There is perhaps no more iconic anime snack than onigiri, rice balls that anime boys and girls find themselves munching on frequently. In Ai Watanabe and Samuel Trifot’s cookbook named for the dish, the founders of restaurant Gili-Gili give 36 recipes for variations of the treat, with fillings of vegetables, fish and other meats, along with several side dishes. While I’ve fumbled along making onigiri in the past, this was my first attempt at trying a number of different specific recipes. My daughter and I selected four to cook, and they were all fairly easy to do and every one of them was delicious, including the delectable bacon and asparagus and deeply flavored chanterelle omelet. I also appreciated the introductory pages, which offer a quick read about the history of the snack and provide some tips, though perhaps we could have a used a few more, judging by the odd triangles we formed and the onigiri that wouldn’t stay together. Onigiri is lovely addition to the collection of any otaku or chef—I know that’s precisely how I feel, as this volume will go up on my shelf as proof of otakuness, but will surely be taken down as we use it again and again. ~ Twwk
Onigiri is published by VIZ Media. This cookbook releases May 10th.
Rozi in the Labyrinth, Vol. 2
Last year, I posted a video review of Rozi in the Labyrinth here on Beneath the Tangles and I am so excited that the final volume in the series has been released so that I can finally read this series through to the end! (Binge reader problems, anyone?) But for now, let’s focus on volume two. While the story continues to center on Rozi and her adventures in the labyrinth with her family, this volume has a very interesting turn of events, especially by the end! The volume kicks off with a meow-rific opening and continues on the slightly episodic path of fun meetings with characters old and new. What is different though, is that while there have been glimpses into the past of certain characters before, in this volume there are a whole lot more! These chapters definitely had me leaning in when reading, even though I knew one of the characters was going to have a tragic backstory! However, I am unsure as to how this background will be related to the overall story, since most of the chapters until now have been about everyday life in the Labyrinth. Will something change in the next volume that will make these backstories important for readers? I think the only “bummer” part in the volume is the discussion on gods and whether the people in the Labyrinth have been forgotten by them, and also the worship of the Black Queen. (I never want anyone to feel forgotten, even fictional characters, so that is a slight trigger for me.) I think there is more to the story with the Black Queen that is vital because I don’t think she is a god who hears the prayers whispered and spoken in the church. With that said though, I love how strongly the theme of hope is developed in relation to Rozi! When she is told near the end that she is a “precious light” and that light shines, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how powerful hope is. ~ Laura A. Grace
Rozi in the Labyrinth is published by Seven Seas.
WATCH: Rozi in the Labyrinth, Volume 1 Review
Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound, Vol. 1
Stereotypically overworked salaryman Takumi gets isekai’d. So does his dog, Leo. Bet you’d never have guessed that based on title, huh? They save a beautiful woman named Claire from an orc, and a chill adventure unfolds from there. While Takumi is blessed with an OP ability (albeit one that requires a bit of creativity to apply), he’s still basically an ordinary guy. Hilariously, it’s Leo who gets the more conventional isekai power upgrade, going from a Maltese lapdog to a giant silver wolf with incredible strength and speed, multiple types of magic, and elite combat skills. There’s a lot of emphasis on relaxing and taking life more slowly, plus humor (the seemingly staid old butler is a real troll!), heartwarming interactions, and lots of fluff (the luxuriously downy kind). I also appreciated the no-nonsense way Takumi and the locals approach dealing with his status as an otherworlder: instead of arbitrary skepticism or paranoid secret-keeping, they just talk it out and accept what’s happened. There’s nothing terribly unique or distinctive about this story, but I quite enjoyed the combination of adventure, humor, cuteness, and fluffiness. If you’re in the mood for something light and soothing, consider this tale of an OP isekai’d dog and her human. ~ jeskaiangel
Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound is published by Cross Infinite World.
Rascal Does Not Dream of Logical Witch (Rascal Does Not Dream, Vol. 3)
Hajime Kamoshida, the author of the Rascal Does Not Dream series, is a writer whose inconsistency makes me want to tear my hair out. He excels with dialogue, frequently creating wonderful, humorous moments between characters and weaving together arcs that end with great emotional effect (the last 50 pages of this volume are beautiful), but he has loose threads in his work, and every few chapters, he goes into “justification mode,” trying to explain away plot holes, incorporating scientific terms when explaining Adolescent Syndrome to create a sense of realism, and adding doses of cluelessness and boyish charm to Sakuta to make him appear to be a good guy while still allowing him to grow his harem (which now includes 12-year-old Shouko). It happens in each novel in the series, but carries a special irony in volume three, which centers on Rio, who divides into two as a result of her anxieties and a secret life she’s leading. It’s ironic because she’s scientifically-minded and referred to in the title as a “logical witch,” while Kamoshida’s justification for her action is totally lacking in logic. He has the apparently brilliant and rational Rio refuse to meet her other self because of the “doppelganger legend,” where “if two people with the same face meet, one of them dies.” Yep, totally something a young woman with post-graduate level understanding of physics would say. Passages like this are a shame because otherwise the story about Rio’s struggles and syndrome resonate deeply, most of all because Rio herself is fascinating and fun—such a snarky but delicate character. This mix of engaging and disengaging led to several stops during my reading of this volume: I’d gobble up large chunks (say, 30 pages) and then have to walk away at certain segments (say, 2 pages), particularly those that felt creatively vacuous. The biggest obstacle in this volume though is one that is in place even before the novel begins: a preface illustration of Shouko in a wet shirt, with her skin showing through. I’m not sure what your personal line is between “acceptable” amounts of fanservice when it has to do with age: Is any age fine because it’s an illustration? Must the illustration or animation represent an adult, like grown-up Shouko? A girl who’s seventeen like Mai? Sixteen like Rio? Fifteen like Kaede? Fourteen like Evangelion pilots, Asuka and Rei? I’m not sure where my line is, but the sexualization of 12-year-old Shouko, depicted as a 12-year-old and not aged up, is not on this side of acceptable for me. Nothing else has irked me like this during the course of reading all the other novels in the series, and here’s hoping that nothing more like this will appear in the future. To me, a little more focus on creating a tighter story and less on harem shower and bath scenes would be, well, logical. ~ Twwk
The Rascal Does Not Dream light novels are published by Yen Press.
