This week’s reviews ask the question: Who’s the king of the roost? Is it the talented but unmotivated boxer, Yu? Kaboku’s high school dance club? Or is it an actual rooster? Plus, we’ve got a fujoshi princess who’s clueless, high school boys palling around, and Hachiken tutoring his crush while avoiding his parents. Read on for our recommendations on this wide variety of manga volumes!
The Boxer (Vol. 1) • The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices (Vol. 1) • Rainbow Days (Vol. 2) • Rooster Fighter (Vol. 3) • Silver Spoon (Vol. 9) • Wandance (Vol. 3)
The Boxer, Manga Vol. 1
I have to laugh because I made a new year’s resolution to read more shojo manga, but shortly after I made that goal, I picked up The Boxer instead! Ha! I absolutely loved this first volume, though! The beginning follows a young man who bullies the main character, Yu, but the story ultimately centers around Yu being approached by a coach of multiple boxing champions and asking him if he wants to become a boxer. However, Yu doesn’t appear to have any joy or purpose in his life, as he never fights back when bullied or shows interest in boxing when asked. Coach K thinks Yu has overwhelming potential to become a boxing legend, but what will push Yu to even think about boxing, let alone start boxing? While I originally was interested in this story after meeting the antagonist in the webcomic on WebToons, I quickly found myself sucked in and wanting to see Yu’s “awakening” and the antagonist get completely thrashed by him. While I won’t comment on whether my expectations were met (because of spoilers), there were many pages with Yu that were extremely impactful. I felt JH did an incredible job of conveying Yu’s emotions in multiple places where you can feel the energy and tension: something is changing inside Yu and that the antagonist better watch out. I am definitely hooked and invested in this series and glad I already preordered volume two before even starting this volume. I must know and see what happens next! I highly recommend The Boxer if you like boxing/fighting, underdogs, and great action! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Boxer is published by IZE Press, an imprint of Yen Press.
The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices, Light Novel Vol. 1
The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices is divided into two tonally disparate pieces which work together to create an unexpectedly engaging read. It begins with a “fujoshi reborn into a BL game” setup, with a “convenient plot device”: as a side character in this story, said fujoshi will eventually be forced into a marriage of convenience; her future children will adopted by her brother and his male wife. I was not loving the series at first. It seemed bland and featured an obnoxious lead character in Octavia (formerly Maki). I eventually warmed up to her, though. When adopting her perspective, the action moves quickly, and Octavia’s thoughts are often funny, particularly when she’s dealing with the problem of being in a kingdom where any possible love interest is only interested in other men. If that were the entirety of the novel, it would be a breezy, if forgettable, read. But Octavia doesn’t realize that her actions and position, along with other machinations, are having serious and dire effects on the kingdom and possibly putting her in danger. Chapters not from the heroine’s point of view read more like A Song of Ice and Fire, full of danger and conspiracy, helping to shape Octavia’s main love interest as a fascinating character whose background is tied to said conspiracies. The more serious material emphasizes how oblivious Octavia is, creating a sense of concern for her; her obnoxiousness begins to rather seem more like innocence, and soon enough, I found myself pulling for rather than being annoyed by her. Ending at a crisp 166 pages, the volume concluded with me wanting more, and that is possibly what I expected least from yet another girl’s novel. What a captivating start! ~ Twwk
The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices is published by Yen Press.
Silver Spoon, Manga Vol. 9
Silver Spoon is a joy. Even when it deals with awful fathers, portrays families making hard sacrifices, and shows the entire process of slaughtering a pig you’ve raised, as this volume does, Silver Spoon does so with humor and optimistic energy. Reading Arakawa’s work is almost like taking a class with a master teacher: you absorb something wondrous (in this case, the wonderful lessons about life learned through Hachiken’s challenges at an agricultural high school) while still having fun. Volume nine is the equal of previous volumes in that regard, while also mining new territory as it nudges Hachiken and Aki closer and closer together. But I love that even though romance is in the air, Silver Spoon isn’t about romance. It’s about growing up. It’s a coming-of-age tale—one of the best that manga has to offer. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to. And if you’ve only watched the anime, this is the volume to jump into, as volume nine covers the end of the animated series and takes the story a bit further along, too. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon is published by Yen Press.
