This week, we cover the thrilling new volumes of Kaiju No. 8, the volume of Trapped in a Dating Sim that picks up the story from where the anime left off, the first installment of The Phantom of the Idol (the anime adaptation of which premiered last week), and so much more!
Dinosaur Hour (Vol. 1) • Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 3) • Phantom of the Idol (Vol. 1) • Silver Spoon (Vol. 8) • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs (Vol. 3) • Witch Watch (Vol. 2)
Witch Watch, Vol. 2
At the end of volume one, I was left worrying that the easy, breezy rom-com elements of Witch Watch were quickly being left behind for darker, more mysterious fare, as ogre Moi seeks to protect his childhood friend and witch, Nico, from a disaster foretold in a prophecy. But while volume two does begin by referring to that prediction, most of the material settles right back into the same hilarious and cute territory that made the first release such a winner. Moi’s role as Nico’s familiar continues to power the story’s scenarios, though now he’s joined by another as well in the form of the crow, Kan. Instead of making him a love rival, however, I’m stoked that this series turns Kan into a cheerleader for Nico as she tries to flip her childhood friendship with Moi into a romantic relationship. The dynamics between these three set up a number of cute and humorous situations, including a romantic one that closes out the volume. And in between is more hilarity, much of it presented in a silly, unexpected way, like the boy who asks Nico for a spell so that he can poop in peace, and the teacher who hides her obsession with the fanart one of her students draws. But look, despite the mention of poo, the humor is so surprisingly clean—it’s also funny, clever, and heartwarming. With only a digital release, this series feels far too under the radar for what it is, which is perhaps the best manga rom-com to premiere in 2022. ~ Twwk
Witch Watch (manga) is published by VIZ Media.
READ: Witch Watch, Vol. 1 Review
Dinosaur Hour, Vol. 1
Has anyone else found manga to be sorely lacking in dinosaurs? I can’t say I am a huge fan of dinosaurs, but my kids are and that was the main reason I read Dinosaur Hour. My kiddo kept telling me how funny this manga is, and I have to admit that even though this is geared towards a younger audience, I found myself laughing a time or two! It is an episodic manga that features a variety of dinosaurs (and I do mean a variety: I could not keep up with even half of the dinosaurs mentioned) in a range of situations that result in shenanigans for all dinosaurs involved. Even though most of the chapters hit the same “beats,” it was still fun to see what the new dinosaur introduced would do. There were some “violent” moments, but nothing definitely bloody, which I appreciated as a parent. My kids and I are bummed to know that we will probably never get a volume two, but even so, it’s one I would still recommend to all ages! I especially think younger audiences who love dinosaurs will enjoy meeting (or seeing old favorites!) in the humorous situations presented in each of these chapters. ~ Laura A. Grace
Dinosaur Hour! is published by VIZ Media.
Phantom of the Idol, Vol. 1
I admit it—I’ve never kept up with an idol manga, nor have I completed an idol anime. But Phantom of the Idol, which now has an anime adaptation, is likely to be the title that changes that for me. It is hilarious, cute, and well thought out. That last bit is what impresses me most about this series in which Niyodo, one half of an idol duo who cares so little about his work that he sometimes even looks up lyrics to the song he’s singing on his cell phone while on stage, partners with Asahi, the ghost of a popular idol who loves her profession so much that she keeps working at it even after her death! Asahi possesses and otherwise trains Niyodo to help him grow as an idol which, as you can imagine, leads to a number of funny gags, but there’s a lot of excellent scenario writing here, too. By the end of volume one, the relationship between Asahi and Niyodo is already well-established, and they work absolutely perfectly as an odd couple—not in a romantic way (not yet), but in how they play off each other, mostly for laughs, though sometimes warmly as well. Asashi has a kind heart and wants the best for Niyodo, who becomes more than his usual “cash it in” self in large part because of the ghost’s earnestness. There are a lot of jokes and a ton of dialogue, enough to advance the volume past simple introductions and into a fun plot involving the three (and apparently only three) women who stan the unloveable Niyodo, and work to increase his group’s prominence as they perform at the, wait for it, Hottie Farm Hot ‘n’ Fresh Farmers’ Market. Yep, this manga is a keeper. ~ Twwk
Phantom of the Idol (manga) is published by Kodansha.
