Transformers or Demon King housekeepers? Youth doing romance “wrong” or boys that turn into monsters at night? Boys that turn into monsters PERIOD or a wizard cursing a young woman? We absolutely run the gamut this week with the releases we’re covering, including a host of works coming out this week or next. Let us know what you think of these releases and series!
At Night, I Become a Monster • The Art and Making of Transformers: War for Cybertron • Dandadan • His Majesty the Demon King’s Housekeeper (Vol. 1) • My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected (Manga, Vol. 18) • Romantic Killer (Vol. 1) • Shortcake Cake (Vol. 10)
The Art and Making of Transformers: War for Cybertron, Art Book
In the opening foreword of The Art and Making of Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy, F.J. DeSanto mentioned how the series Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy was a love letter to “both the robots of Cybertron and their fans on Earth.” I could not help but feel that this art book captured that love letter to its fullest. From the opening pages, I was already in awe of how this truly is a behind-the-scenes-look at the Netflix Transformers trilogy. I don’t know which was my favorite part: seeing the initial sketches of iconic Transformers, or hearing the love that so many people have for Transformers in general. While this book focuses that love specifically toward the series, it is a precious gift that also reaches out to other Transformers fans. I shared this with my ten-year-old, who is a huge Transformers fan, and his excitement was so transparent and almost tangible that I could not help but be thankful this book exists. He deeply loved the numerous character profiles, the screenshots from the show, the comprehensive breakdowns of locations and ships, and a whole section dedicated to toys. It was one of the most satisfying things to see my son’s face light up as he and my husband had in-depth and excited conversations about the full-page art spreads and random facts they did not know beforehand. This is an impressive and engaging art book that I think any Transformer fan can appreciate, whether casual onlooker or obsessed watcher. However, it will be most appreciated by fans of the War for Cybertron series and those wanting to learn even more about its characters, whether all-time favorites or brand new. ~ Laura A. Grace
The Art and Making of Transformers: War for Cybertron is published by VIZ Media.
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected, Manga Vol. 18
The cover of volume 18 of Oregairu looks way too epic for a story about three high school kids trying to toss aside their weaknesses and just grow up, but it’s kind of fitting for this arc of the series, which itself is overblown and confusing. Yukino is trying to help Iroha plan for a prom, but the former’s mother, who leads the school’s parents, opposes it on moral grounds. Yet, they continue to plan and try to convince the parents. Hikki, who Yukino will not allow to help her because she doesn’t want to be dependent on him, decides to create a rival prom, intending that when judged against the true prom, it will look so bad that the parents will pick Yukino’s. Meanwhile, Yui is just heartbroken and along for the ride. Make sense? Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. I’ve watched and read this arc multiple times in other versions of Oregairu, and have always been disappointed in it as the concluding and unfortunately weakest story for what is my favorite franchise. The manga handles the arc better in some cases, though: it’s able to build up panels toward jokes, almost as if the mangaka is trying to distract us from the actual goings-on in the melodramatic plot; and the illustrations are killer, having matured over the course of the series, much like the protagonists. It also made a few changes to the source material, including one that I find fascinating, effectively switching Yui’s scene where she falls asleep against Hikki to Yukino doing the same. I also appreciated a couple of the cute inserts, including a pretty challenging “find the 10 differences between the drawings” page. While none of this is enough to divert attention away from the flaccid story, just like the service club trio, we’ll still make it to a conclusion even though the ride is bumpy. Some rides are just bumpier than others. ~ Twwk
My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected is published by Yen Press.
His Majesty the Demon King’s Housekeeper, Manga Vol. 1
I keep finding myself picking up manga titles that either I don’t know anyone talking about or I’m unsure if I’ll love. Thankfully, I have continued to find success because my latest “blind buy” was His Majesty the Demon King’s Housekeeper, and I really enjoyed it! Sakura is a young high schooler who is obsessed with cleanliness and loves to clean. When she unexpectedly finds herself in another world that is filthy from a curse that doesn’t allow cleaning magic, her “cleaning powers” and passion lead her to become the housekeeper of a lazy demon king. Not only that, but she suddenly finds herself being called a Saint thanks to her magical abilities! I’m not sure I had any expectations when starting this new series, and I’m glad I didn’t because it was simply a fun and unique read. Sakura was a really fun heroine to follow along with, and I enjoyed seeing her cause some “chaos” by asking people to put a conversation on hold so she could go clean. Ha! I also found the concept of the curse intriguing, and I’m curious as to what the “cure” will be; but for now I am enjoying Sakura showing the people of this world what real cleaning magic is. I definitely plan to pick up more volumes of this series despite the fact that I didn’t super love the beginning. I very much want to see if Sakura can find out how to break the curse, how the citizens will admire her “cleaning magic” next time, and the romance that I hope blooms soon! ~ Laura A. Grace
His Majesty the Demon King’s Housekeeper is published by Seven Seas.
