The Reincarnated Princess Spends Another Day Skipping Story Routes, Vol. 1
This is another reincarnation-type isekai of the reborn-as-an-otome-game-rival variety. The catch is that in the original game (which was also an isekai), all the love interests are train wrecks. The narcissist and the masochist are creepy enough, but they seem positively tame compared to the incestuous brother, the necrophiliac wizard, or the self-destructive demon lord. Young Princess Rosemary has no desire to get caught up in all their nonsense…so she sets out to rewrite their backstories, breaking flags so that by the time of the game’s events, they aren’t such disturbing people. Oh, Rosemary’s also got her heart set on winning the affections of the gallant knight-captain (a fellow side character in the original game). Rosemary is an intelligent protagonist with a charming and realistic blend of self-interest and genuine compassion motivating her efforts. She’s backed up by a well-written (albeit not always likeable) supporting cast. As is often the case in this kind of story, it’s fun seeing how Rosemary’s deliberate changes also have unforeseen effects on course of the game’s story. I look forward to the next volume. ~ jeskaiangel
The Reincarnated Princess Spends Another Day Skipping Story Routes is published by J-Novel Club.
Love in Focus, Vol. 3
“I wish I could live my life without making a single mistake. But I don’t think that’s possible. Even so, I have friends to lift me and people to watch over me.” This was definitely the best volume in the series Love in Focus and reminded me why Yoko Nogiri is one of my favorite mangaka! This final volume was an amazing and greatly-paced wrap-up to the story and I was very happy with how things unfolded/happened. It featured a beautiful (and impactful) message of being yourself and loving yourself, which is one I never tire of. I especially liked how that message showed in a very bright spot near the end. Overall, this was a good series! It’s not my favorite by Nogiri, but after reading the end, I could see myself picking it up again and reading it after a long day and wanting to unwind! ~ Laura A. Grace
Love in Focus is published by Kodansha.
Return from Death: I Kicked the Bucket and Now I’m Back at Square One With a Boyfriend Who Doesn’t Remember Me, Vol. 1
Moments after discovering her boyfriend’s corpse, Oriana herself kicked the bucket (cause of death: unknown), only to wake up back as a kid. You can probably guess the broad strokes of the plot from here. This is another girl’s-life-reboots-after-something-tragic-happens story. While there are some mystery, comedy, and fantasy elements, the story is overwhelmingly focused on the ups and downs of the relationship between Oriana and her erstwhile beau, Vincent. It’s mostly enjoyable, aside from the occasional cliche teen drama or painfully contrived dumb romcom scenario. Also, be forewarned that there’s an annoying cliffhanger in which Oriana and Vincent die *again* (presumably setting things back to the eponymous square one and leaving this reader wondering what the point of the volume even was). Now, I’m a sucker for this sort of story, so despite my griping I’ll almost certainly pick up the next volume when it comes out. If you’re a fan of stories like Reset! The Imprisoned Princess Dreams of Another Chance!, or I Swear I Won’t Bother You Again!, or Tearmoon Empire, there’s a good chance you’ll like Return from Death, too. However, if the premise doesn’t particularly appeal to you, then this is a fairly average light novel. ~ jeskaiangel
Return from Death is published by Cross Infinite World.
Fullmetal Alchemist: A New Beginning
Fans of Fullmetal Alchemist have been clamoring for this volume, the sixth in the series, for more than a decade. While the the manga and anime for FMA have long been complete and released in the U.S., A New Beginning is unique because it’s a side story that’s been left unreleased until now, and thus adds a new element to the beloved franchis. As such, your mileage will vary depending on your love of Fullmetal Alchemist. For fans like myself, it’s a great thrill to read about Winry’s exploits during her apprenticeship, an adventure on a smaller scale than is typical for the series and involving an important growth moment for her. There’s some thoughtful material here, too, as Winry considers the feelings of her clients—those who have lost limbs—and particularly a young boy, Darish, whom she seeks to assist. I was reminded of recently reading about individuals with prosthetic limbs and how they often don’t feel comfortable with high-tech ones for a variety of reasons; Winry, who’s passion is all things automail, comes to realize the same as she’s forced to see beyond her own priorities and view her clients more truly as people. There’s also a fun and quick chapter at the end involving the Elrics, so they’re not entirely absent from the volume. This revisiting of the world of FMA is nostalgic and fun, though as I inferred earlier, it’s really only for the fans of the series who still have much love for it all these years later—others may see it in a vacuum, as just another side story novel, and not a particularly notable one at that. ~ Twwk
Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start with Magical Tools, Vol. 1
This is another reincarnation-type isekai, to begin with. Magical toolmaker Dahlia finds herself jilted by
a complete idiot her fiance the day before they were supposed to get married. What follows is the story of her efforts to pick herself up and live a satisfying life. Alongside her creative and commercial endeavors, Dahlia begins to build a friendship with a beleaguered knight who has an interest in disguises and magic swords. Presumably their relationship will turn romantic eventually, but neither of them is looking for that right now. Other than highlighting the humor, believable character interactions, and interesting world-building, I’m not sure what else to say. Oh, the characters spend a lot of time drinking; like, I’m not sure if I’ve read another light novel that spent so much time on the characters drinking. LOL. This is one of those light novels that isn’t especially unique in terms of its constituent elements, but is nonetheless solidly written and quite enjoyable. If a mostly chill story about a magical inventor’s social life and business dealings sounds interesting, I recommend Dahlia in Bloom. I definitely plan to read the next volume. ~ jeskaiangel
Dahlia in Bloom: Crafting a Fresh Start with Magical Tools is published by J-Novel Club.
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 J-Novel Club for providing review copies. Illustration by unya (reprinted w/permission).