Elaina is a witch, but Emilia is not. Chikuwa did not go camping with Chiaki, Aoi, and Ena, but he is with them in their story of the trip. And disillusioned adventurers will form a party and protect one another, but they won’t be trusting each other any time soon. Got all that? Good. I promise it makes a lot more sense (and for better reading) in this week’s slate of new releases.
The Ancient Magus Bride Supplement (Vol. 1) • Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World (Vol. 1) • Laid-Back Camp (Vol. 12) • Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You • Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, The Frozen Bond (Vol. 2) • Star Wars Rebels (Vol. 3) • Wandering Witch, the Journey of Elaina (Vol. 9)
Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You, Manga Vol. 2
Matsubayashi and Miyazen are back with their precious “antics” to get closer to one another in the Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You sequel, and I continue to be 100% here for it! I am so thankful this series was put on my radar because, just like with volume one, this slowburn romance is an absolute delight to read! Both of our main characters keep trying to get closer to one another by spending extra time together when cleaning the classroom, picking up trash in the schoolyard, and having “secret” conversations between classes. While these antics aren’t too different from before, in this volume we see that Matsubayashi wants to impress Miyazen with his killer dodgeball skills, which doesn’t quite lead to what he was hoping for…or does it? Volume two is equally as adorable as volume one and once again had me laughing, squealing, and giggling after every single chapter. I deeply loved the characters’ interactions and how hard both of them are trying to be noticed by the other—only for them to feel like it’s going unnoticed by the other. Ha! I also loved the two backstories that centered around both our characters: not only did the backstories add more depth to the story, but it was also interesting to know who our lead couple used to be. I continue to highly recommend this series if you’re looking for a super sweet, slowburn romance that is lighthearted and fun! ~ Laura A. Grace
Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You is published by Kodansha.
READ: Miss Miyazen Would Love to Get Closer to You Vol. 1 review
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, The Frozen Bond, Manga Vol. 2
“The Frozen Bond” is a poetic and appropriate subtitle for this three-part series about Emilia’s adventures before the Royal Selection process begins. It portrays Emilia’s fraught relationship with anyone she comes in contact with; no matter how much she wants to show kindness to others, her powers and appearance only bring fear and danger to them. It also provides background on her relationship with Puck, with the two bonded but not yet in loving companionship. Volume one emphasized a very cold relationship between the two, setting the expectation that this short series will explain how the icy coldness between them thaws. In volume two, Puck does begin to warm up to Emilia, but it all just kind of happens. Little reason is given to show why Puck is becoming more protective of her. Volume three should reveal more, but it already feels a bit too rushed, and needlessly so, as nothing much else of consequence happens in this book. All that is a bit disappointing, but I admit I’m still enjoying this side story well enough, and you’re likely to as well if you count Puck and Emilia among your favorite Re:ZERO characters, as I do. ~ Twwk
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, The Frozen Bond is published by Yen Press.
READ: Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-, The Frozen Bond Vol. 1 review
Wandering Witch, the Journey of Elaina, Light Novel Vol. 9
Murderers, masochists, siscons, stalker Cinderellas, and pervy princes, and let’s not forget the sprays of gruesome carnage: this volume of Elaina is not what I expected. Let me rewind for a moment, back to when I was but an innocent, wide-eyed writer contemplating the Yen Press review copy list for November, and recognizing an old friend among the volumes! It was the latest LN installment from a series for which I had enjoyed the anime adaptation a couple of years ago. “Brilliant!” thought I. “Let’s see what the Ashen Witch is up to on her travels now. Has she finally faced her fear of returning home and admitted to herself who her mother really is?” O hoh hoh! (As the characters of this series often say.) No, nothing so profound or heartwarming, I’m afraid. Now, to be fair, I do have a vague recollection of a few moments in the anime that evoked a raised eyebrow from yours truly. But I shrugged them off at the time as just little things that were a bit off. Sadly, I’m here to report that by the latter half of volume 9, those, um, themes are pretty much the main focus. I’m using euphemisms here folks, but basically, this ain’t for kids. Which is pretty disappointing. So much for the content; as for the writing itself, there are some decent twists at first, but once you get the hang of it, things get a bit predictable. The entire work is written like a dialogue exercise that uses nearly a half dozen different fonts and coded circles in place of headings to indicate who is narrating at a given moment. Even with all that coding, though, I often found myself a few paragraphs into a section before realizing that the narrator had changed, and I’m pretty sure the circle code got mixed up in the penultimate story. Part of the problem is that all the various narrators share the same voice, same vocabulary, same tone, same—you get the picture. There’s only one character who gets a third-person narrator, Cinderella, probably because her inner dialogue would consist solely of “heh heh heh heh” and various fetish fantasies. Yikes. Anyhow, Elaina and Miss Fran may be set for one more volume of traveling tandem, as the afterword explains, but I for one will not be sharing that particular journey with them. Such a shame. ~ claire
Wandering Witch, The Journey of Elaina is published by Yen Press.
