The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend, Vol. 1
This is an adequate high school romantic comedy. Ryou helps a girl fend off a groper, only to discover the girl is Hina, someone he’s known for a long time, but whom drifted apart from in recent years. The rest of the story is mostly Hina aggressively flirting with Ryou, not so much to get him to like her as to get him to realize he already likes her. Ryou has some mild but noticeable tsundere tendencies which further complicate their relationship. I didn’t love this book, but I don’t really have anything bad to say about it either. Some of the humor wasn’t my cup of tea (that part with the condom jokes), but I think my biggest issue with Girl I Saved is that it’s not other books. Publisher Yen Press already has a variety of better high school romcoms, e.g., The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten; Rascal Does Not Dream; Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki; My Teen Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected. And that’s just series from the same publisher! Unfortunately, Girl I Saved never really gave any particular reason why I should spend more money and time on it; it’s just “undistinguished” where other series are “excellent” in my eyes. It’s not as sweet as Angel, not as witty as Rascal, not as thought-provoking as Tomozaki, etc. I’d recommend this series if you’ve devoured all the superior high school romcoms on the market and are still hungry for more, but if you’ve already got a few helpings of that genre on your bibliophagic plate, you may not have much an appetite for this one. ~ jeskaiangel
The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend is published by Yen Press.
She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man, Vol. 1 (light novel)
With an anime coming up, I took a look at this light novel, which is another “MMORPG player is isekai’d into a world based on the game and is turned into his game character” story, similar to Overlord, A Wild Last Boss Appeared! and In the Land of Leadale, among many others. The fact that the protagonist’s game character, who was originally an old man but was changed to a young girl right before he was sent over, is definitely an inconvenience, especially as the game characters, who are now very much real, think his original character has disappeared along with many of the game’s other “major players.” That said, unlike some other books in this series, other game players have also been isekai’d over, albeit at different times in the new world’s history and, at least at the moment, limited to the aforementioned “major players.” This does add some additional dynamics that help keep this series at least slightly distinct, as the differences between the former player characters and former NPCs are significant. (It also leads to some “interesting” interactions between the protagonist and another character who was originally a guy playing a female character…) Still, this is largely another “isekai’d into game world” light novel, and while it’s enjoyable enough that I’ll likely keep reading and check out the anime, at the moment there isn’t anything especially standout about this series compared to others of its kind. ~ stardf29
She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man is published by Seven Seas.
Full Clearing Another World Under a Goddess with Zero Believers, Vol. 1
After nearly dying in a bus accident, gamer Makoto and most of his high school class are whisked away to a fantasy world. But when it comes to doling out superpowers, Makoto gets the short end of the stick. After a year of training his hardest (the government has a welfare program to support otherworlders for one year), he remains quite weak; of course, all his other much-stronger classmates have long since left. Still, Makoto must finally set out to make his way in the word. He quickly encounters a supposedly “evil” goddess who recruits him to be her (one and only) servant. Thus begins a typical isekai-with-RPG-elements story. My favorite aspect of this book was how this wasn’t one of those lame “HiS pOwEr SeEmS wEaK, bUt Is SeCrEtLy RiDiCuLoUsLy OP!!!!!!!11one” kind of stories. He’s really not OP. He really can’t rely on cheat skills or raw power. But he’s still able to get by through cunning, creativity, precision, stealth, coordination with stronger allies, and so on. The narrative really sold me on the idea that Makoto is relatively weak but clever. Now, this isn’t an especially unique addition to the vast hordes of isekai overrunning the universe, so it’s hardly a must-read story. That said, I did find it enjoyable enough that I’ll definitely check out the next volume. ~ jeskaiangel
Full Clearing Another World Under a Goddess with Zero Believers is published by J-Novel Club.
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, Vol. 1
I have found a new manga series I want to collect! Not that I need another series to collect to be honest, but this one hit me so unexpectedly in how much I enjoyed it! Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love has all the innocence, naivety, and sweetness of a blooming shojo romance that I can’t not wait to see what happens in later volumes. Satomi, the heroine, missed the chance to confess to her middle school crush, so when she is saved by a very uncomfortable situation on a train from another high schooler, Yagyu, she decides to change and tell him how she feels. To her surprise, Yagyu accepts her feelings and she finds herself in a new relationship and having no idea what to do! I found this premise very refreshing as Satomi acts like a young freshman in love with her crush. I’m not saying other shojo heroines don’t act their age, but there is an innocence in this romance that I have not seen captured quite like this. I also loved how miscommunication or lack of communication is shaping up to not be an issue in this series (I think). Both our characters are big on communicating and sharing what they are thinking with the other, which I absolutely loved. I am already deeply looking forward to what happens next and will definitely be pre-ordering the volumes in this series! Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is highly recommended to those who like innocent/naive characters, “friends”-to-lovers, good communication, and a sweet romance! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is published by VIZ Media.*
Uncle from Another World, Vol. 3
I cannot get enough of this manga. If you haven’t been reading Uncle from Another World, a curious take on the isekai genre—about a gamer who was isekai’d away in the 90s and woke up in the modern world with his powers intact (and who is now scraping by as a youtuber)—and manga in general, you’re missing out. Volume three continues the hilarity as the titular uncle revisits more of his past, always a strange mix of depressing and humorous, while Takafumi and Sumika grow closer in the midst of trying to make sense of uncle’s thoughts and actions. The oddity of the series, which drops the usual isekai conventions into sketchy art, 90s and gaming references galore, and sometimes whimsical, sometimes headshaking events, is continually entertaining. Page after page after page. When I read volume one, I didn’t really comprehend whether this series was good or not—was it trying to be irreverent? Was it badly drawn? But by volume three, it’s clear to me that Uncle from Another World is approaching brilliance, able to both make use of tropey elements in creative and ambitious ways, while never forgetting that at the end of the day, we’re here for the laughs. What a great, great series.~ Twwk
Uncle from Another World is published by Yen Press.*
The Otherworlder, Exploring the Dungeon, Vol. 1
In an alternative history, shortly after the Second World War, Earth discovered how to make portals to a fantasy world. Due to Earthling atrocities and the sheer cost of operating the portals, the two worlds largely cut ties. Enter Souya, a down-on-his-luck protagonist who needs money for his sister’s medical care. He accepts a sketchy job from a sketchy company to join a sketchy expedition to the fantasy world in search of some mysterious resource, but when he arrives, most of the team’s robot assistants, half its supplies, and all of its members except Souya himself are destroyed or missing. Still, Souya doggedly sets out to become an adventurer. On the bright side, I like this novel’s premise: The alt-history aspect is fun, and the idea of an isekai protag serving as some sort of fantastical forty-niner hoping to dig up something valuable and take it home is great. Some of the other characters were also pretty interesting (like the goddess of deception who spends most of her time lounging around as a cat). *other shoe drops* Souya makes for a rather bland MC, and I never did manage to bring myself to like or care about him. I found the novel’s overall tone and language kind of lewd and crude; it was never so bad that I just stopped reading, but it certainly detracted from my enjoyment of the story. Some of the world-building felt pretty ho-hum or cliche due to resembling that of other series. Finally, I just found the story kind of confusing: On a few different occasions, stuff happened that just didn’t make sense to me, even though the narrative seemed to expect I’d get it. In the end, I acknowledge that Otherworlder has some good qualities, but I don’t plan to continue with the series. ~ jeskaiangel
The Otherworlder, Exploring the Dungeon is published by Yen Press.
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 Viz Media for providing review copies.