In this week’s Reader’s Corner, we cover several series that have moved beyond their introductory material, including the newest volumes of Dandadan, SHY, and Rainbow Days, as well as the opening volumes of Tamon’s B-Side and XOGENASYS, the manga guide for Spy x Family, and much more!
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture (Vol. 2) • Dandadan (Vol. 5) • I Want to Be a Receptionist in This Magical World (Vol. 2) • Magical Girl Incident (Vol. 2) • Pandora Seven (Vol. 2) • Rainbow Days (Vol. 6) • The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent (Vol. 3) • SHY (Vol. 4) • Spy x Family: The Official Guide—Eyes Only • Tamon’s B-Side (Vol. 1) • XOGENASYS (Vol. 1)
I Want to Be a Receptionist in This Magical World, Manga Vol. 2
Nunnally has graduated from the academy and is flying off to her dream of becoming the receptionist at Harré like she always hoped for! While she may be just a rookie, she gets a brand new weapon and magic uniform and starts her first day! When a new client comes in, though, and claims her husband is missing, things are about to get dangerous as she needs to figure out how and why this is happening. This was a great volume even if it wasn’t quite as exciting as volume one! I loved the rivals-to-lovers vibe in volume one and was deeply anticipating that vibe even more in volume two, but that didn’t really deliver until the second half of the volume. I had to remind myself that I was not reading just for the romance, but I felt like I really was. Ha! It was worth it when we got it though! There were no confessions, but one line spoken by Rockmann definitely made me squeal and get really excited for what is hopefully to come for these two! Even though I wanted a little more romance, I really enjoyed seeing Nunnally pursue her dream of being a receptionist! It made me very happy to see her get a work uniform and even go on a little mini adventure! There are definitely a lot of really interesting parts involving the fantasy of this story that has me very curious and hoping we will continue to see more of this world and how it works, especially with the low-key mystery woven in. I definitely want to keep reading this series and would still recommend it! Hoping there will be more interactions between Nunnally and Rockmann, romantic sparks flying a little more, and finding out exactly what happened in the forest that Nunnally visited! ~ Laura
I Want to Be a Receptionist in This Magical World is published by Yen Press.
READ: I Want to Be a Receptionist in This Magical World Vol. 1 Review
Magical Girl Incident, Manga Vol. 2
Aaaand…we’re back, mid-battle! The best place to be—at least for readers. Not necessarily for Sakura-kun—male corporate slave by day, dainty magical girl by night (and sometimes day…he really does need to get this whole transformation thing down!)—though, or for the rather debonair stranger who mysteriously appeared by Sakura’s side just now, saving him/her from the black sailor-suited villainess bent on destroying the world…or was it eating her lunch? Not sure. Anyhow, the madcap adventure continues! Now with more characters than ever before—twice as many, in fact, though the cast remains the same size. Confused? Well, just think about it for a moment: More so than your average magical girl, Sakura-kun is two characters, right? So…wink wink. Yup, you got it! Saying that there are major world-building developments in this volume would be an understatement! This continues to be a fresh, hilarious, way outside-the-box magical girl series that inspires an overabundance of exclamation marks (and exclamations) in the telling. (Yes, I deleted an exclamation mark just there.) The pacing is fantastic. You just begin to cotton onto one fundamental revelation and its manifold implications when, BAM!, another layer is added—in the best possible way. No one is quite who or what they seem, making for the kind of read where you just need to hang on and enjoy the view (which is gorgeous, by the way, making full use of the slightly larger-than-usual page size in the physical copy), rather than trying to predict things. There is a bit of an info dump in one chapter, but the creative paneling and hilarious reaction shots keep it engaging. Other than that, my only complaint is that the volume is so slender! Keep up the great work, mangaka Zero Akabane! Looking forward to seeing what happens next. ~ claire
Magical Girl Incident is published by Yen Press.
