How about some sci-fi? This week, we cover the recent release of the android and robotics-focused light novel Your Forma, joining a host of other recommended series, including the newly released volume of romance Ima Koi, hyperviolent game adaptation, SINoALICE, and charming light novel, The Holy Grail of Eris.
Ghost Reaper Girl • The Holy Grail of Eris (Vol. 2) • Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love (Vol. 3) • My Maid, Miss Kishi (Vol. 1) • Secrets of the Silent Witch (Vol. 1) • Shortcake Cake (Vol. 6) • SINoALICE (Vol. 1) • Your Forma (Vol. 1)
My Maid, Miss Kishi, Manga Vol. 1
I know everyone is going on and on about that soap romance manga, but with My Maid, Miss Kishi, I wonder if I’ve actually found something better, perhaps the sweetest manga to have premiered in 2022. Billionaire Kiichiro Hayase is adored by the public and his extensive staff of maids, but there’s something peculiar about this magnate—he is clumsy beyond belief. Like seriously, seriously clumsy, knocking down anything within a 25-foot radius and turning a suit into a head wrap when trying to put it on. But there’s one guiding light that helps him literally stay on his feet—his favorite maid, Miss Kishi, who seemingly does everything well. In fact, she’s so helpful that Hayase tries his best to show her that he appreciates her, but all his attempts seem to fall flat. She must not enjoy serving such an absent-minded man, he believes. Or does she? There’s so much sweetness in this initial volume, and plenty of humor as well (plus extra points for a Nausicaa reference!). Kishi and Hayase are such a great match, an “all grown up” version of those youthful romcoms where the boy just doesn’t get it, and particularly reminiscent of Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. I could not get enough of these first few chapters. And though the artwork starts out rough, it quickly improves, joining the excellence of the rest of the tale, which—unlike its male protagonist—isn’t clumsy at all. The story is more like Kishi—quite perfect indeed. ~ Twwk
My Maid, Miss Kishi is published by Kodansha.
The Holy Grail of Eris, Light Novel Vol. 2
Hey, just chiming in to say this volume is a delight, much like its predecessor. As a reminder, the “wicked” Scarlett was executed ten years ago at age sixteen for attempted murder (except she was framed), and she wants revenge. The murder mystery remains central to the plot—on whom should spectral Scarlett, via corporeal confederate Connie, exact vengeance? We learn much on that front, but the mystery of Scarlett’s demise soon snowballs, becoming a crucial thread in a larger tapestry of crime, corruption, and cloak-and-dagger political intrigue. The two leads remain charming, as does the awkward fake-engagement-you-know-is-turning-into-real-relationship between Connie and the stoic detective Randolph. The mystery is engaging, with lots of payoffs for previous foreshadowing. And as with the first volume, each chapter ends with a set of hilarious, evolving character profiles. I’m eager to see where this series goes next. ~ JeskaiAngel
The Holy Grail of Eris is published by Yen Press.
Your Forma, Light Novel Vol. 1
Although I enjoy science fiction, I typically don’t like sci-fi manga or light novels, which tend to lean so hard on the typical anime-style tropes that the themes and tones of the genre don’t appear with any type of consistency or depth. Enter Your Forma, which nicely balances light novel features like the tsundere archetype with a bit more seriousness. This allows the series to explore ideas such as the border between human and A.I. The deftness with which volume one walks this line reminds me of how The Executioner and Her Way of Life does the same with fantasy. Both series also share a common beginning: a prelude pointing at something wondrous and dreamlike, followed by an initial episode showing the main character—for Your Forma, that’s electronic investigator Echika Hieda—to be violent and transcendent in her work. Echika is so good at diving into others’ memories for criminal investigations, in fact, that she’s partnered with the only being able to keep up with her, a cheeky A.I. named Harold Lucraft. The relationship between the two is central to the piece, following a much-tread path of “human who hates A.I. learns about humanity from said robot,” but developed through extensive dialogue that feels genuine, as if we’re privy to conversations actually occurring. The science fiction elements are realistic as well, including the titular technology. “Your Forma” is an implant that most humans have during the time the story is set (it’s actually the modern period but in an alternate universe): the implant floods them with all sorts of information, but also allows investigators like the main duo to dive into their memories. That becomes important when a “virus” gets into the units of a number of victims. The science feels solid and realistic, and there’s much to explore about the technology, including volume one’s philosophical question: how human we really are when all the information we receive is cultivated for our own preferences? (How pertinent for today!) The ending, unfortunately, doesn’t quite land what was an extraordinary tale to that point—all the pieces that are supposed to come together feel a little forced, requiring too much explanation. But it’s not terrible either, and with the strength of the story’s other fabric, I think I’ve found another long-term read for me. A potentially great science fiction light novel series? I’m all in. ~ Twwk
Your Forma is published by Yen Press.
SINoALICE, Manga Vol. 1
You know it’s a classy series when it features a suicide scene with a panty shot. Okay, maybe that’s not the fairest way to introduce SINoALICE (the manga based on the popular mobile game), but it does convey what you’re getting with this shrink-wrapped volume: lots of fanservice and tons of violence, oftentimes blended together. Alice, a “normal girl” (as she often asserts), is involved in a relationship with one of her teachers. So is her friend. This situation leads to the previously-mentioned (and other violence), but the next day, Alice wakes without much memory of what happened. Soon she dives into another, even more violent event—this one full of gore and of a most graphic nature. Although I tend not to support art of this nature (some of our writers trend differently), even I have to admit that the artwork is elaborative and brilliant. Another high point of this volume is the mystery of exactly what’s going on—very little has been revealed by the end of volume one: Alice has displayed some type of power and teamed with two other girls, one named Snow (setting the stage for a fable/fairy tale connection in the series) and another as yet unnamed. Is all this enough to tempt me into reading volume two when it publishes? As I noted, these types of series take me to a bad place emotionally and spiritually, so I’m likely finished with SINoALICE—though if you aren’t as affected by such material as I am, this beautifully illustrated tale might be to your liking. ~ Twwk
SINoALICE is published by Square Enix.
