Reader’s Corner: Bloody Sweet, A Reincarnated Witch Spells Doom, and Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World

Bullying, betrayal, and bombing—devastating events personally and, in the case of the bombing in Hiroshima, nationally—form the backdrop of several of the volumes we’re reviewing this week. But not to fear, there’s lighthearted fare, too, and often within the very same works as the difficult topics. Read our reviews of these sometimes complicated works as we let you know what you should be checking out in the world of manga, art books, and light novels!

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World (Vol. 2)Barefoot Gen (Vol. 1)Bloody Sweet (Vol. 1)Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle (Vol. 4)Even if These Tears Disappear Tonight (sequel)Heavenly Delusion (Vol. 1)Rainbow Days (Vol. 4)A Reincarnated Witch Spells Doom (Vol. 1)Scribbles (Vol 1)Silver Spoon (Vol. 11)

Even if These Tears Disappear Tonight, Light Novel (sequel)

An unwanted confession, a fake relationship, and haunting memories of a tragic first love—Izumi Wataya’s second year at university is not going particularly well. She is determined to move on from the loss she experienced in high school, but can’t seem to figure out how to do it. Is the key in forgetting the past, replacing the one who is gone, or something else altogether? Even if These Tears Disappear Tonight is the thoughtful sequel to Misaki Ichijo’s award-winning debut novel that fills in untold layers to the story of anterograde amnesiac Maori, Tooru, the boyfriend she forgets every day, and her best friend Izumi, who holds their lives and happiness together, until it all falls apart. This sequel revisits the final stretch of the first novel’s timeline, filling in the many long gaps and shifting the focus onto supporting character Izumi, whose perspective we only had the barest of glimpses into the first time around. With the first novel, Ichijo proved her ability to craft a story that was far more than the sum of its twists. Those twists were fantastic, but there was a great deal more that made it such a compelling read. With the sequel, there is less scope for the unexpected as the twists take on a gentler, more emotional bent, and instead, Ichijo presses more fully into the other features that made the original work so engrossing. First among these is the delicate character development that drives the entire story, accompanied by the sensitive exploration of grief, loss, hope, and love. The prose is crisp and clean, with each of the three narrators—Izumi, her best friend Maori, and the wrong young man named Tooru—possessing a distinctive voice. There is a kind of layering that happens at times, as each narrator retells episodes from his or her perspective. The story of the first volume is retold as well, but in the telling, it becomes something new. This is very much a sequel for those already familiar with the characters and the plot, since much of what lends it such tenderness and meaning lies in the gaps between what is already known and what comes to the surface as Izumi learns to wear her heart on her sleeve. All in all, a lovely capstone to the story of these three sweet souls. ~claire

Even if These Tears Disappear Tonight is published by Yen Press.

READ: Even if This Love Disappears Tonight

Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle, Light Novel Vol. 4

Always better when it makes its inevitable turn for the serious, Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle rises to a new high in volume four precisely because the majority of the story centers on hurt and failure. The reason for Chitose’s resignation from baseball is finally explored in this volume, running parallel to a focus this time around on Haru and her overzealous leadership of the girls’ basketball team. As Haru tries to find strength when her self-confidence wanes, Chitose is forced to reckon with that which he hates most—being his authentic self in front of other people. I’ve really been up and down about this series, but I’m very happy about the developments in volume four as author Hiromu does a better job of developing Haru than he had the girls in the previous volumes. There’s also a whole lot less of the strange and off-putting “harem” talk that is espoused by Chitose and the ladies. As Chitose diverges from the “popular, talented guy with a harem” storyline and toward “typical youth romantic comedy,” it’s a more engaging and better read. Plus, this volume doubles as a sports light novel, too! The descriptions of baseball and basketball are pretty accurate and fairly believable while remaining exciting. So hurray! Go, team! Fighting! And keep getting better, Chitose—the start of this series has sometimes been rough, but you’ve hit your stride. Now keep going strong! ~Twwk

Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle is published by Yen Press.

READ: Chitose Is in the Ramune Bottle Reviews: Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3

Scribbles, Art Book Vol. 1

This first volume in what promises to be a stunning collection of sketchbooks from mangaka Kaoru Mori is an absolute gem. The drawings, which seem to be collected from a wide range of Mori’s work across many years, are anything but scribbles! Among them, readers can find everything from thumbnail-sized character turnarounds to inked portraits, reproductions of cluttered sketchbook pages to carefully wrought compositions with full backgrounds, and nudes to detailed costume studies, alongside a few choice pages of concept art for figures and roughs for doujins and manga. Although these works are drawn from all stages of development, every page sparkles in its own way. Complementing the drawings are written comments from Mori herself, explaining the backstory of the character, her thoughts when drawing, or the diverse sources of her inspiration, which include everything from period photographs and publications to the work of fellow artists to literature and theater, both musical and dramatic. This volume leans toward Mori’s maid-themed manga—her long-running Shirley and even more so, Emma. But there are a few snippets of A Bride’s Story and a wealth of other characters as well, never before seen in any of her published work. The illustrations are delightful, as each line resonates with Mori’s trademark clarity, brightness, and elegance. But the best surprise in this collection is the extent to which Mori’s personality shines through, particularly in the annotations. Mori reveals herself to be thoughtful, curious, fanciful, and best of all, rather cheeky! I quickly found myself looking first to her notes, and only afterward dwelling on the images. The physical publication itself is also worthy of praise. It is clear that Yen Press put considerable thought into the quality and color of the paper and the printing process in order to replicate the look and feel of a sketchbook of pencil drawings, with the hardcover binding guaranteeing that this volume will stand the test of time. Recommended for fans of Mori and/or students of character design, figure drawing, and sketching. Can’t wait for volume 2! ~claire

