I Refuse to Be Your Enemy!, Vol. 6
This volume is a lovely conclusion to the reincarnated-as-a-villainess isekai story of Kiara. She was reborn into the world of a tactical RPG she played in her previous life (for a prime example of that kind of game, think Fire Emblem: Three Houses). Similar to a Fire Emblem game, there’s heavy focus on battlefield tactics, broken up by a sweet romance. Having fought her way across a kingdom, the final battle approaches. This volume delivers some backstory that clarifies the motives of a major antagonist and makes them, if not sympathetic, at least tragic. There’s a plot twist regarding another character that I found surprising yet also satisfyingly logical in hindsight. And of course there’s a beautiful, happy ending. (Well, for most of the characters…) My only complaint is that one intriguing mystery introduced in a prior volume was never resolved (and the author even acknowledges as much in the afterword). I happily recommend this six-volume light novel. ~ jeskaiangel
I Refuse to Be Your Enemy! is published by J-Novel Club.
Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence, Vol. 1
Sometimes you come across manga where even when you read the blurb beforehand, you still feel the piece was different than you expected. For me, Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence is one of those manga. I don’t think I had any expectations going in until I came across a reviewer mentioning that it was light on the “preachy.” It made me super curious because, a manga that has “preachy” in it (even if on the light side)?! I think due to this newfound expectation, I came in expecting one thing but got another. Not bad mind you! Pastor Lawrence is a fun character and I enjoy how “dense” he is, but also how he is deeply caring and compassionate. Saint Cecilia on the other hand was not who I thought she was, even though, again, I had read the blurb beforehand. She was cute and I think part of why I’m not sure how I feel about this manga as a whole is because I was unprepared for there to be a one-sided romantic interest in a series apparently about the titular saint and pastor living, working, and falling in love with one another. Despite these pages not aligning with my expectations, I found volume one of Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence to be a very light-hearted and quick read. ~ Laura A. Grace
Saint Cecilia and Pastor Lawrence is published by Kodansha Comics.*
Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke, Vol. 1
At this point, there are quite a few reincarnated-as-a-not-so-villainous-villain isekai stories starring a female main character who attends a magical academy and/or school for nobility. This story mostly fits right alongside them, except for its male lead, Slowe Denning, and the fact that the isekai world is based on a fictional anime, not a video game as is more common. In the protagonist’s first life, he knew Slowe as the surprisingly popular, tragically sympathetic minor antagonist of an anime. Now possessing important knowledge about the world and aware of the sad fate that awaits him, Slowe embarks upon a quest to change himself and his story. I would summarize this volume thus: Slowe attends school while embarking on a weight loss program and PR campaign, as well as getting involved in some cloak-and-dagger extracurricular activities. This volume presented several multifaceted characters and some interesting world-building. I look forward to reading the next volume. ~ jeskaiangel
Reincarnated as the Piggy Duke is published by J-Novel Club.
Guide to the Perfect Otaku Girlfriend: Roomies and Romance, Vol. 1
On the one hand, we have Kagetora, the typical teen otaku boy who is desperate for an otaku girlfriend that matches his tastes. On the other hand, we have Kokoro, a fashionable, popular teenage girl who is secretly a fujoshi and wants an otaku boyfriend all the same. The two of them agree to help each other become the type of otaku that other otaku wants to date, and end up living together for reasons as well. While both have distorted views of romance, it says something that Kagetora’s issues and suggestions are generally worse, especially since many of his suggestions are to just have Kokoro behave more like classic anime girl stereotypes. Meanwhile, Kokoro’s suggestions are more the sort of general personal improvement that feels like it came from Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. Given that, in the afterword, the author says that the story is based on his and others’ personal struggles with finding love as an otaku, perhaps it’s a sort of self-deprecating view about how guys have more to work through in this regard. Beyond that, this novel is an entertaining normal-world otaku romantic comedy, with plenty of otaku silliness and a nicely-developing relationship between the main leads that is the highlight of the story, and I’m definitely interested in reading more of it. ~ stardf29
Guide to the Perfect Otaku Girlfriend is published by J-Novel Club.
Kyle’s Little Sister
Grace is excited to start 6th grade, except for the fact that she’ll be in middle school with her older brother, the popular, athletic Kyle, to whom she’s always been compared. But she should make it just fine as long as she’s with her best friends, Jay and Amy…until they’re suddenly no longer friends. The road that Grace then takes into learning the nature of friendships and about siblinghood is absolutely charming and lovely. It transported me back to some of the books I read in middle school, to Judy Blume and the like, and I imagine may do the same for readers today who experienced more recent books for adolescents, or even to those in that stage right now. BonHyung Jeong captures the age extraordinarily well in its awkwardness and in the loveliness, too, of how 11-12-13 year olds are suddenly coming into their own without the experience or maturity to quite yet handle it all deftly. Grace is a realistic main character, and it’s wonderful to watch her experience this stage, while her friends are quite lovable, too. At just one volume, this “small” series reminds me that a manga about regular life, about kids just struggling to figure out the things in their world, even a world that’s actually quite easy in comparison to many, can be a significant story, imbued with warmth, authenticity, and heart. A highly recommended read for young people—or for those simply young at heart. ~ Twwk
Kyle’s Little Sister is published by Yen Press.*
One Week Friends, Vol. 4
One Week Friends continues to capture my heart! I was so excited for the growth shown by Hase in this volume. He has come such a long way and I’m very proud of him for how he is handling situations. I feel compared to how “whiny” he was with Kiryuu in previous volumes, he has really stepped up and just been a friend. Yes, it’s definitely obvious that he has feelings for Fujimiya, but I love how he is almost putting those feelings “on the side” so he genuinely can be there for her with his friendship. And speaking of Kiryuu, he is too cute. Seeing the young man completely out of his element was adorable. He puts up with so much from everyone, but yet continues to listen, observe, and stick around. He’s probably been the most interesting character in that regard because he is very much a rock for everyone…until a certain character flips his world upside down! Though in typical Kiryuu fashion, he still holds true that things will work out on their own. I suppose we shall see if things will indeed work out (which I honestly hope so!), but I am more than happy with the conclusion of this volume for our two precious main characters. ~ Laura A. Grace
Strobe Edge, Vol. 1
As Viz nears completion of its run for Love Me, Love Me Not, a series I’ve reviewed volume by volume with much adulation, I’m stepping back in time to read an early series by the same mangaka, Io Sakisaka. Strobe Edge has been much recommended to me from Sakisaka fans, and volume one demonstrates why—it so astutely captures feelings of adolescent love, for better and worse, through the eyes of a clumsy, lovable protagonist and “more than he seems” male lead that she’s become so proficient at creating. In this series, that means Ninako, whose friends assume that she’ll soon date her childhood friend, Daichi, and the school hunk, Ren, whose cold exterior belies a kind heart. It’s a cute read, but becomes something further when a bomb is dropped at the end of chapter three, with the plot continuing to become webbed and tangled through the end of volume one. The mold for her later series, including the popular Ao Haru Ride, seems to have been made here, and just as with that manga and Love Me, Love Me Not, it is both breezy and compelling. I’m eager to see how the web unwinds. ~ Twwk
Strobe Edge 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 Yen Press for providing review copies. Featured illustration by Yampa (reprinted w/permission).