Among the offerings we cover this week are a couple of one-volume releases from the mangaka of Beastars and the author of I Want to Eat Your Pancrease, respectively. We also review the newest releases from several other series and the opening volume of a Shonen Jump favorite.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diary (Vol. 3) • Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki (Vol. 8.5) • Drip Drip • I Will Forget This Feeling Someday • Mission: Yozakura Family (Vol. 1) • Shortcake Cake (Vol. 11) • Wandance (Vol. 2)
Drip Drip, One-Shot Manga
What kind of adult would you become if, thanks to being reared by a germophobic mother, you started spewing blood violently and by the liter every time you touched something you considered dirty? Mako Higari begins having one-night stands with man after man after man, hoping one of them will be “clean” and invest in her in a meaningful way. Weird as it sounds, this doesn’t really even begin to describe the uniqueness of Drip Drip, a one-shot manga by Paru Itagaki, known for her acclaimed work, Beastars. It is high-paced, packing a full story in eight chapters; and with its focus on sex and nosebleeds, is full of nudity, blood, and sexual language. But it has something to say, in both comical and unexpectedly meaningful ways, especially through one of the story’s twists. I won’t give it away, but that plot point turns the tale from engaging on a merely surface level into a work with depth. I quite enjoyed Drip Drip, but it is “dripping” with those adult elements, so be warned. I should also say that I also enjoyed the additional short tacked onto this release that is just as adult as Drip Drip, but focuses on Christmas. So you might just see this crop up one more time during our annual 12 Days of Christmas Anime series. Stay tuned! ~ Twwk
Drip Drip is published by Viz Media and releases on October 18th.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diaries, Manga Vol. 3
After reading the first volume of this manga on a lark, I have pre-ordered both new volumes since. So, suffice it to say, I enjoy this manga. Volume 3 of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diaries introduces us to some new villagers, including fan favorite Raymond. It also spends quite a bit of time on the islanders trying to come up with new ideas to boost their island appeal. This is not a serious, story-driven manga. If you are looking for that, look elsewhere. Much like other Nintendo game manga for Kirby or Super Mario Brothers, this is gag driven and always a lot funnier if you have played the game. As someone who is still playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons daily, I find it hilarious! At times it feels like it is written for an audience that is entirely me. This family-friendly series is a lot of fun if you play Animal Crossing games. If you don’t and are looking for more goofy series you can share with your kids without worrying about content issues, this series is a fun choice. I am going to be honest here: while you can start at the beginning of the series, just randomly picking up any single volume will give you the same, fun experience as there is no real continuous storyline. ~ MDMRN
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diaries is published by Viz Media.
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, Light Novel Vol. 8.5
In the world of romcom light novels, half-volumes are typically side story collections, bits and pieces that relate to the main story and give a chance for fan-favorite characters to shine. But when they’re done well, they can add life to a story and be excellent volumes themselves rather than fun throwaways. Volume 8.5 of Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki is the latter type. Its chapters are separated enough from the main thread and so individualized in tone and plot as to stand apart as excellent short stories. But they all take place between the class play that ends the year’s activities at school and the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve and reveal significant motivations and background information about several characters. The enigmatic Aoi receives a chapter about her childhood, which tells us so much about her (and still so little). This chapter connects to a Christmas Eve introductory chapter, which also serves as a denouement to the previous arc, and a charming chapter told from Kikuchi’s perspective. Aoi also plays a part in Minami’s chapter, which again demonstrates how well Yuki Yaku knows his characters. Minami’s thoughts are at once full throttle, full speed ahead, and self-conscious, and they drop an important piece of information about what exactly it is that is exchanged in the world of the AU side series that has been given two releases so far by Yen Press (but which hadn’t yet been released when 8.5 was published in Japan). My favorite chapter of all, though, focuses on a character I had no particular feelings about prior to this volume. The cover girl, Rena, is written with a subtlety that is totally unlike the image she conveys. Readers will at once dislike many of her actions but also sympathize with her, all in a way that makes Rena come across as a complex and realized character. It’s writing like that which permits volume 8.5 to sit alongside the main story volumes, belonging every bit as much as the main story books in the addicting series. I might even call this, together with the other nine volumes of Tomozaki, “top-tier.” ~ Twwk
Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki is published by Yen Press.
