Fantasy is the name of the game on this week’s Reader’s Corner! We’ve reviewed volumes featuring dragons, witches, vampires, gods, and—a little more grounded in reality, though still as (and maybe more) fantastical—a study guide about the universe featuring manga! Transport yourself below to read our thoughts on these works.
The Invisible Wallflower Marries an Upstart Aristocrat After Getting Dumped for Her Sister! (Vol. 1) • The Manga Guide to the Universe • Megaman Mastermix – Asteroid Blues (Vol. 2) • My Dear, Curse-Casting Vampiress (Vol. 1) • My Summoned Beast is Dead (Vol. 1) • Silver Spoon (Vol. 10) • The Skull Dragon’s Precious Daughter (Vol. 1) • Witch Watch (Vol. 6)
The Invisible Wallflower Marries an Upstart Aristocrat After Getting Dumped for Her Sister!, Light Novel Vol. 1
Iris’s selfish and sleazy “family” and “fiance” don’t appreciate her, so her stepsister and the fiance get together, and Iris gets shipped off into an abruptly arranged marriage with a nouveau riche merchant named Lucas. It starts out as an unconsummated, contractual relationship: Lucas bails Iris’s family out of some debt trouble, while in return Iris tutors Lucas’s household and staff on the noble etiquette they need for business dealings. Naturally, this turns into a perfectly arranged marriage as they both turn out to be sweet, earnest, hardworking people who fall in love and become increasingly determined to make this marriage work for real. It’s super cute and will give you warm fuzzies. There are no surprising plot twists, no melodrama, just a charming romance between a married couple (though the ending does hint that Iris and Lucas will get dragged back into the chicanery of her so-called family). Despite the title and what Iris herself says, once away from her toxic family environment, she’s actually quite capable and can stand up for herself and others when necessary. Lovely volume, definitely recommend. ~ Jeskai
The Invisible Wallflower Marries an Upstart Aristocrat After Getting Dumped for Her Sister! is published by Cross Infinite World.
My Summoned Beast Is Dead, Light Novel Vol. 1
If the title of this series doesn’t elicit confidence that it will be anything other than another magic school retread, you’d feel the same as I did when I started volume one. Thankfully, we don’t judge a light novel by its cover; it doesn’t take long before I discovered that My Summoned Beast Is Dead could be something very special. Taking place at an academy for magicians, the series focuses on summoners: talented students who can summon forth creatures (and even angels and gods) whom they then inhabit for…well, I’m not entirely sure what for in the grand scheme of things. But at least in volume one, it’s to fight in matches that are spectated not only by students but others in the kingdom as well. Into this world steps a commoner, Feil, who has just discovered that, you got it, his summoned beast is dead. Quite dead. In fact, there are cracks in Pandora’s skull from his legendary battle against this world’s supreme god. But that won’t stop Feil, who is a cheeky, brilliant, and ultimately very easy-to-root-for MC, as he leads his team of three into academy battles. Their primary aim is to defeat Sasha, who is not only the princess of a kingdom and a board member of the academy, but also by far the school’s greatest summoner. While the overarching plot offers very little that’s new, it’s presented in a captivating way. Rakuzan creates interesting characters and very smartly drops us in the middle of the action. This is not an origin story, at least not in a “Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts” kind of way; friendships and teams are already set, Feil has long been picked on by his enemies, and he’s already a genius in magic. What is happening is that Feil is taking a step forward in his abilities and maybe in his growing relationship with Sasha. This “already in progress” plot meshes well with the book’s many short chapters, which I felt really helped the reading experience, keeping the plot fresh as it quickly progressed. Also helping with the excitement are vivid action scenes, particularly the last one. I don’t want to ruin it, so I’ll just say that the fighting conveys a feeling more like Attack on Titan and Evangelion than of typical light novel fantasy fare. It’s just another element that makes My Summoned Beast Is Dead one of the more captivating new titles I’ve read in the past several years. ~ Twwk
My Summoned Beast Is Dead is published by Yen Press.
Witch Watch, Manga Vol. 6
This is the best volume of Witch Watch so far for one simple reason: the zany cast of characters get to be themselves, expressing all their comedic glory, without a touch of the manga’s boring fantasy plot and soporific action scenes. Instead, we’re treated to a greatest-of-all-time kitchen disaster, Nico turning the boys into Minecraft characters, Moi going on endlessly about “training” your denim, and more! And in-between the laughs that the silly housemates are eliciting in readers is another favorite part of this volume—a chapter focused on Ureshino and Makuwa sensei continuing their odd relationship of teacher and student, artist and fan. It also features a chapter of Uron Mirage, the manga that Ureshino and Makuwa love. This volume is non-stop with the laughs and the warmth, too, reminding me of just how good Witch Watch can be. And that means that we’re probably due for a volume emphasizing the danger that Nico is in. I won’t be looking forward to that, but I’ll endure it until we get another volume as fun and humorous as this. ~ Twwk
Witch Watch is published by VIZ Media.
Megaman Mastermix – Asteroid Blues, Manga Vol. 2
Asteroid Blues is a proper subtitle for this second volume of Megaman Mastermix. Megaman and his friends fly off to space, where an asteroid contains eight energy crystals that the government wants hold of. Joining them is longtime nemesis Dr. Wily, who of course has his own plans and is granted parole if he works with the heroes. While traveling to retrieve the stones, battles ensue as Wily’s robots attack Megaman and the ship they are on, causing all kinds of chaos. The story felt rushed around the middle, with too many characters being introduced and plot holes left unexplained. I would have preferred that the entire manga be about this outer space mission, rather than splitting into a second adventure with a new enemy. Megaman has to fend off a huge round yellow robot with the help of Wily’s robots since it’s too powerful for him to tackle alone. It was nice to see this classic baddie from Megaman II on the NES, but it felt a little out of place. Unfortunately, as I have enjoyed both volumes, I don’t think there is a part three to this series. If you’re a Megaman fan, I would recommend this one over Gigamix (the original manga) since it’s larger and full-color. ~ Samuru
Megaman Mastermix Asteroid Blues is published by UDON Entertainment.