Kaiju No. 8, Vol. 3
One of my favorite ongoing shonen manga series, Kaiju No. 8, continues to release strong, thrilling volumes, with this latest release being no exception! There were multiple points when I literally forgot to breathe while reading! This volume picks up right where volume two ended and throws us right back into the battle at a point where Ichikawa’s life was seemingly on the line. Thankfully, that situation turned out okay, otherwise this review would be very different! However, that doesn’t mean that things are going smoothly for Kafka as we see an intense battle between him and his vice-captain, Hoshina, quickly follow! I have been curious about Hoshina for a while now, and was more than a little starstruck while watching this battle unfold (even if I was also gripping my Kindle in anticipation of how this would affect Kafka). It was absolutely one of the best parts of this volume and highlights why Hoshina is indeed vice-captain! The story calmed down after this intense battle, with a special celebration for the Defense Force, yet the volume’s ending reminds us that while one kaiju may be taken down or stopped, the battle is far from over. It’s definitely a good thing that many of these incredible characters have “leveled up,” including the awesome Shinomiya who continues to shine on the page! Truly, Kaiju No. 8 gets better and better with every release! I am ecstatic to get my preorder because it’s a story I simply can’t get enough of! ~ Laura A. Grace
Kaiju No. 8 is published by VIZ Media. Volume three releases on July 12th.
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs (Light Novel) Vol. 3
Surely I can’t be the only one to have found the Trapped in a Dating Sim to be—outside of SPY x FAMILY—the most entertaining anime of the spring 2022 season. If you feel similarly, do as I did: Jump into volume three of the light novel series, which continues the story at almost the exact point where the anime concludes, with Leon having overcome the Principality of Fanoss. But what’s this? Leon has been jailed…again? Looks like an opportunity for the Principality to strike again. And indeed, they do, and with fury. Unlike the mixture of action and slice-of-life from previous volumes, this one is pretty much non-stop warfare for more than 500 pages. I loved how volume three makes the series overall resemble a true fantasy series in this way, foregoing many light novel conventions and becoming quite epic in scale by mixing in political intrigue and a new enemy (see the cover) while never forgetting the main cast. Even though I’m in this series mostly for the snark and how it pokes fun at the otome and isekai genres, I’m also 100% in for this more action-focused volume. There’s still snark, though, and Luxion and Leon remain the most compelling duo in the series. And don’t worry, romance isn’t forgotten either, with a couple of surprises in stores, including one that’s meant to be a distractive element for the main character and readers, and one that’s a truly earth-shaking development. ~ Twwk
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs (light novel) is published by Seven Seas.
Silver Spoon, Vol. 8
While Silver Spoon is full of camaraderie and humor, its world of livestock, crops, and students largely hailing from poor farming backgrounds is nevertheless fertile ground for more dramatic fare that challenges readers to consider the difficulties of real life. The fulfillment of the overarching storylines is still a while away, but in the meantime, volume eight foregrounds the growing tension between what Aki’s family expects of her and what she desires to do, emphasizing this all the more through what occurs to Komaba and his family. The themes of following one’s dreams and the economy of harsh reality blend together in a heartfelt and authentic way that admits the reality of discouragement, while allowing for glittering shonen hope as well. A ton of plot development occurs in volume eight, where the character most in focus may be life itself, though Aki continues to be more and more fleshed out—far more so than is typical for a love interest—in this thoughtful collection of chapters. Silver Spoon is such a consistently excellent series, but these chapters shine among the best, behind only the Pork Bowl arc in their warmth, sadness, and depth. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon 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 they’re 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.