal that answer, but for now, the tale of Pixiv to published is the most engaging part of this manga. ~ Twwk
Love of Kill is published by Yen Press.*
Eniale & Dewiela, Vol. 2
This second volume of this very silly series continues within the same framework of gags from volume one. In one story, Eniale causes havoc to the world by using supernatural noises to create sonar in an attempt to find Dewiela’s earring, which she’s lost. This humorous storyline and other chapters also provide a view into the interesting cosmos of this version of the world. While Eniale and Dewiela represent the Lord and Satan, respectively, from a Christian framework, this world setting has other deities and belief structures both existing and being true concurrently. Eniale and Dewiela are trying to reap souls for their respective afterlife locales, while local deities they encounter are pushing back, saying that the local souls belong to them. The duo face especially harsh pusbback by local deities when they enter Japan. The most interesting story comes from the tale of a Catholic priest who, according to Heaven, may become an angel one day to battle during Armageddon. However, something changed in his life and Eniale is sent to investigate. This bittersweet tale ends, as usual, on a gag, reflecting how fun this series is overall, even if it’s theology is just wildly inconsistent. ~ MDMRN
Eniale & Dewiela Vol. 2 is published by Yen Press.*
Carole & Tuesday Vol. 2
Volume two of Carole & Tuesday has the titular girls experiencing new challenges on their way to recognition and success in the music business, but it opens with a focus on a third girl. Angela, a child prodigy famous for modeling, wants to try something different and to become a singer. The manga shares some of her backstory and how she teams up with Tao, a man of mystery who creates popular songs using A.I. He riles up Angela throughout the manga, pushing her (rudely) to try harder. Meanwhile, Carole and Tuesday are try to get DJ Ertegun to listen to their song, which he refuses. Later, they struggle to find harmony on a new song, and take a little break outside on their own, considering their journey up to that point. When they return to their apartment, their slovenly manager, Gus, convinces them to enter the Mars Brightest competition. It’s like American Idol, but on Mars! Angela also enters in the test that will show how skilled these three girls really are as singers. I’ve seen the anime so I knew what to expect, but the manga still entertained me, particularly with its fantastic artwork. The panels pop out and feature intricate detail, connecting more with the characters through the facial expressions, dialogue, and the challenges they face. ~ Samuru
Carole & Tuesday Vol. 2 is published by Yen Press.
The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya (Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 5)
Having watched the episodes, but never having read the novel from which they were adapted, I expected the “Endless Eight” story to be much like the anime version: repetitive, dull, and overly long. It is in fact none of these things, taking up just 1/4 of The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya, the fifth light novel in the Haruhi Suzumiya series. While I still admire KyoAni’s decision to spend eight episodes on almost identical material to reflect the time loop aspect of the story (this despite the disastrous reaction it received), the much shorter chapter in Rampage doesn’t need the repetition to convey the peril and anxiety of the situation. It’s an excellent story, joining the funnier material in “The Day of Sagittarius” and “Snowy Mountain Syndrome,” the longest story in the series so far, which initially feels like material already covered but in a winter setting, though it later reveals itself to be a story that not only reminds us of how Nagaru Tanigawa excels as a science fiction writer, introducing further elements of the genre into his work, but also one that conveys serious heart. The last story provides another one of Haruhi’s sincere explanations of her behavior to Kyon and heavily features character development of Nagato, as subtle as it is, which is equal parts uplifting and mysterious. ~ Twwk
The Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya is published by Yen Press.*
Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 3
Some forty years after it was first published, these chapters from volume three of Maison Ikkokku Collector’s Edition show precisely why this romantic comedy is so beloved, displaying the full retinue of humor and charm that are pervasive throughout the series. This volume continues to demonstrate Rumiko Takahashi’s talent at using misunderstandings to develop strong comedic content, which then gives way to reveal her character’s personalities and hearts. With Godai now knowing Kyoko quite well, but still miserably immature in his outlook on romance, he struggles to “make the leap” into a relationship with her, but each chapter shows that despite the obstacles that get in their way—some significant and others more figmental—the two are more and more making connections between their hearts. And as laugh out loud funny as many of the panels are, it’s these moments of caring, which increasingly find their way into the lives of Godai, Kyoko, and the rest of the Maison Ikkoku residents, that make the series memorable, driving it closer and closer toward fulfillment while keeping us just far enough away to crank the angst up to 11. ~ Twwk
Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition is published by Viz.*
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat, Vol. 1
The world’s best assassin has run out of time—or has he? On the verge of retirement, he is tricked and killed during his last mission. But upon his death, the assassin appears before a goddess (what a surprise!) who needs him to do her a favor: Kill the hero of the world she’s in charge of before the hero causes trouble in the future for her and the world he is in. She chose the assassin because of his skill and allows him to be reborn whilst choosing his own skills. Much like Rudeus in Mushoku Tensei, this protagonist is reborn literally, as a baby, but retains his previous memories. As he grows up among a wealthy family of assassins in a world of magic and knights, he trains to become better and to prepare to face the hero. Along the way, he meets a girl named Dai who becomes his magic teacher and Tarte, whom he rescues from poverty (she eventually becomes his assistant/servant of sorts). Although it’s rather rushed and features fanservice moments I felt were unnecessary, I enjoyed volume one. It’s a good selection for fans of isekai, though not without some flaws. ~ Samuru
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat Vol 1. is published by Yen Press.
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.
*Thank you to Yen Press and Viz Media for providing review copies.