I Will Forget This Feeling Someday, One-Shot Light Novel
This story starts off typically enough. Kaya Suzuki’s just another boring kid at his boring high school in his boring old town—until he meets a strange girl who promises to spill color all over his life again. You get the drill. The two keep talking, make reckless decisions, fall in love, confess—it’s how every ordinary romance light novel goes. But I Will Forget This Feeling Someday isn’t an ordinary light novel. With that distinctly eccentric but penetrating writing style, Yoru Sumino chisels through the classic tropes of the genre to carve out an emotional story about ordinary life, guilt, and the bonds people share. How do we live in a world that feels so suffocating and dull and pointless? How do we deal with loss and the ways we wound ourselves and others? And how do we hold on to our deepest emotions, which feel so real in the moment but fade into obscurity with time? Sumino doesn’t answer those questions up front. Instead, Sumino invites us into the complexities of Kaya’s story. Kaya is broken and bitter and cruel, unlikable but often relatable, and above all desperate for hope. It’s in imagining what that hope would look like, for him and for all those who cross his path, that this book truly sparkles. And it’s not just Kaya’s story—there’s depth to all the characters that we encounter, and lots of grace and sacrificial love to cherish along the way. Not to mention the engaging plot that strung me along until the very end—I took at least five pages of notes for this review—and the beautiful cover illustration by loundraw. Pick up this book. It’s an experience you’ll definitely never forget. I know I won’t. ~ sleepminusminus
I Will Forget This Feeling Someday is published by Seven Seas.
Shortcake Cake, Manga Vol. 11
I was so completely frustrated with Rei at the beginning of this volume! Riku is meeting his mom for the first time, and she’s even asked him to come live with her and he has the nerve to say, “Nobody wants you,” to Riku?! I definitely had to remember that Rei does in fact want his brother and deeply misses him, but when he said that I related to Ten and Shingen being upset with him so very much. However, Ten is really amazing because when it seems like everything is done for and Riku could be potentially “loss” to them forever, she is the one who steps in and pushes Rei to finally share what is in his heart. And wow! This volume had me in tears with the dialogue and the art. Every word, every panel, every page was so extremely moving that I’m not sure I can express in words how heartfelt it was to see these brothers finally have a conversation that was not full of insults or rejection. It is by far the most emotional volume and not because of the sadness, but because of the healing and the reconciliation that takes place. While there is still one more volume to go, this is already a series I know is going to be sticking with me for a long time and one I will reread again. The theme of it never being too late to reconcile with loved ones/close friends is on powerful display through these characters that I think this series will surprise and touch many who pick it up. ~ Laura A. Grace
Shortcake Cake is published by VIZ Media.
Mission: Yozakura Family, Manga Vol. 1
In the introductory illustration to volume one of Mission: Yozakura Family, Hitsuji Gondaira writes that he hopes readers will fall in love with the titular family he’s created. It didn’t take me even a full chapter to do just that. Mission: Yozakura Family is as cute and loveable as it is funny and exciting, introducing a world of spies and international criminal organizations but centered on shy student Taiyo and his childhood friend, Mutsumi, whose brothers and sisters are masters of espionage and tasked with protecting her. When Taiyo becomes mixed up with Mutsumi’s brother, who will go to any lengths to protect his sister, he has two choices: become a victim or join the family! Hot on the heels of series like Spy x Family and Spy Classroom, Mission: Yozakura Family is another in the line of recent spy manga—but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room in this subgenre for another series, especially one as warm and fun as this one is. The personalities and powers of each family member are already beginning to shine, hooking me in as much as the central relationship between the too-cute Taiyo and Mutsumi. But much like the uber-popular Spy x Family, this series also features tantalizing action scenes and plenty of humor. In fact, I wonder if it’s somehow gone a little under the radar sitting in that behemoth’s shadow. Here’s hoping that with this Shonen Jump series finally coming to print in the U.S., that won’t hold true for much longer. ~ Twwk
Mission: Yozakura Family is published by Viz Media. Volume one releases on October 18th.
Wandance, Manga Vol. 2
As volume two of Wandance closes, Coffee, the mangaka behind this moving, energetic, and thoughtful series, leaves readers with a personal note: “I always felt like having a stutter gained me absolutely nothing in life. Maybe this manga is the first thing.” Ugh, my heart! It’s a masterful and transparent way to end this volume, which while featuring panel after panel showing students dancing in hip-hop, house, and other styles, is ultimately a surprisingly quiet story about finding your way even if you don’t feel confident, even if you’re just starting a journey, even if the obstacles seem too steep to climb. Wanda, the exuberant, lovable, strange dancer on the cover, in the title, and apparently at the center of the tale, is more of a side character in volume two, which instead heavily focuses on Kabo as he tries to figure out how to dance well even without this life-changing girl at his side. As he thinks and dances through this question, new supporting characters take center stage as well, including one whose envy of Wanda masks insecurity, and another boy who hasn’t been coming to the club but is as skilled a dancer as On. Speaking of the club president, On dominates the chapters of volume two, particularly through a speech where she attempts to explain what makes a dancer special. She emphasizes “feeling,” and while that concept is a bit vague and cliche, it helps convey the theme of the series and stresses that the stutterer, Kabo, has found a place he belongs since that adjective describes how he feels about dance. He’s found a path to waltz along, and how lucky we are that we’re able to also join him and Wanda on this journey, for this dance. ~ Twwk
Wandance is published by Kodansha.
READ: Wandance Vol. 1 Review
“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.
Featured illustration by 餅千歳あぐり (reprinted w/permission)