READ: Silver Spoon Reviews: Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3// Vol. 4 // Vol. 5 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7 // Vol. 8
Rooster Fighter, Manga Vol. 3
Cock-A-Doodle-Do! Volume 3 of this strange but amusing ride with my favorite rooster Keiji and his friends continues, as they hunt giant demons that are devastating the nation of Japan whilst searching for his missing sister. As I mentioned in my review of volume two, the antics started to lose their initial impact because of the lack of progression in the plot, and that holds true for this entry as well. Watching a rooster take down a giant demon is fun, but after a few times the trick starts to get old. This volume gave the heroic poultry more interaction with humans and shared some of their struggles, which was a change in the right direction. Keiji’s personality starts to show some cracks in his tough facade as he loosens up with a new friend, and as he also starts to recognize his need for companions and to not do everything on his own. Character development is something I like to see in media, and Rooster Fighter has potential, but it needs to get the story train moving a little faster and I hope volume four does that! ~ Samuru
Rooster Fighter is published by VIZ Media
Rainbow Days, Manga Vol. 2
Rainbow Days features an unusual tone. On the one hand, it’s super sweet and cute—and on the other, it’s a little spicy. For instance, volume two goes from Natchan talking about his massive crush on Anna in one panel to Kei pulling out sadistic toys in the next. I’m not always interested in those latter qualities, but I like the series overall because of how well the friendships between the four main boys come together. Volume two finds Kei feeling lonesome and Natchan continuing to get closer to Anna, for instance, but the main focus isn’t on romance or any individual character; it’s on a loving, sweet, boys’ friendship. That said, I do like the pairing of Natchan and Anna, and there’s serious progress in this volume. Anna is becoming a fuller character as well, though my biggest knock on the series is that the girls generally aren’t very captivating. There’s a focus in one particular chapter on the three main girls introduced so far, but spending time with the three can’t make up for Mari’s obnoxiousness or Yukiko’s blandness. I’m hoping for improvement in their characterization in future volumes (and maybe the addition of another female character as a main—Chiba, introduced in volume two in a bit part, is already more interesting than Mari or Yukiko!). But even without that, the peaceful and humorous atmosphere centering on Natchan, Kei, Mattsun, and Tsuyopon makes Rainbow Days worth the read. ~ Twwk
Rainbow Days is published by VIZ Media through its Shojo Beat imprint.
READ: Rainbow Days Vol. 1 Review
Wandance, Manga Vol. 3
If the inter-high dance competition that kicks off volume three of Wandance creeps up quickly and ends in a surprising way, it’s because managaka Coffee intended it to be. As he subtly expresses (through one of the competition judges bemoaning how some clubs treat dance as sport), Wandance is not a sports anime. The competition isn’t the point. Then what is? That I’m not 100% clear on quite yet. It seems to be about Kabo learning to grow through his passion, but I’m still waiting to see him grow beyond the insecurities he has and to see Hikari develop more as a character as well. In the meantime, I continue to find this manga captivating, in large part because of the amazing artwork. Coffee has honed his style through these first few volumes, to the point where he’s able to convey the movement and power of dance extremely well through a variety of means: different styles of lines and shading, smudging, trailing, and more. There are many incredible panels in this volume, including a wondrous two-page spread later in the work. Taking a hint from our own Marg, who created a playlist for the volume, I listened to the music that the clubs danced to while reading this volume, and it turned Wandance into an even richer work. I highly recommend doing the same and continue to recommend this series, which is more dynamic and creative than simply calling it a “dance manga” might suggest. ~ Twwk
Wandance is published by Kodansha.
“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.