Reader’s Corner: Bofuri, The Catlords’ Manservant, and Chasing After Aoi Koshiba

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 8

Love Me, Love Me Not is a simple story. The characters are basic, and though they have their struggles—as do all teenagers—theirs are not overly complicated. The obstacles they face are moderate, and growth feels attainable and realistic. I think that’s part of what makes this series special—it doesn’t overreach in any category. Io Sakisaka has settled into a comfortable, appealing tale where 95% of the focus is on the four major characters, and it plays out well for most of the volumes, this one included, as Christmas nears and Rio and Yuna start their relationship together, while Inui and Akari remain somehow both connected and distant. With the former couple now dating, the spotlight is on the latter, and Sakisaka lovingly and patiently develops their story with an authenticity that is marked by the best chapters in this series, while using a Christmas setting, the stress of arguing parents, and the expectations and dreams of impending adulthood to create both romance and nuance in the characters’ growth, particularly for Inui, who after eight volumes receives the fuller development he deserves and is a mystery no more—just in time, perhaps, to receive the love of a girl who’s become more mature and ready to give love than she even realizes. ~ Twwk

Love Me, Love Me Not is published by Viz.*

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense, Vol. 1

I loved the Bofuri anime that aired last year, so I was eager to try the light novel. It is…exactly what you’d expect if you’ve seen the series. Maple’s friend talked her into buying a new VRMMORPG, but then the friend gets grounded and Maple winds up starting the game on her own. Through a series of stupid and/or brilliant choices, she ends up creating an insanely OP character. Silliness and adventure ensue. In contrast to the many stories that put a dark spin on the concept of the VRMMORPG, Bofuri is a lighthearted romp through the game’s fantasy world. The light novel does explain a few things better than the anime does, but in return, you lose the visuals, which I tend to find especially beneficial for a highly comedic story like this one. Of course, the greatest flaw of this book is that it doesn’t include the unfathomably adorable flying turtle, Syrup. I can only hope Syrup shows up in volume two! If you’re only going to do one—either watch the anime or read the light novel—I’d recommend the anime. But since I loved the series, and the novel is giving me details I missed there, I think I’ll happily continue with the next volume. ~ JeskaiAngel

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense is published by Yen Press.*

I’m the Catlords’ Manservant, Vol. 1

Different than I expected in that it felt more like a slice-of-life but in a SCHOOL setting, volume one of I’m the Catlords’ Manservant was an interesting read! It follows the indigent Yukihara as he’s given room and board by shape-shifting cats in return for being their servant. With that setup, I also expected more shenanigans at the house, and while I felt a little disappointed in that regard, this is still a captivating starting volume. The mangaka does an excellent job of introducing readers to each of the cats and making their personalities shine (Susumu is by my favorite and would say Miyako would be a close second, while Akira has something fishy about him, especially given things that happen near the volume’s end). I was fairly surprised at how loving Yukihara is towards everyone given the circumstances, but I think that is probably why he is a hero you find yourself drawn to because despite NOT being happy about his circumstances—I felt bad for him more than once—he still wants everyone to be happy. I was unsure if I would want to continue this series, but I feel this is a good one to continue now that everyone has been introduced. The ending is a chilly cliffhanger that also had me glued to the page and wishing volume two was already available. ~ Laura A. Grace

I’m the Catlords’ Manservant, vol. 1, is published by Yen Press.*

The Indignation of Haruhi Suzumiya (Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 8)

Not all Haruhi Suzumiya novels are created equal—some are more meaningful, some are more complicated, some are funnier, and some are more plain, that last of which unfortunately applies to The Indignation of Haruhi Suzumiya. With a first half ensconced in a daily life / school club story, with the student council finally cracking down on the SOS Brigade and the group coming together to avoid losing the literary club classroom by putting together a publication, everything seems to come to a standstill, including, unfortunately, character growth and the story at large. There are some interesting bits here, though, including the unusual and perhaps troubling piece that Nagator writes and Kyon’s cute “love story,” but the better portion of the novel is the second-half investigation of a frightened dog caused by perhaps the next supernatural entity in the universe—a ghost. More “classic” in how it involves mystery and sci-fi, continuing to propel the franchise forward, it helps balance out the more soporific first half, though regardless, Haruhi fans will enjoy reading more about their favorite club from the narrative voice of Kyon, who brings life to even the more tepid stories in the franchise. ~ Twwk

