Reader’s Corner: Fly Me to the Moon, Meikyuu, and Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance

Fly Me to the Moon (Tonikawa), Vol. 7

To no one’s surprise, this lovely manga continues to be sweet and hilarious. Highlights this time include Tsukasa making Nasa do his homework to watch Avengers: Endgame, and the fourth wall-breaking line, “I hope she never reads this manga…” Of note, I felt like this volume had fewer pop culture references than usual (or maybe they were present and I didn’t just recognize them?). Also, volume seven is a little bit more, for lack of a better term, “risqué,” than its predecessors. Not that it’s literally risqué or fanservicey or anything, just that I felt like this volume moves a little in that direction. This manga has always teased readers with seemingly suggestive situations that get comically subverted, but I felt like volume seven edges very slightly closer to actual suggestive situations. It leads me to wonder if the series will end up getting less wholesome at some point; I certainly hope not. On the whole, I didn’t love this volume quite as much as those before it, but it’s still very good, and I will look forward to the next. ~ jeskaiangel

Fly Me to the Moon is published by Viz. Volume 7 releases on September 14th.*

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1

“The High Republic” is an ambitious series of Star Wars media—YA and adult novels, comics, and now manga—released starting this year and focusing on a time of Jedi prominence, centuries before the events of the Skywalker saga. I’m a bit behind, admittedly, but am excited about the project, which begins with a hyperspace accident that sets the stories in motion. The Edge of Balance is another admirable attempt by the Star Wars brand to be as as authentically Japanese as possible with its manga works, with creators from that country, both of whom I was previously familiar, working with Justina Ireland on this first volume that centers on an event that would seem small in the big picture of the universe’s happenings, as Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi assists refugees settling on the planet, Banchii, along with her master, the Wookie Arkoff, her padawan, and two younglings. Although a bit stilted at times, the writers and artist do a lovely job of creating a unsettling tone as the story rushes toward its climax and even past, juxtaposed against the expected “wisdom” of the Jedi that’s frequently spouted, including by Lily, who is a fascinating lead—young, beautiful, calm, and questioning, and the youth aspect that’s emphasized by Lily and the other junior characters. This is meant for middle grade to young adult readers, and as such, it may not provide the fullness that adult Star Wars fans expect, but there is complexity here to challenge adolescents and which satisfied me, and a compelling story that seems to be developing—though having only dipped a toe into the High Republic series before The Edge of Balance, I’m not sure if balance can be achieved without reading some or all of the rest. I have a feeling that the project is an MCU-ification of Star Wars, with The Edge of Balance being an entry point for younger ones. If so, there are worse ways to jump into an exciting new world. ~ Twwk

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance is published by Viz.

The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1-20

Emma doesn’t want any of her precious family to die. Even after her world crumbles, she won’t let this crazy hope be crushed. But can a wish like that guide her in a world where humans are expendable, numbers, resources? A world of evil geniuses with unlimited resources and ancient enemies that defy her understanding? Ever since our writer thathilomgirl recommended it to me in a comment to my very first post at Beneath the Tangles, I had been wanting to read the full original manga of my favorite anime series ever (more so because I think that season two, despite a powerful beginning, lost its pace four or five chapters in). This summer, I finally found the opportunity to do so. I soon forgot that I was reading a black and white comic. The manga has every bit of the power the first season had. The art is amazing. The rhythm is on point. David versus Goliath stories are not uncommon, but few manage to be so horrifying yet adventurous, so clever and poetic, so funny yet so morally serious, so dark yet so full of light. The moment I realized what the pattern of the numbers was, for example, was one of sheer joy that reminded me of reading Sherlock Holmes stories as a teen. In the midst of the interesting twists and complicated enigmas, the characters, old and new, remain as compelling. The story of Emma, Norman, and Ray and the violent clash between hope and a dire world of lies, sin, and demons, remains one of my favorite stories in any genre in its manga form. It is true that, once the world is known, it loses some of its mystery, and I’d say that the first arcs are the strongest. But the rest is also artistically satisfying, intriguing, moving, and unafraid of making tough choices when necessary. And deeply, deeply hopeful. As Norman would say, “Come with me, and I will show you something cool.” ~ Gaheret

The Promised Neverland is published by Jump Comics.

Meikyuu: Labyrinth Kingdom, a Tactical Fantasy World Survival Guide, Vol. 1

We have not yet exhausted the potential for fun twists on the isekai premise. Taiga Andou-Garrett is a half-British, half-Japanese SAS veteran in his mid-thirties, with extensive training and years of special operations experience under his belt. After getting attacked by a bird-man and an eel-man in an airport restroom (really), Taiga finds himself in Million Dungeon, a place that’s sort of like if you crossed Tolkien’s Mines of Moria (there’s even a pseudo-Balrog) with the titular structure of Yokohama Station SF. The entire world has been engulfed by a chaotic labyrinth of caves and tunnels. I was also reminded of Spiderweb Software’s old-school Avernum RPGs, about survival in a vast underground maze. Anyway, Taiga soon finds himself elected king-in-all-but-name of a small band of disaster survivors. Adventures and hilarity ensue. Colorful characters aid him, such as Troach of the Complicated Past, a (former) thief, or Astoria the Wing-Blessed, a knight who livestreams her battles on the magical equivalent of Twitch/Youtube. I had a lot of fun with this volume and will definitely plan to read the next one. ~ jeskaiangel

Meikyuu: Labyrinth Kingdom, a Tactical Fantasy World Survival Guide is published by Yen Press.

In the Clear Moonlit Dusk, Vol. 1

I may have missed out on reading the ever-popular Daytime Shooting Star by Mika Yamamori, but I’m not missing out on the release of her new series, In the Clear Moonlit Dusk. What a refreshing beginning to a new shojo series! Heroine Yoi Takiguchi has been dubbed “Prince” because of her less feminine features and deeper voice. More often than not, she has been mistaken for a boy, but once Ichimura-senpai comes into her life and expresses interest in her as a girl, Yoi might be finding herself in a new relationship for the first time! I feel it’s not uncommon for many shojo heroines to struggle with how they look and/or feeling insecure, but Yoi honestly hits a whole other level in the world of shojo manga! In no way do I meant that as disrespectful to our “Prince” because I found her story to be one of the most realistic views on self-image struggles. I deeply enjoyed the premise of this story and how both Yoi and Ichimura (the hero) are respectful of each other’s boundaries and are willing to apologize for misconceptions they had about the other and/or the way they said things. It was beautiful, and I’m very excited for the next volume because I believe the mangaka is going to be flipping a trope of “destiny” on its head and I am totally here for it! Plus, that cliffhanger of an ending demands I know what happens next! Highly recommend this digital title to shojo lovers! ~ Laura A. Grace

In the Clear Moonlit Dusk is published by Kodansha.*

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, Vol. 3

I have finally finished my readthrough of the BatManga and let me tell you—it was a lot of fun. Volume three continued a lot of where volumes one and two left off with each story feeling like the old, 1960s Batman TV series. This manga was a villain of the week (or two) series and it worked for me. One of the fun parts about this is that you could literally jump in at any time. If your library had volume three and not volumes 1-2, you could jump into it and easily read through and have the same enjoyment. The stories build on one another chapter to chapter, but generally aren’t more than 3-4 chapters in length per arc. The next arc rarely comes back (if ever) to reference previous arcs. Frankly, that’s fine by me. Highly recommend for fans of the original 1960s Batman series and is definitely family friendly enough that my kids may be next on deck to read it. ~ MDMRN

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga is published by DC Comics.

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 and Kodansha for providing review copies.

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