New series we’re covering this week include a historical and science fiction retelling of “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” from the mangaka behind Spy x Family and the story of a supervillain who loves pandas! We also have reviews of ongoing or completed series, including the latest releases of Villains Are Destined to Die and Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible. Dive in and read our thoughts on these exciting releases!
Blade of the Moon Princess (Vol. 1) • Boys Run the Riot (Vol. 2) • Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (Vol. 9) • Like a Butterfly (Vol. 2) • Mr. Villain’s Day Off (Vol. 1) • Silver Spoon (Vol. 13) • Villains Are Destined to Die (Vol. 4)
Mr. Villain’s Day Off, Manga Vol. 1
Oh my goodness, I never imagined there could be another manga to “compete” with my love for Play It Cool, Guys, but this series is it! This was so so so cute! (Cue lots and lots of squealing! Eeeeeepppp!) I’m not even sure where to start, but this first volume hit all the expectations I had before starting, and I was so very happy while reading it! Seeing an “evil” leader in a league of people wanting to destroy humanity doesn’t sound all that funny—that is, until you learn that “Mr. Villain” spends his days off on Earth visiting the panda bears at the zoo! He aims to do absolutely nothing on those days except eat the “Earthlings’” food he enjoys, watch panda videos (or go see them in person), and at all costs avoid his coworkers. Too bad he keeps bumping into the Red Ranger, an “ally of justice,” who is determined to fight and defeat leaders such as Mr. Villain in the Evil League! I laughed so much reading this volume and had such an enjoyable time that the first thing I did when finishing (and squealing from happy giddiness while sitting on my couch!) is to go see when the next volume releases. I need the next volume immediately and am deeply bummed that I have to wait until November. November! Gah! I need to see more of this “evil man” and his deep love for pandas, and how those very pandas’ “cuteness” are helping save humans from full extinction! Plus, I need to know if Red Ranger will ever not get lost at least just once! Ha! Truly, what a gem of a volume, and I’m so excited to have this story on my shelf! Definitely going to be one of my favorite reads of this year, and I would highly recommend it if you like episodic stories that are similar to Play It Cool, Guys and love pandas! ~ Laura A. Grace
Mr. Villain’s Day Off is published by Square Enix.
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, Manga Vol. 9
Do you know how Christmas episodes of anime or chapters of manga drop months away from the holiday? Well, sometimes the timing in a manga series works out just right; that’s the case with volume nine of Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible, which takes place in August, during summer break for Shiraishi and Kubo. The volumes revolves around their activities during the holiday, with special focus on Shiraishi taking Kubo out for her birthday (which she actually shares with me—August 2nd!) and the entire gang going to a festival. The latter story is surprisingly poignant as it faces Shiraish’s invisibility problem head-on in a way that the series rarely does. It’s a nice touch for a series that continues to be cute, warm, and funny, and proves that the series is more than kawaii faces and a cute heroine. No caveats here—Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is simply good. ~ Twwk
Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible is published by VIZ Media. Volume nine releases on September 5th.
Villains Are Destined to Die, Manwha Vol. 4
I can no longer deny that I love this series an unhealthy amount because every volume surpasses the last in how fantastic it is! The funny thing is, the previous volumes were already very good, but this volume was even better! The awaited Hunt is here, and while Penelope seems to be the hero in the people’s eyes, there are those around her who are attempting to plan her social and physical demise. Unaware, she sets out to hunt down a prize for her beloved Eckles and finds the perfect game, only for things to take a drastic and deadly turn. I really loved this hunting arc and can say I’m officially on the Callisto hype train! Ha! He’s scared me in all the previous volumes, but he definitely won me over as he and Penelope have such great banter that I can’t help but laugh when they’re together on page! One thing I continue to appreciate about this series is that I never know the direction it’s going to go. That is shown and reflected so powerfully through Penelope’s actions, especially with that last chapter in spades. That ending was quite the turn of events, and I feel so much rage towards Derrick and can only hope that once again she will leave these men open-mouthed by her choices. Truly, this volume had me holding my breath, to leaning forward on my couch, to squealing at epic moments, scary moments, and romantic moments. Plus, the action was everything, and I was excited to see there was so much of it in this volume! Like always, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next volume because despite the higher numbers above the love interests’ heads, the stakes couldn’t be any higher than they are right now! ~ Laura A. Grace
Villains Are Destined to Die is published by IZE Press, an imprint of Yen Press.
