Are villains destined to die? Is Chitose really inside that Ramune bottle? Can a rooster be a shonen hero? Will our reviews answers this week any of these questions? No, no they won’t, but they give you a sense of the diverse group of titles we’re covering this week, which also include sci-fi, a beloved webtoon, and the first chapter in a new Shonen Jump series!
Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle (Vol. 2) • The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins (Chp. 1) • The Remarried Empress (Vol. 1) • Rooster Fighter (Vol. 2) • Tower of God (Vol. 1) • Villains Are Destined to Die (Vol. 1) • Witch Watch (Vol. 3) • Yashiro’s Guide to Going Solo • Your Forma (Vol. 2)
Yashiro’s Guide to Going Solo, One-Shot Light Novel
Shigeaki Yashiro is a loner and is completely fine with that. He would rather enjoy doing what he wants than try to fit into a social group. It helps that the popular kids in his class leave him alone, at least until Kanon Hanamizawa asks him one day for some advice. Turns out, being a social butterfly has been wearing her down, and she wants to learn how to spend time by herself. As Yashiro shows her how to enjoy doing things on her own, he begins to interact more with the popular kids. How will his lone-wolf lifestyle adapt to this? This romcom from the author of Realist Hero is a nice single-volume story (though there is technically an “after story” volume too) about someone who has no problems spending time on his own. I really like how this story portrays Yashiro not as a struggling anti-social person, but someone who is willing to lend a hand. At the same time, the popular kids he interacts with are cool with him being him, and the novel goes a bit into how this should be the new norm for social interactions. As for the romance, the novel does take a different approach that is not only neat on its own but also makes a second read-through more interesting. Overall, this is a very solid rom-com light novel for anyone looking for a quick read. ~ stardf29
Yashiro’s Guide to Going Solo is published by J-Novel Club.
The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins, Manga Chapter 1
The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins, Taizan5’s brand new manga series, premiered on Shonen Jump this past weekend. The first chapter opens to a teenage boy named Tsubasa waking up in a hospital bed. He’s surrounded by loved ones, but doesn’t recognize any of them. At all. Tsubasa is struck by long-term amnesia and he doesn’t recall a thing. Then the family all turn to him and exclaim, “Me too!” The rest of the chapter follows the Ichinose family as they try to adapt in the hospital while not knowing anything about who they are. But they’re a family, they say, so they will figure it out together. The rest of the chapter follows them trying to just adjust to a life without a history of themselves. But when they leave and arrive at home, not knowing who they are may be…problematic. What a fascinating setup for a new series. Taizan really draws you in, first into the drama about the family losing their memories, then through an end-of-chapter flip. I have no idea where the manga will go next and how this family will regain their memories. The mystery of it had me hooked by chapter one, and for now, I’m in. ~ MDMRN
The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins is published by Shonen Jump.
Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle, Manga Vol. 2
I can’t quite put my finger on this series. Is it about an arrogant, popular boy who learns to become a better person, or is it trying to humanize these kids as they are, making us like them even though they’re superficial? It’s hard to say. Maybe you can help me decide. In volume two, Chitose has finally talked Kenta into leaving his shut-in life behind. Chitose will even give him a jump start on his return to school by advising him and temporarily bringing him into his group of popular friends (“Chitose’s harem”), but to what end? There’s a dichotomy in the characters’ actions and thoughts that makes it hard to really be pulled fully into the story. For instance, a chapter is spent on Chitose and one of his girl friends (which one, I would have a hard time telling you, as I can’t really distinguish any of them based on their personalities) picking out clothing and glasses for Kenta, who comes to the conclusion that normies aren’t that bad after all; this is followed by one of Chitose’s friends telling him that Kenta won’t ever be a part of the popular kids’ group and isn’t even interesting enough to hang with them temporarily. It’s hard to enjoy the banter between Chitose, the girls, and Kenta when scenes like that make it feel disingenuous. There are signs that Chitose wants to be more than who he is—but just like how the original light novels save this for the last 30 pages of each volume, the manga only briefly touches upon these feelings, which leads me to wonder if there really is character change on the horizon or if we as readers are supposed to just enjoy the discomforting duality to the “harem.” Until I know which, I can’t really fully buy into this series—and I can’t recommend it either. ~ Twwk
Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle is published by Yen Press.
