Reader’s Corner: Unnamed Memory, Assassin’s Creed Dynasty, and The Faraway Paladin

Unnamed Memory, Vol. 3

SPOILER WARNING: Spoiler-free tl;dr: I greatly enjoyed this volume and recommend this series. I also recommend that you start with the first volume and encounter the foreshadowing and plot twists naturally.

Now, if you don’t mind spoilers… This volume wraps up the year-long contract between Oscar, the cursed king, and Tinasha, the Witch of the Azure Moon. In this volume you’ll find the usual delightful combination of fantasy-adventure-romantic-comedy-mystery elements you’d expect based on the first two volumes. Oscar and Tinasha battle Leonora, the Witch Who Cannot Be Summoned. And they get married! This volume feels less slice-of-life-y than its predecessors, building cohesively on existing plot threads and foreshadowing more. And just as was promised in the first volume, the Age of Witches does end. If you count “never happening at all because the past changed due to time travel” as “ending” something. I…didn’t see that coming. There were multiple hints that time travel would come up at some point, but I never imagined the author would do something so bold with it. The change to the timeline is a surprisingly satisfying one, and mitigates my potential frustration over erasing the story as we know it. I am very much looking forward to the next volume and seeing where the story goes from this cliffhanger. My regard for Unnamed Memory continues to rise. I totally recommend it. ~ jeskaiangel

Unnamed Memory is published by Yen Press.

The Faraway Paladin (Manga) Omnibus 1

Isekai light novels often fail to capture me, largely in part because I feel that most are a pale imitation of western fantasy works, almost “cheating” by stealing settings and archetypes without doing the work of properly establishing worlds, mechanics, and the like. However, I’ve been exposed to several series as of late that have rolled me off of this assumption, including this initial omnibus version of The Faraway Paladin, a manga adaptation of the light novel. An impressive amount of “god-building” is at work in the story, and in fact is its most important aspect early on as young Will, having been transported to a world where he’s raised by an undead warrior, magician, and holy woman, must consider to whom he will give his allegiance and how one particular god may become a personal enemy. The tone moves between the tropey manga kind we all love and a more haunting, melancholy one, both punctuated by the presence of three undead characters who by the end of volume two, had absolutely stolen my heart, setting the stage for a fearsome and thrilling final quarter that otherwise seemed to arrive and develop a tad bit too quickly. In fact, events happened so fast that I thought this might be a one-volume series, but thankfully, more are upcoming. I’m eager to see whether the promise of what is mostly a fantasy slice of life in this edition will be fulfilled in the fuller plot and action that assuredly lies ahead.~ Twwk

The Faraway Paladin (manga) is published by J-Novel Club.* We also recommend reading the recent Light Novel Club discussion on volume one of the original work.

Assassin’s Creed Dynasty, Vol. 1

Every Assassin’s Creed title is based in a different time and region, with this one set in China during the Tang Dynasty. The main character is an assassin without a brotherhood (group of assassins), and wants to kill those that stole the flowers that are being used in a festival. At the same time, there is tension between General An, who serves to protect the nation’s border, and the Chancellor. The drawings in this manga are detailed and the fight scenes look similar to the game. It’s a pretty quick read since backgrounds and fights cover about half or more of the volume, helping to create a fun ride. I noticed how the main character believes that doing harm to some does good for others: an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. I wonder if this will backfire on him later on, as revenge has always been the headline in the franchise. I would have liked some more backstory or motivation for why he decided to become a murderer, but maybe that will be fleshed out in volume two. In fact, Assassin’s Creed has always been a series with a deeper story than what is shown at first, so that’s likely, and I look forward to reading more of what comes of this lone warrior who defends the weak.

“We work in the dark to serve the light.” ~ Samuru

Assassin’s Creed Dynasty is published by Tokyopop.*

High School Debut, Vol. 3

I can no longer deny that I am hooked on this series! In fact, I sort of have to laugh because Haruna’s younger teammates from junior high say something along the lines of “the same Haruna who would buy ten comics a month?!” and with how fast I’m reading this series, I couldn’t help but see myself in her! In this volume, Haruna once again shows how brave of a young woman she is. While she might be nervous, she really does jump in and “step up to the plate.” I loved how she learned things Yoh had told her in past situations and applied them for herself in a few scenes without him even being there. It was really special and made me proud. This indeed was also the swoon volume because we finally are seeing the ultimate ship, but it’s looking different than I and even what the characters expected, I think. But even though it’s divergent, it’s still beautiful. Haruna is starry-eyed (making her still a very relatable character) and Yoh is surprisingly “clueless” in a certain department, so there is an innocence here, and I really love it. High School Debut is wholesome and sweet, and definitely makes me laugh. ~ Laura A. Grace

High School Debut is published by Viz Media.

Strobe Edge, Vol. 8

“Sometimes talking about stuff helps,” Ren says to Ninako toward the end of volume eight, revealing the one thing that would have resolved the entire series several volumes ago, and the one thing that neither of the two are willing to do. Instead, Strobe Edge has been going in circles for the last several volumes, and no introduction of new characters (though one is really easy to hate and the other really easy to love) or headspace justifications can can distract the reader from the simple fact that all Ninako needs to do is explain herself to someone, anyone, and talk things through to realize she’s quite off base from her assumptions. It’s frustrating, which can be an emotion one wants to feel when reading shoujo, but not when its disingenuous, and Strobe Edge is edging nearer and nearer to that point. Maybe I’m being too harsh—if so, I’ll chalk that up to a volume that’s too light on my favorite, Ando. Here’s hoping for more of him in volume nine, and more importantly, an end to this disappointing roadblock, which by all indications are both likely to happen. Hurray.~ Twwk

Strobe Edge is published by Viz Media.

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 Tokyopop and J-Novel Club for providing review copies.

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