Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Vol. 8
I’ve been both anticipating volume eight of Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki and dreading it, worried that this series I’ve come to adore might just fall off a cliff. While I’ve obviously enjoyed Yuki Yaku’s writing all this time, volume seven concluded with such a significant event—and one that seems as much a win in the “game of life” as any—that I wondered if the series would now jump the shark. However, Tomozaki continues to surprise in the best of ways. This time, not only does Aoi continue to push the titular character to grow and adjust to life with a girlfriend, but the series itself also turns to a bigger issue than dating: what will the characters do after high school? To answer this, the narrative moves outside the walls of the high school and introduces a number of new characters who aren’t simply beautiful add-ons to the light novel’s world, but actually add color to the story and help open up the path to an answer about Tomozaki’s career choice. Meanwhile, there’s a sense of discomfort underlying the entire volume as Yaku addresses the elephant in the room: Tomozaki’s lack of thoughtfulness when it comes to women—even though he’s thoughtful about almost every other thing. All this leads to some surprising developments and an ending that has me even more hooked on the series, and a little peeved too that we’ll be getting another special volume before this new conflict is addressed and resolved. ~ Twwk
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (light novel) is published by Yen Press.
Rozi in the Labyrinth, Vol. 3
The third volume of Rozi in the Labyrinth is such a beautiful and heart-rending conclusion to this series that it made me cry at the end! While I have always appreciated the powerful metaphors of light and dark in the series, this volume especially hit me with “the power of love”, despite how cliché that may sound. Hope and love are two of the very beautiful and most precious things, and I feel that Rozi and her actions live those ideas out to the fullest. There are other aspects that I would love to jump further into, but to avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that my heart felt uplifted. More often than not, we hear about all the bad things going on in the world, but this story reminded me that there are “good” people out there, people who choose to love others, who choose to befriend just because they want to, and who value others and the beauty they have. Truly, this story is so moving that even now, it makes me tear up. I am deeply thankful to have read this series! I wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been for a friend recommending it and Beneath the Tangles, but it has been such an exciting and beautiful adventure. I will miss visiting new places in the Labyrinth that Rozi loves! (And I will also miss having the company of her wonderful family and friends!) Thankfully, her story will just be a “trip” to my bookshelf away, and I will easily be able to read it all over again! ~ Laura A. Grace
Rozi in the Labyrinth is published by Seven Seas.
WATCH: Rozi in the Labyrinth, Volume 1 Review
READ: Rozi in the Labyrinth, Volume 2 Review
A Galaxy Next Door, Vol. 1
Leaving the home island of her magical people, the princess Shiori Goshiki desires freedom, particularly in choosing her future romantic partner. This wanderlust was first stirred in her by a love of manga, so it’s natural that Goshiki, a budding manga artist, should start her sojourn by becoming the assistant to her favorite mangaka, Ichiro Kuga who, while burdened with a heavy workload and the challenges of making his shoujo series a success, is more importantly caring for his young brother and sister after the death of their father and abandonment by their mom. While these circumstances sound heavy, A Galaxy Next Door is relentlessly positive in its initial volume—a funny and charming work, especially when depicting Goshiki’s peculiar personality, which is up-front as a result of her role on the island of the star people, while also being romantic and sensitive. Created by Gido Amagakure, the mangaka behind the beloved series Sweetness and Lightning, which also deals with complicated family situations and rambunctious children, A Galaxy Next Door avoids the easy drift toward wish fulfillment or cliché, and instead focuses on its well-formed characters, who are compellingly free of the expected tropes. For instance, there is a beautiful childhood friend, and an older male editor, but the former is not a love rival nor is the latter an over-the-top old man. Instead, both are just kind people who care about Kuga, and in fact, are married to one another! Amagakure has enough confidence to make the characters and their charms the center of the story, leading to an initial volume that is as authentic as it is funny, cute, and romantic. This looks to be a heartwarming and a special read, and I’ll be awaiting more of it eagerly. ~ Twwk
A Galaxy Next Door (manga) is published by Kodansha.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, Vol. 4
How magical it is when a manga is able to bring you near tears every single chapter, yet is also capable of making you laugh harder than you have all week. Frieran, as I’ve mentioned previously, is a special series, and volume by volume, it keeps getting better and better. Finally having convinced the gambling, smoking priest, Sein, to join their party, the adventurers continue to travel north, encountering more villages and stories along the way—some reminding Frieren of the past and why she’s taking this journey, and others weaving the group closer together in the present. Frieren is a profoundly sad tale, as the protagonist has outlived most of her former comrades and is likely to outlive even the young ones surrounding her now, yet the story still manages to exude a gentle warmth. This sense is most brought alive by how the titular character, as inscrutable as she is, has grown into a caring older sister / mother type, because of how her previous friendships transformed her life. This is a sweet series that is also beautiful and creative. And as volume four ends, it once again shows that it can be action-packed and exciting as well. ~ Twwk
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is published by VIZ Media. Volume four releases May 17th.
