Reader’s Corner: Demon Slayer, Nerdy Nurse, and Play It Cool, Guys

Date A Live, Vol. 1

Having enjoyed the Date A Live anime, I was curious to check out the source material, and the first volume didn’t disappoint. It’s a high school harem romantic comedy…that takes place in a borderline post-apocalyptic setting full of mystery, absurdity, and tragedy. There are plenty of sweet or humorous moments, but the narrative never lets one forget its darker side. Some regard the “Spirits” (mysterious girls whose extradimensional incursions bring cataclysm) as monsters and try to kill them, but protagonist Shido rejects this in favor of a more peaceful approach. Aided by a bizarre paramilitary group commanded by his little sister, Shido seeks dialogue and coexistence with Spirits. In practice, this means Shido must get to know them, ask them on dates, and get them to fall for him. Shido is a deeply compassionate person, and as one reads of his efforts to save a Spirit — choosing love over death, reconciliation over enmity, forgiveness over resentment, other over self — the Christ parallels practically write themselves. I can’t deny Date A Live is weird, but somehow it works, and the positive themes underlying the story are excellent. I certainly plan to continue reading this series. ~ JeskaiAngel

Date A Live (vol. 1) is published by Yen Press.*

The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya

Seven words: “The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina Episode 00.” Kyon’s description of the SOS Brigade’s video for the North High cultural festival is the most humorous story in volume six of the Haruhi Suzumiya series, a high point both for this book and the series in general, and by itself makes Wavering a worthy read. The remainder of the volume—if not on the same level as its opening chapter—continues with the unusual brew of school life, romance, comedy, sci-fi, and mystery that makes the franchise special. However, be warned that most of the volume feels mundane, almost like side stories,with nothing much of consequence happening, at least not patently so, until the intriguing final chapter, “The Melancholy of Mikuru Asahina,” which not only functions as a nice bookend to the volume but comes just when it seems that Asahina’s counterpart, Nagato, has received far more attention and character development. It’s fulfilling to read the Asahina-focused material in both stories mentioned—though be warned: You may get knocked flat by an adorable (and possibly dangerous) Mikuru Beam! ~ Twwk

The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya is published by Yen Press.*

Play It Cool, Guys: Vol. 1

This was A LOT of fun! It’s been some time since I chuckled/laughed this much when reading a manga. After finishing, I actually went back and reread some of the pages just so I could laugh again, because I was enjoying it so much! However, Play It Cool, Guys is different than I expected; I didn’t realize that each of the guys are a different age. Considering they are different ages, I wouldn’t have expected for all the stories to really flow in transition as well as they did, but the mangaka does a fantastic job of doing just that! Where one story ended, another began, but without a feeling of being jilted due to a shifting too quickly to a different character’s voice. The colored pages were also AMAZING! The way color enhanced the pages was awesome! And the art of course is gorgeous! I’m really interested in reading the next volume, and know that this will probably become a manga I will read again and again if I need a pick me up or a good dose of laughter. These guys are just hilariously cool! ~ Laura A. Grace

Play It Cool, Guys (Vol. 1) is published by Yen Press.* See a video review by Laura here.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol. 21

Demon Slayer is pain, especially the latter volumes as the series nears its conclusion. Volume 21 opens with the defeat of Upper Rank Kizuki number one but at enormous sacrifice; this immediate rush into highly emotional material indicates how the series, developed for so many chapters, has been and continues to be in its climactic arc, one that’s full of extreme violence, gore, and death. Shades of black cover these pages more than any other previously, indicating how much blood is spilled as the remaining Hashira fight Muzan in what continues to appear to be a losing battle. However, part of the beauty of Demon Slayer is that while it’s full of action and hyper violent, it’s a sensitive story and well-written—these chapters are the very natural output of all that’s occurred before, and as such the chaos is imbued with all that’s come before—a whole lot of heart. Coincidentally, the structure of this volume alo feeds into that assessment, starting emotionally, and further, giving readers a chance to mourn for character deaths before progressing to the tenacious action of the middle portion, before closing with a story that functions as important context for the entire manga and presumably for the conclusion, ending this violent volume with a gentle whisper, and reminding us why this series is so very good. ~ Twwk

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is published by Viz*

Do You Like the Nerdy Nurse?

From a cover like this, I was expecting this to be Nerdy Nurse to be spicy manga that could, potentially, be something I would recommend our readers avoid. I was wrong. Guess judging books by their cover isn’t a great idea. I feel like that should be an expression. Anyway, the titular “nerdy nurse,” Nijiko Momoyama, has all the boys at her school falling head over heels. However, while she loves her students in a maternal sort of way, she has no interest in children romantically. Her primary focus, instead, is on her geeky hobbies. She’s a huge manga, anime, and gatcha gaming otaku. She can’t get enough of it! In fact, one of her students discovers her geeky hobbies and ends up spending a lot of time helping out in the nurses office. It’s obvious he has a crush on her and makes it relatively known from time to time. That said, overall Momoyama is very professional and doesn’t ever give him an indication that she would reciprocate his middle school crush. Overall, she just talks to him as a fellow nerd and, frankly, that’s okay. Volume one was cute and, in answer to the question, yes, I did like the nerdy nurse. ~ MDMRN

Do You Like the Nerdy Nurse? is published by Yen Press.*

The Sorcerer’s Receptionist, Vol. 3

The highlight of The Sorcerer’s Receptionist continues to be its tsundere narrator. Yes, I know tsundere characters are a dime a dozen, and so are light novels with first-person narration, but this is the only light novel I’ve encountered with such a blatantly, amusingly tsundere narrator. It’s entertainingly exasperating hearing protagonist Nanalie’s perspective on the story. The other highlight include how Alois, the guy she deems her archnemesis, continues to practice love toward her. Happily, a big relationship upgrade occurs. My only complaint with this volume is that the obnoxious memory wipe trope rears its ugly head. Thankfully, it does not befall the romantic leads, at least. I usually hate this plot device, have ranted about it before, and hate it here, too. That said, despite my grumbling, I quite enjoyed this volume, and would still recommend this series. ~ JeskaiAngel

The Sorcerer’s Receptionist is published by J-Novel Club.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse, Vol. 4

Two down so far for 2021! I have read two different Alternate Universe (AU) Neon Genesis Evangelion manga—the second of these, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse, is by volume four beginning to pain the angels as now, basically, vampires. But as the story progresses, more is also revealed about the world setting. It turns out this AU retains the concept of Rei as a clone from the mainline story, but also embraces the concept of an AU multiverse by this, the last volume of the series. I kind of wish it had another volume or two to really finish up the story because by these chapter, Campus Apocalypse was becoming more immersive. The first two volumes were great setups; however, it’s clear the series’ days were numbered as the second two raced to get across the finish line. I could have used a little more before we got there, but it is what it is. ~ MDMRN

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse is out of print, but originally published by Dark Horse Comics.

Your Lie in April, Vol. 1

For the month of April I’ve decided to do a reread of Your Lie in April, and let me tell you, I am already glad I have. The artwork from Naoshi Arakawa is gorgeous and incredibly expressive. The first chapter alone provides better introduction and storytelling than some manga accomplish in an entire series. The introduction of Kosei and his first encounter with Kaori is such an amazingly well crafted moment that it continues to stick with me after three watches of the anime and now a second readthrough of the manga. If you want a teenage love story that also tackles topics like depression and abandonment in a very real way, combined with gorgeous art, check out this series, and feel free to join me in reading it in April. ~ MDMRN

Your Lie in April is published by Kodansha.

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 FUI (reprinted w/permission).

*Thank you to Yen Press and Viz Media for providing review copies.

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