We have a varied slate of reviews for you today, from large publishers to self-published, a popular series receiving a light novel release to brand new series, and a famed webnovel adaptation to classic (sci-fi!) shoujo! Check out our reviewer’s thoughts on Alice in Kyoto, Solo Leveling, and more!
Catch Me! Fight Me! Love Me!, Vol. 1
You know how sometimes you have those days where you just want to read something light-hearted and that makes you laugh? I had one recently and to help me make it through, picked up a manga called Catch Me! Fight Me! Love Me! by Sharean Morishita. Centered around a fake married couple for an online video series, the main characters, Oriana and Jae-hwa, have to follow one rule behind-the-scenes: Don’t actually fall in love with each other! Both feel that won’t be a problem, but the more they interact and want to know more about the other, that harder that might just be! This story was so so so much fun to read! I absolutely loved the characters right from the start and found myself laughing for almost the entirety of the volume, while the last 25% really hit me in the feels and makes me eager for the next volume! I’ve already purchased another work from this author because I love how interracial relationships are a huge part of this story, the characters are real and relatable, and how it’s truly just a fun time. Plus, the art is absolutely beautiful! The special “chibi” moments were some of my favorites and definitely the parts that always made me laugh! I highly recommend this story to those who like witty characters and the “fake dating” trope! Such a phenomenal read! ~ Laura A. Grace
Catch Me! Fight Me! Love Me! is published by Sharean Morishita.
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Vol. 1
Once upon a time, the members of a high school lit club—the wannabe edgelord guy, the perfect girl, the tsundere girl, and the ditzy girl, plus the grade school girl related to the club’s faculty supervisor—received phenomenal cosmic power. Well, most of them did. And then nothing else happened. So they goof off, using their powers for fun and convenience while engaging in nonstop snarky banter loaded with pop culture references. But then one day, six months later, the student council president drops by… Having seen the anime adaptation, I had a fair idea of what to expect from this light novel, and it was every bit as silly as I anticipated. Of particular note, I found this volume’s pop culture allusions surprisingly (and refreshingly) accessible. You’ll see direct mention of actual names of series, characters, etc. (e.g., Dragon Ball, Yagami Light). Even the references I didn’t recognize were still straightforward enough that I could easily Google and learn about them. On top of that, translator notes at the back of the volume further clarify potentially less obvious references! Other reference-heavy LNs I’ve read are often too subtle/vague for me to have a clue what they’re referencing, or the names have been changed enough that Googling them doesn’t provide answers; in comparison, Supernatural Battles handles this aspect of the story exceptionally well. If you’re in the mood for absurd otaku humor full of self-aware, fourth-wall-breaking meta commentary, read this. It’s great. ~ jeskaiangel
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace is published by J-Novel Club.
Mame Coordinate, Vol. 1
Mame Coordinate features one of the most eye-catching manga covers I’ve seen! It is absolutely beautiful and was a huge reason I was interested in reading the story. While I vaguely knew it was about modeling, I didn’t realize that it focuses on the titular character trying to “make it” in modeling. However, with no one picking her up at auditions, her modeling agency was (and is) prepared to let her go. That is until she receives a new manager who “cracks down” on all her unseemly “bad habits” of not eating healthy foods and lack of fashion sense (and then some). While this entire premise piques my interest, I did not connect with this story as much as I thought I would. I found the manager to be passionate, but also rude in their first acquaintance meeting and was “leery” of her from that point forward. And while I liked Mame, she wasn’t a favorite character to follow. I am truly unsure where the disconnect comes in because Mame is so sweet and kind, and I like that she had a relatable nervousness in front of cameras. I do think if someone is greatly interested in fashion (not just modeling), that this could be an enjoyable story to read, however. It has low key “tips” and fun “pointers” about outfits that I found interesting. Overall, while I don’t think I will be continuing this series, I think that those interested in what I shared above could enjoy and appreciate it. ~ Laura A. Grace
Mame Coordinate is published by TokyoPop.
Solo Leveling, Vol. 3 (light novel)
Jinwoo, the protagonist of Solo Leveling, is ruthless, ungracious, and single-minded, a rather unlikeable lead character for an action series, while the series itself, adapted into book-form from a web novel, lacks the other tropes, characterization, and themes one would expect if this was a Japanese work. Yet, in large part because of these absences and Jinwoo’s unique protagonist mindset, Solo Leveling remains a most compelling read. In volume three, Jinwoo is finally going to see if he’ll be evaluated as an S-Rank in his “awakened state,” and much of the first two-thirds of the book focuses on his unveiling to a greater world, even the chapters in which he assists other hunters who encounter very dangerous magical beasts. What’s most interesting about this portion is the world building that continues to unfold, which light novel readers will recognize as very different from the norm for that type of media. It is infused with Korean culture (no surprise) at every turn, from the importance of pop stars to the significance of various hierarchies, and most obviously to how Japan is represented. But the series also refuses to drift too far away from action sequences, and the final ones in this volume are a fun read, as is the introduction of a new character and questions along with it—questions that readers should have been asking all along, though if others are like, they have forgotten them in the thrill of the series. Will volume four begin to uncover why this strange awakening is happening to Jinwoo and who is causing it? These larger questions are more of a slow burn and may not be answered for quite some time, though in the meantime, there’s plenty of action and intrigue to keep readers entertained. ~ Twwk
Solo Leveling is published by Yen Press.
Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 1
I have found it interesting that in seems in the past year, there have been more stories centered around Alice in Wonderland then in the past. Not wanting to feel left out of this growing trend, I decided to try the upcoming manga from TokyoPop called Alice in Kyoto Forest. This manga’s Alice doesn’t have an easy home life with her aunt and uncle, as the latter is an abusive man who wants nothing to do with her. Hoping for a change and a way to provide for herself, she decides to return home at the age of 15 to become a maiko in Kyoto (all with hopes of becoming a geisha). Yet when she returns to Kyoto, the city she grew up is quite different than what she recalls. So much so, it’s as if she has entered a whole other world! This story was different than I expected, but was so cute and wholesome! Alice is a very sweet character and instantly felt my heart strings pulled on her behalf. Her story of needing to find her true calling and that she can’t lie to herself or settle for less than what her true calling is was a very compelling and touching message that really resonated with me. I also deeply enjoyed seeing historic Kyoto through her eyes, as well as learning a little bit more about Japanese culture. I am eager to read more of her story and see if she will indeed find her true calling! I have already preordered the third volume and cannot wait to see what happens next! ~ Laura A. Grace
Alice in Kyoto Forest is published by TokyoPop.
Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 2
When I started the second collection of Orange, I was a little unsure how the stakes could get any higher than the ending of the previous collection, but the mangaka showed they indeed could be be! There is a new level of tension and uncertainty in this middle third as the reader realizes that the letters may not be as “accurate” as first thought at the beginning of the series. I loved Naho’s bravery and how she grew as an individual character in her response to that directly. It was so good! Yet, if I had to say one thing that deeply struck me about this series so far, it would be how everyone reached out to help Kakeru. Yes, Orange is a romance, but this is not a romance where only the girl can save the hero. No, it is a whole group of friends that comes together to help lift up Kakeru and show him through action and word that he is wanted, he is cared for, and he is loved. Truly every friendship is a treasure, and I believe that this manga shows that truth in a powerful, heart-breaking, and hopeful way. I know there is one more volume, but this really has been a mix of joy and sadness, first love and heart break, hope and loss. I’m hoping the final volume won’t wreck me more than the previous two collections have! ~ Laura A. Grace
Orange is published by Seven Seas.
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.