We’ve got a lot of romance to share with you this week, from simple and sweet to more complex tales involving bullying and arranged marriage. But lest you think we’ve gone soft, there are some violent, pseud-historic manga in the mix, too, along with sci-fi and isekai. Check out our thoughts on the new, recent, and classic releases below!
Assassin’s Creed Dynasty (Vol. 3) • The Elusive Samurai (Vol. 2) • Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (Vol. 3) • Now I’m a Demon Lord! Happily Ever After with Monster Girls in My Dungeon • The Princess’ Smile: The Body-Double Bride Searches for Happiness with the Reclusive Prince • Rebuild World (Vol. 1) • Shortcake Cake (Vol. 5) • A Silent Voice (Vol. 4)
Rebuild World, Light Novel Vol. 1
Akira lives in a world littered with ruins of an advanced civilization, full of high-tech relics and guarded by deadly contraptions and beasts. As a boy from the slums, he tries to become a Hunter, going into these ruins to unearth those relics and sell them to escape poverty; however, his lack of skills leads to a close brush with death. One day, he stumbles upon Alpha, a holographic woman who offers to help him become a successful Hunter, as long as he helps her with her own goals. This is an action-packed novel about exploring ruins, while dealing with other humans in this world—some friendly, others malicious. One thing I like is how, as much as this story is about surviving against the odds, it’s equally about helping other people out, even when it doesn’t seem optimal to do so. There’s also definitely a sense that there’s more to Alpha than what we or Akira know, and the intrigue over who she actually is and what she really wants adds to my interest in this story. Overall, the world-building and story have caught my attention, and I will definitely be reading more volumes of this series. ~ stardf29
Rebuild World is published by J-Novel Club (and is edited by our very own NegativePrimes!).
The Princess’ Smile: The Body-Double Bride Searches for Happiness with the Reclusive Prince, One-shot Light Novel
In a fantasy world, one country starts (and then loses!) a war with a smaller neighbor. The peace terms stipulate that the losing kingdom’s princess must marry a prince from the winning side. Princess Hermine has zero interest in this arranged marriage, but her orphaned cousin Sara looks quite similar… How very convenient. Soon Sara (pretending to be Princess Hermine) finds herself wedded to the mysterious and unsociable Prince Richard. Now she must make this unexpected relationship work, and this amid the repercussions from the complicated situation she finds herself in. To me, the key point that distinguishes this light novel is that the leads are married from the outset. The marriage is an established fact the characters must deal with, giving the entire story a different dynamic from the more common tales about people building a romantic relationship from nothing. Yeah, I know it’s hardly the first light novel to do this, but the premise is still uncommon enough that it feels like fresh and interesting. I really enjoyed this volume. ~ Jeskai
The Princess’ Smile: The Body-Double Bride Searches for Happiness with the Reclusive Prince is published by Cross Infinite World.
Shortcake Cake, Manga Vol. 5
The emotional roller coaster continues! I feel I want to say this volume is more emotional than the last one, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a reoccurring theme with this manga! Thankfully these volumes pick right back up where the previous volume ended because Ten has admitted/realized she has feelings for Riku and I honestly couldn’t be happier! Well except, Chiaki is no longer hiding his feelings from Ten and it’s made for some interesting developments, even though Ten has nicely rebuffed all of his “advances” (such as him saying he is jealous or that he doesn’t want her to leave his company yet). I definitely was not happy with those moments, especially with his actions at the end of this volume. Thankfully Chiaki isn’t deterring Ten since I really like Riku a lot, but even with that said, I really enjoyed the outing Chiaki and Riku had together. I didn’t expect that due to Chiaki being more vocal to Ten personally about his feelings, but there are always fun shenanigans on page when its just the two of them! I deeply enjoyed seeing the progression of Ten’s feelings for Riku throughout this volume and think she is so adorable in not knowing what to do/how to act around him. I’m absolutely here for this blooming romance and desperately needing to see what happens next (and if Chiaki will apologize for his actions)! ~ Laura A. Grace
Shortcake Cake is published by VIZ Media.
Now I’m a Demon Lord! Happily Ever After with Monster Girls in My Dungeon, Light Novel Vol. 1
Yuki finds himself reincarnated in a dungeon in another world, and in the body of a “Demon Lord” at that. After figuring out the system that lets him customize the dungeon and generate items for his use, he befriends the ancient dragon Lefisios, rescues the vampire girl Iluna and some other beastgirls, and acquires a pet slime and a Fenrir wolf familiar. This novel mainly shows all these characters goofing off and enjoying life with each other, while occasionally dealing with humans in the surrounding area who try to intrude on their peace. The highlight of this novel is Yuki’s first-person narration, which (unlike most such narration in isekai light novels) is very casual and personal. It includes many “stream of consciousness” thoughts without getting too long-winded (though be warned that there is a fair amount of profanity throughout). This makes it easy to feel how much fun he is having in the more peaceful moments, but it also highlights his unpleasant emotions when humans try to cause problems for him. The relationship between him and Lefi (who of course has a pretty girl form) is also a highlight, especially in one moment when she helps keep him from going out of control. This was a really fun read and has the potential to become one of my new favorite light novels. ~ stardf29
Now I’m a Demon Lord! Happily Ever After with Monster Girls in My Dungeon is published by J-Novel Club.
