What setting most strikes your fancy? Would you love to inhabit an elegant but haunted mansion? Attend a school full of super-powered mutant students? Walk to and from school thinking of the moon clouded over on a rainy night? Or breakdance at a competition in a packed and unbelievably loud underground club?
Too hard to choose? Well, how about all of the above? Travel to destinations urban and rural, here and in another world, familiar and exotic, through the volumes we review on this week’s Reader’s Corner!
Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle, Manga Vol. 4
I think it’s human nature to cheer when we read or watch a scene in which bullies receive their comeuppance. Even so, Chitose’s rescue of Kenta from his former friends, which concludes the first arc of the manga series, feels particularly satisfying and provides a worthy resolution after volume three’s cliffhanger ending. One of the things I liked most about this scene is that Chitose comes across as a good person through and through, and so does Yuuko, who shows up at the scene of the crime as well. That the latter happens is almost a miracle because the girls of “Team Chitose” come across so poorly in the light novel series from which the manga is adapted. And indeed, Heaven comes crashing down in the second half of volume four, in which another of Chitose’s harem, Yuzuki, has a very, very long conversation with him that leads to a peculiar deal, ending in a highly suggestive final few pages that—and this is no spoiler—are obviously a red herring. The characterization of the women is a real problem in the series; just because they wink wink nod nod that their desire to be Chitose’s (insert any of a litany of unacceptable words they might use) is partly an act doesn’t mean that performance is cute, acceptable, or anything less than cringe. By this volume, they still all share the same basic personality as well. Chitose, on the other hand, is an interesting character; it’s quite hard to pin him down and figure out exactly what makes him tick. But he’s made less interesting when paired up with one of the girls. How I wish the writing was as strong for the harem as it is for the lead! ~ Twwk
Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle is published by Yen Press.
Shadows House, Manga Vol. 4
Miss Kate is hanging by a thread and time is running out! This volume sees the grande finale of the debut arc as Edward’s theatrics reach a crescendo. Though his intention was to weed out the majority of the children by pitting them against one another, his plans have backfired thanks to Emilico’s pluckiness and Miss Kate’s ingenuity, and by the day’s end, not only are the living dolls speeding toward friendship, but now even the young shadows are beginning to bond. And a good thing too, given the dark secrets that Miss Kate uncovers about August Grandfather and Shadows House. If she is going to protect Emilico and herself as she unravels the rest of the mystery, she is going to need allies. It’s time for the
Avengers shadows and dolls to assemble! As a fan of the anime, I’ve been anticipating this moment since the first volume—the moment when the children begin to trust one another and relationships start to form; when they begin to discover who they are, and who they want to become; and most of all, when the peerless Miss Kate grabs hold of her agency with both hands and starts to come up with a plan that displays all the genius packed away in that little brain of hers. (Do shadows have internal organs?) This volume expands the world and cast of Shadows House, introducing new tiers within the manor house’s hierarchy among both the adults and children, and revealing the relationship between the noble house and the village at the base of the mountain, which lives in thrall to August Grandfather and his family. Also, it is in this volume that the dashing (and hilarious) Mary-Rose finally makes her first appearance (wait, is it her first though?), alongside the intriguing Barbara/Barbie duo—an OP shadow paired with an ill-tempered doll who for some reason gets a pass when ordering shadows about. A veritable smorgasbord of rich characters is now laid out before us readers! The feast extends to the visuals as well, and some fascinating supplementary material about the artist’s process helps to explain why. Shadows House has always been a fine-looking series, but the draftsmanship in this volume is particularly striking. The cover art is also worth a good long stare for this one—secrets are revealed in those shadows! Seriously, this series just keeps getting better. ~ claire
Shadows House is published by Yen Press.
The Moon on a Rainy Night, Manga Vol. 1
Although it begins almost like a softer, shoujo-ai imitation of A Silent Voice, by the end of volume one, The Moon on a Rainy Night has become something quite different and magical. Centering on Kanon, a high school freshman with a hearing disability, and Saki, her classmate who endeavors to make friends with her despite the resistance, the manga features a lot of interesting elements. Many relate to disability, including the confusion Kanon and others feel when trying to communicate, bullying (some related to an over- or under-reliance on others), and the growing affection between the girls, though at this point it’s only Saki who harbors a (major) crush. As I implied earlier, there’s some cruelty in the series, though not nearly on the level of that in A Silent Voice, and it gets toned down as the volume continues on. In fact, I would say that the tone of the volume is mostly sweet and endearing, particularly when it’s funny, like in moments of Kanon fangirling or when another girl in class gets “otaku mouth” in her excitement dishing about light novels. The movement from coldness to such warmth feels very purposeful and relatively complete—a few changes and this could have been a one-shot manga volume. But the ending drops an unexpected bit of information that makes me eager to see how the story develops and also ties the series closer to its subgenre. Speaking of which, Christian readers of this column are encouraged to consider their approaches to media before deciding to try this series (or to dismiss it out of hand). ~ Twwk
The Moon on a Rainy Night is published by Kodansha.
