Our selection of reviews this week include a couple shoujo titles, a self-published work, a throwback as we dig into the modern classic, The Ancient Magus Bride, and the newest releases from mangaka of Chainsaw Man and ERASED.
While I haven’t read many one-shots, I’m starting to appreciate them as all the ones I’ve read thus far have been excellent, with School Memories by Sharean Morishita being no exception. The central character, Colton, has quite the fondness for pranking others, and finds his actions hilarious (even if the class doesn’t share the sentiment). Hoping to help show the class see how truly funny his pranks are, he’s instead going to learn a valuable lesson that’s quite the opposite of what was intended. I originally discovered this manga through Morishita’s other one, Catch Me! Fight Me! Love Me!, and continue to deeply appreciate the diversity represented in her stories. However, while I’ve enjoyed both of these titles, School Memories hit a lot closer to home. I have only been pranked once, but it’s one I won’t ever forget. I think realizing (and learning) that not every prank is “good” is a message all groups of readers need a reminder of, regardless of this volume being a shojo manga geared towards girls. That said, while this theme is strong, it’s not overpowering because the story itself is also lighthearted mostly due the heroine, Echo. I really enjoyed Echo and Colton, both, and absolutely loved the art! This is definitely a fun one-shot, but a compelling one as well. ~ Laura A. Grace
School Memories is published by Sharen Morishita.
Getting Closer to You, Vol. 1
Getting Close to You is exactly the kind of shojo manga I’m always looking for, a romance with sports overtone. As soon as I saw Kodansha was publishing a manga where the heroine is asked to become a basketball manager, I immediately went to their website and read the first chapter. It was so funny! And that humor only continues throughout the manga because the heroine, Kaho, is a muscle manic who absolutely loves muscles. And so naturally, one day when she’s spying on the team basketball players to see their muscles, Kaho unexpectedly finds herself in an interesting predicament with our hero, Natsume. Rather than divulge her “secret” of how obsessed she is with muscles, he proposes she becomes the manager of the basketball team (which he just so happens to be on). I loved this story! I laughed so much when reading, and it truly reminded me how fun and enjoyable manga can be! Kaho’s obsession is absolutely hilarious; I had to remind myself to slow down when reading because I was having such a great time. And her chemistry with Natsume is so precious—I deeply loved how respectful he is of Kaho. This first volume had a great balance of romance and sports and I found myself completely giddy over the idea of reading more about this couple. I know I tell friends often I’ll keep up on digital manga, only to forget about the upcoming volumes, but Getting Closer to You is one I must keep reading! It too fun not to see what happens next! ~ Laura A. Grace
Getting Closer to You is published by Kodansha.
From Tatsuki Fujimoto, the creator of Chainsaw Man, Goodbye, Eri is a brand new, 200-page one-shot that begins with 12-year-old Yuta, who is asked to film every single moment of his dying mother’s life as she passes. He then compiles it into a film and after she dies, presents it at a school event. It flops. Big time as he creates a surprise ending to the film after running away from his mother during her final moments. After feeling like such a failure, Yuta considers suicide. That’s when he meets Eri, a film-loving classmate who actually enjoyed his movie. The story continues as Yuta and Eri watch films in order to come up with ideas for a new movie for Yuta to create. Fujimoto weaves an engaging story about love, loss, family, and filmmaking. I just could not stop reading and, frankly, plan to read it again soon. It did not feel like a mere 200 pages; the story was so well paced and the characters were so interesting. If you enjoy Fujimoto’s style of unexpected storytelling and are ready for a mature story about death and loss, check it out. ~ mdmrn
Goodbye, Eri is published by Viz Media via their Shonen Jump imprint.
Island in a Puddle, Vol. 1
Written by Kei Sanbe, creator of ERASED, Island in a Puddle deals also with the triumvirate of child abuse and neglect; supernatural powers; and monstrous adults. Siblings Minato and Nagisa, taken to an amusement park and again abandoned for an indeterminate amount of time by their mother, are riding a Ferris wheel when it’s hit by lightning. The event does something paranormal, switching the older brother’s body with that of a man in another car. Even more frightening, Minato is now in that other car with a murdered woman, which can only mean that his young sister, Nagisa, must now be with the killer. What a horrifyin turn of events, an yes, this first volume is every bit as stressful as it sounds. Sanbe excels at both creating a protagonist we care and root for, and in putting him and his loved ones through the ringer. The tension is extremely high during the latter half of the volume, as the killer’s recent crimes are laid out, with the switch conveniently helping him continue his murderous life (with Nagisa a likely future victim), while Minato is now on the run—and not just from the authorities. Everything is going wrong and there doesn’t seem to be a way out, creating a sense of desperation not only for Minato, but for the reader. Can everything be righted? Probably, but we’re going to go through a whole lot of pain and stress before we get there. ~ Twwk
Island in a Puddle is published by Kodansha.