Rascal Does Not Dream of His First Love (Rascal Does Not Dream, Vol. 7)
As mentioned above, the maddening thing about the Rascal Does Not Dream light novel series is the inconsistency of Hajime Kamoshida’s writing, which ranges from breathtaking, emotionally fulfilling material, to lengthy amateurish passages. That range is nowhere more clearly on display than in Rascal Does Not Dream of His First Love, which picks up from Mai’s sacrifice in the last volume. Sakuta is naturally a wreck, as her friends and the world also mourn for Mai, but could Adolescence Syndrome provide a way to travel back in time and save her? And can Sakuta deal with the consequences of what that would mean? The final conclusion to this painful arc is powerful and moving, demonstrating the absolute heights that this series can reach. However, the process of getting there is painful in a whole other way. Have you ever met someone, now or maybe as a child, who would lie to your face and then weave endless, even more ridiculous explanations to support the lie, all the while thinking they have you fooled? Kamoshida does that frequently in his stories, trying to explain away coincidences or other unreasonable elements that by themselves, might have just led to an eye roll, but once thoroughly explained, take the readers out of the realism of the tale, instead highlighting how little sense these actions make. Another frustrating point is how the author explains, over and over again in the most insufferable manner, how badly Sakuta feels about Mai dying and then why the choice he makes is actually reasonable, when the truth is, it’s at best selfish, and at worse immensely awful and even villainous. Thankfully, this is a short read, concluding a two-volume arc, and ends in a satisfying way that almost makes one forget how mind-numbing the first 2/3 of the book are. Almost. ~ Twwk
The Rascal Does Not Dream light novels are published by Yen Press.
Satoko and Nada, Vol. 1
While shojo and sports manga are my typical go-to manga, I have been in the mood recently to pick up some josei. Seeing that my library had on its shelves a series that a fellow MangaTuber recently recommended, I decided to pick up it, which brings us to Satoko and Nada. What a heartwarming story! Satoko is a young Japanese woman who moves in with her new Saudi Arabian roommate, Nada. They both came to the U.S. to attend university, with the manga illustrating their everyday lives, displaying their wonderful conversations and the unfolding of a beautiful friendship! This first volume does a great job of addressing common stereotypes that many people may have believed consciously or subconsciously (including myself), and expresses that Nada is an amazing person just like everyone else. I mean, obviously, yes, she is, but she is such a free-spirited woman that a lot of the misconceptions that Satoko (and I too) had are “broken”. And speaking of Satoko, she too is such a fun character. I love how respectful she is of Nada and feel in many ways that she asks the same questions and takes the same actions in certain situations that I too might have done. This was a very eye-opening read, and I’m definitely looking forward to learning more in future volumes, as well as having a fun time with these ladies and their friends! ~ Laura A. Grace
Satoko and Nada is published by Seven Seas.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Vol. 6
It’s so much fun to watch Zom 100 take the form of a shonen series like One Piece, but people it with normal humans with unremarkable powers and, of course, put them in a zombie apocalypse. Volume six does precisely that, picking up with Akira’s father who is about to die at the hands of Higurashi, while Shizuka and Beatrix face two other awful human enemies. With these showdowns, the series returns to a commentary on the way of our world, the pain and bitterness we can find ourselves in when our work and society lacks kindness and grace. While such commentary has toned down over the volumes and Zom 100 has mostly just been a fun, humorous, and exciting zombie series, these moments do persist and remind readers that the series has wisdom to share beneath the laughs and excellently gory artwork. The value of mercy in an unmerciful society is also demonstrated through the character of Akira, who has taken the final step in the transformation from crazed, bitter worker for a black company, to grateful, optimistic leader that you might expect from a series filled with superpowers and supervillains, but which I hadn’t originally expected from a zombie thriller. What a captivating, engaging read—I’m eager to see what the next arc brings! ~ Twwk
The Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead manga is published by Viz Media, and volume six releases on May 10th.
Laid-back Camp, Vol. 11
Nadeshiko, Aya, and Rin congregate at a campsite, the latter two by scooter through rough roads, and Nadeshiko, by more “conventional” means, including an unconventional train. The adventures ahead of them are tasty, tiring, creative, and even a bit precarious. The latest volume of Laid-back Camp does something I adore seeing in manga and anime, rare as it may be: it places beloved characters in unusual combinations, which often reveals different aspects of their personalities. Rin is a bit more outwardly sassy around Aya, for instance, and Nadeshiko more introspective on her own. By placing both protagonists in situations that they typically avoid—the dual scooter travel for Rin and solo excursion for Nadeshiko—they are given another chance to grow. Though the peaceful landscapes and giddy humor are the hallmarks of the series, there is also a bigger story structuring what’s happening, and it is this that helps make Laid-back Camp more than a cute manga. It is also simply one of the very best. ~ Twwk
The Laid-back Camp manga 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.