In today’s column, we journey into a story from a long time ago in a galaxy far away, investigate folklore and myth while getting tangled in possibly supernatural mysteries, and fall in love over and over again. Check out our reviews below, which include the latest volumes of Wandance and A Sign of Affection, as well as brand new manhwa and the first volume of a light novel series by the author of Unnamed Memory.
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture (Vol. 1) • A Business Proposal (Vol. 1) • Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion (Vol. 2) • Love, That’s an Understatement (Vol. 1) • Me and My Beast Boss (Vol. 1) • A Pale Moon Reverie (Vol. 1) • Play It Cool, Guys (Vol. 4) • A Sign of Affection (Vol. 6) • Star Wars: The High Republic, The Edge of Balance: Precedent • True Beauty (Vol. 2) • Wandance (Vol. 5) • What This World Is Made Of (Vol. 1)
A Sign of Affection, Manga Vol. 6
Volume six of A Sign of Affection is finally here, but to think that I read this volume literally within minutes of checking my mail and now I have to wait until October for the next volume! Gah, that is wayyyyy too long of a wait because this volume was so good! Yuki and Itsuomi are continuing to grow ever closer as Itsuomi declares that he wants to see and be with Yuki even more than the time they’ve spent together. As they continue to move forward in their relationship, Yuki reflects on the text Itsuomi wouldn’t let her read on their date and what else has happened in his childhood. One thing that really stood out to me is that despite what Oushi did in this volume, my view of him has really changed, and I loved seeing him look out for Yuki in his own way. Granted, he’s really wrestling with himself in “looking out” for her, but I think it’s easier to like him than it was at the beginning because we actually see that internal struggle. I’m still a hardcore Yuki and Itsuomi shipper, but I hope he does have a happy ending, too! I also like the side focus a little bit with Emma! She’s not my favorite character because Itsuomi is Yuki’s man, but I’m also hoping she gets her own happy ending. Lastly, the swoon is real once again! Truly, there were some very swoon-worthy moments in this one, and I could not help but squeal and blush right along with Yuki! Ha! The art continues to be gorgeous and I just need volume seven in my hands ASAP! Definitely continuing to highly recommend this series! I’ll be rereading it again because I love these two so much, and because it’s been far too long since we last had a volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
A Sign of Affection is published by Kodansha.
Star Wars: The High Republic, The Edge of Balance: Precedent, Manga One Shot
Why was this “Precedent” manga released before volume three of the main The Edge of Balance series when we’ve already been waiting years for this series to move along? I admit, it wasn’t immediately clear to me that the connecting thread between this manga and main series is that the protagonist in this side story, Wookie Jedi Arkoff, is also a major character in the two previous volumes of The Edge of Balance. There’s other important information, too, which makes it plain that this prequel is necessary. Those that recognized Arkoff will find themselves drawn into this newest addition to The High Republic. Packed full of action (maybe to the detriment of character development), Precedent leaps back 150 years to when Arkoff was just a Padawan under the tutelage of the coolest old Jedi woman you’ll ever see. The pair—along with Star Wars‘ newest great droid character, ZZ, and another Jedi, Azlin—encounter a violent sect that feels the Jedi are using the Force in a wrong manner, a powerful crablike bounty hunter, and an even greater threat that appears to be connected to the story proper. Because there’s so much story to tell in this one volume, though, I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed while reading. I’m also not really connected emotionally to Arkoff, so having a volume with him as the heart of it wasn’t a particularly compelling selling point. Despite those drawbacks, Precedent is still a fun read. Star Wars is made for manga, and the series has had an almost perfect run in the manga sphere; Precedent does nothing to tarnish that record. Star Wars fans will enjoy it, but they may want to reread the first two volumes in The Edge of Balance first to enjoy this side story more fully. ~ Twwk
Star Wars: The High Republic, The Edge of Balance is published by VIZ Media.
