Reader’s Corner: Mint Chocolate, One Piece, and The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya

In Another World With My Smartphone, Vol. 1 (Manga)

If you’re not familiar with this series either in its light novel or anime form, it pretty much is the epitome of the wish-fulfillment isekai with an overpowered MC and a harem of girls. Pretty much everything that can be said of the first light novel volume/first few anime episodes, good or bad, applies to the manga. The protagonist is fairly bland, his overpoweredness is rather ridiculous and pretty much removes all drama, and the titular smartphone isn’t even used that much here, with Touya solving more problems with his ability to use every kind of magic. Still, given that the story doesn’t even try to pretend like it wants to be anything serious, there is still some fun to be had with silly moments and the general feel of enjoying life in another world. As for the manga adaptation, overall it is plenty good with simple but cute art that makes good use of facial expressions, and in my opinion looks better than the anime. Although for some reason, they spelled Linze’s name as “Rinze”, in yet another case of L and R being too similar in Japanese… ~ stardf29

The In Another World With My Smartphone manga is published by Yen Press.*

The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya (Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 7)

Time travel is complicated. Part of what draws fans to the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise is the intelligence and sense with which the franchise approaches time travel, among other science fiction elements, and in volume seven of the light novel series, it’s that device that takes center stage. The longest volume to this point, The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya launches its central story in an unusual way, with Mikuru arriving in the Literary Club’s broom closet saying that she was sent from a mere eight days in the future forcefully by the one receiving her, a very confused Kyon. What ensues is one fixed story, a la Disappearance, in which the SOS Brigade and a number of side characters continue to lovingly receive the author’s expert hand in developing their growth as characters, not only personally but in revealing more of their purposes in being where they are and doing what they do. The stakes continue to be pushed higher, with some unexpected excitement and special appearances, along with the author’s crafty weaving of intricate and riddly plot points together. Another successful volume, as the time gets nearer to the physical release date of the long-awaited new novel. ~ twwk

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

Mint Chocolate, Vol. 2

First of all, that cliffhanger in the last volume turned out to be a whole lot of nothing, so thanks for that. Putting that aside, this volume confirms that Kyouhei does indeed carry emotional scars from his mom’s divorce—not just from her infidelity, but also from how she had never particularly been a good wife or mother. This naturally puts some extra stress on the romance that is developing between the stepsiblings. The volume is otherwise mainly a lot of fairly typical shoujo romcom stuff, though overall, I’m still enjoying this series. Even beyond the whole intrigue of the “understandable stepsibling incest” concept, this is a story about overcoming the fear of romance that comes from a broken family, and that I can definitely appreciate. ~ stardf29

Mint Chocolate is published by Yen Press.*

One Piece, Vol. 49

I am getting close to the half-way point in my readthrough of One Piece! I recently finished volume 49, which finishes up the “Thriller Bark” arc and introduces to Brook, the skeleton musician. Thieve chapters have BIG Tim Burton vibes, and I found myself having a Danny Elfman-inspired soundtrack playing in my head as I read through it—zombies, the dead rising, stitched-together monsters, human spirits being separated from their body, and the villainous Moria at the center of it all. In addition to atmosphere, the volume provides action and some beautiful moments as the found family that are the Straw Hats unite for some amazing passages, one of the most interesting of which is when hundreds of shadows are imbued into Luffy giving him the power of 100 people and all of their battle skills. This turns him into the huge, blue Luffy monster seen on the cover. The new characters, development of old ones, and a stronger feeling of camraderie among the Straw Hats Mark volume 49, which for me, makes a successful volume. Still loving it. ~ MDMRN

One Piece is published by Viz Media, with the newest chapters simulpublished via their Shonen Jump imprint.

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 4 (Manga)

Volume four of Oregairu takes an unexpected turn, diving into a pair of side stories from the light novel series that were never animated, both of which involve fan favorite Zaimokuza as he gathers help from the service club to save face with a gaming club and then when he participates in a judo tournament that Hachiman and company organize. Thus, these chapters have a heavy “club anime” feel that’s largely lacking in the anime, and which is a welcome respite for the manga, which has thus far featured a more joyful tone than the other properties. However, most distinctive in this volume is the artwork, as Naomichi Io’s detailing, particularly, has progressed considerably. Hachiman looks far better in this volume as compared to the initial one (and Zaimokuza, too), even getting a scene of fanservice (one of the best panels in the series so far, with Yui blushing as she sees Hachiman stripped down to his boxer briefs). Meanwhile, the color panels that begin the volume are equally lovely, as are some fantasy-focused panels distributed throughout. Fans of Oregairu will find the volume worth purchasing just for these pieces, and perhaps also for the first appearance of a certain character who will play a major role throughout the rest of the series (Senpaiiiiiiii). ~ Twwk

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected is published by Yen Press.*

Your Lie in April, Vol. 9

As I continue my reread of Your Lie in April through the month April, I’m nearing the home stretch. Volume 9 is a heavier volume than it appears at first glance. At this point, Kousei is teaching Nagi Aizato, who is the younger sister of Kousei’s rival, Takeshi Aiza. Well, sort of. Takeshi sees Kousei as his rival; however, Kousei doesn’t see it as a rivalry because as a child, he didn’t even notice anything (much less anyone) around him when he performed. A lot of other plot threads progress here, too, but a huge component of this volume is a specific focus on Nagi. She was arrogant, angry, and motivated by jealousy. Yet, by the end of the volume, she grows to respect and appreciate Kousei, music, and herself a whole lot more. That last one is key because Nagi had internalized and begun to believe the personal attacks that were said about her by her fellow students. Kousei helped her see herself as something more, as a unique individual and as a fellow traveler in the realm of music. I really appreciated this volume and the character development given to everyone. Also, everyone needs a friend like Watari. ~ 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.

*Thank you to Yen Press for providing review copies.

Featured illustration by 澗C_23 (reprinted w/permission).

3 thoughts on “Reader’s Corner: Mint Chocolate, One Piece, and The Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya

  1. Seems like there were a lot great manga/light novels read! The review of Mint Chocolate has probably been the most helpful review I’ve read on this series, so thank you for sharing!

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