Horror? We got it! Sports manga? We got it! Isekai? Oh yeah, we got that, too. This week’s Reader’s Corner has something for everyone, but are these volumes worth reading? Dive in below to find out!
The Boxer (Vol. 3) • The Devil is a Part-Timer! Official Comic Anthology • Heart Gear (Vol. 1) • Honey Lemon Soda (Vol. 3) • I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top (Vol. 3) • Kingdom Hearts III (Vol. 2) • My Special One (Vol. 3) • Saint? No! I’m Just a Passing Beast Tamer! (Vol. 1) • Secrets of the Silent Witch (Vol. 4) • Soichi • The Way of the Househusband (Vol. 10)
Honey Lemon Soda, Manga Vol. 3
I have loved reading Honey Lemon Soda, but if there is one thing that made me super upset at the end of volume two, it was Kai’s actions! He instantly went into the “doghouse” for me, but after reading volume three, he is in the doghouse no more! Kai’s ex-girlfriend, Serina, has been on the scene a lot more often, making Uka think about how different she is from them (and how happy they look together). The more she compares, the more she loses her confidence, but she decides to continue giving her all and even to volunteer as a planning committee representative for the school’s culture festival! One of my favorite things about this series is how Uka is continually pushing herself out of her comfort zone. With just a few words from Kai (who thankfully expressed the concern I was looking for at the end of the previous volume), he knowingly and unknowingly pushes her to give her all—and that was on full display in this volume. Even with her internally thinking that she and Kai are from two different worlds and in two different worlds, she has this wonderful moment with new friends stating how her world is still bright. Cue happy crying for this introverted young woman who is trying so hard and seems to always miss the mark with her classmates but is still optimistic and hopeful. While this series has not been fast-paced, it has been extremely satisfying and rewarding to see Uka grow and “go with the flow.” I have very much appreciated that we’re able to see all the small and big progressions of her fulfilling her dream as a high schooler who is having fun. I am excited to see the cultural festival unfold in the next volume! ~ Laura A. Grace
Honey Lemon Soda is published by Yen Press.
Heart Gear, Manga Vol. 1
It’s a little too early to tell, but volume one of Heart Gear—featuring cool action scenes, thoughtful philosophical questions, and tender relationships—could be the next great robotics series. It begins 200 years after WWIII, in which humans, aided and then surpassed by AI called “gears,” destroyed civilization and themselves. Many gears remain, however, though in various states of disrepair (some having gone insane). Humans are virtually extinct, which makes the young girl Roue a rarity on Earth. She’s guided and cared for by her “Uncle” Zett; for the most part, it’s just the two of them until they discover an unusual gear named Chrome who lacks the base programming to give himself a “life” purpose. When the trio is attacked by a crazed battle gear, everyday life for all three beings is changed forever, and a new journey begins. The first steps of that sojourn cover the last third of the volume, which is compelling but also very typical of the genre, resembling many robot/AI manga that have gone before it, including Battle Angel Alita. And that’s my biggest reservation: Will this series do anything of particular note to set it apart from others? I certainly have hope in the mangaka, who seems to know what he’s doing: the art is wonderful and the first third of the volume is absolutely perfect—wondrous and emotional. Another reservation, though, has to do with how Roue is depicted somewhat scantily in one panel (she’s only ten years old). She’s not presented in a provocative manner otherwise, so here’s hoping that was just a poor decision and not a continual element in the series. Time will tell both for that issue and the manga’s creativity. Here’s hoping that Heart Gear delivers on its promise. ~ Twwk
Heart Gear is published by VIZ.
Secrets of the Silent Witch, Light Novel Vol. 4
Secrets of the Silent Witch is virtually everything I could ask for out of a light novel, a near-perfect blend of mystery, romance, charm, humor, and adventure. Volume four excels in all these aspects as the series turns toward the school festival—a perfect opportunity both for Monica to continue her growth as a person and for villains to assassinate the prince, testing her skills as a bodyguard on her secret mission. But are these assassins really trying to kill the second prince after all? That’s the driving question as the series further opens up the mysteries of what the prince is trying to accomplish and how others are attempting to use him. Meanwhile, maybe the best bits of the volume are Monica’s interactions with the other two characters with whom she shares the cover—Felix and Cyril. This is the stuff of the best anime-style romances, with subtle nods toward crushes and hints of jealousy. It’s all very squee-worthy. There are also a couple of new characters—one providing some comic relief and the other an unexpected moment of warmth—that are nice additions to the evolving plot. Many of these elements remind me of a certain western series that is much-copied in anime and manga but typically unsuccessfully or only superficially: Harry Potter. Secrets of the Silent Witch emulates the early books in the series where Harry makes friends, solves mysteries, and falls into dangerous adventure, all with undeniable warmth and charm. I felt I was reading one of those books as I made my way through volume four of Secrets of the SIlent Witch, though with its older students, we also get those touches of romance I mentioned earlier. Harry Potter but with romance? I’m not sure I can give it much higher praise than calling it that. ~ Twwk
Secrets of the Silent Witch is published by Yen Press.
