Are you a dog person or a cat person? Hey, we don’t discriminate here on Beneath the Tangles and to prove it, this week we’re reviewing manga that focuses on both beloved spieces! But that’s not all we’re reading—there are plenty of romance volume reviews below as well as a couple of hero series we’re into these days! Enjoy the reviews and let us know your thoughts on these series!
A Condition Called Love (Vol. 2) • Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound (Vol. 1) • Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten (Vol. 2) • The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend (Vol. 3) • The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes (Vol. 1) • Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love (Vol. 6) • Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (Vol. 7) • Maiden of the Needle (Vol. 1) • Mega Man Mastermix: Robot Rebellion (Vol. 1) • Spider-Man: Fake Red • Villains Are Destined to Die (Vol. 3) • Young Lady Albert is Courting Disaster (Vol. 1)
Spider-Man: Fake Red, One-Shot Manga
Yu is nothing special; at least that’s how he seems himself. His crush doesn’t know he exists. His grades are low, frustrating his father. And he’s not great at rock climbing, even though it’s his hobby. The first two are a little harder to fix, but you know what could help that last challenge? Finding and using one of Spidey’s suits. And so begins Fake Red, an Asian American-led version of Spider-Man that deals with some struggles commonly found in the culture and which features another Asian-American character (and one my favorites), Cindy Moon. But otherwise, this volume is much of what we expect from a Spider-Man series. There are lots of villain cameos, for instance, as Yu tries to find Peter Parker, whom Cindy is seeking as well. Yu is also a struggling adolescent trying to find his own identity. And yet, it’s an undeniably fun read. Unfortunately, this is a one-off—the manga ended its run after just 14 chapters. That’s a disappointment because Spider-Man: Fake Red is a fun read featuring diversity that spoke to me as an Asian American, even if the story is a bit of a retread. One volume of this experience isn’t enough. Here’s to VIZ, though, for bringing the one issue to America. I hope others will discover this little gem. ~ Twwk
Spider-Man: Fake Red is published by VIZ Media.
Maiden of the Needle, Light Novel Vol. 1
I’ll admit: I’m as much of a sucker for fluffy, wholesome stories as the next person. (Hence why the week before finals, instead of studying, I watched all seventy episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura, a decision I sorely regretted until my graduation ceremony, at which point I stuffed it and all my other cringy college memories into a securely locked safe in the back of my mind, never again to be opened. But alas.) So I was immediately drawn to the Cinderella-esque premise of Maiden of the Needle. A lovely, kind-hearted girl escapes her abusive family, discovers her hidden magical talent, and lives the life of her dreams—what’s not to like? Sadly, a lot. You know that one shirt you keep in your closet because you’ve deluded yourself into believing it fits you, even though it’s three sizes too small? Zeroki seems to have fallen for the same delusion with this volume, as the page count simply can’t contain everything the author wants to fit in. For comparison, I’ll Never Set Foot in That House Again! has a similar Cinderella-esque story, but takes three volumes to get to the engagement, while here it happens halfway through the volume! There’s too much world-building, too many characters, too many tragic backstory moments, too many side-handed remarks, too much backstage political drama…the list goes on. At the same time, none of these elements gets developed enough to be satisfying. Like patchwork, the volume is sewn together from whatever scraps of fabric the author had lying around in their head at the time, resulting in an uncoordinated final product that left me grasping for more. Despite all of this, I enjoyed volume one of Maiden of the Needle. It’s fun, fluffy, and genuine: the perfect read to ease my brain after four long years of college. Not to mention the pleasant illustrations—they feature thin linework and light shading which create a dainty, lighthearted, and adorable aesthetic. This shirt might not fit, but I’m still going to keep wearing it, because it makes me feel comfy. ~ sleepminusminus
Maiden of the Needle is published by Yen Press.
Young Lady Albert is Courting Disaster, Light Novel Vol. 1
One of the earliest “reincarnated as an otome game villainess” web novels, debuting not long after a certain Bakarina, Lady Albert has one key difference from most other stories of its kind: the protagonist, even knowing how the game plays out, is not trying to avoid her ruin; in fact, she is actively trying to make sure it happens! She has her reasons for this, believing that a controlled fall from the heights of nobility is preferable to her house gaining too much power and being targeted by the royal family. However, being at heart a kind soul, Mary also cannot bring herself to treat the game’s protagonist Alicia as cruelly as her game counterpart does, limiting herself to “insults” that Alicia interprets as constructive criticism, which naturally makes Alicia like Mary quite a lot, to the latter’s dismay. It’s a fun take on the concept, made even more enjoyable by the main male protagonist, Mary’s longtime servant Adi. The two are more like close friends than master and servant, and Mary tells Adi all about her past memories of the game, which allows the two to banter frequently while also simmering some romantic tension underneath. All in all, this is an enjoyable early example of the “otome game villainess” sub-genre, and is definitely worth checking out. ~ stardf29
Young Lady Albert is Courting Disaster is published by J-Novel Club.