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, Manga Vol. 3
“I kind of feel like a protagonist.” Well, that’s because you are, Shiraishi, and of a funny and pleasant series to boot. Volume three of Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible continues the upward trajectory of the previous volumes, from the uneven and slightly ecchi tone in volume one toward the romantic and sentimental mood at the end of volume two. Whether walking home together in the rain under a single umbrella, or picnicking under the falling cherry blossoms, these chapters hit a myriad of sweet spots of romance manga in cute, humorous, and wistful ways. Kubo and Shiraishi no longer have a relationship that would fit better in the harsher genre of teasing romcom manga; theirs is growing more actively and realistically, and each seemingly accepts the feelings they have for one another (at least in their own thoughts, if not in front of friends or each other). Volume three also addresses a serious weakness of the series, namely undeveloped side characters. Kubo’s cousin and elder sister interact frequently with Kubo in this volume, and in significant ways with Shiraishi, too. The series is becoming fuller, sweeter, and better with every single release. If you’ve been avoiding it, maybe it shouldn’t be invisible to you anymore. ~ Twwk
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is published by Viz Media. Volume three releases on September 6th.
Assassin’s Creed Dynasty, Manga Vol. 3
I haven’t picked up the newest volume of this series in a while, so I had to take a moment and remember where I left off. The story follows an assassin named Li E who bears a long scar along his face, as he takes part in a war between two armies in China. One army wants to assassinate several generals of the opposing army (which Li E is part of), and the battles get very intense and graphic. This volume had some slow parts where it just went over battle strategies and naming places in China I was not familiar with, so I was a little lost in those details. But it was nice to get to know Li E more by the end, as he was pretty quiet in volume 1 from what I remember. Volume three doesn’t go into the lore of the creed or the main plot points of the franchise, so I’m waiting to see if later installments dive into that or if Li E is just an assassin in China and there is no backstory to the creed. Hopefully, volume four has some answers. ~ Samuru
Assassin’s Creed Dynasty is published by Tokyopop.
The Elusive Samurai, Manga Vol. 2
After a clunky and lengthy first volume that left me bored—and wondering, “so what?”—volume two of The Elusive Samurai is a smoother and more engaging work. Part of the problem with volume one—and I admit I’m speculating here—was that despite the mangaka’s renown, Yusei Matsui seemed to move away from his style and to emulate Golden Kamuy, both in that manga’s weird humor and extreme violence. And while volume two remains violent, it’s not the type that makes you fear turning each page lest your favorite character die on the next one; and while funny, it isn’t the jarring kind of humor either. No, The Elusive Samurai fits squarely into typical shonen territory—focusing on excellent action (particularly when Tokiyuki faces off with the Sadamune in an archery competition where more than honor is at stake), and team building (when Tokiyuki attempts to add a thief to his party as they pair up on a dangerous mission). Meanwhile, the specter of Takauji and his apparent invincibility hangs over the entire story, making him all the formidable in Tokiyuki’s mind (and in the reader’s as well). Volume two is a fun and brisk read, slowing down only with interesting historical and “game card” asides; this series seems to have hit its sweet spot, a balance of semi-serious historical epic and good old shonen adventure. ~ Twwk
The Elusive Samurai is published by Viz Media. Volume two releases on September 6th.
A Silent Voice, Manga Vol. 4
In volume four, I love how the mangaka helps us feel some fun and excitement with and for Shoya—only to turn and absolutely rip your heart out by the end! We see Shoya really experience the beauty of friendship (even if briefly). However, what was supposed to be a fun day at the amusement park for Shoya and his friends does not end as grandly as it began. Not only is there a tragic scene that unfolds later on, but even before this we learn a heartbreaking “secret” about how Shoko views herself. I thought this volume did an amazing job showing that people change—and yet some people don’t change. And if those people change, sometimes it is not for the better, hurting or harming others instead. I also feel this series is at the point where our main characters have developed, and they have to decide how they will move forward. However, the ending of this volume was really sad. Well, maybe more of bittersweet, because this volume shows that Shoya knows and understands what friendship is. He realizes what Tomohiro meant a volume or two ago, that understanding friendship doesn’t necessarily require “logic.” While I definitely didn’t like the actions of a few side characters (specifically Naoko, who I cannot stand at this point) and that my heart broke with certain events and conversations, I really enjoyed this volume a lot more than the previous one! ~ Laura A. Grace
A Silent Voice is published by Kodansha.
“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 those older titles that you might find as magical (or in some cases, reprehensible) as we do.