Farewell to My Alter
A collection of one shots including the debut commercial work by Nio Nakatani, the writer of Bloom into You, Farewell to My Alter is one of the engaging volumes I’ve read in 2021, not least of which is because the stories contain twist endings. It’s like The Outer Limits or Twilight Zone, except a yuri-centered (mostly) anthology rather than science-fiction, though the stories are diverse and not just centered in modern romance, with fantasy and even high fantasy finding their way in, and even a vtuber story. A mixture of clever writing and meaningful themes are woven into the pieces, many of which had me wishing for longer form series or, as in the in the case of the final story, leaving an impression far more impacting than a 16-page manga should. Bursting with creativity, romance, and heart, Farewell to My Alter is an anthology that’s more than curiosity… ~ Twwk
Farewell to My Alter is published by Yen Press.*
Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 4
Rumiko Takahashi continues to slowly, subtly, draw Godai and Kyoko together, even as her stories continue to be loud and often uproarious funny in volume four of this collector’s edition of the classic, Maison Ikkoku. The silly and always humorous situations around the two are punctuated further by the welcome reappearance of Godai’s lively grandmother. But even as, say, Kyoko and Godai fall into a well or as she catches him taking a girl to “rest” in a love hotel, the sweetness in their story and earnestness of their characters remains, and is heightened as both continue to grow—Kyoko toward moving on from her late husband and Godai toward become a real and true adult. Their relationship is special, and this manga is an enduring classic for a reason—a masterpiece from a master mangaka. Put down your current reads and take a trip down this nostalgic road to see how storytelling and romance do not have to sacrificed for comedy when crafted well. All these elements can all survive, and they can all thrive. ~ Twwk
Maison Ikkoku is published by Viz.*
i love c (Chapter 21)
i love c has ended with a whisper rather than a shout. The final arc of the series completes the tale of a specialized police unit and Risa Aioi, who becomes so obsessed with the criminals they are pursuing that she considers it to be love and, in so doing, is able to solve nearly impossible cases. The manga walks a tight-rope between being very cute and potentially upsetting regarding how its lead character is treated. With Aioi’s obsession with the criminals she is pursuing, it could get very creepy, very quickly as she turns from complete person into a tool to be utilized. Yet, the last arc addresses that well and allows her to be a more fully realized character and shows how her obsessions can even soften and change the criminals she is pursuing. While they do feature some of the best moments in the series, the last few chapters were generally very middling and did not accomplish much, so part of me wishes it just ended on the tail end of the Mar arc, but it is what it is. I still enjoyed the series. ~ MDMRN
i love c is published by Viz Media under their Shonen Jump imprint.
The Detective is Already Dead, Volume 1
A title can sell a story, and that’s exactly what The Detective Is Already Dead did for me. I was quickly sucked into Kimihiko’s life (the main character) as a former detective’s assistant, now returning to school but once again being drawn into a mystery, and found myself more than once sneaking away to read this volume. I absolutely loved the combination of genres within—this was more than just a thriller! There’s a depth to each of the characters I wasn’t prepared for as my previous experiences with light novels have been more light and easygoing. There were also many strong one liners that struck a chord within me, such as this one: “If you’re nobody yet, that means you can become anybody you want.” I was also excited to realize how the cover plays a role within the story, a neat way of drawing events together. Having a story centered around the idea of there not being a such thing as coincidences, and memory transference concerning a certain character was genius, and the flashbacks were enjoyable as well, and in fact, my favorite part. Plus, when some really lively characters are thrown in, the potential arises for good humor, action, and character growth (all delivered in this volume). The Detective is Already Dead was indeed a very fun ride, but also a moving one, too, with a realness woven into every word that captured me, including the afterword, completing a most compelling work. ~ Laura A. Grace
The Detective is Already Dead is published by Yen Press.*
Reincarnated as a Dragon Hatchling, Vol. 1
There’s this isekai light novel with the title, “Reincarnated as a [something non-human],” published by Seven Seas. The protagonist starts out alone, killing monsters to level up RPG-style and gain new abilities. Eventually, the protagonist acquires a companion of sorts, but the bulk of story consists of lengthy, blow by blow combat scenes, and/or RPG-like status screen information listing skills and statistics. Now, everything I just said is equally true of both Reincarnated as a Sword and Reincarnated as a Dragon Hatchling. The former has eight volumes published in English, while the first volume of the latter just came out. Also, I recently called Sword a good but notably flawed light novel, and Dragon Hatchling shares those issues, on top of having weaker world-building and fewer character interactions. I think I would rate Dragon Hatchling more highly if I’d never read Sword, but as it is, I found the story underwhelming and derivative, and I am unsure whether I’ll try the next volume. In conclusion, I must be Ice-type, because this light novel was weak to me! ~ jeskaiangel
Reincarnated as a Dragon Hatchling is published by Seven Seas.