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, Manga Vol. 7
It’s fascinating to see how a manga takes shape over the course of its run. Take Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, for instance. It started out a bit on the ecchi side, characterized Kubo primarily as a “teaser type” girl, and focused solely on the daily, in-class relationship between her and Shiraishi, setting up to be a comical romance. But by volume seven, while the budding romance between the two hasn’t quite taken a backseat, it has diminished in importance. And when the focus does shift to the would-be couple, they interact in a cuter way than at first, with Kubo barely teasing Shiraishi now at all. The side characters have also grown in prominence, with the friend group that’s been established now really being brought into the center of the manga’s main story, in which Shiraishi becoming visible through friendship. The story’s in a much better place than at the beginning because of this lovely storyline, though I admit to hoping that—much like the later chapters in this particular volume—the remainder of the series will lean heavily once again into Kubo x Shiraishi, as their interactions remain the best part of this lovely little series. ~ Twwk
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is published by VIZ Media.
The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes, Manga Vol. 1
The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes has traveled an interesting road. Originating on the mangaka’s Twitter account, it moved to Pixiv, and then was adapted into print. As such, the artwork is a little different than you’d expect from a manga: it’s more basic in form and is presented in full color. But the unpolished look in volume one shouldn’t discourage you; in fact, it fits extraordinarily well with this cute story. The plot is simple: Amane Mizuno seems fierce with her sanpaku eyes and quiet nature, but she’s actually just a cute girl in love with her classmate. And bit by bit, she gets closer to the equally loveable boy. The volume is trope-heavy, but the situations are presented well, with a lightness and warm humor that makes you fall in love with Amane and want to cheer for her. Clocking in at 133 pages, it’s a short volume, but filled to the brim with kawaii goodness. As Amane says at one point when she stumbles over her words, it’s totally “obvivi” that you should check out this series if you enjoy simple high school romance. ~ Twwk
The Girl With the Sanpaku Eyes is published by Denpa.
A Condition Called Love, Manga Vol. 2
All aboard the feels train because the ending of volume two of A Condition Called Love was another feels train going full steam ahead! Goodness, what an excellent volume! While Hatoru and Hananoi have been going out on a trial basis, things change when Hananoi gives her one of the best Christmas Eves in her life. Now she is beginning to doubt whether she wants the trial to end and get a little nervous, and this volume explores how her feelings reflect that and she gradually changes. The volume did feel a tad bit slower than the first volume, but I really loved seeing Hatoru realize her feelings for Hananoi and explore what love is and what it means to her. While the shojo manga Strobe Edge also questions what love is and explores something slightly similar, there is a uniqueness to this series that I find I deeply enjoy seeing. Maybe because Hotaru doesn’t make all of her decisions purely on feelings and wants something more…concrete? I’m not sure if that’s the right word, and maybe this goes to show how well this volume specifically is exploring that concept through Hotaru’s perspective. Now I will confess Hanoi did have another little bit of a “red alert” moment that had me internally nervously sweating. I do think he’s a good guy, but he’s probably gone through a lot of painful situations. When at one point he says he’s a little too happy and maybe shouldn’t be, it really broke my heart on his behalf, and I questioned what he’s gone through to feel that way. I truly hope he finds happiness and can see that he is important just as he is! ~ Laura A. Grace
A Condition Called Love is published by Kodansha.
READ: A Condition Called Love Reviews Vol. 1
The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend, Manga Vol. 3
While the original novel version of The Girl I Saved on the Train is little more than dozens of tropey situations sequenced one after another, the manga version is a significantly better read. There’s no more depth to it than the LN series, but the unimaginative writing is far more obvious in novel form, whereas the more visual medium is more forgiving. In fact, it’s fun to see situations like love confessions, Hina tutoring Ryou, the arrival of Ryou’s ex-girlfriend, and cherry blossom viewing; it also adds to the energy of the read when these events follow one chapter after another. It also doesn’t hurt that Torigoe (who, with her thoughtfulness, shy exterior, and surprising snark, is easily the best character from the first couple of LN volumes) takes much of the focus in volume three of the manga. And while the artwork is basic and bare—and again, the plot presents nothing new or novel—this brisk read is really pretty fun. And that’s something I never thought I would say after swearing off the painfully bad light novels. ~ Twwk
The Girl I Saved on the Train Turned Out to Be My Childhood Friend is published by Yen Press.
Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten, Manga Vol. 2
“This! This is the terror we know and love!” I couldn’t help but laugh at this statement from Sabu, because my! How much this little kitty has grown! Though he was terrified of Jin in volume one and thought whatever job he was being given would be super sketchy, he is now having the time of his life at the pet rescue cafe! Even if Jin does still scare him at times, I think this volume had a few sweet moments showing how much Sabu has really come to trust Jin. He’s slowly maturing more and more, and I have found it strangely rewarding to see this little kitten not be quite as afraid of him. And speaking of Jin, I love his character so much and definitely appreciated how he seemed to have a little bit more page time in this volume! Seeing him pleased at these animals being loved by customers was so heartwarming and made me really happy. It also really does make me think about how Sabu has a point in saying Jin is “the terror” we know and love, because it’s too true for me! Ha! I’m definitely looking forward to the next volume, as this continues to be a series I really enjoy and love! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten is published by Seven Seas.
