Reader’s Corner: Solo Leveling (Vol. 4), Alice in Kyoto Forest (Vol. 2), and Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 2)

Run On Your New Legs, Vol. 1

It’s an amazing feeling when a manga you’ve desperately looked forward to exceeds your expectations. That was the case for me with the recent release of Run on Your New Legs, a manga which centers around a young man, Kikuzato, who dreams of being on a prestigious soccer team when entering high school only for a summer accident to cost him his leg. Now he’s at the prestigious high school he dreamed of, but he tells himself he will never be able make his athletic dreams become possible…that is until he meets a prosthetist, Chidori, who tells him Kikuzato that wants to form a partnership after seeing him run! Right from the beginning of the volume, we get to see how the loss of Kikuzato’s leg has changed his life and how that has affected his emotions. However, once he meets Chidori, his passion and drive return, and I absolutely loved it! I truly could not help but cheer for him (and also laugh at his irritation at things) as this story progressed. I really enjoyed all the characters, and am definitely looking forward to hearing more of the backstory with one in particular. I also think the antagonist is going to be an interesting rival because I’m getting a mix of love-to-hate and hate-to-love vibes, depending on the situation. I am very much looking forward to the next volume as this definitely exceeded my expectations! Highly recommend to sport manga readers! ~ Laura A. Grace

Run On Your New Legs is published by Yen Press.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Vol. 2: Deserted Island Diaries (2)

Do you like Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Do you like gag manga? This series is where the two meet, and I love it. Volume two picks up where the first left off as our group of silly main characters continue to build up their island. Along the way, we get mini-stories with various Animal Crossing staples including Pascal and Isabelle! This is a relaxing gag manga that is going to be a lot of fun for folks who play a lot of Animal Crossing. For me, that’s a huge benefit. I love the game and it’s one I play with all four of my kids. After I read this, there was a line of all of my kids wanting to read it after me. In addition to the silly gag stories with the islanders and the specialty characters, each volume includes some fun facts about the game and characters, which is a fun little addition. Overall, Deserted Island Diaries is a family friendly Nintendo manga that, for ACNH fans, will be hilarious. If you don’t really play the game, you probably won’t get most of the jokes, but it’s still cute fun for all ages. ~ MDMRN

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diaries is published by Viz Media.

READ: Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diaries Volume 1 Review

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc, Vol. 2

Even without witches, life remains glum for Mitakihara Town magical girls. Sayaka Miki is missing and presumed dead. And after her last meeting with a powerful wraith, Homura Akemi has lost much of power. As she deals with this loss and continues to work through the challenges of being the only one to know of Madoka’s sacrifice, along comes someone who may help or hinder her mission—a most surprising “ally.” The middle volume of this arc continues with a plot that, like other PMMM properties, is a bit convoluted. However, Wraith Arc is rescued in part by the beautiful artwork. These magical girls, already memorable in their character designs, are captured in all their glory, page after page. But more significantly, the way this story turns, particularly toward the end of the volume, raises the stakes for a tale who’s greatest weakness is that is it an AU; none of this is in the canon PMMM timeline. But some deft writing creates an emotional finale regardless, setting the stage for the final volume in this series. And despite myself, I’m looking forward to seeing how Wraith Arc concludes. ~ Twwk

Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc is published by Yen Press.

READ: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc Volume 1 Review

The Apothecary Diaries, Vol. 1 (Manga)

This past Christmas, I decided to pick up a series called The Apothecary Diaries because I had heard nothing but amazing things about it from friends who had read it. After reading the first volume, I can see why my friends are love it! Maomao is a young woman who didn’t grow up in the inner palace, but finds herself there nonetheless as a servant. Having been trained in herbal medicine beforehand, she unexpectedly (or not so unexpectedly with how witty she is) breaks a “curse” involving the young imperial heirs, and is promoted to food taster. So not only is she tasting food to make sure it isn’t poisoned, but now she is making herbal medicine once again and unexpectedly playing detective in other “mysteries” in the palace! This series was sort of introduced to me as featuring a female Sherlock Holmes, but it in a Chinese-like setting. I would say that description remains very true! I have not read Sherlock Holmes or seen it, but Maomao is a very fun character to follow. Her expressions are everything and truly one of the best parts of this story! Plus, enter a man named Jinshi, and there is a banter between these two characters that I cannot get enough of! The mystery element was something I don’t read much of in manga, and deeply enjoyed reading here. While there is one scene that I felt was completely inappropriate and uncalled for, this was truly a story that deeply surprised me. I had such a great time and am already eager to start reading the second volume! ~ Laura A. Grace

The Apothecary Diaries is published by Square Enix.

