A quick glance at our Reader’s Corner selections for this post, many of which are debuting today, reveals part of the reason why manga continues to grow in popularity. The variety of stories being told through these releases is breathtaking. From a young woman reliving her yesterday a thousand times to a food truck running in a post-apocalyptic world, and from a girl who is fighting back against her dependence on the night to the final volume of a time-traveling shoujo series about depression and death, this week’s reviews show the breadth of the form’s creativity. Dive in to see what we think of these and other inventive works from the world of manga, manhwa, and light novels!
Call the Name of the Night (Vol. 1) • Coffee Moon (Vol. 2) • Crazy Food Truck (Vol. 3) • The Executioner and Her Way of Life (Vol. 6) • Helck (Vol. 2) • Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love (Vol. 5) • orange -to you, dear one- • The Remarried Empress (Vol. 2) • Shadows House (Vol. 2)
The Remarried Empress, Manhwa Vol. 2
I still remember when I started The Remarried Empress on WEBTOON, and how I binge-read the two seasons within two days because it was just that good. Despite remembering the events that unfold while reading volume two, my love for this series grows even stronger with this latest physical release. Navier now knows who her pen pal is and grows ever closer to the handsome Prince Heinrey and his bird, Queen. However, while he increases her happiness in their brief encounters, there are those trying to rain on her parade. Honestly, if I had any complaint about this volume, it was that there was not nearly enough Heinrey and way too much Rashta and Sovieshu. Ha! Outside of that though, I love this series so much! Navier continues to truly be a phenomenal woman, and I’m desperately rooting for her happiness. Seeing Sovieshu be such a jealous, insecure, and heated jerk to her in their encounters boiled my blood more than once! On the flip side, I love, love, love Heinrey and how sweet he is on Navier. His love for her is so genuine, and I love how he puts up with nothing from Rashta and Sovieshu (as he should!) in how they treat her! I also surprisingly like the new character Ergi, even though he is such a shady character. Even though I super hated what he said about Heinry, Ergi keeps things interesting on the gossip scene, and I definitely think he is using Rashta for his own devices. What those devices are is to-be-determined, though. Beautiful art as always, and I’m desperately wanting the next volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Remarried Empress is published by IZE PRESS, an imprint of Yen Press.
READ: The Remarried Empress Vol. 1 Review
Helck, Manga Vol. 2
Volume two continues the charming tale of Helck, as the titular character reveals a bit more of his motivations in fighting against his own human race and for the demons. A new threat is unveiled, and Helck, along with Vermilio, are transported away to an isolated locale. This gives the manga plenty of fuel for its cute humor, from Helck walking to the bottom of the ocean floor to pull up an unexpected “fish,” to a kawaii birdlike creature telling Vermilion that she smells like “grandma.” Indeed, the laughs, often coming in the middle of action sequences and strengthened by slightly comical character designs, are the strength of the series. The story itself, of Helck’s quest against a humanity that is bent on destroying the demons, even those that are kind and good, isn’t anything of particular note, though there’s potential in this fantasy world that mangaka Nanaki Nanao has conjured. What’s most interesting is that Helck’s character design, primarily, helps to bring an even more westernized look and feel to the series, which is otherwise depicted from an eastern perspective of western fantasy. It remains striking to me how much I think of Helck as being “He-Man” if he suddenly realized that Eternia was evil and Skeletor might have had a point. We’ll see if those glimpses turn into something more substantial as the story progresses, but for now, the plot progression takes a back seat, at least in terms of interest, to the humor and budding romance of this soon-to-be animated tale. ~ Twwk
Helck is published by Viz Media.
READ: Helck Vol. 1 Review
Crazy Food Truck, Manga Vol. 3
Live an honest life and eat good food! That’s what this short manga series is all about. Crazy Food Truck was a fun ride with endearing characters and loads of unexpected turns. I’m honestly sad this adventure is over because I would have loved to spend more time in this post-apocalyptic landscape. I feel like there was so much to explore and more food to prepare, but Ogaki had something different in mind. The themes surrounding found family and living a full life were portrayed beautifully. This part of the story tackled some deep thoughts in a way that didn’t weigh it down and yet makes you think about it long after you’ve finished reading. It also captured the joy of sharing a good meal with loved ones and the healing it brings a soul. The ending for this series was one of the best ones that I’ve read in a while. Even though there were some sad events that transpired, the ending leaves you smiling. If you are looking for a series full of action, mystery, and fun, I highly implore you to give Crazy Food Truck a go! ~ Marg
Crazy Food Truck is published by Viz Media.