One Week Friends, Vol. 5
I am so struck by the turn of events in volume five of One Week Friends! I wished desperately that my words could reach Hase and that I could encourage his heart because that ending was such a heart wrecker; it had my heart breaking and me wiping tears from my eyes. That said, this is another very good volume featuring some reconciliation and friendships rekindling, as well as new ones forming. Hase was even given more exceptional growth than he in the previous volume. But then you get to the conclusion and it hits you like a ton of rocks, and you’re just trying to figure out what is going on because surely, surely, what is unfolding is not unfolding. Here’s hoping that my heart will be put back together in volume six, and that we get more sweet moments between Kiryuu and Yamagishi, and healing for others.
~ Laura A. Grace
The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya
For all it’s humor and the often whimsical adventures taken by the SOS Brigade, the Haruhi Suzumiya series has from its very beginning, and by its premise, led the readers to understand that a major conflict is coming, that indeed, without it there may be no resolution to this story about a goddess who may unwittingly destroy the world if she should get depressed, angry, or jealous. After the side story tone of the previous volume in the Haruhi Suzumiya series, Disassociation moves down the path of conflict at a surprisingly quick pace. New characters are introduced, several of of which are quite fascinating, and Kyon is thrown once again into the center of a possibly world-changing event, even as the series continues to play with its novel structure in another unique and effective way, and one which aligns quite nicely with the title of this volume, both structurally and tonally. A brisk and thrilling read, Disassociation sets the stage for big events ahead, which only makes me feel more and more akin to a ASOIAF fan, knowing that as the novels get better and better, the time until a conclusion feels further and further away. ~ Twwk
The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya is published by Yen Press.*
Strobe Edge, Vol. 2
Reading through Sakisaka’s works in a backwards fashion (This is the third and earliest of hers that I’m reading through) not only reveals some of her signatures story lines and “moves,” like having the boy get very physically close to the girl—practically hugging her—to hide her from an unwanted visitor, but also reminds that she often complicates situations to create conflict. I wouldn’t call these developments disingenuous (not completely), for the serendipity and chance marks almost everything that happens in her plot, but they can be frustrating. There are signs that Strobe Edge will head that way, as it does heavily in Ao Haru Ride (but far less so in Love Me, Love Me Not), though for now, the story remains fairly simple and straightforward, even as a love triangle begins to develop (and not the one that might be expected from volume one) and Ninako becomes closer to Ren. My experience with Sakisaka is that she’s at her best when her characters are at their most innocent, even if they’re struggling, and volume two still has them in this state. I hope it continues this way, because Strobe Edge is a cute, addicting read featuring leads that I already care for. I must admit, though, that one part I didn’t care for was the bonus chapter included in this collection: An 8th grade / 10th grade romance is a bit much, even if we’re told over and over again that the middle schooler is mature. No thanks. Let’s focus at just on high school. ~ 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 Viz Media and Yen Press for providing review copies.