Read: Reviews of Magical Girl Incident Vol. 1
Spy x Family: The Official Guide—Eyes Only
Packed full of wonderful and informational content, and arranged creatively and methodically, Spy x Family: The Official Guide—Eyes Only is the best companion guide to a manga I’ve ever read. There’s something here for everybody: illustrations from all sorts of products, including advertisements, merchandise, promotion art, and even bookmarks; extended character guides in the form of dossiers, of course, and including fun additions like “Anya’s Favorite Things” and “Finishing Touches,” outing Yor’s cooking adventures, and multiple interviews with Tatsuya Endo which include insightful comments about this series and the manga creation process overall. There are also pieces of art drawn by guest artists, including a piece by Hajime Iseyama. There’s even a contribution by LiSA! But all this material would be easy to get lost in if it wasn’t for the excellent layout and design of this book, fitting in perfectly with the Cold War/spy feel of the series; they make the guide an easy and entertaining read. I’m calling it right now: Spy x Family: The Official Guide—Eyes Only should be on your holiday shopping list, making a great gift for any Spy x Family fan in your life, from younger children right up through hardcore, older fans. This book is a must-have. ~ Twwk
Spy x Family: The Official Guide—Eyes Only is published by VIZ Media.
Pandora Seven, Manga Vol. 2
Volume two picks up where we left off with Lia Frontier, now less of a woman than before (having lost her arm to ghastly scientific experiments), still trying to get the “witch” of the mechanical forest onside. The giant metallic being is waffling when high priest Everett of Humania arrives with very clear plans to wipe out the entire forest and everyone in it. Because that’s what humans do. Lia and her dragon brother Rikkel must convince the denizens of the mechanical forest to swallow their instinctive disgust at interacting with a human and join forces with them for the sake of survival. But will it be enough? Or can Lia somehow learn to master Pandora’s box, the world-destroying power now locked up inside her, and defeat her brethren? Having inadvertently ruined her home world already, Lia is understandably reluctant to try… This super-sized volume has a lot to offer, but in the end, it is too little for me to stick with it. Let’s begin with the pluses. The vision is ambitious: vast alien landscapes, an expansive cast of characters made up of many species, relentless battle scenes, a panoply of political, religious, and familial intrigue—it’s all there, if sometimes in seed form. The artwork is splendid, particularly if you appreciate imaginative—if at times somewhat grotesque—alien worlds and creatures. The numerous two-page spreads are rich with detail and energy. But there are no characters in any of them: they all depict explosions and landscapes and the like. This gets to the heart of my disappointment with this series: the missing human element (no pun intended). After two lengthy volumes, I have yet to connect with the characters or feel moved by their plight or roused by their fighting spirit, let alone identify with their motivations and loyalties. It is not until the final bonus pages that the relationships are injected with a bit of zest, but it’s too little, too late. Most of all though, the character I found most intriguing in volume one barely makes an appearance in this follow-up, so my hopes for a heartfelt redemption arc are basically a non-starter. Even so, if you appreciate expansive sci-fi artwork, there’s still plenty to recommend this series on the basis of the visuals. Just don’t expect to meet any new best girls or boys on this journey. ~ claire
Pandora Seven is published by Yen Press.
READ: Pandora Seven Review Vol. 1
Rainbow Days, Manga Vol. 6
When I think of what a manga high school romcom should look like structurally, Rainbow Days immediately comes to mind. Every chapter is connected by the thread of high school life; school events (and other ones important to students), like sports tournaments and winter break, connect each chapter, almost endlessly strung together, while relationships and friendships develop through these events. You might think that it would be artificial and clunky, but the series feels so smooth and has a peaceful vibe. There’s an optimism that runs through the story that makes its shortcomings—and I would include Kei’s sadist tendencies and Mari’s characterization amongst them—almost disappear entirely, leaving a cute love story filled with characters that you absolutely fall in love with. Volume six focuses on two pairs of them with chapters that feel like turning points in their respective relationships. It also features my very favorite character in the series, Chiba, who up until now has only been in a few panels here and there. But in volume six, an entire chapter is dedicated to the volleyball player, accompanied by a promise that she and another newly featured character, Taizo, will play larger roles in the future. Add all these elements together and they equate to being the best volumes so far of this lovely little series. ~ Twwk
Dandadan is published by VIZ Media.