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss! (Manga), Vol. 1
New favorite manga alert! I am going to call it right now: I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is going to be a new personal favorite for me! The villainess, Aileen, is such a fun heroine! I found that I could not help but cheer for her as she regains her memories right at the moment when she is being rejected by her supposed fiancé, who now has the protagonist clinging to his arm! Wait! How would she know that she was the villainess and the other girl is the protagonist?! Because she also realizes in this moment that she died in her past life, and is now a villainess in an otome game where the only way she can “stay alive” is by making the “final boss” fall in love with her! I laughed so much while reading this story and absolutely loved Aileen’s spunk and go-getter attitude in asking Claude, the Demon King, if he would marry her (especially followed by all her antics). I really appreciate how she takes matters into her own hands, and am very much looking forward to seeing what Aileen will do next. Speaking of Claude, he was nothing like what I expected! (I think I expected more dark magical elements but there were none in this first volume. There was barely even any magic as it was.) He is a cinnamon roll character, and seeing his emotions being “on display” was a hoot! Very excited to read volume two! ~ Laura A. Grace
I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss is published by Yen Press.
My Wife is an Oni – Kyoto Date Chapter
My Wife is an Oni is an adorable doujin from Yamato Nadeshiko about a human office worker and his oni wife. As I’ve read through the series, I’ve found each chapter cuter than the one before. The same can be said of the this latest chapter, a quick one-shot about the characters going on an extended date to the historic city of Kyoto. Seeing more stories about this cute married couple is a lot of fun. While there are some over the top moments, overall this is simply a cute romantic comedy about a normal human and his magical (and very tall) oni wife. One of the most squee-worthy moments for me came when the two discussed the idea of having children. It was such a sweet moment to see both their minds working, thinking it over and talking about it openly. Overall, if you are looking to check out a self-published doujin manga, My Wife is an Oni is a great series to try out with a cute art style and a relatable, funny married couple who have genuine affection for one another. ~ MDMRN
My Wife is an Oni – Kyoto Date Chapter is published by Irodori under their all-ages Aqua imprint.
I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too (Vol. 1)
Yuuya has been ridiculed, bullied, abused, and violated all through his childhood and adolescence, even by his own parents, who eventually abandon him, all because of his appearance. Thankfully, Yuuya was left a home by his now-deceased grandfather, but this it not a normal house. As Yuuya discovers, it features a doorway that will lead him to another world—and as he levels up over there, he’ll bring those skills, powers, and looks back over here. A fairly simple setup—bullied OP hero is now OP in real life as well—leads to simple execution. There are no surprises in volume one of this series, which honestly reads very similarly to many of the fan fiction works I was obsessed with as a teenager. Those stories can be really addictive, and a gateway for authors to move toward greater writing, but I wouldn’t say Cheat Skill would be even among the better fan fiction pieces. It reads like a mediocre tale: there’s no personality to the characters; the perspective is funky, as first person narration (complete with Yuuya speaking dialogue that it doesn’t seem he can actually hear…) constantly shifts into third and back again for no good reason other than convenience; and the biggest surprise is that nothing in the volume is surprising! Cheat Skill is poorly written by light novel standards. However, it is sweet, with a protagonist who curves away from the revenge-minded or smart-alecky OP heroes of other isekai tales, which makes for a refreshing change. While Cheat Skill is unequivocally and without shame a wish fulfillment series, it’s one with a good heart. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t put it down, even as I thumbed my nose up at it. So yes, I will be reading volume two, and would probably be just fine with more of the same. ~ Twwk
I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too (light novel) is published by Yen Press. Volume one releases on May 17th.
Satoko and Nada, Vol. 2
I absolutely love Satoko and Nada! These two women are such a beautiful example of friendship. They were already amazing characters in the first volume, but after a second volume, I’ve now become very attached to them! When certain “news” relating to Nada is dropped, I unexpectedly found myself becoming really sad because it felt like a foreshadowing of the series conclusion and I am in no way ready for the adventures of these ladies to end anytime soon. While the two continue to develop their relationship as roommates, the episodic chapters explore a variety of issues as the two friends share their worldviews. The topics they discuss include how anime is handled and modified in Saudi Arabia (changing characters to avoid the depiction of romance), as well as biking, voting, food, revenge, women’s rights, and so forth. The conversations reveal much about the upbringing and culture of both ladies, and I found it very fascinating. In many ways, Satoko and Nada is an “educational” manga, particularly in the way that readers are informed about Nada’s homeland as well as her culture. It’s been interesting (and fun!) to learn new things while growing in my affection for the characters! (Also, Satoko’s backstory pulled at my heart strings!) ~ Laura A. Grace
Satoko and Nada 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.