Jungle Juice, Manhwa Vol. 1
Do you remember that scene in the first Spider-Man movie when Mary Jane kisses Spidey while he’s hanging upside-down? I wonder if she would have done the same or maybe hesitated a bit if Peter had, say, four additional hairy arms attached to his abdomen. Would she maybe have screamed and run away instead? Jungle Juice approaches the whole “cross-mutated with an insect” storyline by not only giving its protagonist, Suchan Jang, a dragonfly’s powers, but the physical characteristics of one as well. Suchan has been hiding his insect wings since he developed them after spraying a dragonfly dead with “Jungle Juice,” the funkiest insect killer on the market (seriously, how did this get approved by the Korean government?). What results is a super fun series set at a “human insect” university which drops bits of cute romance among exciting and sometimes brutal scenes and school-life fun. Really, I had so much fun with volume one, which does precisely what a school series must: make you wish that these were your friends and teachers. Meanwhile, even though it revolves around bugs and a protagonist who is trying to get over his fear of insects, the series never feels gross; it doesn’t live in the world of horror or campiness, like you might expect (or desire). Instead, the whole manhwa tone, which is at once over-the-top and often cute and romantic, is preserved, despite being set at Bug High. Volume one also ends on a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to read the next volume to see how the story plays out. ~ Twwk
Jungle Juice is published by Yen Press.
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, Manga Vol. 2
I was already eager to read this volume after loving volume one, but when I realized this volume was going to be opening with Sir Albert and Sei on a date, I was squealing and kicking my feet within the first few pages! Ha! What a wonderful way to start this volume! After the excitement calms down (for me or Sei, it’s hard to say—HA!), Sei is once again back at the research institute and wanting to learn a new magical ability: enchantment! When the Director helps make that possible, she begins to learn and use this newfound ability! I continue to super enjoy this series and was absolutely giddy when Sir Albert and Sei went on a date first thing! Hands down, that was my favorite part because these two are so adorable together! I also super enjoyed seeing Sei learn yet another magical ability (probably much to the dismay of Jude and the Director)! She continues to surprise those around her with her thirst for more knowledge—and also her very OP skills. One other thing I would like to mention is that I am so proud of Sei! She was brave and took action in a certain situation despite knowing there would be no going back to an “ordinary” life after her actions. I strongly agree with a knight commenting earlier in the volume that she really does act like a saint in how caring she is for other people and wanting to do all she can to help them. Hoping for the absolute best of the best for this amazing woman! I definitely continue to deeply admire her, cheer for her romance, and eagerly anticipate what new magic ability she will learn next! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is published by Seven Seas.
READ: The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent Vol. 1 Review
Wandance, Manga Vol. 6
When do you give up on a series that was once a favorite of yours but has trended in the wrong direction for too long? Maybe when the “trend” turns into a majority of the manga’s run, that’s a cue that you should check out. I’ve reached that point in Wandance, which started with the promise of watching one main character grow and the other be uncovered as we experienced a dynamic vision of dance on the page, but which has it failed to follow through with. Now, six volumes in, and nearing the conclusion of the dance battle arc, Wandance has major problems with its central pairing. Wanda still lacks personality and doesn’t exhibit any special characteristics outside the superficial, while all of Kabo’s growth—both in his confidence and his sudden awesome dancing abilities—is unearned. The supporting characters, particularly the two boys at the center of this volume, are slightly more interesting than Kabo and Wanda, but not so much that Wandance suddenly feels like a strong character piece. Meanwhile, the dance panels remain enticing, but with the characterization lacking, I find little motivation in trying to imagine the movements and learn about dance. In fact, this was the first volume in some time where I just couldn’t be troubled to put on the songs the dancers battled to or to slow down and absorb the dance scenes. It’s just no longer worth the time. ~ Twwk
Wandance is published by Kodansha.
“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.