Came the Mirror & Other Tales
What a treasure of a collection! If you’re a fan of Rumiko Takahashi like I am (read through any of my reviews of Maison Ikkoku to see why she’s so special), Came the Mirror & Other Tales will captivate and titillate you—then again, the most diehard fans may have already read these one shots that dive into magic, fantasy, horror, and romance, with my favorite being the titular story of two teens who find they have mirrors on their hands that can be used to draw out demons that they then destroy. All the manga are excellent, though, as expected from the master, with a special treat completing the series—a one-shot from 2009 by Takahashi and my other favorite mangaka, Mitsuru Adachi (Touch, Cross Game), celebrating the then-50th anniversary of Shonen Sunday as the two outline their own journeys to become mangaka and how their paths intertwined. Those with an affinity for manga history, modern fantasy, and of course, Takahashi herself, will do well to add this collection to their shelves. ~ Twwk
Came the Mirror & Other Tales is published by Viz Media.
Cowboy Bebop #1
The first volume of a 4-part comic book series for Cowboy Bebop, meant to accompany the now-canceled Netflix series, is full of style, energy, wit, and fun. That is, it’s quite the opposite of the live-action show, even while very much portraying that series’ characters and universe, with all its differences from the anime. The issue, the first of an arc called “Supernova Swing,” has the Bebop crew tracking a bounty named Melville who has developed a “probability vest,” and has until recently been working for the Syndicate. This arc’s villain is compelling, with a physical and mental match for the crew and with a potentially engrossing backstory, and the story without wasted movement, even while it sometimes slows down, as when Jet shares time bonding with a woman over Ein and a stray dog. Tonally, it fits right in with the world of the anime, as does the artwork which is vivid and sharp, while portraying the characters with the artist’s own unique design. If you were disappointed with the Netflix series, I recommend you give the comic a try—we’re guaranteed at least four issues, so maybe we’ll make it through one “episode” and receive perhaps something worthwhile from Netflix’s experiment. ~ Twwk
Cowboy Bebop is published by Titan Comics.
How to Melt the Ice Queen’s Heart, Vol. 1
Two high school students. Each living on their own for reasons. One good at cooking, one terrible at it. Next door neighbors, but never interacting until one’s concern for the other’s health jump starts their relationship. Athletic and intelligent female lead with a reputation for being aloof and unapproachable. Male protagonist’s best friend plus the best friend’s girlfriend constantly either tease the protagonist or flirt with each other. Christmas. I could go on, but… If you think this sounds like The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, well, you’re not wrong. However, it also describes the first volume of How to Melt the Ice Queen’s Heart. Now, I quite like Angel and find it wonderfully sweet, so saying “This LN is a laid-back and cute high school romcom like Angel” is NOT a complaint from me. One reads this sort of story for the relaxing warm fuzzies, not for a thrilling adventure with dramatic plot twists, so the parallels aren’t really a factor in terms of enjoying the narrative. I bring up the similarities because how you feel about one series will probably match how you feel about the other. In terms of actual criticism, I would note that this volume feels a bit unpolished, with a fair number of spelling or grammar issues that editing and proofreading really should have caught. That aside, I very much enjoyed this light novel, and recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of story. I certainly plan to follow along with it. ~ jeskaiangel
How to Melt the Ice Queen’s Heart is published by Tentai Books.
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Abducted Alchemist
The second in a series of light novels that add new material to the Fullmetal Alchemist story, The Abducted Alchemist brings the Elrics together with Roy Mustang amidst a series of strange terrorist bombings that don’t physically harm anyone, but diminish the military’s reputation. And despite Ed and Al’s attempts to not get involved—no surprise here, they find themselves knee deep in it. If that sounds boring…it’s not particularly, but it is in comparison to the classic manga series. Fullmetal Alchemist is both such a personal tale and such a large one that this side story feels terribly minor and more akin to filler than anything of note. Only the most die-hard FMA fans will want to pick this up, and they, too, may be disappointed by characterizations of the three characters mentioned above which feel terribly toned down—as do their alchemist powers, maybe to match the smallness of this tale. ~ Twwk
Fullmetal Alchemist is published by Viz Media.