What This World Is Made Of, Manga Vol. 1
Do you ever get those ads about how you could be making thousands of dollars right now, just by scrolling on your phone? What This World Is Made Of is what I imagine would happen if you took the bait. Out for some quick cash, brothers Kaname and Kanade Nakata soon find themselves fighting for their lives against app-manifested monsters called Worlds (pun intended, I take it). Now, I really wanted to enjoy this volume. I’m a fan of the dark urban setting, as well as Kanade and Tohko’s dynamic (try all you want, you two, but you’ll never quite get along). But I can’t get over how terribly mundane it all feels. Page after page, the book throws these spectacular fights and edgy one-liners at the reader but fails to muster a compelling narrative to weave them together, like your friend who just can’t seem to land a single joke no matter how many they spew off. I like the idea of a story that exposes the cruelty of the world to the vulnerable and less fortunate. But Chainsaw Man has already taught the master class on that theme, and I feel like I’m reading one of the poorer essays from that class, insufferable exposition and opaque foreshadowing included. And if you really want a story about an app-induced death game with cosmic implications, Mirai Nikki has you covered. Otherwise, while I might not know what this world is made of, I do know what this volume is made of: the hand-me-downs of its older sibling stories. Hit “skip” on this get-rich-quick ad, unless you’re bored enough to laugh through the whole thing. ~ sleepminusminus
What This World Is Made Of is published by Yen Press.
Me and My Beast Boss, Manga Vol. 1
I feel the cute cover of Me and My Beast Boss volume one is slightly misleading when it comes to this story, but only because the harassment that Saki faces at work is very upsetting and a bit triggering. I knew from the blurb that humans are looked down upon by the beastfolk, who make up almost the entirety of people at her job, but seeing her physically bullied and verbally harassed was very angering to read. Thankfully, though, her new “beast boss,” Atlas, recognizes her hard work and dedication and promotes her to his personal secretary. Although she’s not afraid of him, her body feels different and wants to run away from him. Will she be able to fulfill her new role despite her body’s instincts, especially when Atlas isn’t as intimidating as his aura seems? I have never read a “furry romance,” and while I am still undecided if they are for me or not, I do think Oki’s story is very compelling because of how Atlas treats and respects her. I feel this is truly a story where Saki’s hard work and dedication are recognized, and in which she will learn and see what a positive relationship with beastfolk and her boss is. He is a wonderful leader, and I do think the mangaka does a very compelling job of making me want to cheer for them to be together because of how gentle and caring he is for Saki. Given the surprise arrival of a new character on the final page, I honestly have no idea what to expect moving forward, though I think I would like to keep reading because I very much like Saki. I am earnestly rooting for her to be able to be herself at work with no fear of physical injury and with confidence in her skills. ~ Laura A. Grace
Me and My Beast Boss is published by Yen Press.
Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion, Manga Vol. 2
It has been a little while since I finished a manga which, upon finishing, I physically hugged while giggling and smiling so big. However, that is exactly what happened with the latest volume of Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion! Though Rose has lived in a “dream” recently (due to her crush, Sir Harij, visiting so often and them sharing a meal together), she realizes that those beautiful days will soon be coming to an end. As she prepares the final touches of the love potion he requested, she can only hope the memories of their time together will carry her when she is alone once more. This volume was perfection! It definitely captured the elements I wanted more of in volume one because goodness! The butterflies I felt when reading this volume! Squeals! It’s hard to pinpoint which part was my favorite because I am soooo here for this slow burn romance where they both respect each other as well as sarcastically poke at each other. From the opening chapter where we see their banter, to the moment Sir Harij did all he could to help encourage others to respect Rose, to even his “revenge” at the end: every page had me captivated, especially when seeing Rose’s internal monologue. Well, except maybe the moments she is doing everything in her power to not cave into her feelings and show her love for him. I enjoyed the “twist” in this volume because even if it’s not really considered a “plot twist,” it was definitely one I didn’t see coming! I’m not sure I can say anything else because anything I say would be a spoiler, but I am so happy volume three is already up for preorder because I will be reading it! ~ Laura A. Grace
Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion is published by Yen Press.
READ: Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion Review Vol. 1
A Business Proposal, Manhwa Vol. 1
Taking the place of her best friend, Youngeo, Hari Shin goes on a blind date with her company’s handsome, rich, and acerbic CEO. But she disguises herself, pretends to be Youngseo, and acts disinterested in Taemu Kang, hoping to drive him away. Nothing could go wrong with this scenario, right? Actually, that’s just the beginning of the shenanigans in volume one of A Business Proposal, the webtoon version of the popular K-drama series. In fact, it was all a little too much for me at first. I can’t say I’m particularly interested in a series that’s about mistaken identities and features unlikeable characters, including the selfish and disheveled lead, Hari. But as the volume progresses, Hari becomes a fuller character and more likable (as does Youngseo), while the “opposites attract” trope starts to become charming. And if you’re a fan of Korean culture and K-dramas like I am, you’ll also enjoy those aspects that feed into the tale. Altogether, it adds up to a fun start. Volume one concludes with the titular proposal, setting the stage for what will surely be humorous conflict in the next volume. The mistaken identity storyline will continue as well, which is something I can live without; but if the series continues to be so enchanting, it’s a storyline I can live with, too. ~ Twwk
A Business Proposal is published by Yen Press.