Solo Leveling, Vol. 4 (light novel)

One of the most compelling elements of Solo Leveling is the story’s theme of underdogs against the world, seen particularly in Jinwoo, who in the previous three volumes transformed from an E-rank hunter, abandoned to die, into one whose power is of unprecedented levels. But the theme also applies, and especially in volume four, to Korea itself. Continuing from the final chapters of volume three, this edition focuses on the nation’s attempt to free Jejudo of ant beasts by conducting a joint operation with its stronger neighbor, Japan, whose hunter association plans a treacherous retreat in the midst of the assault. Jinwoo, unbeknownst to either side, is likely to tip the scales in favor of one country’s plan or another, depending whether he’ll join the assault team, though he has more personal and pressing matters on his mind. The storyline of Japan and Korea’s fighting and cooperation, with a Korean hunter being the decisive player, helps to shape the latter country’s idealization as gritty, determined, and ultimately powerful and better, as well as by how Japan is vilified and later through how the U.S. is pictured as well. Western readers may find this a awkward or even off-putting, though those who have grown up in and around Korean culture will instantly recognize this narrative. But more compelling to me was Jinwoo’s softening in this volume. I won’t spoil the reasons why, but this characterization made him relatable in a way he hasn’t been for some time, reminding me of how stress, pain, and circumstances can harden and change us. Meanwhile, the second half volume four, while unable to match the breakneck pace and unrelenting action of the first half, introduces new elements—some almost comical and more peaceful, and others setting up future volumes—that allow the series a chance to breathe before leading into yet another cliffhanger conclusion. What a thrilling (and always engrossing) ride! ~ Twwk

Solo Leveling is published by Yen Press.

Solo Leveling Reviews: Volume 1 // Volume 2 // Volume 3

Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 2

I came in with high expectations based on volume one of Alice in Kyoto Forest. A lot happened at the end of the first volume, and I was desperate to know if Alice would get answers and discover her true calling, as well as if she would find her childhood love! I was not disappointed, as the beginning of this final volume pulled me right back into where I left off! I especially loved how Applied applied The cartographer’s words in the “hunt” for her true calling and what that looked like for her. As a book reader, I found it extremely satisfying! The cartographer, also, is a fantastic character who I really enjoyed. I think the only thing that made me feel pretty bummed about this volume was the use of the pentagram. Considering how unique and different this Kyoto was, I would have expected something different for the evil acts here. I pretty much skimmed that entire scene because it wasn’t something I felt comfortable reading. Overall though, I did enjoy this series. There is a special beauty to it, and it contains such a wonderful message for readers of all ages that I would hesitantly recommend (due to the pentagram usage) to those who are looking for a wholesome story about finding your true self, discovering your true passions, and young love. ~ Laura A. Grace

Alice in Kyoto Forest is published by TokyoPop.

Alice in Kyoto Forest Volume 1 Review

Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 2

From what I’ve noticed in the manga community, there are times when many readers feel concerned or nervous that the second volume of a series won’t be nearly as exciting as the first . When it comes to volume two of Kaiju No. 8, I can assure readers that in case, there’s no need to worry; it is just as impactful and incredible as the first! The action kicks right back into gear (though thankfully we had a little bit of a breather in the beginning before things went super intense again) and I imagine will leave readers literally on edge of their seats and gripping their reading devices / paperbacks! The stakes are even higher than before, and not just in the fight scenes, but in Kafka’s resolve to truly stand by Mina’s side. I absolutely love their friendship (still super hoping we will get a low-key romance!) and just the dynamics of their friendship as a whole. Add in plenty of continued banter between everyone (resulting in me laughing so much that my stomach started hurting) and I was on a “book high” after reading volume two. All of the characters are absolutely amazing and everyone (including Kafka) is so strong! I am eager (and desperate) for the next volume! This series continues to be absolutely phenomenal, and I would still continue to highly recommend it. ~ Laura A. Grace

Kaiju No. 8 is published by VIZ Media.

Kaiju No. 8 Volume 1 Review

Higehiro, Vol. 1 (manga)

When the Higehiro anime adaptation aired, social media was a’clamor about a series in which an older business man takes in a teenage runaway girl who had been trading sexual favors in order to stay with men in previous encounters. What I personally found troubling was that the series sexualizes Saya while also focusing on how horrible adults’ actions can be and how they can lead to the situation that Sayu finds herself in, as expressed in this line that the protagonist, Yoshida, screams in this manga adaptation: “I’m not being nice to you—everyone before now was just a ****head!” It was hypocritical to say that the girls need rescuing, then to sexualize one. Volume one of the manga certainly still skirts that line, but is helped by being little more upbeat and humorous, and a little self-serious. It’s easier to read the story without falling too far into the moral implications. The fanservice, also, isn’t quite as heavy; Sayu is sexualized, but—and this is also a criticism—the artwork is fairly low-rate, without much creativity in paneling and virtually no background drawings, which makes the fanservice elements feel more comical than lascivious (think Bulma in Dragon Ball). With these considerations in place, volume one of Higehiro, which brings the two main characters together and focuses on the pair adjusting to living with one another, as well as on romantic interests at Yoshida’s work, is a pleasant reading—a workplace romance that’s worth digging into, if you can place the other considerations aside. ~ Twwk

Higehiro is published by One Peace Books.

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.

Follow us

6 thoughts on “Reader’s Corner: Solo Leveling (Vol. 4), Alice in Kyoto Forest (Vol. 2), and Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 2)

Leave a Reply