The Boxer, Manhwa Vol. 3
I don’t even know what to say about the latest volume of The Boxer. I went from experiencing some of the strongest secondhand embarrassment ever to feeling extremely creeped out (to the point that I really didn’t know if I could keep reading). With Qasim’s prideful declaration that he will defeat Yu, the two are finally entering the boxing ring to see if his words will prove true and who will face the reigning lightweight champion, Jean Pierre Manuel. As Yu prepares for the upcoming match, behind the scenes Jean is carefully watching all of Yu’s moves in hidden anticipation. If anything has been true of this series thus far, it is that The Boxer does not follow any of the “traditional” beats in sports manga. This is shown very clearly in the match between Qasim and Yu—the final results were deeply unexpected, and I feel I am still wrestling with my feelings about how everything unfolded. I did, however, appreciate seeing more of Jean in this volume! Granted, I feel it might have been short-lived because of how uncomfortable his actions made me feel. There is much more to his character than what the tabloids see or know about. He is a man desperate to become perfection itself, with no cost being too high in achieving that goal. While this was another volume I enjoyed, I confess I do feel a little hesitant to continue this series. With how dark this volume was, I worry it will only continue to get darker. I knew starting this series that it was very much a gritty sports story, but it definitely has only gotten more so. I would still recommend this series if you want to see very diverse boxers and a grittiness that does not match the upbeatness of the majority of sports manga! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Boxer is published by IZE PRESS, an imprint of Yen Press.
Saint? No! I’m Just a Passing Beast Tamer!, Manga Vol. 1
“I will not allow any further violence toward the fluff.” This line perfectly describes the female lead’s main motivation in Saint? No! I’m Just a Passing Beast Tamer!! Having been very sick in her past life, she is offered a chance to fulfill any regret before being reincarnated into a new world. Having wished to “pet the fluff,” she grows up in this new world with magical abilities that put her on part with a saint, the most powerful role. Yet when the time comes to choose her lifetime occupation, she shocks everyone by choosing the role of a beast tamer! Oh my goodness, this story was so much fun to read! I truly had a blast being with Kanata and following her adventures to “pet the fluff”! There were so many things I loved about this first volume, with probably the biggest being how supportive her family is in her new life. Despite the fact that being a beast tamer is frowned upon in this society, her parents know how much Kanata has always wanted to pet an animal; but they seem to all hate her, so she never has. Her father suggested becoming a beast tamer to help her form friendships with animals. Since then, it has been her dream, and it is very rewarding seeing that dream unfold. I also loved the interactions between Zaggy “the cat” and Kanata! She is just so excited to be able to pet the fluff, and he’s just so confused by her actions but is like, “If this is part of training to help her get stronger, I’ll do it!” Bahaha! Outside of two non-graphic nude scenes, I found myself deeply loving this entire story! From the hilarious expressions, to Kanata’s way above-average powers, to Zaggy’s fluffiness, it was all just so much fun! ~ Laura A. Grace
Saint? No! I’m Just a Passing Beast Tamer! is published by Yen Press.
The Devil is a Part-Timer! Official Comic Anthology, Manga
What I expected: mediocre AU chapters by famous manga artists who are admirers of Satoshi Wagahara’s work. What I got: chapters made by lesser-known mangaka that are rather well-done and really cool additions to the Maou-sama universe. This “Official Comic Anthology,” originally developed in celebration of the series receiving its long-awaited second season, features eight slice-of-life style chapters from eight mangaka—and it is eight for eight in quality, with every single chapter being cute, funny, and heartwarming. The main six characters (seven counting Alas Ramus) in the cast get about equal time in the chapters, though Suzuno receives the spotlight a tad bit more than the rest, which is just fine by me. Although this surely isn’t canon, I wish it were; these chapters make some of the characters a little more lovable, especially Lucifer through the chapter in which he babysits Alas Ramus. CUTE. This is a lovely addition to the franchise, so much so that I wonder, would the new season have been better received if these had been animated as OVA additions? I kind of think that the answer is yes. ~ Twwk
The Devil is a Part-Timer! Official Comic Anthology is published by Yen Press.
I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top, Manga Vol. 3
A story this standard doesn’t have the right to be this much fun. I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button progresses to the first real bad guy in the series (or should I say returns to the first bad guy) as our swordsman trio serves their punishment out as witchblades, or adventurers taking quests. What makes this series so much fun is that it’s packed full of the tropes we enjoy in shounen and fantasy series (volume three alone has the weakling becoming strong enough to defeat the bullies, the rise of Class 1B, the protagonist trying to tame the power within, and more) and done so with a funny, fast, and light touch. Don’t expect anything deep here; this series is strictly fanservice in both how it engages our love of the medium by feeding us said tropes one after another and in what’s become the usual definition of the word. The latter bit is maybe what’s most disappointing, as Lia and Rose, supposedly formidable warriors, are reduced to scantily clad heroines in distress. Here’s hoping that weakness gets attended to and that this series continues to absolutely kill it with its terrific mix of adventure and laughs. ~ Twwk
I Kept Pressing the 100-Million-Year Button and Came Out on Top is published by Yen Press.