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture, Light Novel Vol. 1
Teaming a solitary and reasonable young man with a mysterious and possibly mystical older person is nothing new in manga and light novels, but Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture carries out the storyline captivatingly well in volume one. The first half sets the stage with college student Naoya, who has the unique ability to tell lies from truths (though at a price), becoming a part-timer worker of sorts for the popular professor Takatsuki, whose students flock to his folklore class because of the young man’s good looks but find themselves entranced by his enthusiasm for the subject. But could it be that these myths have some truth to them? The last two chapters in volume one look into that notion as the series dives into the realm of mystery while ratcheting up the suspense: sometimes through precarious situations, but in its most engaging story—involving two friends and a curse that features sewing needles—by human drama. And as the volume ends, you get the feeling that there’s still so much to explore in this tale, both in the folk stories that the pair investigates and in the lead characters’ own mysteries. While it did drag a bit and the partnership between Naoya and Takatsuki isn’t flowing naturally yet, the storytelling was so excellent that I found myself eager to read more about these two and their adventures. If you enjoy a good mystery read, I think you’ll come away feeling the same. ~ Twwk
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture is published by Yen Press.
Wandance, Manga Vol. 5
Everything about Wandance is cool: the atmosphere that mangaka Coffee creates through shading and use of space in club settings; character designs that trace body shapes and faces compactly and angularly; demonstrating dynamic movement in the dance scenes; and the selection of tracks that viewers can listen along to while reading. But as the series progresses, I’m worried that the heart that’s established in volume one has become lost. Kaboku, for instance, is not a particularly likable character at this point. He’s becoming surprisingly arrogant as he excels in dance (and in this volume, the dance-off competition that continues from volume four) and considers whether Wanda might view him romantically. Meanwhile, Wanda remains an enigma. With each volume that passes, she seems less and less a character with agency and more and more a muse. In fact, a comment made by Iori in this volume where he questions why Kaboku knows so little about Wanda seems to be a remark that’s meant for readers, too. What do we know about her, anyway? I think we’ll get some sort of reveal later, but hopefully we will still care by that point because right now, I really only care about two side characters—Iori (a main) and On (a supporting). Everything else that’s good about the series is focused on style, which while done at an extremely high level, isn’t enough to bump this manga from good to great. ~ Twwk
Wandance is published by Kodansha.
True Beauty, Manhwa Vol. 2
I am still so thankful that WEBTOON Unscrolled is releasing the Webtoon True Beauty physically, because I would have been missing out on reading this otherwise! Volume two dives into Jugyeong getting a boyfriend, getting to know Sujin better—possibly?—and a potential new love interest coming on the scene. Against the backdrop of Jugyeong’s days of drama and uncertainty, this volume unexpectedly takes a deeper dive near the end when Jugyeong questions what she wants to do with her life and whether she might have found her dream through a chance opportunity. Not only that, she is beginning to question her role in “lookism” and whether she is hindering or aiding it. While I liked the first half of this volume, more often than not I felt lost by the jumping from scene-to-scene. Jugyeong enters into a relationship, but then somehow she is no longer in one? She has a job, but when exactly did she get it in the midst of studying and trying to convince her mom to help pay for her to go to a certain academy? Despite this confusion, I deeply loved the last quarter of this volume! I am very excited for Jugyeong, her finding what I think could be her life’s passion, and how she could help people—as that cliffhanger of an ending showed. Overall, I was super unsure if I would keep up with this series–especially with the very heavy language in this volume–but I’m genuinely interested in reading the third volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
True Beauty is published by WEBTOON Unscrolled.