Scribbles is published by Yen Press.

Rainbow Days, Manga Vol. 4

Despite an odd chapter in this volume, Rainbow Days is continuing to develop into an excellent romantic comedy series. In fact, in volume four, the story is really picking up as love interests come into view for all four of the boys. Keiichi has been the one most lacking in the love department so far, but a couple of surprises come his way in this volume, including one that somewhat matches his sexual interests. Yeah, Keiichi has also been an unusual character due to his fetish, and a chapter focusing on it at first feels like both a wasted opportunity to develop the story and yet another cringy addition to his character, but under Minami Mizuno’s skilled hands, the story ultimately explores a more important dynamic than romance. I’m really becoming a fan of Mizuno’s work. She has organized her story very well, creating many opportunities for us to learn about and fall in love with the guys while keeping their romances (or potential ones) in view. She also writes the cutest author notes! What started as a run-of-the-mill if not charming romcom is evolving into a really strong one—no qualifiers attached. I recommend this series. ~Twwk

Rainbow Days is published by VIZ Media.

READ: Rainbow Days Reviews: Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3

Heavenly Delusion, Manga Vol. 1

It’s the near future, somewhere in Japan, as two young people—Kiruko, who is armed with a laser beam gun and is either 18 or 20, and Maru, a boy of 15 who can kill monsters—search for Heaven. Literally, not figuratively. Which is a theme. You see, Maru can only kill literal monsters, which have appeared since the apocalypse fifteen years earlier, and not the metaphorical kind that many humans have turned into after so many years of post-apocalyptic living. Let’s just say the ugly side of humanity is on display these days. And yet, so too is its more humane side, as the tale of Kiruko and Maru takes on strong buddy-comedy/road-trip vibes as the two jape about the urban wasteland. Seems there’s laughter after the apocalypse too. Now of course, if you’ve been watching the anime adaptation, streaming under the title Tengoku Daimakyo, then you’ll already know all this—and a whole lot more! So is it worth reading the manga? I’ll admit, I don’t usually go back to the source material for anime that I enjoy, but Heavenly Delusion is an exception, and I recommend you make one too, even if you’re not usually a manga reader. Experiencing this story all over again, but this time, informed by knowledge of what is to come, has been eye-opening! The details layered into these earliest chapters take on a whole new significance, shifting the meaning of little moments and entire conversations. This is a real testament to mangaka Masakazu Ishiguro’s masterful storytelling and attentive planning, bringing to mind early M. Night Shyamalan films that had a knack for reframing a story midway through. What’s more, Ishiguro uses a great deal of visual storytelling, keeping dialogue to a minimum for pages at a time and making for an immersive reading experience that draws the reader’s attention to backgrounds and composition in a way that can sometimes be missed in the movement of animation. In short, for fans of the anime, this is one worth reading in the original! And for manga readers, if you like rich characters, attention to detail, and adventure in a post-apocalyptic setting that engages with the difficult questions of life and survival while yet retaining an element of lighthearted fun, then this one’s for you! ~claire

Heavenly Delusion is published by DENPA.

Bloody Sweet, Manhwa Vol. 1

What happens when a shaman’s daughter, a Western vampire, a young monk, and a pastor’s son all come together? You get the manhwa Bloody Sweet! This story is just as amazing, heartfelt, and crushing as the first time I read it digitally last year (and even staying up past 1 AM to see how the ending would unfold)! This series centers around a Korean young woman who is the daughter of a shaman and has been severely bullied as a result. She feels that each day is like a living hell and is extremely miserable. That is until she meets a vampire named Fetechou! Through a crazy series of events, Naerim becomes his master, and while she thinks he only needs her for her blood, she slowly realizes that she might just need him too. Naerim’s beginning story is so hard to read because the bullying in this story is the strongest and most angering I have ever read. The heartache, as well as the physical and verbal pain, is devastating—and it could be very triggering for some. However, it makes you all the more thankful for Fetechou in her life! I’m so grateful for how he is genuinely there for Naerim and cares for her! The way he tries to make her smile and how cute he is really lightens the heavier topics that are largely woven throughout this story. I also really enjoy the blending of cultures and seeing the friendships formed. Even if they all may have different beliefs, they are still coming together as friends and working together. I’m eagerly anticipating the next volume because I know good things are in store for Naerim and can’t wait to see them unfold! ~Laura A. Grace

Bloody Sweet is published by Yen Press.