Blade of the Moon Princess, Manga Vol. 1
The success of Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family means we’re being treated to some of his earlier works, including Tista and Blade of the Moon Princess, a five-volume series originally serialized in Jump Square beginning in 2010 and reimagining “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” as a cross between sci-fi and historical genres. Volume one is intriguing but flawed. The setup is fun—this Princess Kaguya is in the process of eventually replacing her mother, the beloved Empress Fujiya. But there are two problems: Kaguya is a little too precocious to be a proper empress, and a noble family is using the opportunity presented in the princess’ coming-of-age ceremony to stage a coup. Kaguya, who lives on the Moon, is sent to Earth, thus aligning the manga with the folk tale. Kaguya herself is a fun character, full of energy and gusto, and the constant action, both big and small, is both a welcome addition and reminiscent of the fame series Endo would write in the future. But it’s all a little too fast. The flashbacks don’t connect to the heart quite like they should; they feel a little artificial and are too quickly presented in only a page or two to settle and resonate with readers. Knowing that the series is only five volumes long leads me to believe that this issue is never rectified, though there was enough goodness in this initial offering—including lovely character designs—to encourage me to see how volume two pans out and possibly to just complete this short series. ~ Twwk
Blade of the Moon Princess is published by VIZ Media. It releases on September 5th.
Like a Butterfly, Manga Vol. 2
Sparked by sharing lunchtime on the school rooftop together their friends, Suiren and Kawasumi draw a little closer and become a little more open—the former as she becomes braver and tries to overcome her shyness, and the latter as he admits to himself that his interests do, indeed, extend beyond karate. The growth is perfect because holiday break is approaching, as is that seminal event in every teen manga character’s life—the summer festival. But do we care? I do, a little. Suiren is sweet (and also demonstrates a willingness to fight back a little in this volume), and Kawasumi has that “he’s misunderstood but really a nice guy” vibe going for him, but the whole story is quite flat. The characters don’t particularly stand out, particularly the supporting ones. And the events in volumes one and two are as typical as can be for a romance series. There’s very little creativity. Ultimately, I think that’s the point: this series is meant to be basic, romantic, and cute, and aspires to very little else. Your enjoyment of the series—up through this volume at least—will depend on whether that’s what you’re looking for in a series like this, or if you won’t be satisfied without something more. ~ Twwk
Like a Butterfly is published by VIZ Media. It releases on September 5th.
READ: Like a Butterfly Vol. 1 Review
Silver Spoon, Manga Vol. 13
As it nears its conclusion, Silver Spoon isn’t as much fun as it was for most of its run, but it remains satisfying. And much like other works about growing up, it’s maturing in its storyline as its characters grow older and into adulthood. While the bulk of the series took place during the characters’ freshman year, volumes twelve and thirteen rush through the final two and focus on Hachiken, Aki, and Komaba making decisions about their future and doing the work necessary to ensure they can get there. It’s really interesting how the story does the unexpected in this regard: Aki, who has always earned terrible grades, is pursuing her dream through study; Komaba, who gave up on any personal goals, is now working to make his dream (as yet unrevealed) come true; and Hachiken, the best student in school, appears as if he won’t go to college, instead funneling all his hurt toward a goal that will help others. There’s so much hope conveyed in this manga through its multitude of examples that turn our prejudices and misconceptions on their heads. People are more than we assume they are; we are more than we give ourselves credit for. With just two volumes remaining, this theme is pressed upon us more than ever with an urgency in these third-years’ lives and for our own, no matter what stage of life we’re in or what we’ve been told our limitations are—even when the ones putting us down are our own selves. ~ Twwk
Silver Spoon is published by Yen Press.
Boys Run the Riot, Manga Vol. 2
While volume one of Boys Run the Riot shares the spotlight among several major characters who are each struggling to fit in while coming together to launch a fashion brand, volume two focuses squarely on Ryo and his experience with gender dysphoria. As Ryo works to build up the group’s titular fashion brand, he’s put into situations where gender identification matters—at work, in relationships, and on social media. It’s complicated for a character who “feels” male but isn’t quite ready to announce that to the world (or even internally). That said, Boys Run the Riot is really structured like a typical coming-of-age story, full of blossoming (and sometimes challenging) relationships, which in this volume include a vivacious new friend for Ryo and an emphasis on childhood friend Chika; both may become love interests. These more traditional parts of the story are fine, but the gender focus remains the most fascinating aspect of the manga. I can’t speak to how transgender youth will respond to this series, but I imagine the representation given to them through a solid manga like this will be an overwhelming positive. And imbuing Ryo with the same insecurities that any cisgender character might have could pave the way for understanding in manga readers who struggle to accept transgender individuals. In short, Boys Run the Riot is a vitally important work. It’s a pretty good one, too. ~ Twwk
Boys Run the Riot is published by Kodansha.
READ: Boys Run the Riot Vol. 1 Review
“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.