Coffee Moon, Manga Vol. 2
If anyone were to ask me to try and describe what Coffee Moon is about, it would be hard to explain. The premise alone is interesting, with a young woman reliving yesterday’s today over 1,000 times, but with volume two…things get a lot more complicated. Pieta has finally made friends and doesn’t want to go back to being alone, but not everyone wishes that for her, resulting in more sorrow for our sweet Pieta. How is she going to handle gaining and losing her circle of friends just to go back to repeating the same day all over again? This was definitely another very trippy volume in this series! I really enjoyed how Pieta’s circle of friends grew (even if I really didn’t appreciate how pervy one of the girls was) and how Pieta was able to experience real joy. I also continued to really admire her dedication to do things today and not wait for tomorrow to come around. However, Pieta’s joy was pretty short-lived, and I definitely dislike this one character who seems the cause of her pain all the more. I also didn’t love the explanations of who Pieta may be in regards to this world and how the world works, despite it being implied there could be a time limit on how many times Pieta repeats today? The ending definitely left me curious and hoping good things are in store for our main girl! I really want her wish to come true so she can have her friends surrounding her and have fun! ~ Laura A. Grace
Coffee Moon is published by Yen Press.
READ: Coffee Moon Vol. 1 Review
orange -to you, dear one-, Manga
It’s surreal to know that orange -to you, dear one- is the actual final volume of the very iconic manga series, orange. Naho’s journey began when she received a letter from her future self, encouraging her to help her classmate, Kakeru. While she thought she was alone in this “burden,” she realizes that her friends have been given the same task and encouragement from their future selves! In this final volume, the timeline has changed and Naho and Kakeru are dating! So what happens next to all these amazing characters? Since the beginning, I have loved all of Naho and Kakeru’s friends, and I found great joy (tied in with sadness) in seeing a variety of situations from their perspectives in this volume. Since the main series is from Naho’s perspective (excluding the previous volume since it’s from Suwa’s), it was refreshing and moving to see how much Kakeru’s friends also deeply cared for him, not just Naho. It reminded me of why I loved the series, and how this isn’t a girl-saves-boy story (though I do confess those vibes felt stronger in this one since we also get Kakeru’s perspective) and is more of a group of loving friends coming together to help their hurting friend and see him smile once more. There was even more emphasis on how Kakeru can talk to any of them about anything, and I deeply loved that. This was definitely a moving and very heartfelt ending that, while at times leaves your heart heavy, also fills you with deep hope and reminds us how we all have value and deserve happiness. Definitely recommend it if you love the series orange! ~ Laura A. Grace
orange -to you, dear one- is published by Seven Seas.
Shadows House, Manga Vol. 2
Strange goings-on in the shadowy manor house continue in volume two, as bright-eyed Emilico discovers the world of household chores and meets an ever-widening pool of other “living dolls”: cool senpais, intimidating star-bearers, and the rather subdued (some might say taciturn) fellow newbies, Shaun and, um, Not-Shaun (whose name is eventually revealed to be Rum). Adventure ensues when Emilico stands up for a distressed teammate and is tasked, along with her two not-quite-yet-friends, with uncovering the source of the frightening coagles, dark blobs of animated soot that love nothing more than to scurry down the throats of unsuspecting living dolls and choke them to death. But wait, who is that mysterious robed figure with the husky voice and sweet waft of perfume? Anime fans, we have been cheated! There is such a richness of detail and foreshadowing in this volume that was completely edited out of the adaptation and which make this series all the more brilliant. Reading the manga is a journey of discovery in just how attentively mangaka duo Somato have crafted their supernatural take on life in a gothic Victorian manor, carefully laying the groundwork for plot lines and reveals that will take dozens of chapters (and more than a season of anime!) to play out. This volume also continues to develop the unusual sympathy between Emilico and Miss Kate, the main living doll/shadow master duo, whose relationship contrasts starkly with the more complicated interactions between other dolls and masters. Things are just getting started, but oh boy, is this ever an epic in the making! Count me in for the long haul. ~ claire
Shadows House is published by Yen Press.