I’m a Wolf, But My Boss is a Sheep!, Vol. 1
I’m a Wolf, But My Boss is a Sheep! is yet another series that I was persuaded to pick up through the manga-reading community! Maybe because at the time when I saw this in the bookstore I had My Senpai is Annoying on my mind, I decided to give the manga a try as it seemed to be along the same vain…except as the cover implies, these characters aren’t quite human! Oogami, is a young man who recently transferred to a new department in the bedding company at which he workst. Not that big of a deal, even though he will be in the same department as his crush (aka his supervisor), but what is a big deal is that he is the only wolf in a department full of sheep! What’s he going to do now?! What a cute setup for an adult office romcom! I found Oogami to be especially enduring and just a fun hero to cheer for. He is incredibly sweet, though I couldn’t help but laugh when his inner “wolf” would try to overpower his usual calm self in certain situations. His supervisor is equally fun and I absolutely loved her kind personality! Put the two of them together and they are so adorable; I could not help but cheer for them in the romance “department.” I think this is setting up for a great slow burn romance, and I enjoyed seeing them genuinely getting to know each other in this first volume. ~ Laura A. Grace
I’m a Wolf, But My Boss Is a Sheep! is published by Seven Seas.
Record of Ragnarok, Vol. 1
The only way for humanity to survive, to merely continue existing and not be destroyed entirely by the gods, is for them to win Ragnarok, a “final battle” in which 13 humans will face 13 gods in one on one matches. Little time is wasted is setting the stage for a brutal, battle-focused manga in which representatives of each side fight one another, with the humans supported and helped by Brunhilde and her sister Valkyries, who desire for humanity to continue living. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a battle series. They can be thrilling with their high level of violence (something I both enjoy and tend to avoid, as I really discourage the lust for blood and gore that I can myself obsessing over) and extreme stakes—both in the significance of the outcome and in the background stories provided. Record of Ragnarok, at least in volume one, leans more heavily on the former than the latter, to its disadvantage. By the time the finale of the battle came within sight, I didn’t really care whether Thor or Lu Bu won or whether either or both died, since their backgrounds weren’t fleshed out in ways that appealed to my heart. Actually, I should pull that back a bit and say I rooting somewhat for the Chinese warlord because, well, go humans!, but also because their supporter, Brunhilde, is a fun character—full of optimism, courage, and good humor. But she cannot carry the series herself, so I look forward to seeing if Record of Ragnarok can also make the duos worth caring about in future volumes. ~ Twwk
Record of Ragnarok is published by Viz Media.
The Ancient Magus Bride, Vol. 2
From the conclusion to the story of cats, including a dreadful tale of love gone wrong, to one involving a dog at a graveyard, volume two of The Ancient Magus Bride is bookended by material involving the two domesticated and beloved species and featuring the alchemist Renfred; his assistant, Alice; and more sinister than these two, the first true protagonist of the series, a “creepy” childlike being whose experiments are leading to slaughter and sorrow. In between, Chise recovers from her efforts with the cats, and is in aided in such by Titania, goddess of the faeries, and her excitable husband, Oberon, both making appearances as major gods in this world. The antagonism as portrayed between Titania and the Christian God is captivating, and properly written for a story ruled by pagan deities and spirits. Their entrance into the tale and this interlude overall is charming and humorous, a midsummer night’s dream itself, helping readers catch their breaths at the conclusion of one dark story and the beginning of another likely as dark and action-filled. It’s also absolutely necessary in another way, reminding readers why this series is set apart from others: by the mythic setting and tone, which is slightly lost in the action pieces, and the cold tale of Chise’s life and her allegiance to Elias, who remains a mystery himself. All three acts of volume three are most welcome, though time with Titania and her husband most of all. ~ Twwk
The Ancient Magus Bride is published by Seven Seas.
READ: The Ancient Magus Bride, Volume 1 Review
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.