A yakuza, sleigh beggy, and high school runaway walk into a grocery store…okay, only the yakuza would be in such a place (!), because the sleigh beggy already has a banshee maid to care for her food needs and the runaway is currently holed up in a businessman’s apartment. Huh? Do you know which three series I’m speaking of? We’ve got those covered in this week’s column, along with more romance and a webtoon. Check them out and let us know what you’re reading!
The Ancient Magus Bride (Vol. 5) • Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway (Vol. 1) • A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special (Vol. 1) • The Saint’s Belated Happiness: Newly Single, Now Living with the Demon Prince • Shortcake Cake (Vol. 9) • True Beauty (Vol. 1) • The Way of the Househusband (Vol. 8)
The Way of the Househusband, Manga Vol. 8
After eight volumes of yazuka and domestic humor, has The Way of the Househusband started to lose its charm? Yes, a little. I don’t think that can be helped when the setup is similar for every chapter: 1) Tatsu and/or another character explain a regular household chore using phrases usually describing a yakuza activity; 2) hilarity ensues as they approach this work with gangster abandon; 3) “regular” people view it sometimes with awe and sometimes dismissively. But what’s great about this series is how laugh-out-loud and inventive the scenarios are, with this volume including self-defense classes for the elderly and a donut shop competing on the crepe trailer’s beat. It still retains a good 90% of its charm, much like how you might watch The Three Stooges and see the same jokes over and over through different settings, but still laugh and enjoy. I only worry that the series might run out of steam before the mangaka concludes it: this volume needs a couple of side stories, including the first proper envisioning of Crime-Catch Policure, to fill it out. Is this a sign it’s run its course? Or an overflow of creativity? Time will tell. ~ Twwk
The Way of the Househusband is published by Viz Media.
A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special Manhwa, Vol. 1
No, this is how you start an epic fantasy manga! I mean, webtoon! A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special, which is more precisely a webtoon collected into manga/manhwa format, gets two things very right in volume one. The first is that the writer, Usonan, creates an intriguing tale of huge proportions, setting high expectations for the series right from the opening pages. The story begins in a shadow realm, a parallel world that encroaches upon reality; this particular one has been battled through by heroes for many years, and millions have died. Just when the final few survivors are about to complete their mission, they also perish, though hope remains alive when Desir, a commoner whose abilities are more valuable than even the most powerful warriors and mages, is reborn into his life from a time before the great devastation. The idea of him repeating life and getting a second chance to save his comrades and so many others from an apocalyptic scenario left me breathless. Into this epic storyline the author weaves fun characters. One by one, it seems that Desir will again meet and befriend his future allies, with a couple joining him already in these initial chapters. The few brought together early on are fun and enchanting, helping to develop an emotional core that will lead readers to become even more invested in this adventure. While I’m not the biggest fan of webnovel-style illustrations, some of the close-ups are lovely, and the artwork grew on me by the end of the volume. Either way, the art is not a hindrance to this story, which has me as excited for a fantasy work as I’ve been in quite some time. ~ Twwk
A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special is published by Yen Press.
True Beauty, Manga Vol. 1
I remember hearing about the WebToon, True Beauty, a long time ago due to how popular it was. When I saw there was a print version coming out, I thought it would be a great time to give it a try! It was interesting, to say the least! I went into this story blind and didn’t realize it centered around a young woman, Jugyeong, who was considered to be very ugly by her peers and decides to do a total makeover right before high school. No one knows, though, that when she takes off her makeup, she looks so completely different that no one would even recognize her. How is she going to keep her real looks a secret and for how long? I think the heroine with no makeup is really fun and felt sad when she couldn’t explore and talk about her favorite hobbies when she was the “goddess.” That is part of why I was thankful for the main male lead, Suho! While he seems like a “jerk,” he was definitely not as shallow as I subconsciously thought. There is more to him than what meets the eye and appreciated his character throughout the story. If my library were to get the next volume, I would be curious enough to pick it up and see the direction of the series. ~ Laura A. Grace
True Beauty is published by WEBTOON Unscrolled.
