Reader’s Corner: Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Eminence in Shadow (Vol. 3), and Minami Nanami Wants to Shine

Uncle from Another World, Vol. 4

As Uncle continues his travel with the trio of adventurers, including Alicia, not only will he accompany them on a quest born out of childhood, but he’ll also discover that time spent with the group is part of a grander scheme. None of this, of course, is out of place is a fantasy isekai setting, but how Uncle handles the fights that follow, which feature an old friend and his transformation into a “90’s teacher,” are what continue to utterly amaze Takafumi and Fujimiya. Volume four of this series is as laugh-out-loud funny as the previous ones, not only because Uncle’s inability to “get it” on virtually any level, but also by how unexpected the developments in the story, both through flashbacks and in the present day, are, including the aforementioned transformation and a surreal storyline about dealing with vengeful spirits. I’m also continually impressed by how mangaka Hotondoshindeiru teases us as readers. The fantasy elements are by far the most appealing, but he never stays in that land too long before returning to the present day for commentary and reaction, but that current setting also leaves us wanting more, and he drops just enough tidbits to stir in readers a hope for further character and relationship development, while also hitting us with uproarious and sometimes biting humor involving Uncle, Takafumi, and Fujimiya. Uncle from Another World continues to be an impressive work, all around. ~ Twwk

Uncle from Another World is published by Yen Press.

I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway!, Vol. 2

I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway! is one of my most anticipated reads as I continue to love Mystia’s character and just how kind she is. She really thinks far ahead about not only how the changed storyline will affect her, but the people around her as well. It’s what I really liked about her character in the first volume and something I continue to enjoy about her character in this one. Yet, my biggest takeaway wass how I really disliked a certain character by the end of volume one, but caught myself almost saying he was a favorite by the end of this book, which not only one of the potential love interests’ backstories, but a few others as well. In fact, I would say this volume focuses more on backstory due to how much that material fills up this volume. While I deeply loved this volume, there is one backstory I was not fond of and felt uncomfortable with due to the very large age-gap between both parties. For Mystia, it indeed was and is not a romance, but it can’t be said for the other. Overall, I still continue to love this series and have already preordered the third volume. I cannot wait to see what happens next! ~ Laura A. Grace

I Was Reincarnated as the Villainess in an Otome Game but the Boys Love Me Anyway! is published by TokyoPop, and releases on March 29th.

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Vol. 13

As Iroha and Yukino continue to plan for the prom, they must face the challenge of how to convince the parents’ association, represented by the latter’s mother, that one should even be permitted. Hikki, of course, has his own plans to move forward, but must figure out how to do so and get the assistance of others while working apart from Yukino. In volume 13, this prom storyline drags on and on—it’s not a particularly interesting event for the light novel series, but by this point, the actual activity hardly matters, as Oregairu is now the end game, focused on finishing the tale. Thus this volume is more about what becomes of the trio—Yukino, Hikki, and Yui, who when we last left her was crying as Hikki ran to Yukino rescue. The melodrama is turned way up, but Watari manages to keep it from becoming too unbearable by inserting some lighter moments and because of the care he took in establishing his characters in previous volumes—we care what happens to them, and like the trio themselves, will see it through to the end. A bunch of side characters get bits of time in this volume as well in what’s obviously an attempt to give each one last moment or two to shine as the series approaches its finale. Even Rumi, the most absent of the main supporting characters, gets a mention, though she remains the most conspicuously absent character in this final arc. Ultimately, though, the side characters aren’t given a lot to do, and not much as a whole occurs between the first pages and last of this volume, though it does end with a bang—a very compelling last dozen pages which set up the final full volume to the series. ~ Twwk

My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected is published by Yen Press.

Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 7

With graduation around the corner, Godai’s anxiety is higher than ever as he misses out on interview after interview, and worries about being able to ask Kyoko to marry him without the means to support her. Meanwhile, Mitaka is put into a situation that puts pressure on Kyoko to determine whether or not she’ll accept his proposal of marriage, and soon! Although these sound like melodramatic episodes, part of what’s mesmerizing about Takahashi’s work—and I’ve mentioned this before—is how subtle her themes and characterization can be when there’s so much noise on the surface, and that’s reflected again in this volume with some pressing and ageless concepts, such as Kyoko’s doubt and worry about losing out on her next chance at love and Godai’s about becoming a man who can support a family. Also shining through (and related) is how Takahashi so slowly develops her characters and their relationships with one another—by this volume, over a five-year period—which speaks to how long it can take for the same to happen in real life, acting both as a reflector of how things sometimes progress here on planet earth and serving as an encouragement when life seems to stand still. This volume continues with the excellence of the series overall (though I will say the closing scenes were perhaps the first time the misunderstandings and immaturity felt too much like backtracking to me), and with the series almost 3/4 done, the plot has become more pressing. An end, for better or worse, is finally in sight. ~ Twwk

Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition is published by Viz Media.

The Eminence in Shadow, Vol. 3 (manga)

There’s nothing quite as exciting for a villain in the shadows than to act the role of the perfect NPC during a major event, except for perhaps two such happenings—a school tournament and a terrorist attack! Cid continues to live out his dream without realizing that his fabricated story is actually true, feigning weak and defeating (see killing) the real villains when swathed in his secret identity. I’ve been totally addicted to this series since I first picked it up, and as with the first two, devoured volume three. The Eminence in Shadow mixes isekai, fantasy, action, romance, mystery, and comedy, but at heart it’s the last of those; all situations exist to further the comedy of the tale, with the writer understanding just how to play with the tropes of these manga types. Seriously funny stuff, but developed in such a way that a story is progressing and keeping readers entertained, particularly along the lines of who will find Cid’s identity out, will he understand his true identity, and exactly what is this shadow organization shadowing his own shadow group? In the end though, I’m here for the comedy—and it is non-stop. This manga is HILARIOUS. ~ Twwk

The Eminence in Shadow is published by Yen Press.