Star Wars Rebels, Manga Vol. 3
My knowledge of Star Wars Rebels comes from having watched just a few episodes of the television series, seeing promos and images from later seasons, and reading the previous two volumes of this manga series. That minimal knowledge came in handy as I read through the last third of volume three. I began to recognize images and characters that I knew were from later seasons, and the realization slowly sank in: This is the last volume of this manga. How disappointing! I’m really not clear on what Disney was trying to accomplish through this work, which simultaneously excited me on what this version of Rebels could offer and let me down by blazing through the material—and I do mean blaze. The volume begins as any volume might, by building a story. Ezra is learning to construct a lightsaber and undergoes the Jedi trial. The second act moves more quickly as the rebels hatch a scheme that leads to Kanan’s capture. The final act presumably kills off a character, showcases a confusing lightsaber battle, reveals Ashoka Tano, and shows Kanan with his eye piece. (Is he blind? I wouldn’t know since the series neither shows how he gained this visor nor explains his condition.) It feels as if news of the series’ cancelation was delivered right in the middle of the volume’s development. “Well, it was a nice run, folks. Let’s wrap it up!” I was left wanting to know all that happened to these characters between the beginning of volume three and the “slam bam” conclusion to it, and annoyed that so much was spoiled. This set up a sizeable roadblock to me watching the animated series, the promotion of which (it now seems) was the only point of developing this manga adaptation at all. ~ Twwk
Star Wars Rebels is published by Yen Press.
Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World, Light Novel Vol. 1
While there’s not much saving the world happening yet (that’ll surely come in time), it’s easy to guess how the rest of Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World volume one plays out. This straightforward novel begins by laying out the backstories of each of the four adventures, one chapter each, thus setting the context of how these eventual party members have been hurt by the world. They then form tenuous bonds, learning to trust each other bit by bit as they build their skills. The only suspense in volume one lies in wondering whether or not the tale will go the darkgrim route or stay optimistic and positive; the earlier can be fascinating when written with more than shock value in mind (see Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash), but this series seems to know its place: it’s a redemptive tale, putting the characters in low places (but not too too low) and raising them to higher ones—gently, slowly, and with fantasy world idol groups included (really). The result is a story that’s fun, heartwarming, and even a wee bit surprising. With volume one focusing on two characters in particular, I’m eager to see how the series will handle the other two original party members in volume two. (And I’m now excited for the anime adaptation, too!) ~ Twwk
Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World is published by Yen Press.
Laid-Back Camp, Manga Vol. 12
With volume twelve, Laid-Back Camp finds a new and fun way to relate the girls’ excursions to us: through the camping flashback! As often as they’re used in manga, a flashback may not sound particularly compelling, but hear me out. Afro’s use of the plot device is so fitting with this charming series. For instance, as Chiaki, Aoi, and Ena tell Nadeshiko about their adventures, they decide to include Chikuwa in the story, even though he couldn’t go because it was too cold. And hey, as long as they’re including the chihuahua, why not also bring in Hanpen, everyone’s favorite Youtuber samoyed as well! Nadeshiko even gets to participate through picture-in-picture commentary, like reaction-style news and variety shows from Asia. And at one point, Nadeshiko even takes over the actual storytelling. How very like her. And how very much like Laid-back Camp to keep the story cute, humorous, and, of course, laid-back, even twelve volumes along. ~ Twwk
Laid-Back Camp is published by Yen Press.
The Ancient Magus Bride Supplement, Book Vol. 1
As the first “Annotated Magus” states at one point, The Ancient Magus Bride is an “outpouring of love for British fantasy.” Any casual reader of the manga should immediately pick up on that, but if you want to dig deeper—way deeper—consider reading The Ancient Magus Bride Supplement 1, which provides chapter-by-chapter, panel-by-panel notes for the first 14 chapters of the classic series. There are also discussions, summaries, contextual material, and everything and more that a hardcore fan of the franchise or lover of fantasy and myth could ask for. By the end of the initial chapter, this first volume had already referenced Paradise Lost, Isis Unveiled, The Tempest, and especially The Beauty and the Beast as inspirations for The Ancient Magus Bride. And there’s so much more in the following chapters, bringing this already lively series even more to life and showing both Kore Yamazaki’s reverence for Celtic tales and the seriousness with which she approached her own. This is not for casual fans; it is made for those with a serious interest in the field, The Ancient Magus Bride, or both. But you fit into one of those categories, you’ll be rewarded with a volume that adds to the wonder and depth of one of manga’s great fantasies. ~ Twwk
The Ancient Magus Bride Supplement vols. 1 and 2 are 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.
Featured illustration by 栗猫 (reprinted w/permission)