While we’d love for every we manga we pick up to be fantastic, and every volume of the manga we’re enjoying to be as good as the last, it doesn’t always work out that way. And while many of volumes we review this week are every bit as good as previous ones in those series (none of our reviews are for new manga or light novels), a few dip in quality—one pretty dramatically. Check out which volumes lived up to our expetations and which did not!
Ayashimon (Vol. 3) • Coffee Moon (Vol. 3) • A Condition Called Love (Vol. 4) • The Eminence in Shadow (Vol. 7) • Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten (Vol. 3) • Horimiya Memorial Book Page. 100 • Kowloon Generic Romance (Vol. 4) • My Gently Raised Beast (Vol. 3) • My Girlfriend’s Child (Vol. 2) • What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? (Vol. 2)
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?, Manhwa Vol. 2
I continue to be so thankful that Yen Press is printing this series physically, because with this second volume, we’re getting into the part of the story that I absolutely loved, which is the mystery surrounding Miss Kim’s past! Youngjun reveals he is determined that no matter how long it takes, he will sweep his secretary off her feet at some point! But as he is acting out his plan to do so, Kim begins to have dreams and memories of her past that are leaving her with a strong desire to find answers. Is there a connection between the past and the man she works for now? This was another fantastic volume! I really love the date our leads went on and all the “sweeping” Youngjun is doing because, as this volume shows, it is indeed working! Ha! I also really enjoyed the Sports Day event and how Youngjun is starting to realize he may not just be sweeping because he is also falling for Miss Kim’s charms. One thing I forgot is how much I didn’t like Youngjun’s brother the first time I read this series digitally, and while I don’t think I feel quite as strongly a dislike for him, I’m really not fond of his character either. There is just…something. I don’t know what it is, but he doesn’t put me at ease the same way Youngjun does (and that’s even with his narcissistic ways—HA!). I think this time around I am trying to be more open to him because, with the little bit shown of these men’s pasts, neither of them had it easy growing up and are still dealing with past trauma. This volume might not be quite as funny as the first, but it is no less a wonderful read! ~ Laura A. Grace
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? is published by Yen Press.
Read: What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Reviews Vol. 1
Ayashimon, Manga Vol. 3 (Final)
Volume three concludes the very short run for Ayashimon, and as expected, it doesn’t end in a satisfying way, leaving the tale incomplete. I’ll get to that in a moment, but first I want to focus on other tails…tanuki tails that is, as Mauro and company seek to gain another ally in these chapters by going to a hotel operated by tanuki and kitsune in order to negotiate (though negotiations were short). The most inventive fight in the story so far is unfortunately the last for a series that, while still trying to find its way, has been entertaining enough that the cancelation comes as a surprise to me. What’s no surprise, though, is that volume three languishes a bit in what I assume were decisions made first to try to boost the series’ popularity and then in light of its impending cancelation. For instance, the series seems to jump over one character’s arc and into a more exciting development—said tanuki fight—which is itself also a little rushed. The series does not end with a proper conclusion, and for that, I’m actually glad. I’d rather leave this series and its really fun protagonist, Maruo, without a too-quick-and-clean ending; instead, we’re left with the promise of him delivering on his potential but without actually seeing it through. That’s a-ok with me. All in all, it’s a shame that Ayashimon is done, but I hope we’ll see more from Yuji Kaku very soon. ~ Twwk
Ayashimon is published by VIZ Media.
My Gently Raised Beast, Manhwa Vol. 3
Romance is in the air as Blondina and Amon begin to realize the nature and extent of their feelings for one another. Before wedding bells can resound in the castle, though, there are some misunderstandings to confront. The question is, how long will it take these two to surmount the paper-thin barriers keeping them apart? One of these is Philip Rodson, who returns from studying abroad sporting a heart full of affection for the illegitimate princess—or is it rather an ego hugely inflated by his savior complex toward her? Then there’s Lucy, whom Blondina thinks likes Amon, even after she straight up says she’d marry Lart over Amon any day of the week. And of course, Adellai is conniving away in a darkened corner, cackling with glee, while the Emperor slyly positions his three children, Blondina, Lart, and Adellai, at cross purposes. Probably the biggest stumbling block to romance, though, is the fact that Amon seems to prefer staying in cat form around Blondina. But wait, er, him being an animal doesn’t seem to be affecting the fires of desire from fanning into flame after all? Huh? I have to admit this is the point where this volume lost me. Seeing Blondina moon over a cat and its sleek coat and strong jawline is a bit…discomfiting. Added to that, Amon is becoming a real jerk, behaving in a disturbingly possessive manner over the princess, and she’s just lapping it up. I didn’t expect this from a heroine who previously showed herself to have a strong sense of self and an ability to establish and defend her own boundaries. I’m also not seeing any character growth from the leads; they’re completely static, even through this arc that should be emotionally riveting as their love blossoms. Blondina is eternally placid and incurious; Amon is arrogant and moody. Their characterization has plateaued, remaining flat and listless. Any conflict in this volume comes from so far outside the leads’ sphere that they’re insulated from any kind of situation that could force them into some form of development. The art remains beautiful, the adaptation from webtoon to printed manhwa expertly done, but the colors on the page are so much more vibrant than the story at this point that I’m politely bowing out. It’s been fun, but I’m done. ~ claire
My Gently Raised Beast is published by IZE Press, an imprint of Yen Press.
