We’re fully into the swing of the fall season and romance is in the air! And with Halloween approaching, that of course means witches! And we’ll throw in a couple of princesses, too, along with a more traditional romance. But fear not, action lovers, we’ve got plenty of shonen to share, even if one of our reviews features a character who’s more a…wannabe shonen hero.
Akane-banashi (Vol. 2) • Faded Away (Vol. 1) • Fullmetal Alchemist 20th Anniversary Book • Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion (Vol. 3) • I’m Quitting Heroing (Vol. 3) • Kowloon Generic Romance (Vol. 5) • Nina the Starry Bride (Vol. 1) • The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices (Vol. 3) • Uncle from Another World (Vol. 8)
Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion, Manga Vol. 3
I continue to be so grateful that the manga community influenced me to pick this series up because volume three was so good! With Sir Harij’s declaration in the previous volume in saying he wants her to make him another love potion, his visits become a lot more frequent, to the point it’s almost daily that he is visiting Rose. Even though she tries with all her might to stop loving him, she can’t help but keep loving him and wonder why he visits her so often. However, things take a turn when guards show up at her cottage demanding if the thief, who happens to match Harij’s description, is staying here. Witches can’t lie, but would she lie to keep him and his reputation safe? I will say right now that I just need these two to get married ASAP! I loved seeing these two have so much more time together even if they are still super slow in realizing the other has genuine feelings for them. Ha! While the romantic tension wasn’t as upped as in the previous volume, Rose and Harij still have quite a bit of tension between them, that’s for sure! There were a few pages that had me internally giggling because yessssss, let’s make that ship sail! Ha! In the beginning though, there is a new character on page and I was nervous they would treat Rose horribly, but I’m so thankful that wasn’t the case! In fact, I was super shocked by the conversation they had and how she viewed Rose and the potions she makes. It really is so different from what has been shown in this series so far! This was another great volume that has me wishing that volume four was already out! I would recommend it if you’re looking for a slowburn romantic fantasy series that continues to get better and better! ~ Laura A. Grace
Hi, I’m a Witch, and My Crush Wants Me to Make a Love Potion is published by Yen Press.
Kowloon Generic Romance, Manga Vol. 5
Has Kowloon Generic Romance, which thus far has been an electrifying mix of mystery, nostalgia, and romance, hit a wall? Is it simply a lull? Or is this just Kowloon? I think we as readers are meant to accept that last option as true. Even if volume five is a little dull and feels somewhat meaningless with its emphasis on supporting characters and focus on Hebinuma and Gwen’s romance rather than Kudo and Kujirai’s, it does somewhat carry along the mystery of what’s going on with the city and specifically with Kujirai while emphasizing how weird the dreamlike the entire scenario of the manga is. But I also get the feeling that the manga is running out of steam. There’s a genetic/cloning experiment going on. Got it. Kudo is really messed up after losing the original Kujirai and can’t love the new one, much less embrace her as a human. Got it. Kowloon itself seems to be a huge laboratory, with a little more teased about that in a pretty epic final illustration to the chapter. Got it. However, Jun Mayuzuki, who is normally reliably great as a mangaka, is throwing us a bone in that final reveal after making us sit and heel throughout the mechanical chapters. At least that’s the sense I got. Indeed, I’m afraid that Kowloon Generic Romance is running its course. As a fan of Mayuzuki’s work and of this series in particular, I hope that’s not true, but we’ll have to wait and see if this inventive, loopy, anything-but-generic romance gets back on track in future volumes. ~ Twwk
Kowloon Generic Romance is published by Yen Press.