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

And Yet, You Are So Sweet, Vol. 1

While I felt slightly frustrated in the beginning due to desiring a little more depth to Kisaragi (I also didn’t like how she kept calling herself ugly), I found that I really enjoyed volume one of And Yet, You Are So Sweet, which was, well, very sweet! I’m a huge fan of the trope where popular boy becomes friends with said unpopular girl and a romance begins to unfold. The manga introduces this in a unique way; I wouldn’t say I find reading the same trope boring (it’s my favorite for a reason), it felt creative and had me especially engaged in this volume. It probably didn’t help that Chigira is one of my favorite kind of male heroes: quiet, sort of “out of it,” athletic, and a kind person once you get to know him. I was bummed when the manga ended because it was fairly fast-paced and found myself getting caught up in these characters lives. It seems like there are quite a few after school activities, and I enjoyed them as settings for a variety of situations (especially the library!). I LOVED the ending, too, but that cliffhanger had me groaning. I’ll just have to wait to see what happens next, and am excited to read more! ~ Laura A. Grace

And Yet, You Are So Sweet, vol. 1, is published by Kodansha.*

Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance, Vol. 1

An absolutely fantastic volume, I did indeed felt “swept away” in this unfolding Yokohama romance! Maria, a young woman who dislikes her appearance, is instantly a character my heart went out to. And while I don’t think the potential object of her romance, Rintarou, is a bully, I do think he’s a major tease. On top of his teasing, Maria’s mother is the WORST (The last time I reallyyyyy disliked a parent in a manga was Kazehaya’s father in Kimi ni Todoke)! She is harsh and cruel, using words that bring her daughter down and which don’t show any kind of love towards her. I strongly dislike her and am thankful that Rintarou (and Maria’s grandmother!) is there to spread some love into Maria’s heart. While I wouldn’t say I was expecting a “fluffy” read when I first started, I was fairly surprised at some of the topics that are presented, including prejudice (even within family), lack of self-confidence, loneliness, and a near-assault (Thankfully someone intervened on that last one!). I think as a result, these more consequential events made Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance a very heart-stirring and relatable story and helped lead to a very strong first volume. I’m super eager to keep reading this series and hope there are wonderful things in store for Maria! ~ Laura A. Grace

Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance is published by Yen Press. See a video review by Laura here.

Chasing After Aoi Koshiba, Vol. 1

The intrigue at the center of Chasing After Aoi Koshiba is why don’t the two main characters—the beautiful and popular Sahoko and the athletic, confident, titular Aoi, get together? The initial chapter shows Sahoko and others after several years have passed, establishing that she and Aoi have lost touch, before diving into their high school days when earlier, desperate to maintain a high level of popularity after being a “side character” during middle school, falls quick and hard for the latter, whom she admires for displaying the authenticity she lacks. Shown from Sahoko’s perspective, the early chapters of this yuri romance are at once funny and romantic, capturing well the awkwardness and energy of youth, and feature a protagonist whose inner monologue is quite captivating. Sahoko’s desperation for Instagram likes and passing comments about her beauty could become annoying, but instead she comes across as both self-aware and sweet, the type of character whom the audience is excited to see as she matures, while the archetype tomboy Aoi is fleshed out with surprising energy. The two are joined by an intriguing group of supporting characters, and all are drawn in a sharp and beautiful style—as pretty as any series I’ve seen. The artwork by FLY is stunning. And altogether, that leads to an exciting opening volume of what could be a special, special series. ~ Twwk

Chasing After Aoi Koshiba, is published by Kodansha.*

Your Lie in April, Vol. 11

I have finished my reread of Your Lie in April! The final volume hit me like an emotional truck. It deals with Kaori’s surgery, the aftermath, and the finale of Kosei’s amazing musical performance. I’ll mostly avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read it, but I’ll also note a few things. First, this manga is gorgeous and facilitated the wonderful journey as I reread it. Second, the emotions it evokes with the art, characters, and story are top notch. Third, the language used in the manga by the characters feels more like actual angsty teenagers than in the anime, which upped it a little bit, making it closer to a Dawson’s Creek level of pretentiousness. And finally, the concluding volume puts some lovely touches on characterization, with Kosei seeing Kaori’s flaws, but loving her anyway, and with this volume also showing all the people touched by both characters throughout the story (and their lives). This series isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful for exactly what it isan emotional series following Kosei’s musical journey to work through his own grief. You are intended to feel these emotions as you read this series, and on that front, it succeeds brilliantly. Sorry…I think it just got dusty in here while I’m writing this conclusion… ~ 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 and Kodansha for providing review copies. Illustration by いちろく (reprinted w/permission).

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