A Reincarnated Witch Spells Doom, Manga Vol. 1

Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to be whisked off to the capital city by a handsome prince who is also handy in the kitchen? Sena Shirai, the protagonist in the latest reincarnation isekai featuring a female lead, that’s who! After making it to her eighteenth birthday for the second time around, pro shut-in Sena is quite happy living the cottage core dream alone in the middle of the woods, thank you very much. Technically, she’s a witch, but her spells, “explode” and “perish,” are useless for everyday tasks, which means she must rely on a regular supply of magical tools from a peddler to maintain her cozy life. Which is how the Prince ends up invading her personal space (and her kitchen) and taking charge of her life, rather like…her mom? But who doesn’t appreciate a little pampering at times, right? Especially when it involves cookies. But wait, what’s that in the sky? Is that…a dragon?! This inaugural volume gets off to a leisurely start that risks dwelling a little overmuch on Sena’s hikikomori tendencies. Still, it’s a pleasant read with nice art and layouts, even if it is a little thin on action. That is, until the final quarter, when things take a sudden turn for the unexpected and the action ramps up to eleven! What seems initially to be a drowsy romance with a tinge of mystery (why is there nothing written about Sena’s type of magic amid the tomes of the palace library?) breaks out a layer of fresh intrigue right at the last minute that is enough to have me anticipating the next installment. Nicely done, mangaka! ~ claire

A Reincarnated Witch Spells Doom is published by Yen Press.

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World, Manga Vol. 2

As “The Survivors” learn about what it means to be a party, they wander into a goblin village filled with far more and more evolved fiends than they anticipated. And so volume two of Disillusioned Adventurers (the anime version goes by its Japanese title, Ningen Fushin) sets the stage for greater conflict in this fantasy world even while it continues to introduce its characters in a smaller, more personal way. Indeed, there’s some lovely character development in this volume as Nick continues to work through his depression while learning to become a leader and Karan faces her PTSD. Between the beautiful setting (the best artwork in this volume is in the detailed villages that serve as background in some of the panels), engaging characters, and a patiently developing story centering on the party members learning to trust one another, there’s plenty to like about volume two. Note that this book is sold shrink-wrapped and features an explicit content warning, but for this volume at least, the worst it gets is fanservice in the form of very tight clothing—nothing, I hope, that will keep readers away from a nicely developing tale. ~ Twwk

Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World is published by Yen Press.

READ: Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World Vol. 1 Review

Barefoot Gen, Manga Vol. 1

Will the modern manga reader be able to make it through volume one of Barefoot Gen, with its 50-year-old conventions and a style that matches American comic strips of the past far more than today’s manga does? I hope so because if they do, readers will be rewarded with one of manga’s most meaningful reads. Based on Keiji Nakazawa’s experiences as a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Barefoot Gen features archetypes suited to 1972, when this series first started being serialized: the rascally boys, including Gen (who is based on the author) and his younger brother; the more responsible older sister; the dedicated mother; and the authoritarian but loving father. And indeed, it’s the dad that Nakazawa primarily uses to express a vital message in volume one: the emperor and government did not enter into WWII for the good of the Japanese people, but used them up and took their lives away, all while brainwashing the very people being hurt into perpetuating the cycle of bullying and domination. Gen’s father frequently speaks out against this and is branded a traitor for doing so. His actions impact his family greatly, even leading them near the brink of starvation. And yet, this critical tone is countered by the joy and love within Gen’s family, which sharply contrasts with the knowledge we as readers have that with every page we turn, we’re one step closer to the dropping of the bomb. An emotional, powerful, and quite possibly life-changing journey (this series remains in circulation in large part as a remembrance of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki), volume one of Barefoot Gen is a classic that holds up today, a powerful reminder of the cost of war and victims it leaves behind. ~ Twwk

Barefoot Gen is published by Last Gasp.

Silver Spoon, Manga Vol. 11

Manga characters have to grow up and move on, too. And in volume 11 of Silver Spoon, that’s precisely what happens, creating a pretty solemn tone for a series that’s typically so energetic. The school year is ending and not only are the students leaving their first-year dorms, but most are moving off-campus. Hachiken must decide where he’ll be living for the next school year while also trying to convince his father to support his plans for the future. The volume ends with a discussion about the titular silver spoon and what it means in relation to Ezo Ag, once again pressing the themes of how we can gently push one another forward in life and how there is hope for the future, even if things seem gloomy at the moment. Silver Spoon is a meaningful manga because of this message that’s so important for adolescents and one they need to hear when the journey is dark and confusing. It doesn’t hurt, either, to listen to the same when you’re older. Life becomes more complicated, but as Silver Spoon points out—you can find always your way. ~ Twwk

Silver Spoon is published by Yen Press.

READ: Silver Spoon Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3// Vol. 4 // Vol. 5 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7 // Vol. 8 // Vol. 9 // Vol. 10

“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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