I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss, Vol. 1
Another reincarnated-into-an-otome-game isekai story, some aspects of I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss will feel familiar if you’ve read any others of this subgenre. For example, protagonist Aileen is the daughter of a duke, and starts out engaged to a prince…just like, say, Katarina of My Next Life as a Villainess and Iris of Accomplishments of the Duke’s Daughter. The prince to whom Aileen was engaged dumps her in favor of the game’s protagonist. Afterward, Aileen’s father threatens to disown her if she doesn’t get her act together and find a way to turn the situation around. So she begins aggressively courting the unfriendly neighborhood demon lord. Meanwhile Aileen’s ex-fiance and the game’s protagonist may not be quite as noble as the game made them out to be… I enjoyed the story. It offered the humorous and sweet moments often found in similar light novels, plus a lot scheming and intrigue. Aileen herself can be kind of goofy, but she’s also serious and calculating, and she plays the role of “villainess” better than similar characters. In terms of criticism, this volume felt a bit less polished than I’ve come to expect from Yen Press, with issues of ambiguity or awkward wording distracting me occasionally. That said, I still enjoyed it and definitely plan to read to the next volume. ~ jeskaiangel
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is published by Yen Press.
Shuriken and Pleats, Vol. 2
So the conclusion comes to this very short series I had wanted to read for years. Volume two of Shuriken and Pleats takes a little bit of a different path then the first because now the heroine, Mikage, is starting to be less unfeeling and more expressive. Yet when she continues in her master’s quest to be “a normal high school girl,” like in volume one, things aren’t quite so simple. I continued to really enjoy Mikage as a protagonist and found it extremely satisfying to see her smile, blush, and be a young woman who doesn’t carry the weight of always needing to be alert due to her line of work. The ninja aspect definitely doesn’t disappear in this volume though! There is still intrigue and action that takes place, and in some ways, the stakes were higher than before! However, while I deeply enjoyed these aspects, I didn’t love this volume as much as the first due to the “romance,” with Mikage hopeing for something that would have left me uncomfortable should actually become a pairing. But overall, Shuriken and Pleats is still a good series and very enjoyable! I loved the premise and the development in Mikage and had a fun time! ~ Laura A. Grace
Shuriken and Pleats is published by VIZ Media.
Until Your Bones Rot, Vol. 7
As a frequent buyer of Kodansha’s Humble Bundles, I sometimes end up with a pile to read, and Until Your Bones Rot was among those in a previous stack. I had read the synopsis beforehand, and so approaching thinking that it would be dark. I was not prepared, however, for what I was in for in this seven-volume series. The basic premise is that a group of teenage friends have sworn together to hide a secret, which is that they had murdered the abusive father of one of the boys. As the series progresses, more and more evil and corruption enters into this group and those they interact with. The series starts off with the friends being blackmailed about their secret. However, as the story progresses, triggering topics as child abuse, sexual abuse, human body dismemberment, and physical abuse appear. Until Your Bones Rot is a brutal series with a gripping and fascinating story; however, I would not recommend it to those for whom such materials may be triggering or just too intense. ~ MDMRN
Until Your Bones Rot is published by Kodansha.
Creepy Cat, Vol. 1
Creepy Cat, for those unaware, is this bulbous, white blog of a cat with a permanent smile and two red eyes, often found in the company of a young woman who is a Morticia Addams or Lydia Deetz type. Cotton Valent’s first manga based on the characters, after originally posting artwork for years online (which is how I first came to become a fan), gives the young woman the name Flora, who moves into a gothic mansion with the feline who is “cheeky, mysterious, and totally abnormal (but so soft and floofy)!” Among its abilities: multiplication (and then returning to one cat by gobbling up all its clones), shapeshifting, walking on walls, and of course, being weirdly adorable. He also has a penchant for trouble, but in this spooky little town full of peculiar people (and cats), the question is whether Creepy Cat is instigating the trouble or if something more sinister in involved. Mostly by four-koma arrangement, through with an advancing tale and some longer chapters, Creepy Cat delivers quite a few chuckles, though it tends to be a little hit or miss. Still, the heroine is spunky, the atmosphere comically ghoulish, and the titular feline a most unusual and fun lead. I’m not sure if the story will develop into something of particular note, but I can think of few better alternatives this month for those looking to read something both kawaii and macabre. ~ Twwk
Creepy Cat is published by Seven Seas.*
The Undead King’s Reign of Peace, Vol. 1
The lich Terios wishes to unite the continent under his rule so that there might a millennium of peace and prosperity. Moreover, he plans to achieve this utopian conquest without killing anyone. Mysterious, magically-gifted peasant girl Mira and demigod paladin Diné get dragged into his nonsense. There’s also a talking black cat, clichéd scheming prime minister, etc. Bleh. One reason to dislike this book is that Terios is an arrogant, legalistic twit whose benevolence is only, as it were, skin-deep. He won’t kill anyone, but he will totally use force to coerce others. He’s also willing to inflict terrible non-lethal punishment on those who obstruct his effort to impose “peace” on humanity; he gratifies young Mira’s desire for revenge against the villain in a way that leaves the target alive…but everyone thinks he’s dead, he’s unable to speak his own name, and no one will recognize him for the rest of his life. Another reason to reject this book is its crude “humor.” Diné and village boy Torio are repeatedly mocked for being virgins (as if there’s something embarrassing about that?), there are a number of (sometimes quite explicit) references to the fact that as a skeleton, Terios has no sexual organs, and so on. With the narrative involving Mira—a twelve-year-old girl—in its vulgarity, the repeated accusations that Terios is a pedophile (which are supposed to be funny) start to seem disturbingly plausible. Don’t waste your time or money on this book. There are far too many better things you could do with them instead. ~ jeskaiangel
The Undead King’s Reign of Peace is published by Yen Press.
Heroine for Hire, Vol. 1
Heroine for Hire reminds me that I shouldn’t be sleeping on the digital manga titles I’ve bought in the past and have yet to read. Having now read volume one after a year of having it on my Kindle, I’m excited to continue the series! Kodakamine, the main girl in Heroine for Hire, is a strong young woman who at the beginning of her high school debut, accidentally injures the popular and fun young man, Serizawa. While he is surprised by this judo-throwing first-year, he’s also intrigued by her, especially when she helps him out of the bind of supposedly stealing someone’s girlfriend! So Serizawa offers Kodakamine a proposition: Be his bodyguard and he’ll help her feel like the most important girl in the world! This was a really fun and lighthearted read! I greatly enjoyed the martial art aspects to the story because it’s not often you see a girl in manga who practices judo and is the stronger of the couple. Granted, the main characters aren’t a couple yet, but I’m totally digging the setup of them getting together! Kodakamine is a very wholesome young woman and I thought it cute how so many clubs wanted her to join theirs. I also really liked Serizawa! He is a good hero to cheer for and I enjoyed how Kodakamine was the one saving him instead of vice-versa. Overall, I’m really enjoying this story and looking forward to seeing what will happen next! ~ Laura A. Grace
Heroine for Hire is published by Kodansha.
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 Kodansha and J-Novel Club for providing review copies. Featured illustration by 霧月 (reprinted w/permission).