READ: True Beauty Vol.1 Review
A Pale Moon Reverie, Light Novel Vol. 1
This is a series where I can start by saying, “This is from the author of Unnamed Memory!” and a good number of readers will already be off to buy this book. If you’re not familiar with Unnamed Memory, just know that it is a work heavily influenced by “traditional” fantasy (that is, not the “video game” fantasy commonly used by most light novels), with strong character writing and worldbuilding and a healthy dose of fun interactions between the male and female leads. And all of that is also present in A Pale Moon Reverie, just now with a more Oriental setting. The protagonist is Xixu, a shadeslayer dispatched to the “pleasure town” of Irede to help deal with dangerous shades. Helping him out is Sari, a teenage girl who is also the proprietress of Pale Moon, the town’s most prestigious courtesan house. Yes, this is essentially a story about a brothel, but Pale Moon is unique: not only is there a rule that its women can refuse any potential customers, but also (due to the town’s traditions) Sari herself can only ever accept one guest in her lifetime. In other words, this is a story about a consenting, monogamous prostitute. That alone might pique your curiosity, but the book is largely focused outside of the courtesan house as Xixu and Sari investigate strange occurrences and malicious forces. The fantasy aspect reveals itself in some fascinating ways for those looking for religious elements in their stories and adds to the work’s wonderful worldbuilding. The relationship between Xixu and Sari is very sweet: Sari is still a bit too young to officially choose her guest and struggles with sorting out her feelings, while Xixu respects her freedom while nevertheless getting along well with her, although certain events do complicate their relationship. Overall, this is yet another excellent work by Kuji Furumiya that I highly recommend, especially to those looking for more traditional fantasy. ~ stardf29
A Pale Moon Reverie is published by J-Novel Club.
Love, That’s an Understatement, Manga Vol. 1
This is the delinquent romance I’ve been looking for! Seriously, the first volume of Love, That’s an Understatement was perfection! Our heroine, Risa, seems to have everything together as long as she has her bag that keeps her prepared for any and every situation. She doesn’t need anyone’s help or favors, including from our hero, Zen, who—in the beginning—had been beaten up (she gives him a bandaid and information on where the closest ER is). However, when she finds herself in a situation where her bag can’t help her and she may need Zen’s help after all, she might just start finding herself rethinking if she wants to depend only on herself…and if her feelings for Zen are really changing. Outside of one moment that felt a tad too dramatic for me, I absolutely loved this first volume so much! Even with me curbing some of my excitement (because I have been desperately wanting an English-licensed shojo but didn’t want to get my expectations too high up), this still really blew all those expectations away! I really liked Risa and how she is matter-of-fact but not actually cold-hearted, like some people believe she is. Seeing Zen be the complete opposite of her was an incredibly nice balance, and I loved how it wove into the romance so seamlessly. And speaking of the romance, I’m 100% here for it! I love the way that Zen treats Risa, and how he doesn’t want her to change her matter-of-fact ways and still feels she’s cute. I also love how respectful they are to one another and that Risa can’t seem to stop thinking about Zen. Ha! Overall, this was such a wonderful first volume that I am desperate for Kodansha to print! It was everything I hoped it would be, and I can’t wait to see what happens next! Definitely recommend! ~ Laura A. Grace
Love, That’s an Understatement is published by Kodansha.
Play It Cool, Guys, Manga Vol. 4
I have no idea why I waited so long to read this fourth volume! I laughed so much when reading about these guys’ goofs and was very quickly reminded of why this is in my top ten favorite series of all time! Truly, it was such a joy to read, and I think even more so this volume because we have a “beach episode”! As they prepare to go to the beach, they continue to grow as individuals—but also grow closer as friends, as they see movies, eat lunch together, and just have fun in each other’s company. I think it’s interesting that Souma’s story has increasingly had a little more “depth” to his chapters compared to the other guys, in the sense that he is searching and looking for how he can grow and contribute his skills for and to society. He definitely still has his goofs! But it’s different when it comes to his chapters because I always feel I’m inspired to make a difference too. It was so wonderful seeing Hayate in fangirl mode! He’s been my favorite out of everyone and definitely still continues to be in this volume, especially when he interacts with the newest guy, Motoharu, who also happens to be his favorite author! Speaking of, Motoharu is awesome! I confess I was skeptical at first of him, but he really brings the group of guys together and adds his own silliness that is right at home. Of course, Mima-san was wonderful as always! I love how he is the father-like figure among these guys and even at one point says that he felt Shun was like his nephew. Shun is also as cute as ever, even if he wouldn’t like me saying so! Ha! I really adore his character and love getting more of his chapters and just seeing him on page! Definitely another absolute gem of a volume, and I can’t wait for the next one to release! ~ Laura A. Grace
Play It Cool, Guys is published by Yen Press.
“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.