Minami Nanami Wants to Shine, Vol. 1

Known as Mimimi to most of her friends, Minami Namami is bright, beautiful, athletic, and friendly, but despite all her talents, she doesn’t feel special. She doesn’t sparkle like her friend, Aoi, who is also all of the above but more, and being less than consumes Mimimi’s mind. But along comes an opportunity to model for her mother’s cosmetics company, and she wonders, is this her chance to finally shine? This short, four-chapter opening volume sets up the tale above, but doesn’t really show us exactly in what direction the spin-off manga will go, other than deviating from the plot of Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki starting in the student council president arc, the one in which all these feelings of envy and inadequacies within Mimimi, who presents herself rather as happy-go-lucky, are revealed in that light novel series. The depth of Mimimi’s personality has made her one of my favorite characters in Bottom-tier, as have recent events in the light novel series, so its with immense disappointment that I point out how lackluster volume one of this manga is. It’s a chore to have to rewind so far back in the Tomozaki story when so much character development has occurred since, especially with Mimimi. But further, the volume closes with what I would say is a disastrous theme, one that rings hallow and untrue. I’m not sure if this is actually the theme of the series, however—we’ll need to await at least another volume to see. And I am glad to see Mimimi get this chance “to shine” in her own manga, complete with appearances by most of the rest of the Tomozaki cast and Fly’s beautiful characters designs. There’s a chance this story will shine, too, and I am hoping that it will, but for one volume at least, it’s a bit like Mimimi seeing Aoi surpass her at high jump—a series that can’t exceed a better one in the same club. ~ Twwk

Minami Nanami Wants to Shine is published by Yen Press.

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish (short story collection)

The short story which bears the title of this anthology is the best in the collection of eight by renowned author Seiko Tanabe—harsh, inventive, and moving—but all the rest are thoughtful and compelling as well. First published in 1985, Josee‘s stories all center on women, mostly working women, all flawed—some with reason, as with Josee, who is irritable and unable to develop relationships after abandonment by family and establishment due to her disability and tendencies, and some more deeply, like one who flirts with and seduces her teenage nephew—but affected by circumstance, illness, and a host of other violators, and their relationships with men, many of whom refuse to give them the full agency they deserve. And so, Tanabe’s women fight back, through work, by solitary or foundation-shaking actions, or just in their own imaginations. Loneliness, independence, adultery, and decisions about family and the role of women and children in the household are frequent themes among these pages. Most of the stories find a focus on a thirty-something who is thinking of, about to enter, or is in the midst of transformation and change, but a few are outliers, including “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish,” which shares its structure and some of its events and characterizations with the movie adapted from it, but doesn’t work nearly as hard to evoke sympathy for and drop us into the reality of Josee’s life. Tanabe’s Josee is at once crueler and more foul-mouthed than the film’s, but also far easier to empathize with. But all her protagonists are appalling and lovely, but more so the latter for enduring the subtle pains and misogynistic worlds they occupy, and for shining despite. ~ Twwk

Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is published by Yen Press, and releases on March 29th.

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.

9 thoughts on “Reader’s Corner: Josee, the Tiger and the Fish, The Eminence in Shadow (Vol. 3), and Minami Nanami Wants to Shine

  1. The Eminence in Shadow is a great series. I was worried that the ridiculous coincidences would get annoying, or that I would be put off by Cid’s personality, but it really gets better and better as the series goes on. I’m really looking forward to the anime.

  2. I’ve been greatly enjoying “Maison Ikkoku”, but volume 8 felt a bit frustrating to me at times. The trope-y nature of romcoms can be an enjoyable part of the experience when done correctly, but it’s also a delicate thing which if mishandled can quickly devolve into going through the motions while you wait for the inevitable result.

    [Spoilers Ahead]

    Coach Mitaka telling Kyoko point-blank that after four years of keeping him in limbo he needs a definite answer one way or the other in the very near future SHOULD start moving some story beats along, but the plot keeps doggedly stalling. I know that a crucial element of the series is that both Godai and Kyoko are wishy-washy- one from immaturity and the other from an unhealthy attachment to her late husband- but the delays in the progress of their relationship are starting feel like contrivances at points. ( OF COURSE Godai would just happen to get caught leaving some sketchy establishments in Shimjuku right at a moment when Kyoko was beginning to consider returning his affections. OF COURSE we have to go through the whole rigmarole of Godai trying to find Kyoko in Kanazawa but just barely missing her time and time again. OF COURSE when they finally do meet up the residents of Maison Ikkoku still find a method to gum up the works from several prefectures away.) But I’m still excited for the final act.

    1. You’re EXACTLY right. This is what I was referring to in my review—Godai has grown way too much for something like this to happen, and both he and Kyoko have progressed too much for a misunderstanding that would be fitting in volume three to happen in volume eight. This is the first time I felt frustrated in a “nah, that doesn’t work” kind of way as opposed to good ol’ angst. It’s a great series, for sure, but I think this little arc is my least favorite thus far.

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