Gacha Girls Corps, Vol. 1
Gacha Girl Corps imagines that a gacha addict—in this case, series protagonist Heihachi—is isekai’d into his mobile game and discovers that his rolls might lead to collecting real characters in the form of cute but fierce young women. Based on a light novel, the premise is a simple but fun way to combine humor (particularly through playing with gacha game tropes), a fantasy setting, the isekai genre, and, I’m assuming, a harem-style story. Nothing is too serious in volume one, which has Heihachi learning about his new world and the mechanics of the “game,” while slicing and dicing through goblins and orcs with the Valkyrie Norl, who is his first pull. And indeed, it’s not about the violence, nor about the occasionally strong fanservice. What volume one points toward instead is a cute harem tale. And if volume two, presumably focusing on Heihachi’s second pull, is as kawaii as the first, I might find myself collecting volumes of this manga like he collects mages and warriors. ~ Twwk
Gacha Girl Corps is published by Kaiten Books.*
My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero’s, Vol. 1
Disclaimer: a work being loaded to the gills with tropes doesn’t necessarily mean the work is “bad.” Next, I’d say, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before,” but you’ve definitely heard this story of an OP isekai protagonist previously. As I read this volume, I constantly found myself thinking, “Oh, this reminds me of [anime / light novel / video game].” Summoned to a fantasy world along with his high school classmates to defeat the Demon Lord, Akira soon finds himself betrayed and his mentor murdered. He flees into the depths of a dungeon, where he happens upon a beautiful elf princess (who falls in love with him at first sight) and acquires a shapeshifting cat familiar. Need I go on? Just about every character, plot twist, and world-building detail feels familiar. None of this means the story is bad; I actually did enjoy reading it. If you can get past how overwhelmingly derivative it feels, there are some truly fun moments (e.g., Akira hilariously refusing to kill the aforementioned cat-demon because he’d rather just pet the kitty). I can’t say for certain that I’ll never read volume two, but I also can’t promise that I will. ~ jeskaiangel
My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero’s is published by Seven Seas.
Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry, Vol. 2
A lovely blend of isekai, fantasy, mystery, romance, and a bit of Harry Potter continues in volume two of Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry. Whereas volume one focused both on Leticiel’s past as a powerful sorceress princess and then the mystery of her reincarnation as the magic-less and scorned noble, Drossel, these chapters introduce new characters and deepen relationships and rivalries among others, as the heroine and her newfound companions, consisting of commoners and lower nobles, challenge the haughty prince (and Drossel’s fiance) during a school excursion and test. What continues to be captivating with this series—other than the glorious artwork and beautiful character designs—is how well-structured the plot is. There are layers upon layers to explore, which keep the reader from feeling that this is the “same old tale.” And while the action at the end of the volume isn’t unexpected, per se, there’s yet another reveal that is. And so, add “thriller” to the list of other adjectives describing this work, which is as compelling as any new manga release in 2021. ~ Twwk
Her Royal Highness Seems to Be Angry is published by Tokyopop.*
The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious, Vol. 1
So the gimmick behind this one is that a young boy is totally smitten with the maid he hired, but because he’s too young to really understand romance, he thinks she’s up to something suspicious… and he uses words that make it so obvious how much he likes her that it ends up making her flustered. So yeah, this one features romantic tension between a boy no older than his early teens and a girl at least in her older teens. That could very well lead to a big fat “nope” for a number of people. It doesn’t help that the maid is notably drawn to how her outfit exposes her skin, and while the series avoids getting too fanservicey, it still brings a fair amount of attention to that aspect. If you can look past all of that, The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious is a bit of a silly romcom about a boy and his maid, with a kind of heartwarming aspect given how the boy lost his family and the maid is the only person he is close to. But that’s a big if, fully dependent on how much you are okay keeping the whole thing in the realm of fiction. ~ stardf29
The Maid I Hired Recently Is Mysterious is published by Yen Press.*
The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting, Vol. 1
Unexpected, heartwarming, and funny, volume one of The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is an impressive bit of storytelling. Rejecting the route of a straight-up odd-couple comedy, mangaka Tsukiya instead adds humorous touches throughout a series focused on how Yaeka, the young and quiet daughter of the Sakuragi family boss, changes the life of Kirishima, the overly violent family enforcer, who is charged by Yae-chan’s father to babysit her. There’s plenty of comedy here, certainly, and especially through bonus panels at the end of every chapter which depict events from earlier in the same event, but really it’s the tension between yakuza life—not shown in graphic detail, but still casting a shadow over the lighter elements of the work—and Kirishima’s rearing of Yae, along with the changes occurring to both the the babysitter and his charge, that make volume one so engrossing, and this series so potentially special. A lovely, lovely read, and one of my favorites thus far in 2021. ~ Twwk
The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting is published by Kaiten Books.*
Pokémon: Sword & Shield, Vol. 1
I am going to be honest, I do I love me some Pokémanga. I am already working my way through the Sun and Moon manga when the opportunity came to review volume one of Pokémon: Sword & Shield. I mean, obviously I am going to say yes. Gimme dat Pokémanga. Basically, the story is similar to that of mainline story of the Sword and Shield games. You meet the titular characters (Sword and Shield). They have their starter Pokémon. We see the Champion Leon get himself into a situation and eventually be helped by our duo. Then we see as Leon recommends the duo to Gym Challenge for Galar. The first volume also introduces the reader to a number of the specific gimmicks, new ‘Mons, and some of the key players in the Galar region, so those with a basic Pokémon understanding who haven’t played the games yet can jump right in too. It’s fun, it’s approachable for all ages, and it is definitely something I want to continue. Like I said, gimme that Pokémanga. ~ MDMRN
Pokémon: Sword & Shield, Vol. 1 is published by Viz Media.*
Strobe Edge, Vol. 5
As the “will they or won’t they?” story between Ren and Ninako moves forward (and indeed, there is considerable plot progression in this volume—it’s a difficult charge to ever levy against Sakisaka that “nothing happens” in her chapters), a surprisingly sweet and affecting portion of Strobe Edge is developed with a heavy focus on Ando in these chapters. It’s always been hinted at that he’s more than playboy and that even that part of him is there for a reason; volume five explains more and more about that part of his life and helps to round him out as the most developed character so far in this series, and one now fully arriving as a strong and believable love rival (in the readers’ eyes at least, if not in Ninako’s), with the final dagger thrust in by the inclusion of a short middle school flashback section that concludes this release, which features Sakisaka’s writing at its best—authentic, biting, and heartwrenching. That said, the exploration into Ando’s psyche and past is surely a detour; the central conceit remains whether or not these young characters’ definition of love, which is more fully set in limerence rather than commitment and follow-through, is strong enough to surpass obstacles like commitment and follow-through. Certain events of this volume indicate, perhaps unfortunately, that it is. ~ 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 Kaiten Books, Tokyopop, Viz Media, and Yen Press for providing review copies.