At Night, I Become a Monster, One-Shot Light Novel
There are some authors who try to make their points artistically, carefully, slowly, elegantly. And then there are authors who don’t care about any of that and just say whatever they want to say with little concern for subtlety or literary conventions. Yoru Sumino is the second. Case in point: At Night, I Become a Monster. I mean, the school nurse is literally reading No Longer Human as Adachi (the male lead, who becomes a monster every night for unexplained reasons) walks into her office! But as much as Sumino’s blunt, self-aware style irked me last time, I wasn’t as annoyed here. Maybe it’s because I felt more sympathy for Yano, the female lead, who tries desperately to be kind despite her classmates’ bullying. Maybe it’s because the whole book rails against an all-too familiar culture where vicious barbs are concealed beneath subtle language. Maybe it’s because of the book’s point: that we all might be more monstrous at heart than we would dare to think. At Night, I Become a Monster spins an unsettling tale about social life—but one that’s also filled with hope. Even while ushering us into the dark depths of the ways we hurt each other throughout the book, Sumino also points us towards the light at the end of the tunnel. The book ends on a bittersweet but reassuring tone, a reminder that it’s scary to take off our masks and reveal our true, ugly selves, but that doing so can also lead to redemption, for us and for others. I’ll be spending several nights awake thinking about this book. Hopefully I won’t be turning into a monster like Adachi, though. Or maybe that’s been Sumino’s goal all along… ~ sleepminusminus
At Night, I Become a Monster is published by Seven Seas.
Dandadan, Manga Vol. 1
Dandadan is an action romcom that links the sci-fi and the supernatural as it pits an oddly coupled teenage duo against evil forces. Volume one is frenetic and unrelenting in its plot, humor, and fanservice. The pacing and assertive content gives this volume an interesting tone, but it’s all a bit too much. It’s a shame, too, because the two central characters—Momo (the granddaughter of a shrine priestess) and the nerdy boy she refers to as “Okarun”—are easy to root for, both as individuals and as a potential romantic pairing. But they get lost among too many ecchi scenes and genitalia jokes—lots and lots of jokes about genitalia, because you see, both the alien creatures that they meet first and the spiritual one that takes center stage later are interested primarily in “organs.” It’s meant to add to a wild and funny atmosphere, but comes across more as awkward and puerile. This is a Shonen Jump series and so is aimed at adolescent boys, after all. The question is, with lovely drawings and two characters that immediately have great chemistry on the manga page, why couldn’t it be something more? ~ Twwk
Dandadan is published by Viz Media. Volume one releases on October 11th.
Romantic Killer, Manga Vol. 1
In the Twitter shojo community, Romantic Killer has been a hot topic of discussion due to it being a shonen title published under Shojo Beat, an imprint that publishes shojo manga. Due to this controversy, I was deeply curious how this new title would “hold up” to its genuine shojo predecessors. Anzu is a high schooler who loves video games, chocolate, and her pet cat, but she suddenly loses all these things because of Riri the wizard! The wizard assures her that she can get it all back if she falls in love with any of the hot guys around her, but Anzu doesn’t care about falling in love or being surrounded by hot guys. She just wants her favorite things back! I won’t deny that I had a pretty good time reading because our main character is hilarious. I found her instantly engaging from the very beginning and think she is definitely part of this series’ charm: she really isn’t okay just going along with this imp’s plans to make her fall in love. Yet, whether or not the community influenced my own views, I confess I did feel conflicted after reading Romantic Killer. My biggest issues came first with her parents basically abandoning her in Japan and later with the imp forcing a random person to be part of this “experiment.” I know this is a comedy, but I found both those issues to be quite unsettling. Yet with that said, I do want to see what happens next. I really liked the “main guy” in this volume and found myself wanting Anzu to cave in and develop feelings for him. I’m on the fence if I’ll purchase the next volume or only watch the anime, but either way, I do want to see what Hoshino will do next. ~ Laura A. Grace
Romantic Killer is published by Shojo Beat.
Shortcake Cake, Manga Vol. 10
Before I share my thoughts, I will just say this: Do not be deceived by this gorgeous cover. It is by far my favorite in the series and when I picked it up, I was hoping we have a nice reprieve or turn of events where things started looking up for Riku, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Well, maybe not super wrong because this volume did have a turning moment in that Riku willingly goes to sleepover at Chiaki’s house, which is extremely shocking given their “one-sided” friendship! It’s there I definitely think Chiaki shines the most since the series began and was deeply touched in his love for Riku and how much he wants to help him. I think it was in these pages of seeing Riku truly open himself up that I could no longer stop tears from falling. They only continued to fall more when Riku makes a decision that was extremely heartbreaking, only for that scene to be followed by hearing Rei’s story and why he acts the way he does. (I sort of felt my heart couldn’t get a break!) I admire Ten that despite the sadness and heartache she is personally feeling, never once did she give up in doing what she could to help the Mizuhara brothers. The ending felt surreal and was so thankful she was there to push a certain character into action because it indeed feels like the ending is critical in what will happen next. ~ Laura A. Grace
Shortcake Cake is published by VIZ Media.
“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.