Reader’s Corner: Tista, My Co-Worker Has a Secret, and Revolutionary Reprise of the Blue Rose Princess

A violent and more assassination-focused manga from the creator of Spy x Family and two new “reset” genre light novels are among the ten volumes we review this week, which also feature manhwa, romance, fantasy, and…Final Fantasy.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (Vol. 3)The Do-Over Damsel Conquers the Dragon Emperor (Vol. 1)Evergreen (Vol. 2)Final Fantasy Lost Stranger (Vol. 1)I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top (Vol. 2)My Coworker Has a Secret! (Vol. 1)Rainbow Days (Vol. 3)Revolutionary Reprise of the Blue Rose Princess (Vol. 1)Tista (Vol. 1)Tomb Raider King (Vol. 2)

The Do-Over Damsel Conquers the Dragon Emperor, Light Novel Vol. 1

This is—you guessed it!—yet another story in the “reset” genre. The premise is that the protag meets with a terrible fate, then goes back in time and gets a second chance to live their life and make different choices. In this case, Jill, a magically gifted child soldier, was engaged to Prince Gerald—but only to provide cover for the prince’s incestuous affair with his sister. When Jill learns the sordid truth, the prince quickly moves to execute her on false charges…except instead of being dead as a doornail, she wakes up at ten years old at the very party where she became engaged to Gerald. To derail history, she improvises by proposing to a random dude; surely it will be written off as a childish jape, but perhaps it will be enough to dissuade the prince from proposing? Except that visiting Emperor Hadis takes her proposal completely seriously. Just what has Jill gotten herself into?! An incredibly awkward “marriage” between a traumatized nineteen-year-old master chef emperor guy and a physically-ten-but-mentally-sixteen action hero girl. The story is very funny, and by humorously acknowledging how problematic a nineteen-year-old marrying a ten-year-old is, it somewhat defuses one’s instinct to object to the pairing. Somewhat. Or it does…until late in the book when they start kissing. Squick. The latter part of the book also falters in other ways, shifting from humorous adventure toward more high-stakes drama that it doesn’t pull off as well. I needed mention the discordant darker elements of the story, like the aforementioned incest or Hadis’s mother’s suicide in the backstory, which can be quite jarring when juxtaposed with the lighter romcom adventure elements. In the end, I’m left awkwardly struggling to fairly report the volume’s good points (it really is funny!) without diminishing the seriously objectionable elements. If you think you can stomach the squicky parts, then you might enjoy the silliness of this story. I doubt I’ll continue with this series. ~ Jeskai

The Do-Over Damsel Conquers the Dragon Emperor is published by Cross Infinite World.

Tomb Raider King, Manhwa Vol. 2

Tomb Raider King is a thrilling and creative read, but a morally troubling one. The problem with the series (at least through volume two) is that readers are jubilantly cheering for a hero who is a rather bad guy. Jooheon, now in the city of Las Vegas, is collecting relics not to save the world, not to help others, not for historical or scientific value, but for revenge. And in this volume, he gets a taste of vengeance by dueling Chairman Kwon, the man who put into him into the servitude that eventually culminated in his original death. They battle first on the auction block as they bid for relics, and then in a physical battle as the near-apocalyptic event revealing relics to the world begins to take place. The fights are interesting, but the games Jooheon plays as he outwits Kwon and other characters introduced in this volume—some connected to the chairman and others who become powerful in their own rights on the original timeline—are the stuff of most interest. The value in this series, besides the excellent artwork, is in the feeling of satisfaction in seeing Jooheon use his knowledge of the future to stay a step ahead of everyone in this game of world domination. But unlike Jin Woo from Solo Leveling, a similar series, Jooheon has no redeeming moral qualities except to say that he’s not quite as bad as Chairman Kwon. In fact, there’s a scene in chapter six where Jooheon uses heavy-handed tactics to try to turn a future enemy into an ally; that person runs to Kwon to find out that the chairman is worse than Jooheon, but only a little worse. At some point, it’s going to get old rooting for a jerk; I hope that before that happens, Jooheon grows a conscience. ~ Twwk

Tomb Raider King is published by Ize Press, an imprint of Yen Press.