The Manga Guide to the Universe
Have you ever read a study guide and thought, “You know what this needs? More cute anime girls.” No? Well, you don’t know what you’re missing. The Manga Guide to the Universe blends serious study material about astronomy with a cute manga focused on a trio of girls developing a play about the topic. This clever device helps to keep students focused while studying the subject. There’s a good amount of humor in the manga portions, which are as you would expect—a story meant to keep you in study mode, rather than to engage you with a more creative tale that might take your mind off the topic. And that’s okay, as this is first and foremost a study guide. It should be helpful for anyone wanting to learn about astronomy (from the subject’s history right up through more technical, scientific fare) without needing to follow a specific framework (like AP students would) and who are, of course, anime fans. It was written in 2008, though, so be aware that some material may be outdated—not that I would know, so there’s that caveat, too, as I’m no expert on the topic. I do know a lot more now, though, after finishing this 230-page guide, and that’s a meaningful thing to say for someone who spends too little of his reading time these days on non-fiction. ~ Twwk
The Manga Guide to the Universe is published by No Starch Press.
The Skull Dragon’s Precious Daughter, Manga Vol. 1
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading super cozy and feel-good stories. Volume one of The Skull Dragon’s Precious Daughter once again reminded me how much I love those kinds of tales! A young girl named Eve has been tossed away as trash in a forest, where an aging dragon comes across her and adopts her as her own. Though their days are fun ones, thanks to Eve’s brightness and cheerfulness, tragedy strikes some months after their first meeting. Will this “father” and daughter be reunited, even if it requires powerful magical means? This is one of those new releases where I’m like, why is no one talking about this?! It is so good! In many ways, it reminds me of Rozi in the Labyrinth: it hooks you right from the start and then pulls on your heartstring until the very end because Eve and Snoozy are so precious! The humor they have in their relationship made me laugh out loud more than once, but also made me make sure to have a tissue nearby. It’s truly an absolute joy to read about how protective they are of one another and care for each other. The artwork was amazing! Lots of attention to detail, and I loved how at the end, the mangaka showed the initial character sketches. What a fun bonus to this very heartwarming and fun story of an unexpected friendship/relationship that leaves you feeling all the warm fuzzies! As Eve told Snoozy, I too still want them to spend plenty of time together, because this is going to be a favorite fantasy series for me. I can’t wait for volume two! ~ Laura A. Grace
My Dear, Curse-Casting Vampiress, Manga Vol. 1
There’s a rumor going around. The key to killing the vampires that haunt humanity, and who are so strong that specialized forces are regularly wiped out fighting them, is Baroque: a beautiful and powerful vampire who is on the side of humans. Having seen one too many of his colleagues die, and presented with evidence that Baroque is more than a legend, Isuzu Osaka decides to break her out. He discovers that, yes, she is indeed strong and willing to fight for humans. What he doesn’t expect is that she’s going to fall head over heels for him. Thus begins an action-romance tale in the vein of so many others involving vampires, both across the Pacific and here domestically. I will note that while My Dear, Curse-Casting Vampiress relies on manga vampire tropes, it doesn’t ride quite so heavily on them as other works do: the loli vampire isn’t quite so loli, the eroticism doesn’t go into full nudity, and the blood-sucking isn’t overtly sexual. So why include these elements at all, I wondered? Especially since there are other nice options to work with, including wonderful artwork and the titular power that Baroque has, which is a little complicated and unique to the genre (at least as far as I know). There’s no need to rely on the same old cliches, especially if the mangaka isn’t interested in going full-blown into that territory. Unfortunately, those tired elements, along with characters that aren’t particularly engaging, result in a volume that’s relatively devoid of life. Better to leave this one in the shadows. ~ Twwk
My Dear, Curse-Casting Vampiress is published by Yen Press.
Silver Spoon, Manga Vol. 10
It would be disingenuous if Komba, Hachiken’s friend who several volumes back in Silver Spoon had to drop out of school to help his suffering family, suddenly accepted an invitation back to try out his former classmates’ freshly made sausage or to attend festivals with the old crew. He’s become an adult and moved on. But somehow, a visit with Komba makes its way into volume ten and feels just right for a series that celebrates adolescence but also never shies away from the harsh realities of rural life. As Hachiken leads the students in preparing their pork products for market, he considers his future while thinking about Komba’s present and all the hardships his friend and his family are enduring. But despite the sometimes grim realities the series presents, Silver Spoon is also all about how healing and growth can come through kindness and openness; that theme again shines through in a volume that begins with Komba’s dismissive attitude and ends with him growing in his own way. In between are more precious stories of this group of high school kids in what is possibly manga’s greatest school. After all, did U.A. High ever teach Deku how to ride horses competitively? Did All Might encourage Bakugou to price his own homemade sausage for sale alongside other products made by the school’s students? Did Eraserhead put Todoroki to work making a specialized oven for cheese melting? Okay, maybe they were busy saving the world, but I think you get my point: Ooezo Agricultural is a wondrous place, as magical as Hogwarts and as warm as the high schools in our dreams that we never experienced. It’s lovely to read about how classmates and their teachers can love each and other be involved in transforming lives. And in reading about this school and its population, maybe we’ll learn something about the value of life—of our friends, family, animals, and ourselves as well. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon 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.
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