A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life, Vol. 1
Yuto starts the VRMMO RPG Law of Justice Online looking forward to playing as a Tamer, but due to his randomly-acquired first monster being far better suited to farming fields than farming monster drops, he ends up well behind the curve in terms of the game’s combat content. Things only get worse when his misadventures in trying to fight earn him a dubiously unique title and the attention of other players. Nevertheless, Yuto tries to make the most of his situation, as he takes up gardening and looks towards what he can discover in the world without getting into huge fights. With all the VRMMO light novels out there, this one’s most notable trait is right there in the title, with how “laid-back” the protagonist’s gameplay is. Even something similarly light-hearted like Bofuri has a heavy emphasis on combat, but Late-Start Tamer, at least in this first volume, focuses a lot more on the non-combat activities one can do in an MMO. There’s exploration of the game world, completing quests, and even dealing with an uncomfortable cyber-bullying moment that I haven’t really seen in other VRMMO series. What I have seen in other VRMMO series that this series still does is have the protagonist achieve unique things in the game due to his unique playstyle. Overall, this is an enjoyable VRMMO light novel for some laid-back reading that does enough interesting things to keep me wanting to read more. ~ stardf29
A Late-Start Tamer’s Laid-Back Life is published by J-Novel Club.
Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Lily’s Miracle
This is a one-volume spinoff of the main Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! series, and has a different author than the main series. It’s a side story, and the narrative assumes readers are familiar with a variety of people and details of the setting. Nine-year-old Lily was born deaf, so her noble family locked her up and kept her existence secret…until one day brigands attack the manor and the fleeing family abandons Lily. Soon she crosses paths with a hunting party called…the Crimson Vow, and a certain isekai’d mage girl fixes Lily’s hearing. If you’ve read the main series, you know Mile has a record of intervening in girls’ lives and (not always on purpose) making them pretty OP. You can guess where this is going: Lily’s new magic and ability to converse with an invisible being named “Mr. Nano” helps her
threaten negotiate her way through the world (I mean, if your default image when thinking of a “fireball” is THE SUN, things are liable to get out of hand). This lovely, pure-hearted girl is joined in her adventures by a sketchy former servant of her family named Lafine; a certain side character from the main series also has a leading role. While still amusing, Lily’s tale leans more into an “aww how sweet” vibe than the more humor-focused main series. While not exceptional, this volume was quite enjoyable. I recommend it to anyone who has read and liked at least a bit of the main series (since otherwise there’s a lot that will be confusing / meaningless). ~ jeskaiangel
Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Lily’s Miracle is published by Seven Seas.
Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 1
You know how sometimes you see a book and you check out the blurb and the blurb sells you before the cover does? That was me with Kaiju No. 8. I had very high expectations when starting and this manga did not disappoint! I was intrigued by the idea of main character, Kafka, not being the one killing the kaiju, but cleaning up the kaiju remains. The plot thickens as a new coworker at his cleanup job tells Kafka that he can still fulfill his longtime dream of being part of the Japanese Defense Forces (who “neutralize” kaiju) because the age limit was raised to allow more recruits (Kafka is 32). Yet what happens when he suddenly and unexpectedly finds himself turning into a kaiju?! This manga was epic! Kafka is a very compelling hero that you can’t help but cheer for and laugh with (which is probably why there was one chapter where I laughed so hard I cried)! However, even though I really liked Kafka, I loved his new coworker, Ichikawa! The two have some really epic banter and it only gets better and better as the story progresses. I’m definitely itching to know what happens next in this series! Sometimes there might have been a little more “ugh, that was gross” moments then I personally like (because when Kafka defeated one kaiju I realized that was not rain), but the action is so engaging and the characters so awesome, I’m wishing volume two was already available! ~ Laura A. Grace
Kaiju No. 8 is published by VIZ Media.*
Stitch and the Samurai, Vol. 3
This is the final volume of the really fun Stitch and Samurai, a series began with a single gimmick—Stitch crash landing in the Warring States (Sengoku) Period of Japanese history and found by a brutal warlord named Lord Yamato. The rest of the series follows this premise to its logical conclusion of an eventual attempt by the Galactic Federation to re-capture Stitch. Volume continues the silliness as Stitch interacts with these different characters as well as the final situation with the Galactic Federation. It was such a fun manga and while I’m sad to see it end, I get it. I don’t know if this gimmick would have been able to survive another few volumes. This was the perfect length for the series and it really ended well. I still enjoy how the contrasting art styles of the Disney characters inserted into the late Hiroto Wada‘s art style of Sengoku Period warlords and warriors. This series was a blast for basically all ages and if you are interested in the concept and/or like silly fish out of water stories, I definitely recommend it. ~ MDMRN
Stitch and the Samurai is published by TOKYOPOP*
Double, Vol. 1
Yuuji and Takara are struggling actors who are looking for roles that will bring in some money as part of their theater company. While both have strong acting skills, Takara is the shining star. Yuuji is his “double,” in that he works with Takara on his lines so he can get them right and gives emotional support before he steps on the stage. The two of them have a strong friendship, but Takara is a mess without Yuuji helping him. I wanted to read this one since I’ve not read a manga about acting before. It portrays the starving artist stereotype pretty well, but Takara was the character that I just couldn’t enjoy. He’s like a child without his friend helping him; he is very immature and unsure on what to do when Yuuji isn’t there coaching him. There is a part later on where Takara is on his own and has to work with others, but he still chickens out in the end and runs back to Yuuji. The manga has some nice scenes but others weren’t that impressive. I don’t see myself reading the next volume, but if you are into the acting world then give this one a read. ~Samuru
Double is published by TOKYOPOP.*
Heroine for Hire, Vol. 3
It’s series like Heroine for Hire that remind why I like owning the whole manga series before reading. The cliff hanger ending this volume had me rushing to upload the final one from my cloud library and onto my Kindle because I was so invested in this volume that I needed to know what would happen next! By these chapters, Kodakamine now knows how she feels about Serizawa and is wanting to confess those feelings to him. However, something else is said and leaves all kinds of mixed feelings in Kodakamine, but thankfully the school festival arrives, though of course things didn’t go quite as planned there either! Saying all of that, it is why I was 100% sucked into the lowkey drama of this story and seeing what would happen next. It’s so hard when you say something you didn’t mean to and then try to find a way fix what was said. That was definitely the case with Kodakamine and my heart totally went out to her. Lots of cute moments punctuate the volume, too, though! The school festival is a lot of fun and I loved the creativity of what both classes came up with. I was also not happy about who showed up at the end! There better not be anything to cause issues for this precious ship because I love this super sweet couple and want the best for them sooner rather than later! ~ 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 TOKYOPOP and Viz Media for providing review copies. Featured illustration by unya (reprinted w/permission).