Reader’s Pumpkin Patch: Sawanabe Zombie, Phantom Tales of the Night, and an Orc Editor

Welcome to the Reader’s Corner, or as we’re entitling it this week, the Pumpkin Patch. We’ve got an array of series for you as usual, but with a number of spooky titles haunting our readings this week, just in time for fright night. Check our reviews boo-low, a mix of howling good and ghastly!

Heroine for Hire, Vol. 2

Heroine for Hire has turned up the cute vibes in this second volume! Since the last events in the previous volume, Kodakamine  is starting to feel new feelings and begins to question if it’s love. Throw in our main “couple” working on a project together for the student council, a fun festival which very close resembles a date, and an internal confession, and we have the making of another fun continuation! I enjoyed this more than the first one, even though this has less of the martial arts aspect I loved before. However, I think it’s a beautiful “transitioning” of her experiencing what it means to be “a girl.” I do hope though that she realizes she can still love martial arts and still be a girl. It was awful what that young boy told her growing up and think Serizawa is the perfect guy to help her realize that she doesn’t have to change who she is at all. We already see that in his actions and how he views her. There were also a lot of good shojo romance moments where it makes your skip a beat or feel like you have butterflies in your stomach on behalf of these characters. This was such a good and strong volume and really excited to see what happens next, even if I wasn’t thrilled about the very final page! I will definitely be reading volume three ASAP! ~ Laura A. Grace

Heroine for Hire is published by Kodansha.

Alicia’s Diet Quest, Vol. 1

Have you ever read something and said to yourself, “I am so glad I read this?” That’s not how I felt when I finished Alicia’s Diet Quest. This series is a story set in a fantasy world setting where the main character, the titular Alicia, really wants to go on a diet because she feels overweight. However, she really likes eating and is a bit lazy. Alicia, the adventuring party’s healer, spends the entire volume complaining about her weight, having fat jokes thrown her way, and overall just trying to exercise or lose weight. We learn the calorie count of magical potions along the way. Because that is useful information to have. Basically, this series milks a single joke about a fantasy world adventuring party where the female character is slightly overweight and wants to go on a diet into three volumes. I read all three volumes for completeness sake and I got to say, it wasn’t great. Not my favorite. Then again, it’s not the worst manga I’ve ever read so it has that going for it. ~ MDMRN

Alicia’s Diet Quest is published by Kodansha.

The Knight Cartoonist and Her Orc Editor, Vol. 1

Continuing the questions, have you ever read something far too intense and needed something completely brainless to read afterwards? That’s what happened when I read The Knight Cartoonist and her Orc Editor. This series is a reverse-isekai in that the main characters, a knight and orc, are both from a fantasy world setting but have traveled to modern day Japan to work on manga. The title’s orc became a manga editor at a publishing firm and the titular knight really wants to write manga. However, while she has raw art talent and a ton of passion, she lacks in focus. That’s where her orc editor comes in. The series follows the two of them in the following format basically each chapter. The knight has an idea for her manga. The editor criticizes it or some other event occurs involving critiques. The knight’s armor explodes and she’s partially nude. That’s the series. There’s a lot of goofy jokes in there and some interesting looks into the workings of the manga industry. That said, most of the series is just that, fluffy repetitive gags with some ecchi elements. If that’s something you know you cannot handle, I definitely would not recommend it. For me, it was just a silly, light-hearted series to read right after finishing an incredibly deep and grim series. So, I actually enjoyed it. That said, your mileage may vary… ~ MDMRN

The Knight Cartoonist and her Orc Editor is published by Kodansha.

Phantom Tales of the Night, Vol. 1

Another entry in the cursed shopowner genre of manga, Phantom Tales of the Night holds a few surprises that I don’t want to give away here in its initial volume which tells of a innkeeper who beckons souls into his establishment, demanding a secret in return for harbor. But like many other horror tales, what one receives isn’t necessarily what was wished for. There’s a striking use of shadows in these first four chapters, but other than that, I didn’t find the tales particularly compelling nor a desire to read more of the series. There’s a sever setback in how it’s written, as the mangaka seems to want to exude the feeling that the audience is reading a rated M manga while they’re actually perusing in a teen one. There’s gore but it’s mild, there are heavy yaoi overtones but nothing more than innuendo, there’s mystery but it isn’t particularly clever. The artistry and attempt rises above the material and execution. But if you like pretty boys and the macabre, you could do far worse than Phantom Tales of the Night. You could also do far better. ~ Twwk

Phantom Tales of the Night, Vol. 1 is published by Yen Press.*

Sawanabe Zombie

So, I do enjoy myself some short, self-contained stories. Having a limit can sometimes create for some unique storytelling opportunities. Sawanabe Zombie is a one-shot doujinshi by Kakio Tsurukawa that tells the story of an average guy living an average life who suddenly gets bit by a zombie. He goes through the annoying process of dying and becoming zombified (if that’s a word) only to realize that while his body is physically a zombie, he still has all of his memories and is fully conscious of his actions. The story then progresses from there as Sawanabe remembers what happened leading up to his death and transformation. It also shows how he is starting to adapt to his new life as a zombie. It’s another fresh take on the genre and, while it is violent and crass, I really enjoyed the story and character development. Honestly, my biggest complaint is that I wanted more! This felt like a story that could serve as a great introductory chapter to a series. If my biggest complaint is that I want more, I think I made a good choice checking this one out. ~ MDMRN

Sawanabe Zombie is published by Star Fruit Books.

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 for providing review copies. Featured illustration by Rain Lan (reprinted w/permission)

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