The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya
While I started the Haruhi Suzumiya light novels long ago, it’s only since the announcement of Intuition that I decided to make my way through them all. And I’m glad I waited so long, for I can’t imagine being a fan and only getting one new novel in the thirteen years between Dissociation (2007) and Intuition (2020). That volume, presented in two parts, is The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya, the longest work in the series by a long shot. The length is necessary, though, as two separate timelines with their concurrent stories continue in Surprise after beginning in the previous work, and together place Haruhi and the SOS Brigade in perhaps the worst peril they’ve been in. The storylines also give greater agency to and a fuller reveal of antagonists in the series and continue to emphasize the important of one new character, Sasaki, and introducing another, both of whom may change everything in the franchise (or perhaps nothing at all). While author Nagaru Tanigawa apologizes profusely in the afterword for the four-year wait, the result must not have only softened the blow for readers in 2013, but made them forget about it entirely, as Surprise is the most intense of all the volumes to date, and one of the most emotional. It’s also the best, with the α and β structure working flawlessly and without a wasted sentence or word in the 360-page work. I wasn’t able to put the volume down, which now has me worried, for after I review Intuition, I’ll be like all the rest of the Haruhi fans—waiting for the next volume of this classic light novel series, which for me has now settled into its rightful position for as “favorite.” ~ Twwk
The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya is published by Yen Press.*
Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 6
This manga (alternately known as Tonikawa) continues to be hilarious and adorable, and the theme of this volume seems to be cuteness. There’s cuteness displayed by skipping school. Nasa’s cousin Galaxy drops by and he’s not yakuza or cute, but he does bring a cute kitten. Nasa makes a profound discovery: “Adding cuteness to cuteness results in cuteness squared.” Cute apparel appears. Nasa and Tsukasa moonlight as play-by-play commentators on someone else’s date. The fourth wall gets broken, which isn’t necessarily cute, but is funny. “Any resemblance to an actual attraction in an actual theme park is purely coincidental.” And of course some pop culture references. I (still) love this manga. ~ jeskaiangel
Fly Me to the Moon is published by Viz.*
Sadako-san and Sadako-chan
What happens when Ringu‘s Sadako shows up in the room of a lonely little who has been kept home alone by an overly protective mother? They become friends and decide to start a cursed YouTube channel! No, I am not kidding. Much like Sadako at the End of the World, this is a cute, comedy adaptation of the character that I really had a lot of fun with. From seeing the world react to cursed videos on YouTube (that don’t feel cursed) to the two Sadakos trying to come up with new content to keep their channel relevant, it’s just a lot of silly fun. Yet, behind a lot of it, the child that Sadako meets is, well, lfet home alone by a parent that has kept her locked away in the house. There’s a sad underlying part to the story that is tragic and may be what pulled at the evil Sadako’s heartstrings…and mine. ~ MDMRN
Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is published by Seven Seas.
Play It Cool, Guys, Vol. 2
Our goofy guys are back in Play It Cool, Guys volume two, and I was far from disappointed with this excellent sequel! I laughed so much (if not just as much as with volume one) because seeing these guys fumble into the silliest of goofs makes for a wonderful evening of giggles and smothered laughter so as to not wake up sleeping children (as was my case). While volume one was more episodic-like, this work shaped up to be more of a continuous story. I greatly enjoyed how the mangaka was able to weave these guys into each other’s lives because I would have been super bummed if they didn’t interact more with another (which was the number one thing I wanted most in this volume). I very very very much enjoyed all the guys being together and even two of them having a mentor-like role! One thing that surprised me is that Souma was my “least favorite” character before, but I deeply enjoyed him in this volume. He has such a heart of gold and his goofs cracked me up the most! Hayate is still my favorite and adore his character to pieces! He continues to be such a cinnamon roll. Shun and Mimi-san are still amazing as ever, as well. The art also continues to be incredible! I highly recommend Play It Cool, Guys to those looking to have a good time with fun characters! ~ Laura A. Grace
My Wife is an Oni, Vol. 5
My Wife is an Oni is a very cute manga doujinshi about a normal guy with an Oni for a wife and the cute interactions that happen with them at home. I mean, that’s the basic premise and each volume just continues to bring the cute, married couple that love each other’s interactions. Volume five covers Valentine’s Day and April Fool’s Day, as well as some just cute interactions between the two. What I appreciate about this series is that the interaction between the leads feels authentic. It is not the overly chaste married couples you see in some stories, but also not the aggressively sexual kind you see in others. It walks the line and, in so doing, makes this human-monster couple feel more real than others I’ve seen. So looking forward to when Irodori translates more of this doujinshi. ~ MDMRN
My Wife is an Oni (Volume 5) is published by Irodori Aqua.
Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 9
With Yuna and Rio now dating, one would think the action in the series would shift more fully toward Akari and Inui, but volume nine of Love Me, Love Me Not (Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare) very wisely remembers Yuna’s insecurities, which don’t disappear just because she’s now dating Rio, and explores how they impact their new relationship. Meanwhile, family issues haunt both Akari and Inui, who in good shoujo tradition (and Sakisaka tradition, too) remain mistaken about how the other feels and continue to march toward the precipice of becoming a “what might have been.” Having now read most of this series, Ao Haru Ride, and much of Strobe Edge (volume three reviewed below), I can appreciate how Sakisaka has grown as an author, focusing on the appropriate naivete of her high-school aged characters, and using outside variables to shake up relationships, but keeping the story centered and engaging. It remains a lovely read, and one with plenty of time (three remaining volumes) to push these young couples (real or would-be) away from or toward each other, heightening a sense of drama that feeds into this excellent series. ~ Twwk
Love Me, Love Me Not is published by Viz.*
One Week Friends, Volume 6
I am so very grateful that the opening of One Week Friends volume six was much happier than I anticipated it would be after I cried quite a bit at the end of volume five. That said, of all the volumes to this point, I think this might be the one I would label as the “heartbreaker.” Hase’s struggle leapt off the page and wrapped around me. Seeing his emotions so transparently as a reader and then reading the quick backstory chapter of why he befriended Shougo really pulled at my heart strings. Hase is such a realistic character and while it’s hard on me to see him struggle, reading about his challenges makes me feel less alone. I do feel bad for Fujimiya, though, because while she may not have her memories, she’s not dumb. She’s observant and even if she can’t fully pinpoint what’s going on, Fujimiya knows something’s wrong. I was also really impressed with how this mangaka is bringing everyone together and in full circle. That ending was slightly crushing, so I’m very thankful to have the next volume on hand. And speaking of, it’s hard to believe volume seven is the last one. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.~ Laura A. Grace
Strobe Edge, Vol. 3
The two characters in Strobe Edge that are most likeable—clumsy heroine Ninako and handsome good boy Ren—are drawing closer and closer towards intimacy, though each is too naive to see it. Others do, though, including Ando, who comes into his own in this excellent third volume. Sakisaka doesn’t dwell too long one one scene, jumping quickly from page to page to new actions and interactions, which is compelling to see in a romantic narrative, particularly when done wisely, slowly revealing motivations and developing relationships with characters, piece by piece. Such quick action is typically better suited for comedy, and does fit well with the charming and cute humor of the series (which is its best quality), but is working well in other traditional shoujo elements of series, too, as the drama slowly unfolds. I’m eager to see where Sakisaka takes this tale, because it can’t help but get messy, and innocent characters will be forced to grow up—or will they? I do believe there’s going to come a point where the characters (and thus the manga) will need to either justify their actions in complicated and disappointing ways, or will confront their feelings and actions; that point will help define the series as something both thoughtful and lovely or as more of disappointing read. It’s trending toward the earlier, but both options remain on the table. ~ 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. Featured illustration by Puracotte (reprinted w/permission).