READ: Vol. 1 Review
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, Manga Vol. 5
With every new release of Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, any potential love triangles have been stomped on extremely quickly. Yet when I saw the blurb for volume five saying that a girl, who supposedly has every guy fall in love with her, seemed to have eyes for Yagyu and wanted Satomi to introduce them, I was feeling pretty nervous. I knew I shouldn’t be, because Satomi and Yagyu only have eyes for each other, but since they are now in their second year of high school, I just suddenly felt nervous. However, I was right in saying I shouldn’t have, because like in previous volumes, the “love triangle” quickly resolved and our main couple remained in their own blissful little world. Despite the romance continuing to be my favorite part of this series, I really liked how this volume showed how far Satomi has come in continuing to speak up and kindly say what’s on her mind. I feel she’s always been pretty bold, but I think we see a more mature boldness in her that was really rewarding when it came to the whole situation with this other girl. I was also surprised that it doesn’t seem this will be the last we see of this new character! Ima Koi continues to be an extremely sweet series, and I know the next volume will continue to be just that: super sweet! Very eager to read more of this wonderful shoujo! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ Media.
Call the Name of the Night, Manga Vol. 1
It is never a bad thing when you make a strong emotional connection with a book you’re reading, but in this case, I think I might have made the wrong kind of strong emotional connection. Mira is a young girl who is sick with an illness where she “summons” night when she feels anxious, depressed, or stressed. Thankfully the doctor, Rei, who she resides with, is doing all he can to help find a cure and help her not get consumed by the night. However, as she aims to do her best each day and embrace the light, a friend of Rei’s visits and brings with him a deep curiosity that could do more harm than good for Mira. This was by no means a “bad” story. I just, unfortunately, made a connection from the prologue that Mira’s night represented depression because her feelings and experience very much reminded me of my own experiences with depression. The more I kept reading this story, though, the more I realized that night most likely just represents night. There was nothing wrong per se in how I initially connected with Mira as a character, but as a result, it left me more confused than not when reading, and I had a hard time distinguishing what night actually represented. I think if a reader can associate night with night and not get emotionally mixed up as I did, I do think this is a great story to try! It is very beautiful, and I think it will be one of healing and self-love! ~ Laura A. Grace
Call the Name of the Night is published by Yen Press.
The Executioner and Her Way of Life, Light Novel Vol. 6
If you thought everything changed with Menou’s decision at the end of volume five, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Volume six turns The Excutioner and Her Way of Life on its head. All this time, I’d been off-put by how the story created an intimidating tone that led readers to think any character could die at any minute, without doing so. All that is remedied in volume six where violent clashes, character reveals, and new information about this world’s connection to our own are dropped. Continuing Menou’s fight with Flare, and dealing with the aftermath of the explosion in and destruction of the holy land and the end of volume five, volume six in the most exciting one yet. But despite all that, the chronic problems with the series continue to prevent it from becoming an instant classic. The characterization and dialogue are extremely weak. After seven volumes, you’d think I’d be attached to multiple characters in the series, but I don’t have deep sympathy or care for a single one. They all feel so artificial, especially in their dialogue, which is stilted, unrealistic, and cold. Characters are frequently paired off in this series, and we’re meant to grow to care for them through the meaningful shonen-ai relationships that develop; but with the interactions hampered by the issues with dialogue, all we’re left with in this series is really cool world-building and a wonderfully dark tone. Is that enough to continue with the franchise six volumes in? If it can keep up the surprises and haunting storytelling, it certainly is. ~ Twwk
The Executioner and Her Way of Life is published by Yen Press. Volume 2 releases on March 21st.
“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.