READ: Tomb Raider King Vol. 1 Review

Rainbow Days, Manga Vol. 3

I thought that Rainbow Days was all about the laughs generated among the central group of guys, with an additional focus on the sweet relationship blossoming between Nacchan and Anna. But while that’s still a central focus, volume three surprised me by showing it can do more and go further. This release was more heartfelt than previous volumes, particularly in relation to the strange relationship growing between Mattsun and Mari, which I’m now starting to really get interested in. Both characters come across as more authentic in their one-sided crushes as the volume progresses, adding layers to what was previously a troubling relationship. I was also really taken in both by the danger that a new love rival brings to the Nacchan x Anna relationship and by a twist at the end that introduces a new character. There’s a little doki doki going on in what’s typically been a calm, funny story, and I’m very much enjoying it. There might be more to Rainbow Days than I’ve been giving it credit for. ~ Twwk

Rainbow Days is published by VIZ Media.

READ: Rainbow Days Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2

I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top, Manga Vol. 2

The manga adaptation of I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top continues to be a fun, humorous, and fanservice-laden series in volume two. Allen gets used to his new school, turns tormenting bullies into loyal friends, goes on a date with Lia, and enters a tournament where he faces a real challenge for the first time since his hundreds of millions of years of training. I flew right through this volume, as I did the first. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s how the series should be read. Don’t worry too much about the tropes or situations you’ve seen time and time again in similar works; just sit back and enjoy the ride. The manga form of this story fits it very well, exuding a breezy tone that’s just right for Yutaro Shido’s work. On the other hand, the first volume of Shido’s original light novel—which basically covers the events of this manga volume and the first—is very weak. I suggest avoiding it and taking up this version if you’re interested in this type of series. It’s the best and only way to enjoy the work. ~ Twwk

I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top is published by Yen Press.

READ: I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top Vol. 1 Review

Tista, Manga Vol. 1

Before there even was a Spy X Family, there was Tista. Tista was one of the first manga series to be serialized by Tatsuya Endo, and my goodness, was this first volume a lot! Set in an alternate version of New York City, the titular Tista is an orphaned assassin who was raised in a local Catholic church to murder sinners. During one of her assassination missions, she runs into a boy about her age who is an artist. What’s his name? Art Drawer. A little on the nose there, Endo-sensei. The first volume follows a handful of missions with Tista, her emotional issues associated with the murders and her deceased father, and how Drawer handles being saved by a high-profile assassin. It was a fascinating first volume, but wild and very violent. Some of the most interesting moments were really internal to Tista as she was trying to figure herself out, fighting her training / programing. Overall, I’m definitely glad I read and look forward to seeing how this story ends in Volume 2. If you are looking for an interesting, violent spy / assassin series from the creator of Spy X Family, check it out. ~ MDMRN

Tista is published by VIZ Media.

My Coworker Has a Secret!, Manga Vol. 1

It’s rare that I read manga and feel very validated about my actions, but My Coworker Has a Secret! has been my favorite read of February specifically because of that reason! Centering around a twenty-five-year-old office worker, Akari has a big secret that she keeps from everyone at her job. She’s so obsessed with a pretty-boy idol that she has no money left after continually purchasing merch and tickets for events! Akari feels pretty good about keeping her secret for so long…until she ends up telling a kind stranger over a gifted lunch about her secret otaku life—and he also just happens to be her new coworker! This first volume was amazing! As a fangirl who gladly throws her money at merch of her favorite manga/anime characters, I felt extremely validated in relating so much to Akari! Does it mean our actions or the way we spend our money is the best way to use it? No, but does it make us extremely happy? For sure, which is why I loved this manga so much! While I couldn’t relate to hiding my otaku lifestyle in the same way Akari does, I found this story very relatable overall and laughed so much when reading it! Truly, it was such an enjoyable read that, despite the cliffhanger, I feel so much happier reading this! The romance is so sweet and left me desperate for the second volume because how could the volume end on that note?! *cue freaking out* I could easily see this being one of my favorite reads this year! ~ Laura A. Grace

My Coworker Has a Secret! is published by TOKYOPOP. It releases on April 11th.

Revolutionary Reprise of the Blue Rose Princess, Light Novel Vol. 1

The naïve and somewhat oblivious Queen Alicia is murdered when revolutionaries storm the castle…only for her to wake up ten years old. Realizing she needs to change the future, she soon recruits Clovis, the very man who killed her, to be her personal aide. Now they must overcome the resistance of stodgy nobles in order to implement reforms. Yes, this a “reset” story in the same vein as, well, at this point, quite a lot of other light novels (the paragon of the genre being the incomparable Tearmoon Empire). And this take on the genre is fine, but nothing more. It isn’t exceptionally funny or heartwarming, doesn’t have especially charming characters, doesn’t make particularly creative use of the reset plot device, and so on. It’s just…fine. Average. I enjoyed this volume enough to at least try the next volume, but there’s nothing here outstanding or unique enough for me to strongly recommend it, unless you just like the genre. ~ Jeskai

Revolutionary Reprise of the Blue Rose Princess is published by Cross Infinite World.

