Reader’s Corner: Lovesick Ellie, The Way of the Househusband, and the Final Volume of Love Me Love Me Not

Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 6

When a writer or mangaka adds new major characters to a long-running manga or show, it’s often smacks of desperation, an attempt to keep the series going despite a dearth of creativity. But for Rumiko Takahashi’s hands, new characters are fun and functional pieces that help move the plot forward, creating situations through which the protagonists can continue to develop and mature. Nikaido, debuting in the last volume, adds a level of bluntness needed to shake Kyoko and Godai out of their adolescent skirting around the issue of their feelings for one another. Then, in the second half of Maison Ikkoku: Collector’s Edition, volume 6, a new love rival is introduced, one who is as headstrong as Kyoko and far more similar to her than Kozue is. That first rival—still present in the story, as is Coach Mitaka—represents a time when Kyoko and Godai weren’t as close, when they didn’t understand each other and their feelings were more about emotion rather than something deeper. The new girl, Yagami, is younger than the rest of the cast but presents a mature spark, challenging the would-be couple to consider not simply their feelings for one another, but their potential future together. The chapters centering on Nikaido and Yagami are often laugh out loud funny, but also subtly carry the central relationship toward an eventual ending, even if there’s still plenty of misunderstandings and angst to get in the way. This is Maison Ikkoku, after all, so we wouldn’t want it any other way. ~ Twwk

Maison Ikkoku is published by Viz Media.*

My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over!, Vol. 1

Plenty of manga move between widely disparate tones, from frightening to humorous and thrilling to romantic, but what about from cutesy to unsettling? My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over constantly moves back and forth between a cute yuri romcom about a superfan of an idol group and particularly of one member, whom she finds herself sitting next to in class, to one about obsession, stalking, and potential violence. Volume one is really a compelling read because of this mismatch of tones. Despite mostly staying in the romcom and / or friendship territory with only comedic cues toward stalking, the idea of what an obsessive fan could potentially do is never very far. The idol herself, Chihiro is so lovely, and the protagonist, Saki (not said stalker) so earnest that the anxiousness that something might happen to one or both stays in the reader’s, keeping him or her from getting too comfortable as it sits in the background. We as readers are supposed to go with the flow of angry stalker jokes sometimes, but it’s quite clear, too, that we’re meant to take the threat seriously and maybe feel a sense of what it must be like to be on the receiving end of such horrifying and personal intrusion. I don’t get a sense yet what the series ultimately means to do, as there are multiple routes I could see it going—and that suspense, along with leads that I care for, will probably keep me coming back to see what happens next. ~ Twwk

My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! is published by Kodansha.*

The Way of the Househusband, Vol. 7

Having only read the manga on an inconsistent basis, I jumped into volume seven of The Way of the Househusband without knowing which escapades Tatsu was now involved in. As with previous volumes and the Netflix anime, this one is broken up into short scenarios in which Tatsu often escalates into turf wars about selling “product” or even mentioning homicide. Of course, these are all misunderstandings and In actuality, the conflicts are about croquettes, camping, managing cats, or amazake. I found myself laughing several times because of how Tatsu relates to daily, normal tasks with mafia analogies, as when a tile hits his face because of a typhoon and he yells at his wife to get down, calling it a “hit.” The only negative for me about this series is that there isn’t a cohesive story; it’s all just random scenes, and then goes to a different one. Though, it’s probably best it stays this way, as long as Kousuke Oono doesn’t run out of everyday chores to give to Tatsu! ~ Samuru

The Way of the Househusband is published by Viz Media.*

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 12

While cheap tricks begin the final volume of Love Me, Love Me Not, the remaining chapters of this wondrous and jubilant story of friendship and romance return to the excellent writing that has punctuated most of its run, perfectly completing the series. The idea of separation has been hanging in the air throughout its entirety, but particularly so in the last several volumes. It’s poetic, though, that Sakisaka uses such a conflict as a way of both closing the series in a conclusive and satisfying manner, and also to demonstrate what she’s done through the course of manga, taking the four protagonists to a place where they can love each other through and despite great challenges, both in romantic ways and through friendship, and making it feel authentic. Yes, this is teenage love, but the growth that Akari, Yuna, Rio, and Kazu have experienced makes the ending feel realistic, makes it feel just right. And with an emphasis on the duo that started it all—Akari, who has become more like Yuna, and Yuna, who has become more like Akari—the story wraps up perfectly by reminding us how it got to the end and why the conclusion makes sense. Though I didn’t shed a tear or feel my heart a flutter as the series ended, I did breathe out deeply in contentment: Love Me, Love Me Not was smart, lovely, and genuine, from page one until the very last panel. ~ Twwk

Love Me, Love Me Not is published by Viz Media.*

It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story, Vol. 1

A manga adaptation of a web novel turned light novel, this virus isekai tale is a bit confusing at first. I wasn’t quite sure what tone this series was going for—the protagonist hates people and is happy to have been isekai’d into a fantasy world where he’s a virus, feeling that he can eventually rule the planet. But cute art and a cutesy tone permeate a sometimes bloody tale, bringing to mind So I’m a Spider, So What? As the story progresses, though, I found myself liking this opening better than the one for that series; it rather feels like a game, something like SimEarth or another simulation where one evolves and grows. It’s fun and engaging, and by the end, these little hints that this story may not be so grimdark, that the cute adventurer girl and the kawaii goblins may not be doomed to terrible deaths, have more fully turned the story toward warmth, revealing what could be a compelling and even redemptive read. A good start—but maybe not recommended for the hypochondriacs.~ Twwk

It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story is published by Kodansha.*

Lovesick Ellie, Vol. 1

Promoted as a series similar to Kiss Him, Not Me, Lovesick Ellie isn’t nearly as edgy as that manga, nor, I think, as it makes itself out to be. Rather, with a few modern tweaks, the series is firmly in cute, traditional shoujo territory. Ichimura is a typical protagonist for the genre, a “regular” girl—shy, awkward, and “invisible,” though her online persona is quite different. Ichimura has a growing following on Twitter where she goes by the name “Lovesick Ellie” and pretends to be the secret girlfriend of a popular guy, specifically the school’s idol, Ohmi. Of course, she discovers that he’s really a jerk (though a misunderstood one, and more than likely, one whom only Ichimura will be able to understand and get through). So the formula is the same as a thousand other series, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading. Volume one is frequently funny, Ichimura is a loveable dork, and there are already twists happening that are fun and unexpected. Ichimura’s viral, for instance, is hilarious. And to tell the truth, I’m not really a fan of Kiss Him, Not Me, so I was pleasantly surprised by this more typical take on a “weird” girl, and will be looking forward to seeing where the story takes off to next. ~ Twwk

Lovesick Ellie 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 Viz Media and Kodansha for providing review copies.

3 thoughts on “Reader’s Corner: Lovesick Ellie, The Way of the Househusband, and the Final Volume of Love Me Love Me Not

  1. I got into “The Way of the Househusband” after seeing people post screenshots of it on social media. When I actually read it though, it didn’t work for me. I got bored and really wanted a central plot to get me invested in the story.
    “It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story” sounds ridiculous, but I loved Spider Isekai so willing to give it a try.

    1. Yeah that’s my major issue with Househusband, it doesn’t have a plot. It’s just random scenarios which are funny and that’s what I expect from it. Anime/manga is so different so sometimes it’s good to have one that stands on it’s own and isn’t a straight forward story.

  2. I found your thoughts interesting on Lovesick Ellie because I always got a different impression and have been hesitant to start it! Might have to give it a try now that it’s in paperback!

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