Rascal Does Not Dream of a Sister Home Alone
Keji Mizoguchi’s Rascal series draws you in by the banter between Sakuta and his harem (particularly Mai), but really hinges on the believability of the Adolescent Syndrome (the mysterious happenings to the the protagonist and the girls around him) in each volume. I have issue, also, with the entire foundation of the concept and how Mizoguchi tries to explain it away, but when the stories hit their stride, I’m able to mostly forget that and other problems that take me out of the story and become drawn into the narrative at hand. The early portion of Sister Home Alone—in fact, the first two-thirds—were burdened by uneven writing and that believability problem, most demonstrated through Kaede, a character who has until now mostly functioned as the quirky little sister, but now takes center stage as the focus of this volume. The struggle comes in really seeing her as more than funny element, as one that is an authentic and struggling character, trying to over the anxiety that has pressed her down since her own bout of Adolescence Syndrome (sudden bruises that appear on her body when reacting to social situations after having endured relentless bullying two years prior). She’s created in a way that fits both the “cute little sister” mold one who is experiencing mental illness, and it feels quite cringey. That is, until the final third of the volume, where the plot comes together in a surprisingly masterful stroke. I won’t ruin the surprise—and indeed, it doesn’t feel like much of a surprise at first, but ends up driving the narrative toward a strong ending which demonstrates that Mizoguchi’s improved writing the previous series volume, Rascal Does not Dream of Siscon Idol, wasn’t an aberration, and led me to a better evaluation (if not fully) of the first 2/3 of this volume. Better yet, another storyline that runs side by side of Kaede’s in Sister Home Alone sets the stage for even greater drama in the next volume, ending the light novel on a very nice bit of momentum, and for the first time, making this reviewer eager to reach of what Rascal is dreaming of next. ~ Twwk
Rascal Does Not Dream of a Sister Home Alone is published by Yen Press.*
If the RPG World Had Social Media, Vol. 1
It’s the hero’s job to save the world from the demon lord, but how can that happen when the hero is a level-one weakling who can’t even defeat a slime and has always been a shut-in? Too shy to speak to anyone face to face, “Hero” sticks to texting through his phone. Once he finds out about his journey to stop this evil threat and save the princess who was kidnapped, he decides to text the demon lord and finds out she’s a teenage girl! Of naturally, instead of vanquishing her, they start chatting via text. Featuring plenty of comedy and poking fun at isekai and texting norms, there really isn’t much to the story, at least not in volume one. The characters were silly, which is fun, but not much happens besides texting and the princess hitting on the demon lord whilst enjoying her stay in her castle. I hope the following volumes push the story further to see what else can happen besides just texting (though to be fair, group texting occurs in the story since the hero is too shy to speak to each of the demon lord’s generals directly, so I suppose that’s progress). Maybe they can use Facebook or another social media platform next time? ~ Samuru
If the RPG World Had Social Media is published by Yen Press.*
The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya (Haruhi Suzumiya, Vol. 12), hardcover
More than nine years after the last volume in the series dropped, The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya was finally released last November, digitally to English-speaking audiences the same day as in Japan, and just recently in a physical edition in the U.S (The hardcover copy, by the way, is a nice touch—it’s not anything special, but it reminds me of school hardcovers, and so in that way adds itself to the tone of this school life series). It features three tales—two shorter, previously released chapters, and a long one entitled, “Tsuruya’s Challenge,” focusing on a mystery presented to the S.O.S. Brigade by Tsuruya which the club, together with a visitor, untangle through three apparently autobiographical narratives. Those who have waited for nine years may be disappointed with the lengthy, wordy, detective novel-deconstructing story, but then again, perhaps not, as it’s precisely what fans of the franchise should expect—a continued deeper dive into the Brigade characters (and friends) via conversation and mystery, even if said mystery only advances the plot a tiny bit. Yet, the time spent with these characters and the drops of information which—and is especially stressed in the novel in a meta way—will pay off down the line, that is, if the series ever concludes. We may be in for several more years of waiting for another novel, if we even get one. But somehow, even if we don’t, Intuition has felt from the very first announcement of its release a blessing, and with the volume bookended by a simple but touching recollection about several KyoAni staff who perished in the terrible 2019 fire, another piece that should be cherished, and for which Haruhi fans should be thankful. ~ Twwk
The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya is published by Yen Press.*
Sankarea is a fascinating series. At it’s core, it’s a romantic dramedy about a girl and a boy from different walks of life who end up connecting over a zombie obsession. Oh, and within the first chapters, the girl turns into a zombie herself after a failed suicide attempt and her father accidentally killing her. Yeah, that happens. The series then touches on a variety of complex topics, including self-care, family issues, emotional abuse, romance, and God complexes, all within the confines of an 11-volume series about a boy obsessed with zombies and the zombie girl he falls for. I wasnt sure what to expect, but this enjoyable series defied any expectations I could have had anyway. ~ MDMRN
Sankarea is published by Kodansha.
High School Debut, Vol. 1
Recently I decided to venture into some “shojo classics,” and started with High School Debut, a manga about a young woman who wants to leave her softball-loving junior high days behind and instead pour her energy into finding a boyfriend in high school. With the help of a “coach” (a popular male upperclassman), she hopes to turn her dream into a reality. Maybe because when I started reading, I was only expecting to have a good laugh here and there, but I was completely caught off guard about how much this manga reminded me of being a freshman in high school. The mangaka writes a realistic story of a young woman who genuinely is exhaustively giving her all (and willing to give more!) in order to become attractive to guys. I think because of Haruna’s bright personality, it didn’t make me feel silly that I was once very much in her shoes, even if I didn’t play sports or read manga. Meanwhile the coach, Yoh, may be harsh in his critiques and the advice he gives, but he actually tells Haruna things that (for the most part) should really be taken to heart by a young woman. One quick example is of Yoh telling Haruna that she shouldn’t date just anyone that likes her or wants to date her because otherwise it could lead to her being in a very questionable or creepy situation. Smart thinking. I’m really liking the overall message and Haruna’s bright personality, and am pretty pumped to see where this series goes! ~ Laura A. Grace
High School Debut is published by Viz.
Strobe Edge, Vol. 6
With his relationship with Mayuka now at an end, the doorway seems to be wide open for Ren to date Ninako, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, the opportunity is just right for the two to finally get together. Right? Right? Of course, this is shoujo, so it isn’t quite that easy—Ren may have feelings for Ninako, but has a clearer understanding of “love” than any other character in the series, and as such, it isn’t easy for him to move on from the love he had with Mayuka. And Ninako, if nothing else, worships Ren so much that out of consideration, she wants to give him the space he needs. Oh, and there’s Ando, too, doing more than just lurking in the wings. As in volume five, he continues to mesmerize me here, though this time sharing the stage with Ren through their broship; he also ends up on the receiving end of a stunner at the volume’s conclusion, which is then followed by a one-shot that Sakisaka had previously developed, a pretty interesting concept for a romance and one I wouldn’t have minded reading if it was serialized—a good inclusion to this transitional volume of the series. ~ 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 Yen Press for providing review copies.