Reader’s Corner: Transformers, Big Hero 6: The Series, and The Executioner and Her Way of Life

Big Hero 6: The Series, Vol. 1

Attention BH6 fans: This new manga series is not a reissue or repackaging of the original Marvel. It’s brand new material and instead a few generations removed, based on the TV show that’s based on the movie that’s based on the Marvel comic book series. Get all that? Indeed, the final product looks like it’s been through the adaption wringer, with smatterings of the movie making their way into the story lines of this volume’s three chapters, as well as moments of the less powerful Disney TV series, too, but nonetheless, it’s surprisingly effective. Released through the Yen Press JY brand for children and adolescents, volume one features a good dose of humor, a reliance on old characters that fans of any of previous iterations will know and love (as well as introductions of what I assume are comic-only characters, including a new young genius that’s quite a fun addition), and a mixture of episodic and arc-style stories, sometimes both within the same chapter. There’s ambition shining through what might otherwise (and occasionally does) feel like a derivative piece, functioning as a way for younger readers to perhaps build a bridge between the Disney cartoon and the more extensive and ambitious worlds that manga, comics, and graphic novels can provide. And while that may not be enough to tingle adult readers’ needs, it’s still wholly enjoyable if they approach the manga as a side story type addition to the franchise, reveling in the heart and goodness carried over from the film. In other words, if you lower your expectation, you may just find yourself enjoying this manga. ~ Twwk

Big Hero 6: The Series is published by Yen Press, and will be available for purchase on August 24th.*

I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway!, Vol. 1

Trying new reads can bring a lot of trepidation. But based off a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway! and found it to be excellent! This is my first read in the “Reincarnated as the Villainess” genre and most likely won’t be my last (especially since I preordered volume two of this manga)! Mystia Aren, said reincarnated villainess, is doomed to die in the otome game she once played before she died in her past life. Now determined to change her fate in her second life, Mystia sets out to do whatever she can to keep her noble family and servants safe, but having all the boys love her makes the end goal more challenging then she expected. We only meet two of the four “targets” in this volume, but I very much already like the “Sparkling Prince” with his unexpected backstory. However, even more then liking his character, I deeply love Mystia. I find her actions intimately relatable in wanting to help those around her (and not ignoring someone in need) and easily found myself cheering for her! She is very kind and thoughtful, which is extremely different from the original otome villainess (and leaving me hoping that Mystia will get a happily ever after with Mr. Sparkling Prince). This wholesome volume is definitely the perfect light, fluffy, and feel good story I didn’t know I was looking for! ~ Laura A. Grace

I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway! is published by TOKYOPOP.

The Executioner and Her Way of Life, Vol. 2

Ambitious right from volume one—structurally and by plot—The Executioner and Her Way of Life often feels more akin to a western fantasy work than a grimdark light novel, which is what sets it apart in a world of isekai offerings. In fact, the series rarely allows you to remember that it’s an isekai; readers barely have time to catch their breath, the final portion of volume two especially so. It’s the worth the slog through the sluggish first third (which was largely rewritten at the last minute) as author Mato Sato works through his struggles with weak characterization until the volume starts pulling readers forward, making good on promises inferred in the first volume that events would become even more menacing and the stakes would become untolerably high with Menou continuing in her quest to assassinate her nigh-unkillable travel partner (and possible love interest) Akari, even as new and ancient threats, both, loom. The wonderfully discomforting tone of the initial offering continues, as does development of the fantastic magical system that Sato has created for his world, though the author spends little time explaining it, often leaving me to wonder if it’s quite as workable as I’ve assumed it is, or if I’m giving it a pass because I don’t understand the inner workings. In addition, if there’s a severe failing here, it’s with the coincidences and deus ex machinas used to work around the problems of powerful heroes and villains fighting one another while keeping the plausibility of both possibly dying. That’s something I hope Sato figures out moving forward, but I think he will judging by the strength of his writing, revealed through clever turns of plot in this volume, including an ingenious solution—as I see it—to Akari’s up until now unreasonable personality. I would be remiss, too, if I failed to mention the beautiful illustrations by nilitsu, which work as perfect companions to the series, improving it by capturing the beauty of this world and thankfully, at to this reader, largely omitting the frighteningly gory aspects of the book, which are used by Sato to full effect. Beware, those of light stomachs! But come to feast anyway, if you can handle it, as the potential for this work to rise above the fold is rapidly materializing, and all acclaim is well-earned. ~ Twwk

The Executioner and Her Way of Life is published by Yen Press.