READ: Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle (Manga) Vol.1 Review
Villains Are Destined to Die, Manhwa Vol. 1
This is the first time I’ve read a villainess/otome game isekai story where I genuinely felt extremely nervous that the heroine could actually die. There have definitely been points in other stories where I felt that’s a possibility, but in Villians Are Destined to Die, it honestly seemed like a real reality for this young woman who falls asleep and then wakes up in the body of a villainess in an otome game she played called Daughter of the Duke Love Project! Before she woke up in this world, she had played on easy mode as the heroine, Ivonne, who is the long-lost daughter of a grand duke and is now trying to win the affection of the men around her. On hard mode, she played Penelope, the villainess, who is the duke’s fake daughter and has negative “affection” points with the men around her. When this young woman wakes up as Penelope, she has to do everything she can to keep the affection points low because otherwise, it would lead to her own death! This young woman who is now Penelope is an epic heroine, and I admire her attitude given her circumstances. I think her previous real-life struggles and relatability to Penelope’s story make this story much more meaningful and convincing. I’m desperately hoping that she can avoid all her death flags; this is probably the first time reading this kind of story where I’m at a loss of which guy I want to be the “end game.” I know Penelope is feeling one guy is the one, but I really don’t think it’s going to be that simple. Overall, this story completely surprised me! I thought it would be your “typical” villainess isekai and I was extremely wrong. Definitely looking forward to the next volume as this is going to be a fantastic series to keep reading! ~ Laura A. Grace
Villains Are Destined to Die is published by IZE PRESS.
Your Forma, Light Novel Vol. 2
Volume two of Your Forma attempts to be three types of stories at once, and accomplishes each with varying degrees of success. First, it’s a detective story. Echika has returned to her profession as an Electronic Investigator, diving into the minds and memories of others with the assistance of Harold, her android (amicus) partner. But in an unexpected turn, Harold is suspected of breaking the “Laws of Respect” by injuring engineers and others connected to him, including the one person most intimate to him. Clearing Harold’s name will require finding the actual perpetrator and also untangling the mystery of the RF Model Amicus, the particularly intelligent and thoughtful type that now seems to be going haywire. Appropriately twisting and unexpectedly gruesome, the story turns toward a conclusion that unfortunately feels significantly less smart than its android characters, casting a pall over the volume. The science fiction element is somewhat better (and getting better): the author incorporates thought-provoking philosophy about the nature of artificial intelligence and uses settings that are realistic for a world that started to rely on A.I. technology in a divergent timeline from ours—though I would call it moderate-to-strong sci-fi for an anime-influenced work and not comparable to harder sci-fi in western (and non-anime eastern) literature. The best story in volume two, though, is the “human” one between Echika, who is now awkwardly opening her heart to others after overcoming the trauma of her past in volume one, and Harold, who is too human for Echika to treat him as a robot and too much a robot for Echika to treat him as human. There’s a lot of subtlety and depth to their relationship and to Harold’s character development, opening a myriad of doors for future volumes that could lead to paths as disparate as complete betrayal or romantic love, and possibly both. Thus, despite some of the issues with the series, I’m on pins and needles (or gears and cogs) to find out where Echika and Harold go next. ~ Twwk
Your Forma is published by Yen Press.
