Reader’s Corner: Ciguatera, Kaiju Girl Carmelise, and Sword Art Online, Vol. 23

Kaiju Girl Carmelise, Vol. 2

After watching a recent video from our own Laura A. Grace on kaiju manga, I picked up this series on a lark, and I am so glad I did! The basic concept is that the main character, Kuroe Akaishi, will start to transform into a kaiju if she has romantic feelings. Enter one of the coolest boys at school, Arata Minami, who reveals that he finds Kuroe cute and actually wants to spend time with her. Hilarity ensues. During some moments together, she partially transforms whereas in other moments, she fully changes into a huge kaiju and demolishes huge parts of the city. This is simultaneously one of the cutest and silliest series I’ve had the privilege of reading. Volume two continues the story with an actual date between the two. It ends with, well, a kaiju attack. One of the funniest moments is as Minami realizes the kaiju wants to talk to him, but has yet to figure out that the girl he’s seeing is actually the giant kaiju. Another silly plot point comes in the form of secondary character Manatsu who is obsessed with kaiju. She becomes friends with Kuroe because she happens to always be around during the kaiju attacks and assumes she’s the monster’s priestess! She is…just a little obsessed and it’s so funny. ~ MDMRN

Kaiju Girl Carmelise is published by Yen Press.

Ciguatera, Vol. 1

Ogino and Takai are constantly harassed, beaten, and shaken down by delinquent Tanikawa. While Ogino escapes into his passion for motorcycles and an innocent crush on a girl from his licensing class, the latter hides behind money, all the while being eaten up more and more by rage. While that description sounds a bit sinister, Ciguatera, by Minoru Furuya, the celebrated mangaka behind The Ping Pong Club, is a manga that transcends a simple piece of unsettling youth violence. This highly acclaimed series, finally released in English some 15 years after it’s original publication, is also frequently touching and often funny—sometimes laugh out loud, particularly through the dweeby antics by Ogino, and sometimes through the dark sort of humor, too. When Ogino and Nagumo, the girl from his motorcycle class, become closer, the manga leans heavily toward a sweet and touching romance, but always with an unsettling feeling underlying the narrative, as if tragedy will occur, but when and to whom, it’s not yet known. Punctuated also by some crudeness and sexuality, and burgeoning, too, with an element of mystery, Ciguatera is unrelenting in its determination to lead the reader toward, in some cases, a love for the characters, and in others, a disquieting understanding, in the initial volume of a series that seems as if it will live up to its reputation as one of the great coming-of-age manga. ~ Twwk

Ciguatera is published by Kodansha.*

Sugar Apple Fairy, Chapter 1

Outside of Shonen Jump, I haven’t read a shoujo manga the way Yen Press is doing with one of its newest manga releases, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale. It appears it is going to be a simulpub with new chapters every week, and after reading the first chapter this past weekend, I am 100% here for this manga! In Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, humans are able to purchase a fairy for a variety of reasons. Anne, makes a choice to buy a “warrior fairy,” Challe, whom she is hoping will help keep her safe from danger and with whom she will embark a new journey of trying to become a Silver Sugar Master. While the beginning drops a lot of information on the reader, I was thankful to have a clear understanding of how this world works right from the beginning. When it came to Anne, once I saw her defending a fairy, I knew I was really going to like her! And I did! She is so sweet and I love her heart of truly wanting to befriend Challe despite the circumstances that surround them. I’m hoping that Anne meets her goal and also that there are good things in store for him and Anne! It seems like there is more to him than the airs he is giving. I definitely recommend this manga and can’t wait for the next chapter! ~ Laura A. Grace

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is published by Yen Press.

Zombie Cherry (Series)

I recently signed myself up for a trial run of Kindle Unlimited. At 99¢ for the first three months, I figured, what did I have to lose? While looking through their manga selection, I found the complete series for Zombie Cherry. The basic premise felt similar to Sankarea, which I had previously reviewed: Girl hangs out with boy who is good at science. Girl drinks an entire potion that ends up turning her into a zombie. But that’s where the similarities end. In this case, the potion was Cherry Soup that is supposed to radically and rapidly heal a person. When protagonist Miu becomes sick before a date, she guzzles it down and, inadvertently, dies on her way there. However, the Cherry Soup brings her back to life as it rapidly heals her body. Basically, she’s a zombie. The first volume follows as Miu tries to get the boy’s attention while dealing with her body’s breakdown since her death. This is more silly romantic comedy as opposed to Sankarea‘s much darker tone. I was surprised I enjoyed this three volume series. It’s not the greatest, most in depth series in the world, but it is certainly cute. ~ MDMRN

Zombie Cherry is published by Akita Publishing.

Sword Art Online, Vol. 23

You already know whether you like SAO, so I’m not writing this to help you decide whether to read this volume, the second in the “Unital Ring” arc. It’s the one after “Alicization,” so I’ll avoid spoilers for anime-only SAO fans. I just want to make an observation: what I found surprising about this volume is how well author Reki Kawahara managed to balance the “screentime” of the main cast. I think perhaps SAO‘s greatest weakness, in terms of the writing, is that the story has sometimes made absolutely dismal use of its established characters. The most egregious example is of course the way literally the entire existing cast (except Kirito) was completely sidelined for multiple light novel volumes / anime seasons during “Alicization.” Thus, vol. 23 was a refreshing change of pace. Seriously, out of the entire series, I think this volume might do the best job of incorporating the protagonist’s lengthy list of friends and allies. Pretty much all major, living, non-Underworld characters manage to make non-cameo appearances: Asuna, Yui, Leafa, Lisbeth, Silica, Klein, Agil, Sinon, Alice, and even a certain “Rat” from SAO Progressive. I won’t get get my hopes up, but I think it would be lovely if future volumes can continue having the whole gang together. ~ jeskaiangel

Sword Art Online is published by Yen Press.

Heroine for Hire, Vol. 4

What a precious series Heroine for Hire has been! Our two main characters have been and are so so so cute! I absolutely loved the unfolding of everything in this volume and just felt very happy when I finished (even for Sakaki, Kodakamine’s childhood friend who seemed like he was about to be a potential love rival). Heroine for Hire has been quite a fun adventure and I loved how our main girl Kodakamine grew throughout the series. She is strong yet also vulnerable, and we continued to see that even to the very end. While I have loved our main couple, that bonus story made me super happy too! I could read a spin-off about Kazune (Kodakamine’s best friend) because I loved the dynamics of her family life and just her as a character. Overall, I really enjoyed this series! It has been a such a joy to read and while I wanted a little bit more from the final chapter, this would be a fun comfort series to read again! I definitely would recommend to those who want a sweet shoujo series that isn’t very long and has a fun twist on a few tropes! ~ 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 for providing review copies.

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