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture, Light Novel Vol. 2
Who knew that folklore and academia could make for such fascinating and thrilling stories? While many light novels and manga make use of tales of ghosts and demons, Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture frames these from the perspective of an educator—and it works so very well. In volume two, Professor Takutsuki and his assistant, the undergraduate student Fukamachi, continue their research into accounts of the supernatural with three stories. Chapter one focuses on a school mystery involving a childhood game that feels it would roughly translate to one-half Ouija Board and one-half Bloody Mary; the second on an actress who claims to have ESP and witnessed a ghost on set of her new film; and the third on a child survivor of a tragic accident who is being worshipped by locals as a deity. All three stories are wonderful and mysterious in different ways, but all featuring author Mikage Sawamura’s blending of the supernatural and real worlds as he effortlessly moves the stories from Takatsuki’s classroom lecture on a Japanese spirit (usually lasting several pages, by the way, and quite educational) to detective work “out in the field,” as the duo, sometimes accompanied by Takatsuki’s childhood friend, Sasakura, figure out a mystery through both conventional and supernatural means. The result is an experience that fits in with light novel conventions (including very broad and minor hints at BL content) while feeling wholly original at the same time. What a cool concept and what an excellent series! ~ Twwk
Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture is published by Yen Press.
READ: Associate Professor Akira Takatsuki’s Conjecture Vol. 1 Review
The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent, Manga Vol. 3
“What I really want is to live in peace and quiet, but that ordinary life is getting further and further out of reach. But when I think about how happy the knights were after what I did, I wholeheartedly believe that healing them was the right decision.” This quote perfectly reflects the heart of this volume! Sei’s “secret” of her saintly powers is no longer hidden as she heals some knight’s injuries after a horrible battle. And by injuries, I mean her completely healing and regenerating a man’s entire arm! Word quickly spreads, and as a result she not only finds herself meeting the Grand Mage so he can appraise her skills, but she also has a public audience with the king! While the quote I shared really does reflect the nature of this volume, it also deeply shows why I love and admire Sei so much. She is kind, always learning, and doing all she can to help other people, even if in this case, it was at the risk of the “quiet life” she was hoping for going up in smoke. Truly, more and more her actions are showing she is the saint! I really liked the Grand Mage! He is very bright and expressive and reminds me of Sei in a way. While she is always trying to grow and further her magical abilities, the Grand Mage is always wanting to learn more about magic, whether that be his own or other people’s. Poor Sei, though, because she happens to be his next “victim” of wanting to study their magic! Ha! It makes him fun and enjoyable to read about on page, especially with the bonus chapter where we see just how expressive and fun he can be! I continue to super love this series and am so glad I finally started it! It’s so very wonderful, and I highly recommend it (especially with season two of the anime having just started)! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is published by Seven Seas.
SHY, Manga Vol. 4
Explosive action, courageous defiance, and heartfelt words shared between a mother and daughter. For all the gripping excitement conjured by the first two of these things, it is the last that ultimately brings about a surprising conclusion to Shy and Spirit’s nail-biting confrontation with Amarariruku in the far reaches of Russia. Cliffhanger resolved, it is time to go back to middle school! But on the way there, poor Teru (Shy) nearly collapses and is saved from some mighty big bruises only by the quick reflexes of Koishikawa-san who is walking with her. Was Teru injured internally somehow in the frosty battle? Is this the effect of some nefarious scheme by Amarariruku to poison her heart?! Er, no. Not at all. Looks like poor Teru simply caught a cold! Ah, the daily life of a young hero who aspires to be a normal girl. I gotta say it, I really appreciate how well this series strikes a balance between heart-in-mouth action and heart-on-sleeve character growth. This is not just another gimmicky superhero series. Instead, mangaka Bukimi Miki keeps the humanity of these heroes front and center with such care and thought. Do heroes catch colds? Do they feel lonely? Do they struggle with discerning where their responsibility ends and that of the police and other public servants begins? Teru does. And this makes her such an engaging protagonist. Her vulnerability is not overplayed either, which is something I was concerned about in the first volume or so: would this shyness trope get to be a bit too much? It doesn’t, and this is largely because Shy is always growing, always learning, always taking little steps forward, be they ever so tiny. And that is really the underlying theme in this volume: the power of small steps. First, it is Spirit who takes a small step in deciding to tell her mom how much she loves her; when her mom does the same in turn, it changes the fate of the world. There are a couple of new characters in this volume who also take small steps of consequence: for the journalist, it’s a last-ditch effort; for the mysterious Kansai girl, we get the feeling that it’s the first of many. Teru takes a small step here too, calling Koishikawa by her first name and cementing their growing friendship. This single act redirects the trajectory of Teru’s lonely life which, up to this point, has seen her lose people one after the other. Now, she is beginning to reach out and add people to her life, turning the tide of her heart. Ah, this is such a wonderful series! Bukimi Miki, I salute you. Also, mina-san, go watch the anime! ~ claire
SHY is published by Yen Press.