Akane-banashi, Manga Vol. 2
Having received the approval of both her parents and Master Shiguma Arakawa to formally begin rakugoka training after graduating from high school, Akane only has one more person to bring over to her side: her school guidance counselor. This teacher is convinced show business is too risky for our lovable Tomboy lead to dive into without a backup plan, and is dead-set on getting Akane to attend university. While it would easy enough for Akane to lie and submit a fake list of schools that she wants to apply for, she’s too much of a Shonen Manga Hero use such an underhanded method to break this impasse. It may take the help of an old friend to give Akane just the chance she needs to show this teacher both her ability and her unwavering resolve… I have a personal manga “rule” that “Novelty can get someone to read almost anything once, but it takes quality to convince them to read it twice.” Having been following the Shonen Jump simulpub of this series since it began in January 2022, I find Akane-banashi can’t rely on novelty to hold my interest this second time around—but I’m still just as hooked as I was the first time. I can’t point out one element that it excels at in spectacular fashion like most of my other favorite series do, but this manga does a great many things very well—and it’s simply a whole lot of fun to read to boot. Get on board with Akane-banashi: I get the feeling the series will have its ‘big break’ sooner or later. ~ WacOtaku
Akane-banashi is published by VIZ Media.
READ: Akane-banashi Vol. 1 Review
Nina the Starry Bride, Manga Vol. 1
Nina is an unremarkable girl in her world. Orphaned like many others, she gathers with two brothers to huddle out a living and try to survive. But there’s one thing special about her—the lapis lazuli color of her eyes. When the princess of the kingdom dies in a horrible accident, Nina—whose eye color matches hers—is kidnapped to take her place as the bride of a foreign prince. Thus starts this fantasy shoujo which includes all you’d expect from this genre—conspiracies, an evil stepmom, growing friendships, and of course, the forbidden romance with a mean prince who actually has a heart of gold. But you know what? It works oh so well. What a romantic and sweet story! And I promise you, I approached Nina the Starry Bride with skepticism, but despite all tropes it uses that have been repeated in shoujo fantasy for decades, volume one is still a winner. I’m captivated by the series and especially the two leads—the incorrigible Nina and the swoon-worthy Prince Azure. Will they one day be wed and lead the kingdom? Yes, probably, but I’m still dying to see it all play out. And can you really ask for more than that out of a shoujo romance? ~ Twwk
Nina the Starry Bride is published by Kodansha.
The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices, Manga Vol. 3
Don’t let the fuschia-colored, happy, and romantic-looking cover to volume three of The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices fool you—this is a serious work from beginning to end. Starting from the cliffhanger which ended volume two, where Octavia met Rust Byrne with Klifford by her side, Rust’s unmasking reveals a face that frightens Octavia to her bones, while his identity also leads to the unveiling of a deadly conspiracy. The action that results is quite an unexpected ride! Furthermore, volume three really digs into the mythology of this isekai world as well as the story behind how Maki (now Octavia) found herself here. Both storylines are filled in with great detail in these chapters, while a really intriguing development from the former starts to develop in the closing pages. This is a real page-turner, with that final bit being the most fascinating part of all. However, it’s all also a tad confusing. Octavia started out as a BL-obsessed and quite ditzy protagonist, but by this point, she’s become courageous, intelligent, and reasonable. While the reasons for her reactions make sense within the story of this volume, the change to her character happens too quickly and feels like an abandonment of the original tone and characterization. It makes me wonder how the story will characterize Octavia from here on out, and unfortunately gives me little confidence that the writer is strong enough to deliver on the promise of this tale, particularly on the potential oozing from the plot developments of volume three. ~ Twwk
The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices is published by Yen Press.
READ: The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices Volume 2 Review
I’m Quitting Heroing, Manga Vol. 3
Let me tell you something—a manga’s third volume and the end of its first arc aren’t supposed to hit this hard. And yet, I’m Quitting Heroing goes for broke here in volume three as Leo, Echidna, and the Four Guardians journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which the former intends to turn over to the demon realm. But there’s a twist to come, and it’s a heavy one that I won’t spoil here. I will say, though, that the relatively meek opening chapters of this series are suddenly more meaningful and feel far more necessary with all that transpires in this emotional and powerful volume. I also admire how in just the two previous short volumes, the story has developed its main characters enough that my heart ached as they all find themselves in emotional and painful places here; Leo’s heart is absolutely connected to the five demons and theirs to him—and ours to them all. That’s what makes the awe-inspiring story in volume three work despite how over-the-top it kind of feels. This is the stuff for the end of a series run, not the beginning. But with how well it all unfolds, I’m left to wonder what more could possibly come, and how much more our hearts could be engaged. I have a feeling that the answer to both these questions is “plenty.” ~ Twwk
I’m Quitting Heroing is published by Yen Press.
