Fungus and Iron, Vol. 1
Dante is an unusual case among the soldiers of Amigasa. He doesn’t become angry on cue at their enemy, the Ether. He complains about their food. And he questions everything. Normally, this would be grounds for immediate executed, but that hasn’t occurred, though now the why of his being left alive is coming into question after he becomes the sole survivor of a mission during which he meets the enemy, and she stirs unexpected feelings with him. That description makes this sound like an action-adventure with romance elements, and it is kind of that, but an extreme version. The titular fungus represents poisonous mushroom that are used for mind control, while the iron refers to an ability that certain individuals can have, both those working for the tyrannical Amigasa and the rebellious Ether. These elements help transform humans into something more, and along with graphic violence and a mysterious war that’s raging, makes this manga resemble Attack on Titan. The series also has a weird humor that’s consistent with series like Chainsaw Man. If you enjoyed either of those shonen series, you might consider trying this one out, but beware, it’s quite vicious, as in the “your favorite character from the volume getting torn in half” kind. ~ Twwk
Fungus and Iron is published by Kodansha.
The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch, Vol. 1
Handsome, talented, and focused, Yoshida is admired at work and sought after by all his female colleagues, but he has eyes for only one woman. Unfortunately, that one person is the loud, loafing, and hyperactive mangaka, Shimakaze, whom Yoshida assists with elegance and calmness after his work day ends, and who is totally clueless about Yoshida’s love for him. And thus sets the stage for a manga about how “transcendental” Yoshida’s love is for his former childhood friend as he takes charge and helps her and her assistants get their work done by seemingly impossible deadlines. It’s a cute set-up, and Yoshida and Shimakaze are well-written characters. It’s easy to pull for the tsundere Yoshida and his caring nature and laugh at Shimakaze and her hijinks, while one of the assistants, a moody young woman who is trying hard to bring the two together, has already become a favorite for me. The manga is just gaining steam by the end of volume one, so there seems to be a lot of room for the series to progress, though I worry for how long this one-sided love train can keep up the pace. ~ Twwk
The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch is published by Kodansha.
Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1
Late last year, I asked the followers of my personal Instagram if I should read the Orange. I was surprised by the overwhelming “yes!” I received from many other manga readers, including our very own Twwk! I finally got around to reading it and fully understand now why it is considered for many a classic! Orange is about a young woman, Naho, who receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. Future Naho shares how she has regrets, including something devastating that happens to a young man (and friend) named Kakeru. Future Naho tells her past self that she wants her to stay close to Kakeru and make different choices then she did back then to help keep him from meeting that future. I am thankful that the manga community encouraged me to read this because while this first collection was fun, it was also very moving. This mangaka really knows how to bring the tear works and use her art to convey strong compelling emotions. However, these volumes are not completely sad! I really enjoyed the blooming romance and thought the time travel element was very fascinating! Naho is a relatable character and I couldn’t help but be sucked into her journey, seeing what choices she would make based off the letters. She has such a strong group of friends that not only support her, but Kakeru too! I am hopeful for the outcome of this series, even if I am nervous at the same time! ~ Laura A. Grace
Orange: The Complete Collection is published by Seven Seas.
Falling Drowning, Vol. 1
Returning to school after an extended absence, Hontasu finds herself confronted with unexpected feelings—an easy kind of affection for her kind childhood friend, Toma, and a more immediate, strong rush of attraction toward a transfer student, Shun. She’s amenable to either type, but wonders which of the two is really love? If this sounds like a typical shoujo storyline, Falling Drowning certainly starts that way, which isn’t necessarily bad—the cuteness is there, the toki toki situations are as well, and the artwork is nice. But then the mangaka throws a curveball, and it’s a really interesting one that not only adds an element with so many possible obstacles that can arise from it and take the story in different directions, but which also by the end of volume one presents a strong element of mystery. Suddenly, this story has both traditional shoujo goodness (including a camaraderie between the two males that I liked more than just about anything in volume one) and an intriguing plot. There’s thus a bit of substance here that separates Falling Drowning from other similar series. I’m eager to see where this ambition takes the story. ~ Twwk
Falling Drowning is published by Kodansha.
Yu-Gi-Oh!, Volume 1
I saw that Yu-Gi-Oh was available to read on the Shonen Jump app and thought to myself, “Well, I know nothing about this franchise except that it’s about some magical card game and has some ancient Egyptian civilization symbolism. Maybe I should check it out.” And I did. And my goodness, this series not what I expected. In the first chapter, Yugi gets bullied a bit, defends those same folks against even worse bullies, solves an unsolvable puzzle, gets possessed by the unsolvable puzzle to enact vengeance upon the tormenters that harmed him and others, and makes his first friends. The possession by the puzzle to enact vengeance is a common theme in the first volume, and it gets intense. A bully who forces people to pay to listen to him perform karaoke, a lying TV producer, and an escaped convict all have magical revenge taken out on them by a possessed version of Yugi. It is fascinating and I am already hooked. I know this will eventually shift gears to focus on the card game, but still. These first chapters are engrossing and have a real The Laughing Salesman vibe. ~ MDMRN
Yu-Gi-Oh! is published by VIZ Media.
Silver Spoon, Vol. 4
Beginning almost as an afterword for the Pork Bowl saga, volume four of Silver Spoon continues to gently develop Hachiken’s character as he stumbles upon the solution for what to do with his newly butchered pig—trade it, sell it, and give it away to friends and even family after making bacon himself. There’s serious maturation that happens to his character in these chapters—though always an authentic kind of change, as his personality, grievances, and pessimism still remain. That said, it’s the weakest volume in the series thus far, a transitional work that focuses on several smaller stories, like a sneaky attempt for several of the boys to find their way into “Area 51” and the seniors retiring from their positions in the equestrian club. Still, a weak volume for Silver Spoon is still smart, warm, and funny—it makes me all the more eager, having forgotten more than I remember from the anime, to see where the story leads to next. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon is published by Yen Press.
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 6
As the school’s cultural festival approaches, Tomozaki is challenged by Hinami to make a decision about whom to approach to reach his long-term girlfriend goal, but will he even have time to think about that while helping to organizing the class’ activities and DUN DUN DUN, starting an Instagram account? Yes, that latter part sounds funny, and it quite is for a character who is still at unsociable heart. Though a little longer than the last volume, you probably could tell from the description I gave that there also isn’t much of a singular focus here. It’s all a little scattershot, but as I’ve come to expect, things come into line as the volume nears its conclusion and the more romantic aspects of the series start to take hold. But understanding that the theme of being able to change, which has fueled all previous volumes, is at least as paramount as the romcom portion of this series, author Yuki Yaku doesn’t lose sight of Tomozaki’s challenges and growth even through any potentially love- dovey material, and ends the volume with a thoughtful inner monologue that’s authentic to the character and to who he’s speaking to in the audience. And who is that? I do believe Yaku is trying to appeal to otaku and gamers, but when doing so, one can’t go too overboard and make a fake nerd of a protagonist who grows too quickly, and so he inserts genuine touches that continue to make Tomozaki relatable, in sometimes painful ways. ~ 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.
Featured illustration by 霧月 (reprinted w/permission)