XOGENASYS, Manga Vol. 1
Sometimes staying out of trouble puts you in a position where you have to defend yourself, and that’s what happened to Darius Smith when he got kicked out of school. He was almost incarcerated for beating up some gang members who wanted him to join them since he’s such a good fighter. He’s given another chance from a champion fighter named Timothy Mustafa in a boxing-styled sport called XOGeneSYS, similar to MEGALOBOX with exoskeleton armor. Darius wants to prove to himself and his single mother that he can get her and his sister out of the poverty of the slums in New York City. XOGENASYS pulls inspiration from the underdog story of a fresh face punching their way to the top, but I didn’t see anything new or innovative here. The artwork looks like it needed more detailing, yet some panels stood out when portraying the characters. The dialogue is lacking at times between Darius and his female trainer: one moment she’s kind, and the next she’s cussing at him like a guy! I would have liked to see more twists or uniqueness to the plot but it wasn’t there, like when Darius is pardoned before going to jail which felt too easy and obvious. This story has potential but it needs to do something different, or it’s not going anywhere other stories haven’t already. ~ Samuru
XOGENASYS is published by Tokyopop.
Tamon’s B-Side, Manga Vol. 1
Do idols really have the shiny life that their fans imagine them to be? What would happen if a fan got to meet their all-time favorite idol, only to realize that in real life, he is deeply insecure? Enter high school Utage, who adores the idol group F/ACE, especially the member Tamon who is the wild and sexy idol of the bunch. On a crazy chance, she ends up becoming his part-time housekeeper and quickly realizes that Tamon has a whole other side of him because right now he wants to quit the group! As much as I loved Takane & Hana, this creator’s other English-published work, I was a little unsure if I would like this one or not. When I started reading, that was extremely true because while sometimes Gloomyhara (aka Tamon) does say some funny things about himself, it was really hard for me to see him degrade himself. More than once he says that he is not even worthy to be equal with landfill waste, and as someone who personally can easily start degrading themselves when they “mess up,” it was really triggering for me in the beginning. However, I’m really glad I kept reading because Utage is hilarious! I love her love for Tamon and how she will not put up with him berating himself for X reason. It definitely made me feel all the warm fuzzies when she even tells Gloomyhara that he is important too and not just the idol side of him. Overall, this was a great first volume! I didn’t always appreciate the “church” stuff, but I did really like the characters, the humor, and the art. I’m excited to see where it goes and if the romance will be more prevalent in volume two! ~ Laura A. Grace
Tamon’s B-Side is published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ Media.
Dandadan, Manga Vol. 5
“Oh no! It’s the Chamber of Commerce! Get ’em!” How can you appreciate Dandadan with its crazy lines like that and all the other off-the-wall humor, expressed even in the midst of dire situations? This series, which was very iffy for me in volume one, has by volume five really hit its stride. The current arc, featuring Momo’s childhood friend Jiji, the mystery of why his parents tried to commit suicide, and at least one mythical monster, is the best yet. The manga features terrific illustrations, particularly when a burrowing creature reveals ancient houses beneath the world’s surface. Also odd and wildly entertaining is how a really outrageous group of human villains feature in this volume. But there’s real warmth in these chapters as well, something that’s largely eluded the series so far, sometimes feeling mechanical, but less so here when one character’s ugly mask is stripped away. Of course, volume five also ends on a cliffhanger, so we’ll need to await the next issue to see how this arc, which seemed like it would have a tidy conclusion here in volume five, ultimately ends. You can bet I’ll be there for it. ~ Twwk
Dandadan is published by VIZ Media.
“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.