READ: Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten Reviews Vol. 1
Villains Are Destined to Die, Manhwa Vol. 3
Penelope is an excellent example of a girlboss who can absolutely slay! Goodness, I love her character so much, especially how smart she is when she needs to think on her feet! She surprises me just as much as the other characters do, especially when she gives Reynold a piece of her mind in this third volume! Life continues to not be easy as Penelope tries to increase the meters among the “love interests” in this game, primarily focusing on Eckles. However, not everyone is happy when she gets closer to a slave, with Reynold giving her a piece of his mind. In between blowups with Reynold and another invitation from Callisto, what will Penelope do next to make sure she stays alive? When it comes to Reynold, let me just say…You tell him, Penelope! I was so angry after that conversation she had with him! I cannot stand him even though I did like him in volume one! Seeing her speak her mind without fear was deeply satisfying, and I’m hoping she bests Reynold in all things moving forward. I have started to like Eckles more, though I worry Penelope’s plan is not going to unfold the way she anticipates. I feel that he will grow very jealous in the future, though I have no proof that will be the case. I can’t say I necessarily ship them together, but now that Callisto is on the page once more, I’m still totally terrified of his character. Maybe with the preview of the next chapter, I won’t be so worried, but at least he and Eckles are a hundred times better than her brothers. This series continues to shine as one of my favorite manhwa because Penelope continues to slay, and I can’t wait to see what happens next! ~ Laura A. Grace
Villains Are Destined to Die is published by IZE Press.
Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound, Manga Vol. 1
Seeing a manga title with a dog as one of the main characters feels very rare, so I had to check out the new manga Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound! Takumi has worked overtime day in and day out while eagerly looking forward to coming home to his super cute little dog, Leo. However, he one day wakes up in a forest when a huge wolf greets him with a lick to the face! Coming to realize that his little Leo isn’t little anymore, he wonders what happened and how he came to be in this new world. This story was honestly just as cute as I anticipated it would be! Since cat manga is so popular, I wanted to try something with a dog, and am very glad I picked this up because while it was slower than I anticipated, it was very easygoing and relaxing, which I appreciated. With that said, I do not think it is boring! I feel like it’s mainly building up to something happening, but I just enjoyed being able to see Takumi bond with Leo while in another world. She is so cute, and I totally understand why everyone is drawn to her because I love her! I also liked how some things remain unanswered concerning Takumi’s gift because I am deeply curious as to what it is, and I’m definitely planning to read the next volume! Overall, I definitely recommend it if you want something relaxing and fun to read with a doggo as a large part of the story! Great first volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound is published by Seven Seas.
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, Manga Vol. 6
When the mangaka said in her author note at the beginning of volume six that she was going to be starting a new arc of sorts, but that it wouldn’t be centering around our “middle-aged married couple,” I was so bummed! I love Satomi and Yagyu because they act like a middle-aged married couple! Ha! It’s so fun and relaxing seeing their love story unfold, with this volume being no exception! Volume six picks up right where volume five ended: Yagyu is at Satomi’s house, where Satomi’s mom invites (aka forces) Yagyu to have dinner. While he’s there, a terrible storm hits, forcing Yagyu to stay the night! As Satomi and Yagyu continue to grow closer, Miria continues to fall for Noda’s “charms” even more than she has before. Satomi and Yagyu are only a main focus in the opening chapter, but this scene still gave my stomach butterflies and made me laugh a few times because it was a total flashback to bringing my boyfriend home for the first time! Satomi’s actions were deeply relatable! Ha! I really liked how much Yagyu liked her family and vice versa, though! It was a very fun chapter! Since the creator was changing the focus from our main couple, I was nervous I wouldn’t enjoy following Miria and Noda as much, but it was fun and different. I’m definitely cheering for Miria and very much admire how she sticks to her convictions until the very end. I sort of thought she wouldn’t know how much she likes Noda, so it was surprising. Ima Koi definitely continues to be one of my favorite ongoing shojo series! This was another great volume, even if it was different than I expected! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ Media.
Mega Man Mastermix: Robot Rebellion, Manga Vol. 1
Mega Man is a classic franchise from the NES era that continues to add new entries decades after the first game. Megaman Mastermix takes the first two games and gives its own spin on the plot, adding dialogue, some character development, and personality to these otherwise pixelated robots. Compared to the original manga version, Gigamix, Megaman Mastermix is scene to scene the same but with full color on every page, which looks so much better. I know because I bought both, but if I had done more research and knew they were the same, I wouldn’t have bought Gigamix. Mastermix is a fun story that follows the origins of the Blue Bomber, Dr. Light, and Roll. They face off against the robot masters that Dr. Light created, like Gutsman, Iceman, Fireman, and others who were asked to betray their creator by Dr. Wily. Some of the characters didn’t get enough spotlight, so the focus goes to certain robots instead, but I enjoyed what it brought to the series. The battles were intense but silly at times, which was OK with me. This is a short but entertaining addition for fans of the series. ~ Samuru
Mega Man Mastermix: Robot Rebellion is published by UDON 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.