Final Fantasy Lost Stranger, Manga Vol. 1

There aren’t too many video-game based manga out there, and as I searched for some to review, I was excited to pick up Final Fantasy Lost Stranger. I am not largely into isekai, but it’s unavoidable in anime and manga these days, and this one has some of the typical isekai characteristics. The main characters, brother Shogo Sasaki and sister Yuko, work for Square Enix in the real world, and guess who shows up as they cross the street? Truck-kun. After sending them to the afterlife, which in this case seems to be a Final Fantasy-esque world, they find out rather quickly how rough it can be. I like that the party Shogo is teamed up with after arriving in this new world is not the strongest, and the party members must rely on each other, so some nice moments of development between them kept me hooked. The white mage, Sharuru, shines as the heart of the group and helps Shogo to push forward and get stronger to survive their dangerous battles. The artwork is very detailed, and the way Final Fantasy is integrated with the manga won’t overwhelm a newcomer. Several times I caught myself remembering which game they were referencing and feeling elated that these classic games weren’t ignored. The pacing is pretty quick in the beginning but starts to slow down to the point where I was getting a little bored with all the needless dialogue and banter between the characters. It ends with an impending battle with a white dragon who has been a problem since the beginning of the volume, and I’ll be back for volume two to see how they fare against it. ~ Samuru

Final Fantasy Lost Stranger is published by Yen Press.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, Light Novel Vol. 3

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten is often charming, but it frequently gets bogged down in mediocre writing. Much like The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend, The Angel Next Door moves from tropey scene to tropey scene in order to create cute moments meant to evoke responses in the reader. At its worse, the book is juvenile, quite literally reading like it was penned by a 15-year-old with little experience writing a novel. But at its best, there are scenes that really connect, and not always those you’d expect. For instance, the reveal of Amane’s past, which is a key point of this volume, is apologetically dull (the author literally has Amane express that it wasn’t really a big deal over and over again), but the passages where he and Mahiru are caught by a friend while out on a “date,” and the discussion with his friends afterward about his low-esteem, are written with warmth and energy. They help carry the volume along. So, too, of course, does the relationship at the heart of the series. Mahiru and Amane are precious and it’s easy to root for them to get together. The relative innocence of these characters and their kindness toward one another and their friends makes the series an encouraging read. So while The Angel Next Door Next Door Spoils Me Rotten may not engage your mind, it’ll certainly warm your heart. And a cozy type of series is the kind that we could probably use a little more of. ~ Twwk

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten is published by Yen Press.

READ: The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2

Evergreen, Manga Vol. 2

With foreshadowing and flashbacks showing violence and sadness, there’s something cruel at the “heart” of this romantic comedy. But for now, that cruelty remains on the fringes: Hotaka continues to have nightmares about being stabbed, and Awaya Niki reveals that she had a bad father who has passed away. The sudden confession that her father is very similar to his makes me think that the two are actually brother and sister. Is this the big reveal? Wait, pretend I didn’t ask that question; I’ll find out soon enough with just two volumes remaining in this short and infamous series. For now, I’m glum knowing that the manga will end so soon, as I’m really liking the characters. They have depth (as expected from Yuyuko Takemiya, the author behind Toradora) and the humor is on point, with artist Akira Kasukabe’s drawings showing an exaggeration and kawaiiness that elicited laughter from me multiple times as I read this volume. But most of all, I’m really compelled by series’ developing “side romance” between playboy Souga and the ultra-responsible On, who really shines in this volume as she expresses tenderness, anger, and despair toward the boy who likes her. On also exudes a teenage angst that I found authentic, and which is also given off by Hotaka throughout the volume. The confusion and weirdness between Hotaka and Niki is what romcoms thrive on, and what helps to make volume two a delectable read. The series is excellent so far, a worthy follow-up to Toradora and Golden Time; I’m eager to find out what it is in the final two volumes that made it all come grinding to a halt. ~ Twwk

Evergreen is published by Seven Seas Entertainment.

“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.

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