The Eminence in Shadow, Manga Vol. 7
Finally! For a series entitled The Eminence in Shadow, it’s taken far too long for the story to roam into the most shadowy realm of all, that of vampires. But in volume seven, Cid and Shadow Garden begin an assault on vampire territory as the setting shifts from the school setting and the Bushin Festival to a lawless territory where ancient vampires may be rising once again, with Claire (Cid’s sister) taking center stage and, of course, dragging her brother along with her. It’s every bit as bloody and fun as it sounds, delivered with the panache expected of this hilarious and highly entertaining series. To tell the truth, the Bushin Festival arc was a bit of a letdown, a little too laborious for this quick-hitting series. The beginnings of this vampire arc feel like a return to form as if the manga is remembering that the story doesn’t really matter; instead, The Eminence in Shadow is all about playing with isekai tropes and having fun. When that’s occurring, this is a great manga. Here’s hoping that the manga keeps trending upward as this new arc continues to build. ~ Twwk
The Eminence in Shadow is published by Yen Press.
Kowloon Generic Romance, Manga Vol. 4
The Walled City of Kowloon is a perfect setting for this ambitious but often funny sci-fi series. Razed in the mid-90’s in real life, this alternate future imagines not only that the unusual town has been reconstructed, but that this Hong Kong suburb is a place of perhaps both magic and science gone awry. The last volume dropped a few bombs related to the cryptic plot, but volume four proves that there’s still plenty of mystery remaining, with questions such as who really is this second Kujiria? What happened to the original woman? If she and the others are not clones, then what then are they? And what, precisely, is this Kowloon? Volume four also continues to blend in romance and humor—the latter provided surprisingly often by a character that appeared fully villainous in volume three—as well as nostalgic feelings and a noir tone that mangaka Jun Mayazuki means to permeate through the whole series. The results of all this is a series that continues to intrigue; I know that I, for one, am fully drawn into the mysteries of Kujiria, Kudou, and Kowloon, where past, present, and future meet. ~ Twwk
Kowloon Generic Romance is published by Yen Press.
A Condition Called Love, Manga Vol. 4
Excuse me while I squeal because the opening of this volume confirms what happened at the end of volume three: Hotaru and Hananoi are officially a real couple! They even go on their first date! Cue more squealing! Our couple continues to grow closer, and Hotaru still questions if she truly is cut out for romance, while Hananoi’s pain from past heartaches (romantic or otherwise) overshadows his growing happiness with Hotaru. Before I share further, please forgive me for yelling this, but I just have to say this first…I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! Hananoi is not the red flag he appeared to be in the first volume! While I won’t deny that some of his past actions brought on some nervous laughter, my heart has ached more and more for his character with each volume I’ve read. And with this volume specifically, we finally get some of his backstory and my heart ached for him even more! Don’t get me wrong! I love Hotaru’s journey of discovering love, but I am hugely invested in Hananoi’s story because I want this young man to find healing and wholeness. Obviously, that healing and wholeness seem to be in the form of our heroine! Ha! I had to sort of laugh when she told him, “Thank you for all the happiness you’ve brought me,” because if she could only fully realize how much happiness she has brought to him. There has definitely been a subtle shift in his overall demeanor, and I’m excited to see more of that! There are times when I want to let these volumes pile up and binge read them all at once, but when they come in the mail, I just want to start reading. Ha! This volume definitely reminded me why it is just too good to wait and let it pile up! ~ Laura A. Grace
A Condition Called Love is published by Kodansha.
Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten, Manga Vol. 3
When I was reading the latest volume of Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten, I asked myself: Am I reading for Sabu or Jin? I really struggled to answer that. Ha! The pet shenanigans continue as Sabu warms up even more to Jin and realizes that he is a good guy—he just happens to have a not-so-friendly face to match. Ha! As Sabu gets into a routine of being a “worker” at the pet cafe, he meets all kinds of customers that make him feel scared sometimes, but who also help him have the time of his life! I really love Jin in this volume and was totally delighted he had so much page time where he’s not in the background but was sort of like the “main character” in that chapter. His face and smile honestly get me every single time, and I can’t help but be happy! Ha! Sabu is cute as always, and I actually had to laugh when he discovers the mirror and sees just how cute he is! Ha! Lots and lots of continued fun shenanigans, and I think my personal favorites were seeing a young girl named Akane admire Jin, the “treat thief,” and Sabu internally cheering on Jin to speak his mind. Another fun and fluffy volume that may not have a lot of “substance” to the plot, but it sure makes me laugh and smile every time I read it! Can’t wait for the next volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
Ex-Yakuza and Stray Kitten is published by Seven Seas.
My Girlfriend’s Child, Manga Vol. 2
I have been waiting weeks for this new volume to arrive, and it was very much worth the wait! Sachi goes to the clinic on her own and confirms that she is pregnant. While she originally checked off on the paperwork that she wanted to have an abortion, once she hears the baby’s heartbeat, she begins to wonder if that is the right option. As she and Takara talk about what to do, she realizes how many options they have, but they have three weeks to decide if they will have an abortion or not. Sachi’s fears and struggles continue to be extremely real and tangible. I think they were in the previous volume as well, but there is something more in this one. I think because while her fear leaps off the page, her confusion does even more so. What is the right choice? Should someone make the choice for her? What if she is wanting to make a certain choice, but receives no support? While these questions are on a constant loop, it’s not in a repetitive way that leaves you annoyed, but more of wanting to stand beside her and comfort her by simply being there. Takara is an amazing young man! Seeing how much research he has done really left me internally cheering for how wonderful a partner he is to Sachi. I really admire how he wants to consider all options and is fully supporting Sachi when it comes to the options available. As her partner, he never once forced her to choose anything. I am deeply thankful he is there and for how hard he is trying to be extremely supportive of her choice. Another fantastic and extremely well-done volume! Very eager for volume three! ~ Laura A. Grace
My Girlfriend’s Child is published by Seven Seas.
Read: My Girlfriend’s Child Reviews Vol. 1
Coffee Moon, Manga Vol. 3
If there has been one thing proven true with Coffee Moon, it is that every volume is extremely quirky, unique, and at times confusing. However, with this latest volume, I felt a confusion that went beyond “I can overlook this temporarily and keep reading.” Pieta has finally found joy in living out tomorrow as a brand new day and not a repeat of yesterday’s tomorrow! Her joy is short-lived, though, as a new girl arrives on the scene, and she is none-to-happy that Pieta has triumphed over “her dilemma.” This “witch” wants her joy for herself and will do anything to get it. While I have really enjoyed this series thus far, the confusion in this volume was overwhelming. The action is always intense and pulls you in, which I always enjoy, but once the action lessened after the opening chapter, I felt lost as to what exactly was going on. I understood why the new character wanted to steal Pieta’s joy because her joy truly is so transparent and beautiful. I was so very happy for Pieta, and if there was anything I super enjoyed about this volume, it was the freedom she now has. She is able to genuinely bond with her mom and have meaningful conversations with her, which is something Pieta hasn’t had with her mom in a very long time. Past these things though, I can’t really explain what took place in the following chapters or who majority of the characters even were. If the story could focus back on Pieta and this newfound determination she has in wanting each of her friends to be free just as she is, then I would gladly continue. But with how deeply confusing this volume is, Pieta’s newfound freedom is unfortunately not enough for me to continue reading this series to find out if she will be successful in her new mission. ~ Laura A. Grace
Coffee Moon is published by Yen Press.
Horimiya Memorial Book Page. 100, Artbook
This collection of illustrations and storyboards, originally released in Japan to celebrate the 100th chapter of Horimiya, is a necessary collector’s item for fans of the romance series. Divided into four “chapters,” the work is mostly a compilation of drawings that Daisuke Hagiwara tweeted out upon the original announcements of each chapter. These illustrations are so much fun to browse through, though I particularly like chapter three of the collection, which drops drawings Hagiware tweeted for holidays (including fun ones like “Cat Day”) and character birthdays. They’re so vivid and lively! Storyboards by HEERO are also included and come with a side-by-side comparison of the final manga page of the outlined scenes. When combined with the opening letters by both artists, this addition helps to give credit to both men who were integral in bringing Horimiya to life. A new short manga chapter is also a nice addition to the work, which is additionally printed in a lovely manner that resembles Japanese printings of some art books and light novels with its high-gloss cover. Although the vast majority of the material is not original, it’s fantastic to be able to see it all printed in one collection. What a beautiful artbook to own for all the Horimiya fans out there! ~ Twwk
Horimiya Memorial Book Page. 100 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.