I Had That Same Dream Yesterday
“What does it mean to be happy?” On assignment from her elementary school teacher, Koyanagi Nanoka sets out to answer that question once and for all. Along the way, she learns much about the world, her friends, her parents, and even herself. I Had That Same Dream Again, a 2016 novel which was only translated into English fairly recently, comes to us from the pen of Yoru Sumino, author of I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. And the novel certainly bears Sumino’s signature. It sheds a light on the social and emotional struggles that come with growing up. It tackles issues of self-hatred and bullying with tender care—I found myself relating to the characters’ experiences on more than one occasion. And it offers a path forward in the face of those issues, a light in the darkness that I find encouraging. I will say, however, that I found Nanoka’s perspective a tad grating at times. Sure, she’s supposed to be a bright kid, but she’s just way too self-aware for an elementary schooler, no matter how bright. In some ways, though, that difficulty is resolved by the reveal near the end of the novel, a twist that I saw coming from the beginning, but one that was rewarding nonetheless. All that to say that your mileage may vary. I found that the heart of the novel outweighed its minor grievances; I’m always grateful for novels that offer heartfelt perspectives on mental health struggles. I’ll be checking out more of Sumino’s novels in the future. ~ sleepminusminus
I Had That Same Dream Again is published by Seven Seas.
Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 9
The lovely lunar flight continues! This time, Nasa and Tsukasa attend a summer festival. Last volume’s weirdo nameless girl, whose names turns out to be Kyuma, shows up again, asking permission to…put Tsukasa’s hair in pigtails so that Tsukasa can better cosplay as Kaname?! Kyuma is a complete derp, even compared to the rest of the manga’s characters, and makes a hilarious foil for them. Later, the ever-wise Kaname reveals to Nasa the shocking truth that men and women don’t always interpret words exactly the same way. Also, Tsukasa likes trolling her husband. After sharing the bath last volume, this time the leading couple shares a sauna, while Tsukasa shares her weirdly philosophical thoughts on the deeper meaning of a sauna. Nasa gets a cold. And Tsukasa makes a brilliant “nevertheless, she persisted” joke reference that had me chortling. This was another strong volume of a strong manga, and if you don’t follow it, you probably should. ~ jeskaiangel
Fly Me to the Moon is published by VIZ Media.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Vol. 5
As is the case in many works about zombies, in Zom100 they are fearsome, horrible, innumerable and multiplying masses, but they aren’t exactly the most compelling antagonists. It’s more typically the still-human ones that are. In volume five of this excellent shounen series, just as Akira and the others, now numbering four, start to enjoy a safe and slower pace of life in his hometown, they meet a Bizarro version of their group with their own destructive and awful bucket list. It leads to a more dramatic and emotional volume than those preceding it as the action cranks up, and of course, it ends on a cliffhanger. The resolution of this arc seems to be little in doubt, but the best shounen series keep you on the edge of your seat anyway, and that’s the case in Zom100, which brings the action, heart, humor, and art every single time. ~ Twwk
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is published by Viz Media, and volume five releases on February 15th.
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 5
In my review of volume four, I stated that I found the story shift toward Tama-chan, on whom this volumes focuses, to feel forced and uninteresting. But I severely underestimated author Yuki Yaku, whose writing is getting sharper volume by volume. In these pages, he looks at how groups develop values that are acceptable or not by how Tama is treated when she fights back against Konno’s bullying. But there’s more than this happening—a number of characters are in transition, growing and developing as they get involved in the situation, leading to a number of fully reasonable but deeply satisfying reactions between characters. The the volume is also quite emotional, with a climax that is highly charged and leads to an action that had me tearing up. That scene and others, in which the author exposes the plans of a specific character, also helped me understand how his own plans for the progress of characters in the story would go. It’s impressive, especially for a series that I had pegged as more in the realm of silly enjoyment than of anything of much other value, but as the franchise moves forward, it’s increasingly showing its true colors as a series readers can fully enjoy with both their hearts and minds. ~ Twwk
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki 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.