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, Manga Vol. 3
“Even pointless things can be fun as long as we’re doing them together.” If I could sum up the series of Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, but specifically volume three, in a single line, it would be this one from Satomi. Her story continues to be calming and refreshing, even if some could argue it hits all the traditional shojo “beats” with nothing new. Much of this volume covers how Satomi and Yagyu prepare for and look forward to spending time together at the school festival, and a new guy comes on the scene who stirs up jealousy in Yagyu. Thankfully, this new character doesn’t enter the story too early on, as I confess had some reservations starting this volume. Since I felt the previous volume had quite a bit of unnecessary drama that really stole the spotlight from this precious couple, I was concerned it would reoccur again in this one. However, those reservations were unfounded, as this volume captures everything I love about this couple and more! Their determination to do things together really warms my heart, as does how they continue to ask each other questions about their wants and likes. There might be a new guy on the scene who has me nervously questioning if he might try to interfere later on, but Satomi’s words continue to ring true: she really only has eyes for Yagyu. I am eagerly looking forward to the release of volume four and continue to highly recommend this series to those who are looking for a casual and sweet romance with amazing art! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is published by VIZ Media.
Shortcake Cake, Manga Vol. 6
After Chiaki kissing Ten at the end of volume five, I’m not even going to deny it. Chiaki was super in the doghouse! I was so upset that he kissed her knowing that she likes Riku, but somehow, someway, in volume six Chiaki redeemed himself and I no longer feel he is in the said doghouse he has been in. (I deeply appreciated Ten’s directness and even a conversation they have later on about her feelings for Riku.) However, helloooooo feels train for #TeamRiku! Ten and Riku go on a few outings together in this volume and I pretty much internally squealed while reading! They are so absolutely adorable as they went out shopping for decorations for a surprise birthday party and later on a special outing that resulted in me being completely giddy! I think this volume has to be my favorite yet and not just because I’m seeing my two favorite characters grow closer, but Ten’s internal dialogue is sooooo incredibly accurate that’s it’s almost bizarre! (I honestly kept getting flashbacks of me in high school and the crushes I had!) I was definitely bummed at the end when Riku and Ten were having a very important conversation only for another housemate (not Chiaki) to interrupt at the most critical part! Gah! Once again, I am completely desperate for the next volume to see what happens next and if their conversation will continue over to the beginning of volume seven! ~ Laura A. Grace
Shortcake Cake is published by VIZ Media.
Secrets of the Silent Witch, Light Novel Vol. 1
Monica is a prodigy at math and magic, and by age seventeen her genius has earned her the elite title of Sage. Her moniker, “The Silent Witch,” is a reference to her unique knack for using magic without chanting incantations. Of course, Monica cultivated this skill because she also has severe social anxiety and struggled to speak in front of people. Now she lives as a recluse, until one day she finds herself dragooned into going undercover as a student at an academy for nobles. Her mission: protect Prince Felix from unspecified threats. This volume is part mathemagical mystery and part school story. The mystery seemed a little too easy to solve, and overall this volume felt like the introductory chapter of a larger story. We get hints about Monica’s traumatic past, there are strong indications that there’s more to Felix than meets the eye, and at least one other character struck me as having secrets yet to be revealed. Monica’s fondness for math, combined with the mystery elements, reminded me a little of the old “Mathnet” segments of the classic PBS show Square One. I enjoyed this volume enough that I’ll keep reading, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read unless you’re pining for a mathematically inclined protagonist. ~ JeskaiAngel
Secrets of the Silent Witch is published by Yen Press.
Ghost Reaper Girl, Manga Vol. 2
With slapstick humor and violence wrapped up into a horror-action series, Ghost Reaper Girl feels like a manga version of a Sam Raimi film. And indeed, at its best, it assaults you with that mix of genres, making wonderful use of Chloe’s background as a failing horror movie actress and some of the most breathtaking illustrations in shonen manga. Volume two really dives into these elements, making it a much stronger entry than the initial volume (at least once it gets past its boring stay at the ghost hunting office where Chloe meets her director, receives her official codename—hint: we as readers all knew it before she did—and becomes an official member of Arkham Bullet). The fun begins in her first mission, though, in which she runs across some not-so-friendly teammates who would rather turn her into an undead hunter of ghosts than be of assistance. Yes, we get a zombie storyline already, and it moves in an unexpected direction—more toward the emotional and less toward the eating of brains (though George Romero gets a shout-out). There continue to be concerns, though. I’m not attached to any of the characters outside of Chloe, her “skill” isn’t particularly distinguishable, and the storyline of this arc is unoriginal. But the fun of volume two is enough to keep me coming back to this ghost-busting (ghost-reaping?) series. ~ Twwk
Ghost Reaper Girl is published by Viz Media. [Editor’s note: I like this series, too! ~ NegativePrimes]
“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.