The Saint’s Belated Happiness: Newly Single, Now Living with the Demon Prince, One-Shot Light Novel
Marialite, a saint gifted with power over plant growth, is dumped by her princely fiancé for the sin of… being twenty-seven. (No, the prince isn’t played by Leonardo DiCaprio but it would be so perfect if he were.) Anyway, Marialite finds a squatter in her house, a young boy(?) named Sirius, who is older than he looks. He quickly grows to look adult, falls in love with her, and reveals himself to be the crown prince of the demon kingdom. They return to his homeland, where a jealous tsundere tries to interfere in their relationship. There’s a backdrop of rebellion that serves no purpose except to explain why Sirius is hiding in Marialite’s house. A side story about the prince who dumped Marialite serves no purpose except to reiterate that he’s a loser. A nameless minor character shows up, mysteriously disappears, randomly reappears in a seemingly significant antagonistic role, and then vanishes again, still unnamed. Marialite’s romantic rival behaves in ways that confuse both the other characters and readers alike. There’s a subplot that doesn’t go anywhere about fantasy industrial espionage centering on stolen prototypes of magical artifacts. Sirius’s older brother shows up three-quarters of the way through the book for another subplot involving magical beasts. Periodically, Marialite and Sirius flirt. There’s also something of a cliffhanger ending… despite this seemingly being a one-shot story. Everything feels rushed and only half-resolved. In short, this is a thoroughly disjointed tale. It could be worse, but I can’t think of any reason to recommend it. ~ Jeskai
The Saint’s Belated Happiness: Newly Single, Now Living with the Demon Prince is published by Cross Infinite World.
Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway, Light Novel Vol. 1
This was my third experience with Higehiro, but despite having watched the anime and read the first couple of manga volumes, I was caught unawares by volume one of the original light novel. It’s not the story that’s changed: Office worker Yoshida arrives home late one night, drunk after being rejected by his object of affection, and runs into high school runaway Sayu, who tries to prostitute herself in exchange for a temporary place to live. Instead, the compassionate young man gives her a place to stay if she’ll keep the apartment tidy and not attempt to seduce him. The complexity of a story where an adult is helping a young woman in need in an inappropriate way remains as well. But the light novel’s structure is quite different, with most of it presented from Yoshida’s point of view and arranged far more like a harem story than either of the adaptations. These chapters contrast sharply with those from other characters’ points of view, including Sayu’s, which deal with the situation in more dramatic fashion. The result is a book that has plenty of charming, entertaining, and engaging moments, but which overall ends up being muddied and discomforting: it wants to take Sayu’s situation seriously, while also presenting her as the primary love interest as subtly as the author can—and still appeal to a large audience. A little less fanservice and sexuality or a little older protagonist would make this series more palatable. ~ Twwk
Higehiro is published by Yen Press.
Shortcake Cake, Manga Vol. 9
I expected this volume to be “enlightening” in regards to Riku’s past, but I had no idea just how heartbreaking it would be! My heart was extremely moved from the first page as we learn the backstory behind Riku’s mom and see Riku and Rei as children. I also didn’t expect hearing Shingen share about Rei and his past in relation to Riku would ever make my view of him (Rei) change, but this volume did make me change my view of him. There was so much backstory unpacked on top of a plot twist with a new character wanting to meet Riku that I think my heart felt even heavier than the previous volume. However, Shingen is so much more than what he appears to be! He truly is more than just a driver who witnesses the Mizuhara family and deeply loved the passionate conversation he has with Riku when Riku’s world seems to be turned upside down once again. His love for these brothers wrapped around me as we see his hurt, his love, and his anger in doing all he can to reunite the Mizuhara family, but also trying to watch over Riku these past years he’s been at the boarding house. All of these emotions and feelings from this volume really leads up to the end where my heart was breaking even more for Riku. This truly has been a heart puncher of a volume with so much coming to light in a painful way that I never would have expected when I first started this series. ~ Laura A. Grace
Shortcake Cake is published by VIZ Media.
The Ancient Magus Bride, Manga Vol. 5
REVIEWED One thing’s for certain with The Ancient Magus Bride—it keeps you on your toes. Romantic scenarios, such as Chise’s resolution to help the succubus and her love at the beginning of volume 5, lead into heavier, violent ones, which then lead into more contemplative or even humorous chapters. This collection features all of the above, showing the breadth of this lovely series. Chise continues to gain independence, but she’s too much of a novice still to do much apart from Elias’ protective gaze. Meanwhile, Elias is slowly learning, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that his desire to be with Chise may not be most beneficial for the girl. And in between all this is my favorite chapter of all—one showing Silky’s background and her care for her master and Chise. It’s heartbreaking in the most lovely and magical of ways. That’s also an apt description for the entirety of The Ancient Magus Bride, truly one of manga’s most creative and engaging works. ~ Twwk
The Ancient Magus Bride 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 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.