Faded Away, Graphic Novel Vol. 1
I’m always looking for clean delinquent romances and this one did not disappoint! Sou and Mitsuko were children who played together often, but one day Mitsuko disappeared, leaving Sou alone. Sou always returns back to the place they always played in hopes Mitsuko would be there, but years pass and Sou wonders if maybe she was just an “imaginary friend.” However, Sou soon learns that the random transfer student in his high school class isn’t just some random person, but is the very friend he thought wasn’t real: Mitsuko! I thought this was a unique story because not only did it have one of my favorite kinds of romances, but the supernatural aspect wasn’t one I was expecting! It’s fairly subtle but seems to come fully to the surface near the end because some of the guys were doing research about it, and all I could think was that this series better not take a turn where the character in question is devious or ruthless towards the love interest! Speaking of characters, I loved Sou! He’s got that giant heart and finds himself in hard situations, but thankfully has friends who care for him and will back him up! I admired his courage in sharing how he missed Mitsuko since she had been gone for so long. And Mitsuko! She sometimes can be really funny despite the fact that her facial expressions never change! I love how Sou and the guys are taking her under their wing to help her experience things in life she hasn’t experienced before! Overall, I am so hoping there will be a second volume because I love these characters and need more of them! I definitely could see myself coming back to this story to read every once in a while because that’s just how fun and captivating this first volume was! Highly recommend it (though heads up there is occasional strong language)! ~ Laura A. Grace
Faded Away is published by Rocketship Entertainment.
Uncle from Another World, Manga Vol. 8
Following Uncle’s release from prison, he and Elf decide to sojourn together and come upon a dungeon where magic seems to be (mostly) unusable, leading to their toughest battle yet! Meanwhile, in the modern day, Uncle orders Starbucks for the first time, and it’s understandably like purchasing something in a foreign language. Yes, we’re at a more transitional moment in Uncle from Another World, but it’s very welcome. By this point in the series, the manga has started to move toward something a little different and away from what it started as. While the style of humor and the series overall, including some ecchi content, remain the same, our reception of it has evolved, and mangaka Hotondoshindeiru recognizes this. So he’s focused more and more on relational and character development in a series that didn’t originally feel like it would move very far in this direction (apart from the main RL Earth trio). And he does it successfully at that; it’s just as satisfying to read Sawae conclude that Uncle is actually pretty normal (new direction) as it is to laugh at jokes about old game systems (former direction). Well, maybe not quite as satisfying, as the humor is still the best part of this series, even if it’s more familiar by this point and less uproariously funny. But now with the work put into character development plus the inclusion of some pretty well-drawn action action scenes, Uncle from Another World has become a more well-rounded read and dare I say, just a really, really good manga series. ~ Twwk
Uncle from Another World is published by Yen Press.
Fullmetal Alchemist 20th Anniversary Book
Are any of you collecting the hardcover, anniversary editions of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga being released by Viz Media? If you are, or even if you aren’t but are still an FMA fan, you’ll probably love the Fullmetal Alchemist 20th Anniversary Book, which is likewise published in hardcover and a real beauty to hold in your hands. For the most part, this collection is two distinct pieces in one: reflections on the manga and other parts of the franchise from mangaka Hiromu Arakawa and others who were involved, such as the novelist of the light novel adaptation and the voice actors for the show, and an anthology of side stories, extra chapters, bonus comics, and other extras from FMA. All the material here is fun to read (Arakawa sensei is a master of writing those humor extra comics and additions to her stories) for both collectors, who can now have them all together in one place, and more moderate fans who still have a great nostalgia for the series. I said this with my review of the recent Spy x Family guide but it fits here, too: this book would make for a wonderful holiday gift. Just a suggestion, though: buy two, because if you get just one, I don’t think you’ll want to let it go. ~ Twwk
Fullmetal Alchemist 20th Anniversary Book is published by VIZ Media and releases on October 31st.
“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.
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