Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 5
Having watched (and loved) the Maison Ikkoku series first, I’ve been struck upon this reading of the manga that the pacing is quite different. The length of time it takes for Kyoko and Godai to grow as individuals and grow closer together is what creates both the frustration and fun of the anime. But, some seventy chapters into the manga, I’ve come to realize that Rumiko Takahashi has established a perfect amount of time in the story (3-4 years now) and through events to provide a realistic timeline for Kyoko’s and Godai’s maturations, which were necessary on their individual levels for the two to have any hope of becoming a successful couple. And, particularly starting with the last volume but more strongly in volume five, the two are taking steps, some of them quite large, toward one another. But as it always is in Maison Ikkoku, two steps forward is followed by one step back, and accompanied by slapstick-style comedy (particularly centering around Godai breaking a leg in this volume), misunderstandings, and a lot of heart, some of it coming surprisingly through a new character who really isn’t new at all. Speaking of which, there are two truly new characters that appear, one as a more usual plot device and the other toward the end of the volume which is a bit of an unexpected development, and figures to serve as key toward the plot development in the next volume. My memory of the anime has faded quite a lot, so I’m not only looking forward to seeing how the master, Takahashi, builds out her manga, but also how the rest of the story develops in what is, without question, one of the great romances of the medium. ~ Twwk
Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition is published by Viz. Volume 5 releases on September 21st.*
My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer, Vol. 1
After losing a leg early in his adventuring career, Belgrieve retires to a quiet village, where he adopts a baby he finds in the wilderness and raises her until age twelve, when she becomes an adventurer herself. There are some vignettes about when Angeline is growing up, but the “present” of the story is five years after her departure. The main narrative splits between two tracks. First, Ange seeks a chance to visit her beloved dad, but a spat of unusual monster attacks keeps interfering with her vacation plans. Meanwhile, Belgrieve leads a quiet life back at the village, enlivened by occasional news of his OP daughter’s achievements. I enjoyed this lighthearted, sweet, silly volume, and plan to read the next one. That said, it’s always kind of nerve-wracking checking out a new entry in the “single man adopts baby girl” genre. Such stories have an unfortunate history of “girl grows up and gets romantic with her adoptive dad” endings (e.g., Usagi Drop or If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord) that some, myself included, find distasteful. Thankfully, I came across a review indicating this series is already complete in Japan and confirmed not to pull an Usagi Drop. This volume had no hints of romance between Ange and her dad, but I was still feeling a skittish about the series. Now, though, I can enjoy it without such reservations. ~ jeskaiangel
My Daughter Left the Nest and Returned an S-Rank Adventurer is published by J-Novel Club.
Her Royal Highness Seems to be Angry, Vol. 3
Colored by a unique approach to isekai with a story that’s nearly one but not quite (a princess reborn to the same land generations later) and filled with shonen, shoujo, and grimdark conventions, Her Royal Highness Seems to be Angry has been a captivating read, but the first two volumes had some worrisome aspects, particularly a lack of strong development for any of the side characters and confusion arising as scenes shifted. Both these weaknesses are heavily evident in volume three, which resolves the epic fight between Leticiel and the masked fiend, and then provides background related to the types of magic wielded in that fight and what importance they have for the current world, which transition to the next mini-arc. The summary makes this volume seem fairly cut and dry, but I found myself wondering what was happening on more than one occasion as the story moved forward, escalated by character designs that, while quite pretty, are hard to differentiate (Who is that person? Do I already know that character? Is he new?). What makes matters worse is that all the pages spent developing a friend group for Leticiel in volume two seems to be for naught with those characters relegated to the background, while others are introduced, though neither group seems to be of much potential value in engaging readers. Combined with what a large percentage of volume three is spent on info drops, I’m now quite worried about the direction of the series. My hope is that as Leticiel goes on a quest to discover more about her abilities, the series, too, will uncover what I’m longing for—a return to the engaging earlier chapters, and writing and drawing that is tighter and better for a tale that could be as compelling as any of the best manga of recent years. ~ Twwk
Her Royal Highness Seems to be Angry is published by TOKYOPOP.*
The Way of the Househusband, Vol. 6
