She’s My Knight, Vol. 1
The premise of this lovely little comic is simple: Ichinose has always been the popular kid, attracting attention from all the girls until cool, collected Mogami comes along, stealing not only Ichinose’s popularity, but also his heart. I’m a total sucker for the Mogami type in manga and anime—the tall, athletic, boyish girl—and she makes a perfect pairing with the pitiful Ichinose, who increasingly, as the volumes progresses, falls apart around her. There’s not much else here—just lots of gags and near-miss moments, so in that sense, She’s My Knight may end up being a forgettable series. But just as Ichinose is the damsel to Mogami’s knight, this series might be rescued, too, by hints that the girl is not as clueless as she seems. But even if that’s not true, even if the series means to simply tease us for endless chapters and results in a series that isn’t unique in any way, the manga would still hit the sweet spot of feel good romantic comedy so well that it doesn’t really matter—this is the perfect volume to open as you sit back, kick your feet up, and prepare to fall in love. ~ Twwk
She’s My Knight is published by Kodansha.*
A Couple of Cuckoos, Vol. 1
Nagi Umino learns quite the shocking truth: As an infant, he had accidentally been switched with another baby, and had essentially grown up his whole life as an adopted kid. To make matters worse, upon meeting his birth parents, and the girl, Erika Amano, that he had been switched with, he finds out that their parents had decided that the easiest way to resolve this whole matter is to have the two of them get married so that all the parents can officially consider both of them their children! With an anime adaptation announced recently, I figured I’d check out the first volume of the manga, and true to the name, it’s quite crazy. With a mess of family relations and some side romantic antics involving a smart girl Nagi has a crush on, this manga definitely has all the fun of a good romcom, and there’s not really too much that annoyed me about it, either, other than that the volume ended way too soon. I also liked how it touches on the awkwardness of trying to connect with a birth family you didn’t grow up with, and I hope future volumes do more with that along with the romance stuff. ~ stardf29
A Couple of Cuckoos is published by Kodansha.
Street Fighter Gaiden: Vol. 1
Videogames have made the transition to manga many times, and some have even done it on multiple occasions, which is the case with Street Fighter. I picked up Street Fighter Gaiden, which has two volumes and focuses on various stories in the SF series, focusing on various characters. Ken and Ryu get their due, and so does Chun-Li, who is some nice panels participates in a drug bust in San Francisco. Other stories feature Fei Long desiring to do something more challenging than be a movie star, leading to travels to Japan and a tragic accident while stopping some criminals; T. Hawk protecting fellow natives from another tribe who are being harassed by Balrog; and the final story, where Guile becomes involved in underground fights while trying to prevent a friend from getting involved with Shadaloo, the secret evil organization of the series. The stories veer from the traditional backgrounds of some of the characters, like Fei Long and Guile, but it’s interesting to read how the author puts them together. Fans of Street Fighter should check this series out! The drawings in the manga looks dated and a little rough here and there, but I certainly enjoyed it and will be picking up volume two. ~ Samuru
Street Fighter Gaiden: Vol. 1 is published by Udon Entertainment.
The Dawn of the Witch, Vol. 1
Witches seem to be making a bit of comeback in manga lately. The Dawn of the Witch, one of the new entries, seems at first blush to add little that’s new to the canon, assembling a weak main character mage, overpowered but very young looking master witch, talented witch / love interest, and a beastman, as they undertake a special type of journey / course assigned by their magic school. However, tropes can be deceiving. Volume one tells a story at breakneck pace, developing relationships, adding backstory, providing action, and dumping a ton of information, which while it could become oppressive, in this manga, is captivating. The world and its history are fascinating, the way magic is used has some uniqueness (including a cursed, talking staff?), and the divisiveness between witches and the church shows depth. The world-building in just this one volume is extensive and engaging, and the story seems to be in good hands, while the art and character design, developed by two additional members of this three-person manga team, are just as extraordinary, bringing vividness to action scenes, boldness to the characters themselves, and lettering and paneling that add further dimension to goings-on. The frequent and obvious fanservice, unfortunately, can be quite distracting; it’s not a coincidence that it takes a back seat once the story ramps up, indicating how unimportant it is. By the last chapter or two, there’s no room for panty shots; we’re swept up into the lives of these characters, the choices they’ve made and are making, and the world they inhabit, which in terms of recent witch manga, is second to none. ~ Twwk
The Dawn of the Witch is published by Kodansha.*
Those Snow White Notes, Vol. 1
Moving to Tokyo after the death of his guardian, grandfather, and teacher, Setsu is a lost soul. Though he carries with him a shamisen, the ancient three-stringed instrument, Setsu is unable to play, haunted by the words of his grandfather which told him he was unworthy of it. But will this move to Tokyo and the people he meets there be just what Setsu needs to find his sound? The first half of this initial volume is one long chapter, and reads like a one-shot, an almost self-contained story of Setsu’s serendipitous meeting with a hopeful actress, Yuna, and the impact the two have on one another. However, this front half of volume one isn’t particularly distinct in any way, and despite a desire to connect emotionally with readers through the young protagonist and and his family, the panels fall flat in this aspect, as do they when depicting the sound of the shamisen, whose tone and rhythm I could feel but not the emotion it gives. The second half of volume, however, establishes the story and characters better. Setsu’s personality is better defined, as is his brother’s, and new supporting characters are introduced as Setsu begins to attend school, setting the stage for a club-centered drama, a la Kono Oto Tomare and Chihayafuru, two other anime centered on historic Japanese pastimes. And like those, there’s potential here, though it will be lost if Those Snow White Notes can’t find consistency and an emotional anchor, which would be a shame, as the first episode of currently-airing anime adaptation showed how a few adjustments could turn this story into something quite special. ~ Twwk
Those Snow White Notes is published by Kodansha.*
Your Lie in April, Vol. 4
I’m continuing my re-read of Your Lie in April and have reached Volume four, a part of this series which can be a tough read. Kousei has finally returned to the piano scene after two years away to find that his childhood rivals have only improved. Both of them were motivated by him to become better. Emi saw him when she was very little and it inspired her to play, believing in her heart to play for joy, while Takeshi is driven to perfection to reach what Kousei had always achieved. Then there’s Kousei himself. In these chapters, readers bear witness to the emotional and physical abuse Kousei underwent as a child and it’s hard to witness. But it does help present a complete picture of the person Kousei has become so far. This is a challenging volume because of what happens, but it’s important to the overall narrative. Beautiful artwork and emotional moments will keep me moving through this re-read. ~ MDMRN
Your Lie in April is published by Kodansha.
Skip Beat, Vol. 17
The “Suddenly, a Love Story” arc is an oddity, a portion of Skip Beat that is quite long and cumbersome, with not enough Kyoko and perhaps too much of the unappealing side of Ren, full of insecurity and lacking much of his initial appeal. Volume 17 thankfully puts the arc to rest with a quick but exciting (and revealing) finale which pits Ren against no, not Shotaro, but Reino, the abusive and perhaps occultist musician. The next arc also begins in this volume, introducing Kuu, a movie star more famous, it seems, than any previous character in the series. Although we get to know him just a bit, he appears to be a rival who could threaten Ren. He also immediately challenges Kyoko, providing the potential for her to really chew up character interactions, something sorely missed in the previous arc. The final chapters of volume 17 feel like a breath of fresh air, hopefully pointing toward compelling chapters ahead—though I fear the problem of an unappealing Ren may be not be solved anytime soon. ~ Twwk
Skip Beat is published by Viz.*
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 Kodansha and Viz Media for providing review copies. Featured illustration by いちろく (reprinted w/permission).