Failure Frame: I Became the Strongest and Annihilated Everything With Low-Level Spells
Mimori Touka and his classmates are spirited away to a fantasy world where they’re given skills, powers, and ranks. But Minori has a problem. He has the lowest rank, E, and according to the summoning goddess, and with the support of the other students, is to be disposed of. However, Mimori soon learns that his low level skills can rise quickly, and that he may be able to get revenge against both the goddess and his classmates. Yes, revenge. Failure Frame follows such popular offerings as Solo Leveling, Arifureta, and The Rising of the Shield Hero in the popular field of revenge isekai, manga and light novels that can quickly become exploitative and off-putting. While there are some cringe-worthy moments in volume one of this manga adaptation of the light novel, it’s also an engaging and quick read which so far does a nice job of balancing Mimori’s desire for vengeance with a visible goodness to his character and an empathy toward him that builds within the reader. The volume also ends by setting up an unexpected and potentially epic showdown, which leads me to believe that the intensity of this series won’t be letting up any time soon. ~ Twwk
Failure Frame is published by Seven Seas.*
Sword Art Online – Progressive Barcarolle of Froth, Vol. 1
This entry in the Progressive series features Kirito and Asuna, who in this universe don’t seem to know each other very well, embarking with the release of the game, SAO, for which Kirito played the beta. He knows the game fairly well, but as they go along there are inconsistencies that are noted and unaccounted for. Kirito and Asuna have to learn how to fight as a team to get through the obstacles before them and explore new areas. Hearkening back to the original series and purely focusing on Kirito and Asuna, Barcarolle of Froth is very different from the previous SAO manga I’ve read. The artwork is nice to look at, and though there’s a well-crafted battle near the end, the story was somewhat slow and didn’t leave much impact. What I disliked most, however, are the unnecessary scenes of fan service (cliche girl falls on top of guy or girl is taking a shower) and how Asuna is characterized. She’s more flirty and silly than what I am used; that doesn’t make her character worse, per se, but it’s not preferable to her other depictions. Hopefully, volume two will have a more interesting plot and introduce new characters, as so far, the series doesn’t bring anything particularly engaging to the table.
Sword Art Online – Progressive Barcarolle of Froth is published by Yen Press.
One Week Friends, Vol. 1
It is always a joy to find wholesome manga, and One Week Friends is no exception! A good friend recommended this to me and have had it sitting on my shelves for a few weeks now. Definitely my mistake in waiting so long to read it! The premise of a young woman forgetting her memories (but only of friends, not family) every week is fascinating, and Hase’s desire to be friends with Fujimiya all the more compelling. I found myself consistently getting tear-eyed in the first half as I resonated with Hase’s strong desire to see Fujimya have a friend. As someone who has been in the position of doing whatever it takes to be another’s friend, his efforts were not unfounded on me. And not only his “good” efforts, but even those that maybe he should have reconsidered (despite how meaningful the intentions were). I’m very much looking forward to diving into the next volume as I found the first volume to have an easy-going, but emotional way of storytelling. I would recommend One Week Friends to those who are looking for a “softer” shoujo that is more friendship focused (and on what it means to be a friend) and which has overall calming vibes. ~ Laura A. Grace
A few years ago I was at a game story and found some manga for $1 a piece. One of these bargain bin items was the complete collection of Sakuran, and I snagged it. Sakuran is a single volume (13 chapters) manga by Moyoco Anno. The story follows an orphan girl named Tomeki who is picked up by a brothel in ancient Japan. As you might imagine, the story is raw, gritty, sexual, and violent; however, what it presents is a very realistic and sad portrayal of what life was like for these women. This series is definitely not something I normally would have read, but I’m glad I did. It introduced me to a grittier part of history I knew little about, especially learning how these women were treated. ~ MDMRN
Sakuran is published by Penguin Random House.
Sea Princess Azuri, Vol. 1
Need more mermaid fiction in your life? Of course you do! MerMay may be over, but do yourself a favor and check out Sea Princess Azuri, which features some of the most creative world-building and lore I’ve ever seen! While the story itself was enjoyable, though not a favorite, the creativity is what blew my expectations out the water! I found it completely fascinating how the mermaids are based off animal species, and in this case with Princess Azuri, it’s orcas. It was such a cool concept and one I deeply enjoyed! In fact, it totally inspired my writer heart that mermaids can be so much more than what we usually see and read in books and movies. Plus, SEALICORNS! They are so cute! The art really added to the beauty of everything with this manga. Usually it’s story first and then art second for me, but this was very much the opposite. While this manga is sadly out of print, if you can get your hands on it, I would highly recommend it to those who are looking for a fresh perspective on mermaids! ~ Laura A. Grace
Sea Princess Azuri is published by TOKYOPOP. See a video review by Laura here.
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 Seven Seas for providing review copies.