What surprises me most about The Way of the Househusband is how this series, which doesn’t seem to need a large cast, continues to expand its group of supporting characters. Though there remain only three or four major ones, others come in and out of the story, like the otaku guy, the former head of Tatsu’s gang, and various rivals (both yakuza and the more vicious kinds—homemakers), helping set up and fill in the many gags in the series. Primary in this volume are the “dragons” of the woman’s association, which help provoke that second side to the Tatsu coin, the humble and subservient enforcer to the streetwise and tough one. Of course, the latter is found a-plenty in these chapters as well , including when Tatsu teaches another homemaker about the tricks of trade to keep the household finances in good shape. Oh, and his cat makes an appearance, too, though it’s not a happy one for Gin. These stories and more fill volume six, which remains consistently humorous, with Kousuke Oono masterfully finding ways to take a one trick pony and still delivering huge laughs over and over again, with a protagonist with enough humor and warmth to hold this wonderfully written series together. ~ Twwk
The Way of the Househusband is published by Viz. Volume 6 releases on September 21st.*
A Tale of the Secret Saint, Vol. 1
This story is a new member of the “extraordinary person tries to appear normal and spectacularly fails” species. Hardworking but weak protagonist Fia is despised by most of her family (all of whom are knights), but in a coming-of-age-ritual gone wild, she unexpectedly awakens memories of a past life as a powerful magic user and summons a mighty dragon to become her familiar. And just to be clear, this isn’t isekai: Her past life was in the same world and kingdom as her current one. Now Fia is strong enough to become a knight, but trauma from her past life drives her to conceal her powers. Unfortunately and hilariously, Fia, being only fifteen, resorts to pretty zany, harebrained kid logic at times. My favorite was when someone asks why she made a puppet, and she philosophically answers, “Don’t puppets kinda justify themselves?” This isn’t exactly the most inventive of stories; lots of elements in it evoke various other light novels (you can probably think of two or three just from the preceding summary). That said, it’s still a lot of fun to read. Fia is a humorous, kindhearted, and sympathetic protagonist whose history also evokes certain Bible stories. I liked several members of the supporting cast as well. As long as you’re not expecting Secret Saint to deliver shockingly clever plot twists, I recommend it, and will definitely pick up the next volume myself. ~ jeskaiangel
A Tale of the Secret Saint is published by Seven Seas.
Star Wars Rebels, Vol. 1
On the Outer Rim planet of Lothal, the young Ezra Bridger encounters a group of apparent criminals who are aiming to steal the same Empire cargo that he’s also attempting to lift. Soon, however, he discovers that this crew, led by the mysterious Kanan Jarrus, has more on their mind than petty theft and making a buck—they desire to do good in a universe corrupted by the Empire. This introductory volume of Star Wars Rebels, based on the popular and recently concluded animated series, nicely bridges the worlds of the sci-fi franchise and manga. Mostly gone are the designs and animation style of the cartoon, which was the biggest deterrent for me in getting far in the original work, replaced here by manga-style characters set against the same familiar art associated with all Star Wars works, with Stormtroopers, TIE fighters, and Star Destroyers abounding. And unlike other recent Star Wars manga, Rebels‘ story matches that of the shounen genre very well. Thus, volume one feels less like an adaptation and more of an original manga work. If you were discouraged by the animation style of the series like I was, this may be the entrance you were looking for into the world of Star Wars Rebels. ~ Twwk
Star Wars: Rebels is published by Yen Press.*
Silver Spoon, Vol. 2
When Hachiken applied to attend Ezono Agricultural, he didn’t realize how different the curriculum would be from a traditional high school—nor how much and how quickly he would grow as a person. In this volume this means through organizing a pizza party for rural kids who see it as a delicacy, and then by learning the value of hard physical labor and of the love that family can show while working for Aki’s during summer break. All the while, the specter of Pork Bowl’s butchering remains over him as the date of his death gets nearer. That last bit sounds quite dark, but those who are familiar with the story know that while Silver Spoon doesn’t shy away from the death of animals (and shows it, sometimes in comical pixelated form and sometimes—and in these chapters—in a realistic way), it’s warm and endearing. Hachiken is such a wonderful character in his flaws and with his talents and potential, that it’s easy to get swept up in his story of growth in the wonderful setting of Ezono Agricultural (and in the latter half of this volume, nearby farms, including Tamako’s Gigafarm) and among such a fun and distinctive cast. The story is just getting started, but is already a fully compelling, thoughtful, and humorous ride. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon is published by Yen Press.*
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 and Viz for providing review copies.