News of a second season of Banished From the Hero’s Party recently dropped, and coincidentally, we have a review of the newest volume of the manga to share with you today, along with volume one of Sugar Apple Fairy Tail, also soon to be adapted into an anime! Today’s column also features reviews of several other romantic series, including the first bound volume of Shonen Jump favorite, Blue Box; the latest volume of Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible; and the outlier, volume two of that series with a suitably outlandish title, Crazy Food Truck!
Banished from the Hero’s Party: I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside (Vol. 3) • Blue Box (Vol.1) • Crazy Food Truck (Vol. 2) • Formerly, the Fallen Daughter of the Duke (Vol. 3) • Fly Me to the Moon (Vols. 12-13) • Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (Vol. 4) • Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You (Vol. 1) • Sugar Apple Fairy Tale (Vol. 1)
Blue Box, Manga Vol. 1
My most anticipated manga has finally released physically in English, and I’m absolutely thrilled! Blue Box has been a story I’ve been deeply interested in and excited for. It’s about a young badminton player, Taiki, who ends up having a huge crush on his upperclassman, Chinatsu, after seeing how hard she plays basketball. While he looks for chances to talk to her, he never imagines they’ll get a lot closer (after a certain event) than just catching each other at the gym! He hopes that maybe she’ll start to like him the same way he likes her, but until that time comes, he keeps giving his all in badminton and encourages her to follow her dreams too. When I think of the perfect blend of blooming romance and sports, this manga right here captures it all! Taiki is a precious little bean who is respectable, adorable, thoughtful, and charming in his own awkward way. Not only do I deeply love both Taiki and Chinatsu, but the art style is perfection! There is such a softness at just the right moment, and then an intensity with action scenes—I really love the superb balance of capturing both. This is such a wonderful story, and I’m so thankful for its release because I deeply love everything about it! A great supporting cast of characters, a fantastic hero to follow, and the subtle fierceness of sports mixed with soft “romance” is everything I could want. Highly recommend it! ~ Laura A. Grace
Blue Box is published by VIZ Media.
Formerly, the Fallen Daughter of the Duke, Manga Vol. 3
I very much enjoyed reading this latest volume of Formerly, the Fallen Daughter of the Duke! This volume opened up with Claire finally being at the ball where Vik will choose his future bride, despite not receiving an invitation. Thankfully, the question of how things will unfold regarding Claire and her role in Vik’s life still are answered quickly. However, this volume had a new intensity that hasn’t been shown thus far in the series. Not saying there hasn’t been danger because that magical tornado in volume two was definitely a danger, but this time I feel the threat is more personal when Claire herself is in danger from two new villains. But Charlotte, Claire’s half-sister, is the real villain in this series. We’re finally seeing her true colors and just how horrible of a manipulator and character she is. I definitely dislike her a lot more than I did when I first started this series, even though I second the original creator’s comment in the afterword saying it’s hard to hate her because her character design is so cute. Ha! My only disappointment with this volume is how fast I read it. I felt so bummed at the end when I realized I had read all of it and couldn’t see what happens next in Claire’s life. As a result, I am eagerly anticipating the next volume’s release to see what will unfold! ~ Laura A. Grace
Formerly, the Fallen Daughter of the Duke is published by TokyoPop.
Crazy Food Truck, Manga Vol. 2
For those who don’t know, Crazy Food Truck follows the adventures of Gordon, a food truck driver and former soldier, and Arisa, a super-powered, mostly naked female soldier and huge eater. They travel looking for customers in the food truck, while keeping Arisa safe from those trying to find her. Volume two kicks off where volume one ended and keeps these characters on the move looking for more food options and customers. They encounter ghost towns, giant animals, and danger along the way. We also meet Arisa’s sister, who is likewise super-powered and is controlled by some shadowy government agencies. Volume two continues to be wild and all over the place. It has action, food, and more action, making for a fast-paced story. I’ve been loving every moment of it, but I can’t necessarily recommend it to everyone given how it portrays Arisa, and while she’s less nude than in volume one, there’s a lot of skin shown. Those for whom that is an issue would be wise to avoid this series. That said, if you want a wild, post-apocalyptic ride with a food truck driver and a girl trying to stay safe while figuring out the mystery behind her own powers, check it out. ~ MDMRN
Crazy Food Truck is published by VIZ Media.
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, Light Novel Vol. 1
After her mother’s death, Anne follows in her footsteps to become a Silver Sugar Master, in order to create a special candy that she can offer up at her grave. However, in order to make it in time to the royal capital where the competition that crowns a Silver Sugar Master is held, she must traverse the dangerous Bloody Highway. To protect herself, Anne does something she hates the thought of and buys a fairy slave to be her bodyguard. Anne wants to treat her fairy, Challe, more as a friend than a slave, but Challe is cold to her and refuses to do anything unless Anne outright orders him. And that isn’t the only challenge that awaits Anne on her journey… First, I was pleasantly surprised at how the slavery aspect was addressed. As much as Anne wants to befriend him, Challe makes it clear that there can be no sort of “friendship” as long as Anne holds control of him as her slave. While he does warm up to her over the course of the volume, it is clear that his enslavement is a huge roadblock in their relationship. There’s also a good look at how Anne is trying to deal with her mother’s death, and how that drives her desire to become a Silver Sugar Master. I’m not quite as much of a fan of the third major character in the story, Anne’s “hopeless suitor” Jonas, who is unpleasant in a lot of ways; but at least things involving him are wrapped up in the volume in a fairly satisfying way. Overall, this volume was enjoyable enough to recommend to those who enjoy shoujo-style light novels. ~ stardf29
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is published by Yen Press.
Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You, Manga Vol. 1
I am so very thankful for manga recommendations from other people! If it hadn’t been for my friend Shae at ShaeGeeksOut on YouTube recommending Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You, I would have completely missed out on this super-cute read! This heart-warming story centers on a former troublemaker, Sota, and a prim-and-proper “princess,” Sakura. While it seems they are from two different worlds and potentially have nothing in common, that doesn’t stop them both from secretly wanting to get to know each other. But they can’t seem to find their footing and actually have a conversation! These two are so precious to watch as their romance slowly unfolds through a series of misunderstandings and attempts to talk to one another! I will be quick to say that I absolutely loved this story! However, as soon as it arrived in the mail, I pushed it off on my husband since I knew he was looking for a romantic comedy to read. I was completely thrilled that he enjoyed it too! We both laughed more than once when reading, and I personally couldn’t get over these characters’ attempts to talk to each other as they end up misunderstanding one another or start blushing. It was so cute! The art is also excellent, and I really loved the character designs and expressions. I would highly recommend this manga if you’re looking for a cute, drama-free romantic comedy! I know it’s going to be a great series, and I can’t wait for the release of volume two! ~ Laura A. Grace
Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You is published by Kodansha.
Banished from the Hero’s Party: I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside, Manga Vol. 3
When you’re a person of consequence, it’s difficult to live a life free of the responsibility of your power. Rit, the princess, and Red, the brilliant brother of the hero, continue their attempt to live out an idyllic existence as village apothecaries. But the past is chasing them down in the form of a one-time comrade, a traitor, and a mysterious man who may be most formidable of all. Volume three of Banished From the Hero’s Party continues to put forth all those good vibes that come along with the blossoming, cottagecore-brushed relationship between Rit and Red, but tensions are quickly rising. A considerable part of these chapters are spent on the turncoat Dir, providing the mangaka an opportunity to give more context for both Red’s relationship with Rit in the past and for his camaraderie with his former party, including his sister, whom we learn much more about in these chapters. She is equal parts dopey and terrifying. The fantasy elements of the tale are becoming stronger, accompanied and strengthened by Masahiro Ikeno’s beautiful artwork. I’m still most compelled by the peaceful elements of the story, but as it turns more and more toward adventure, I’m hopeful that the story will continue on this upward trajectory. ~ Twwk
Banished From the Hero’s Party is published by Yen Press.
Fly Me to the Moon, Manga Vols. 12-13
These volumes build on the previously introduced plot thread of Nasa’s job at a girls’ high school. There’s a discussion of whether Tsukasa is jealous—and should she be? We have some comedic encounters with specific students. In volume thirteen, we finally get a proper introduction to a mysterious student named Kaguya; her name implies a connection to the moon. Nasa has a mysterious dream about his wife. Oh, and now Aya wants Nasa to dig a pond, which leads to Tsukasa discovering how cool her husband can be. Later, thanks to Aya’s bullying, Nasa and Tsukasa get dragged out to a “haunted” mansion by the school film club (hilariously, the students actually recognize Aya as a content creator!). It kind of looks like we might be heading toward an encounter between moon-associated Tsukasa and moon-associated Kaguya. It is hard to know what to say about this series at this point. It’s still the sweet romantic comedy with nerdy references and hints of mystery that it’s always been. You probably know by now if you like it, so I’m not sure what else to write about. I still like this manga and plan to keep reading it. ~ Jeskai
Fly Me to the Moon is published by VIZ Media.
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, Manga Vol. 4
Kubo and Shiraishi finally go on their first date! Of course, this being a romcom manga, it’s not like an “official” real date, but it might as well be. And the result? The date, taking place over several chapters, is equal parts cute and meh, the former because that’s what Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible excels at—”aww” moments between the leads when they watch a movie together, or compare their heights with one another, or touch each other’s hair—and the latter when the series tries to be more serious, such as when it sexualizes Kubo or tries to create a bit of physical intimacy between the leads. The artwork in this series is amateurish and, in fact, feels like it’s regressed somewhat over the volumes. The characters are cutesy but not detailed, and many panels appear half-finished. So when there’s supposed to be some sort of sexual tension between Kubo and the very comically-drawn Shiraishi, it feels out of place, as if the mangaka doesn’t know his own series. Those scenes, combined with the fairly dull early chapters in volume four, remind me that, by this point, Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is what it is: A romcom with plenty of cute moments that’s good for filling time, but which won’t ever leave you clamoring for more. ~ Twwk
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible 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.
Featured illustration by 餅千歳あぐり (reprinted w/permission)