Kingdom Hearts III, Manga Vol. 2
Fans of the Kingdom Hearts series know that the story is quite a complex one. In this third installment, we get more answers to questions from previous games, like what happened to Ventus, Aqua, and Terra from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. They were keyblade wielders that fought before Sora and his friends started their adventures but went missing after a battle against Xehanort, who is the main antagonist of the series. The manga is more lighthearted and moves quickly through the story at a pace that I liked, compared to the game where it can take much longer to get to the next point in the story. The panels are nicely drawn and highlight the realm of darkness where most of the manga’s setting is. If you haven’t played Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- (the longest game title I know of), which this volume is based on, it follows Aqua, one of the aforementioned keyblade masters, trying to find a way out of the realm of darkness that she ended up in after losing to Xehanort. Her internal struggles with giving into the darkness and searching for any ray of hope were encouraging to read. King Mickey is another main character in this volume, as he goes to help Aqua, but I won’t ruin more of the plot. I am enjoying this series, and I hope to pick up volume three, as well as the other manga from the prior games. The artwork is drawn well, and it’s nice to revisit this franchise again as I am a huge fan. ~ Samuru
Kingdom Hearts III is published by Yen Press.
Read: Kingdom Hearts III Vol. 1 Review
Soichi, One-Shot Manga
Soichi is back with his own story collection! We’ve been introduced to Soichi before in one of Junji Ito’s other short story collections, Smashed. Soichi is a creepy boy who loves eating shaved ice and playing pranks on anyone that rubs him the wrong way. He also has questionable taste in hobbies like dark magic, voodoo dolls, and spitting iron nails at people. There are ten stories in total and there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t care for! This collection kept me guessing as to what was going to happen because, as it turns out, Soichi is a very unpredictable character. I thought I knew what was going to happen next but then something crazy happens to blindside you into a direction you weren’t prepared for! That’s the genius of Junji Ito for you. I found the chapter entitled “Teacher of Cloth” quite comical for several reasons. I’m not sure if that was Master Ito’s intention, but a few unexpected events made me giggle. I would highly recommend this beautiful hardcover edition for both long-time fans and those who are new to his works. These sinister stories were not very graphic or gruesome, so I think it would be a great entry-level for beginners in this genre. I wonder if Junji Ito has any more Soichi tales to tell. Will we ever see the likes of this prankster again? ~ Marg
Soichi is published by VIZ.
My Special One, Manga Vol. 3
At the end of volume two, I felt very on the fence about continuing My Special One. Would there be the same lighthearted fun as in volume one? Or would there be more heartbreak and tears as in volume two? On the opening pages of volume three, to Sahoko’s surprise, Kouta has asked her if she will go out with him! But wait! Does he mean go out like go out as friends or as a couple?! She quickly realizes what he means and is now dating her bias! This volume definitely brought back a lot of the cute elements I super enjoyed about volume one, which I am thankful for as that is why I picked up this series. The biggest difference now is that our main leads are dating! Squeals! I found them fumbling around and doubting if the other wanted to do X thing or thought they were pretty or handsome enough to be quite endearing. Despite Kouta being an idol and having played romantic roles in movies, he’s not an expert at relationships. He has his own worries and fears, but I will give him major credit because he really knows how to make a girl’s heart skip a beat! One thing I loved about this volume is that while Sahoko wore contacts occasionally, she did not completely lose her glasses to make herself more attractive! I don’t wear glasses but I really hate the trope that in order for a girl to become beautiful, she needs to get rid of the glasses ASAP. Um, no. So I really appreciated seeing how Sahoko still regularly wore her glasses while making her outfits cuter and wearing makeup to “level up” her looks. Overall, I significantly enjoyed this volume a lot more than the previous one! Lots of cute humor and sweet moments that make me want to keep reading! ~ Laura A. Grace
My Special One is published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ Media.
The Way of the Househusband, Manga Vol. 10
What keeps The Way of the Househusband feeling fresh despite expressing the same humor chapter after chapter is that each joke drills down several layers. The first level of a chapter’s featured gag, in which Tatsu speaks like a gangster when really talking about homemaking duties, is always good for cracking a smile. As the joke progresses to more unexpected territory, though—like the boss’s granddaughter insisting on “kids’ food” but commenting on Tatsu’s cooking like she’s a culinary expert, or Tatsu looking down on others because he’s quit smoking for one week only to be one-upped once and then again—the smiles become full eruptions of laughter. This is really well-constructed stuff. Much like Tatsu himself, The Way of the Househusband is more than it seems, a gag series that is as clever as it is funny. And it’s because of its intelligence that the series so consistently makes us laugh. Ten volumes in and it’s still going strong—and I feel like it could go for a dozen more. ~ Twwk
The Way of the Househusband is published by VIZ.
“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.