Transformers: The Manga, Vol. 1

My nine-year old son and I went on a manga shopping date recently, and when he saw Transformers: The Manga, he became really excited and asked if we could purchase it. Having read it after him, I honestly felt I had a “second chance” to embrace my inner kid again! While the manga doesn’t have a clear timeline, it captures the iconic Autobots and Deceptions in the first battles on Cybertron and Earth; adventures with a young boy named Kenji (who is almost like a “human Autobot”); and new challenges the Autobots face after a great loss to their team. While the lack of a timeline does make the “story” confusing at times, the art is absolutely incredible and stirred a very strong appreciation in me to slow down and just admire the artwork alone. The bonus illustration section (which contains quite a few colored pages and is a fairly hefty section in itself) was a wonderful addition! My nine-year-old very much enjoyed this manga and said he loved that it included so many Transformers. I would add that I also enjoyed this, though I also agree with him that because there are so many Transformers, it can be hard to differentiate between who is who (especially if there is a lack of an Autobot/Decepticon symbol). I definitely recommend this to fans of Transformers who want to read the original “comics” as well as discover some fun behind-the-scenes concerning the original anime. I know my oldest is looking forward to picking up the second volume and can say that I am, too! ~ Laura A. Grace

Transformers: The Manga is published by Viz.

Strobe Edge, Vol. 7

A confusing aspect of Strobe Edge, to me, is whether or not Sakisaka is trying to tell us something about the nature of love—confusing because she seems to be sending mixed messages. In volume seven, pages and pages are spent on Ninako’s assertions about desiring to just stay close to Ren and not let him know that she doesn’t see him solely as a friend, or otherwise their relationship would crumble. It’s put forward as a plausible interim solution, keeping the story “innocent,” but also denying the very real impact that emotions can have, both lasting and temporary. Meanwhile, a surprise story involving supporting characters points at the fleeting nature of such emotions and how they can trick the heart, almost as if the manga’s theme is in direct opposition of that expressed through the central would-be couple! And no surprise, the stories that express the significance of love above infatuation are most engaging because there’s so much more depth to the experience with love as action as opposed to tingling sensations and obsession. Even if Sakisaka ultimately doesn’t say anything profound about love in this piece, I’m glad that she’s included bits and pieces like that mentioned above (accompanied by another lovely bonus chapter), as far more than Ren and Ninako’s tale, it’s these bits that have kept me reading. ~ Twwk

Strobe Edge is published by Viz.

High School Debut, Vol. 2

I wouldn’t guess I could find a “female rival” to Haikyu!!’s Hinata, full of a similar optimism and sunny personality, but Haruna from High School Debut makes a worthy contender for the title! She really knows how to be a friend that goes above and beyond, to show grace even if me as a reader struggled with her doing so. She is consistently bringing a smile to my face with her antics and her joy. In volume two, Haruna is realizing that she might have found her “first love,” but not everyone is on board with her being with this certain person. As a result, this might be my first shojo title where I really felt some strong dislike towards a female character, one whom I wanted walk off the pages and not return. Despite having no desire to see that character for a while, I was mostly filled by some wonderful goodies in this volume! It featured a sports aspect that I absolutely loved and Yoh “redeeming” himself from a comment he made in the previous volume of telling Haruna she shouldn’t work out. The ending, also, makes me really excited for the next volume, as I’m fairly sure I’m not wrong in imagining a certain character has loosened up!  ~ Laura A. Grace

High School Debut 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.

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