READ: Your Forma Vol.1 Review
Rooster Fighter, Manga Vol. 2
The chicken whose comb burns with rage is back, and he is still in search of the demon that attacked his sister. Volume 2 opens with a dark feathered hen named Elizabeth using an electrical pole to strike Keiji, but he dodges it. Why is she fighting him? He had a one-night stand with her, and she is ticked off about it! Keiji is cold and isn’t in the mood to argue with her, but there isn’t any time either as another demon shows up to ruin their lovers’ spat. Even as over the top as this manga is, I felt that it was slower than the first one in terms of progressing the plot. The jokes didn’t hit as hard either, so what I suspect is that volume 1 is the standard and the rest won’t follow as strongly. Introducing a new character was helpful but I hope volume 3 moves things along, or maybe I’m looking too much into this and it’s a purely gag manga and it will stay that way. If you enjoyed volume 1, don’t expect the same going into volume 2, as I feel the gas that fueled its start has been used up. ~ Samuru
Rooster Fighter is published by VIZ Media
READ: Rooster Fighter Vol.1 Review
The Remarried Empress, Manhwa Vol. 1
I will say from the start that I am not a huge fan of politics in fiction, but I am calling The Remarried Empress one of my favorite reads this year! I binge-read all the available episodes on Webtoon within two days–a first for me ever!–and knew I had to read it all over again with its physical release! Navier is the empress of the Eastern Empire who is married to one of the most frustrating heroes I have ever read, Sovieshu. He is the emperor of the Eastern Empire and becomes absolutely captivated by a woman he accidentally caught in one of his hunting traps. He soon makes her his mistress and, as the opening of this story shows, will want a divorce with our heroine because of it. There are no other words to describe Navier except that truly she is a queen. There are also no other words to describe Sovieshu and his mistress, Rashta, than what the webcomic community has called them: Trash. I have never been so angry at two characters as these too, but if they stir deep anger in me, then Navier stirs deep compassion and love for her character. She is such a befitting and wonderful empress! It is truly hard and almost overwhelming to see how dirty she is treated as the story goes on. Thankfully, there is another character who knows the true value and respect she deserves! I will not go on more due to possible spoilers, but this is a story I would highly recommend! Interesting politics, intriguing fantasy elements, and a fantastic heroine who deserves so much more. ~ Laura A. Grace [Editor’s Note: I highly recommend this series, too!]
The Remarried Empress is published by IZE PRESS and releases on November 22nd.
Witch Watch, Manga Vol. 3
I recently discovered that Witch Watch is the 25,417th-ranked manga on Anime Planet—25,417th! Are there truly more than 25,000 series better than Witch Watch? I’ve found this manga, which covers the adventures of the clumsy witch Nico and her familiar/crush/ogre Morihito, to be utterly charming through the first two volumes. Volume three mostly keeps the cutesy, friendly tone intact, especially as Nico and her other familiar, Kan, start a YouTube channel and the entire trio encounters rival Nemu again in her kitten form. But the series turns more toward mystery and action in this volume—and not to its benefit. While the proceedings feature an interesting twist, the main story about the entity that seeks to capture Nico and her powers, and the way it unfolds, is so blah, a retread of similar storylines in countless other series. It all leads me to think that this is the reason this series is ranked so low. This is unfortunate because when it focuses on romcom and friendship, Witch Watch is a delightful manga. I don’t want to see Nemu and the gang fighting other supernatural beings and their hopped-up classmates—and it seems that countless others agree. ~ Twwk
Witch Watch is published by VIZ Media.
Tower of God, Manhwa Vol. 1
When the Tower of God anime premiered several years ago, it arrived with much fanfare. Now, the popular webtoon on which that adaptation was based is finally bound and released in manga format by Wattpad. I can tell that as well-regarded as it is, Tower of God is going to take a lot of patience, particularly when it comes to the artwork. I remember hearing the chatter from fans saying off-handedly, almost jokingly, that they stuck with the series despite the artwork of the early chapters. That critique came rushing back to me as I read volume one, which offers some interesting ideas, but is nearly unreadable due to the amateurish art. It has a self-published air to it, and not the kind of self-published where an amazing artist later lands a huge contract, but rather the type created by one with a lot of passion but without the skill to match it. Yet, as I mentioned, there are interesting elements to Tower of God. The story of a boy (Bam) who seeks to enter a mysterious tower to follow after Rachel, the girl who has gone to the tower to find fulfillment and left him behind, features fun characters and touches in the artwork that reveal its Korean roots. It reminds me of RWBY, another series that gathered a huge fandom and critical acclaim but started off with awkward animation. I dropped that series, and despite all the praise, I don’t regret doing so. It was too ugly to watch. Tower of God is just the same—it’s too ugly to read. I won’t be continuing the webtoon, though I’m inclined to watch a second season of the anime if it ever gets greenlit. The artwork for that was passable enough; I wasn’t so distracted that I couldn’t focus on the story. I wish I could say the same for the original. ~ Twwk
Tower of God is published by Wattpad and releases on November 22nd.
“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.