What if the villainess and villainess fell in love? What if you moved into a rental maintained by a pop idol? What if you were stranded on a deserted island with your true love? What if an alien creature’s attempt to make you happy led to murder instead? Wait wait wait, what? This week’s volumes answer all the truly burning questions in life, so sit back, read our reviews, and maybe pick up a volume to see how the answers to these questions play out!
Fly Me to the Moon (Vol. 18) • Honey Trap Shared House (Vol. 1) • If the Villainess and Villain Met and Fell in Love (Vol. 1) • Mega Man Gigamix (Vol. 1) • Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord (Vol. 1) • Overgeared (Vol. 1) • Takopi’s Original Sin • Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (Vol. 12)
If the Villainess and Villain Met and Fell in Love, Light Novel Vol. 1
Dumped by a prince, villainized by the whole school, and unsure of how to even act now that she’s on her own, Brigitte Meidell is an outcast among the outcasts. And yet, this practically disowned child from a noble house with fire abilities has perhaps found a kindred soul in Yuri Aurealis, a tell-it-like-it-is, handsome, and talented son of an ice user house. And thus “two Cinderellas,” as the author puts it in his end notes, being their story, and what a wonderful story it is! Despite looking tsundere on the cover, Brigitte is more shy and self-conscious than fiery, as her element might infer, preferring to spend her time with spirits rather than live out the “villainess” role her betrothed had required of her. She’s extremely likable, as is the more taciturn Yuri. The sparks are apparent to readers immediately. I’m not really sure how chemistry works within the confines of a novel, but it is absolutely present here with two wonderfully written characters who are even more compelling when they’re together, and they’re together often in volume one, whether it’s coincidentally shopping, in class, or as they study at a library. They are adorable. The world-building is also nice—I love how spirits and fairies are such an important part of this world (particularly because of Brigitte’s love for them). It all adds up to a winning volume, and is one I highly recommend to those looking for a fantasy romance. ~ Twwk
If the Villainess and Villain Met and Fell in Love is published by Yen Press.
Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord, Manga Vol. 1
What’s with yuri stories featuring manga editors as lead characters? This is the second I’ve read from Yen Press in recent months with that story element, though I must say, even though Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord is a little slow, it’s significantly better than the first. And it is so, so pretty—both the lovely backgrounds, most often of the home which the main characters inhabit, and the two young women themselves. The first of the two featured is Asako Suga, the manga editor I mentioned. After the end of a relationship, she moves into a loft-style house that seems perfect; the catch, as she discovers, is that the rental comes with a landlord who lives in the attic. No, this isn’t the setup of a horror movie; said landlord is pretty and vibrant. And Suga is a pushover for beautiful women, too, as her client and friend notes. The landlord is also the recently-retired lead of an idol group. Didn’t expect that, did you? If this all sounds a bit contrived, I have to say that it doesn’t feel that way when put on paper. Volume one of Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord is instead a calm, lovely, and realistic-feeling piece about two young women who are at crossroads in their lives, both needing to learn to stand on their own, though ironically enough they’ll likely learn to do so together. Romance is expected, though it’s only hinted at in volume one, which has a more slice-of-life feel to it. As I wrote earlier, the volume is also a little slow; the first half took me quite a long time to get through. It moved much more quickly by the second half of volume one, which ends with a little conflict that feels appropriate for the storyline and softness of this tale. ~ Twwk
Monthly in the Garden with My Landlord is published by Yen Press.
Honey Trap Shared House, Manga Vol. 1
Just because a manga is sold shrink-wrapped doesn’t mean it will be bad (see Kowloon Generic Romance, the excellent sci-fi romance I’ve been reviewing, for instance). But there’s a high possibility that the volume in question will be far more heavily weighed toward ecchi content or graphic violence than it is toward the common elements that make a story worth reading, like characterization, themes, and plot. And boy is that ever the case with Honey Trap Shared House, which pairs childhood friends turned enemy spies, Hayato and Seraphy, as they inhabit the same residence, one that’s meant to trap other spies through sexual tactics. The story is roughly an ecchi Spy x Family x Kaguya-sama combo, using common romcom tropes, but unfortunately scattering them without much thought. Just as Hayato and Seraphy aren’t guided by their brains, neither are the readers meant to be. And what results is a trashy, poorly-written mess. You can create something full of ecchi content that features good writing, but Honey Trap Shared House is only about the former. To that end, the artwork is pretty nice, but that’s the only positive thing I can say about this manga. Don’t get trapped in this shared house—read Spy x Family instead. ~ Twwk
Honey Trap Shared House, is published by Yen Press.
Fly Me to the Moon, Manga Vol. 18
This volume is a return to form for Fly Me to the Moon, full of cute couple stuff and slice-of-life humor. Mixed in, however, are some threads of the larger plot. Tokiko’s public funeral makes clear that she was really a big deal. Shiori, daughter of Tokiko and mom of Chitose, drops by and asks Nasa and Tsukasa to go through the stuff at one of Tokiko’s properties—a place Tsukasa used to live. To get there, Nasa decides to obtain his driver license. There’s a chapter from Shiori’s POV giving us another perspective on Tsukasa. The main story wraps up with Nasa and Tsukasa getting ready to visit that house where she used to live. We also learn that Tsukasa once wrecked an experimental steam-powered carriage in Paris in 1770! Toward the end of the volume we get several pages of chapter “summaries” that, as usual, are hilarious pop culture mashups that have nothing to do with the real story (e.g., Char Aznable as an Uber Eats driver). I’ve actually enjoyed the more plot-heavy recent volumes, so personally, I found this volume slightly disappointing compared to them, but it was still plenty entertaining and silly. ~ JeskaiAngel
Fly Me to the Moon is published by VIZ Media.
Mega Man Gigamix, Manga Vol. 1
Diehard Mega Man fans may not have heard of this series of manga, as I certainly had not until I started looking up manga that were about video games. Released in 2011 by UDON, it’s a mix of various adventures with the Blue Bomber that bring the characters to life and give their battles with Dr. Wily a more serious tone. Ordinarily, Mega Man is not a deep game with lots of plot points or character development, but Gigamix helps rectify that. Two stories are told in this volume; the first is “Asteroid Blues,” which has our heroes Mega Man, Roll, and Dr. Light in space trying to stop Dr. Wily from getting his hands on powerful energy crystals to conquer the world. Proto-Man, the mysterious red robot, makes his first appearance in this one as well; it was great to see him and Mega Man take a few shots at each other. The second story, “Burning Wheel,” was more light-hearted, as it’s a race from Japan to California between robots to win a huge cash prize. I enjoyed the first story more as the second did seem to drag on a bit; thankfully Shade-Man and Slash-Man made things a little more interesting and difficult for Mega Man by placing a bomb underneath Roll’s racecar! I purchased volumes one and two, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the second volume about. There’s also Mega Man Mastermix, which contains other adventures as well, but both of these series do cross over. ~ Samuru
Mega Man Gigimix is published by UDON Entertainment.
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Manga Vol. 12
Now twelve volumes in, you might assume that Zom 100 would be running out of steam. But literally, as in the chapter entitled “Steam Locomotive of the Dead,” the manga continues to chug along with all its energy and emotion intact; in fact, both may even be turned up a little in volume twelve, which feels like a turning point for the series. Akira and Shizuka, having washed up on a desert island, face challenges both physical and emotional; Shizuka, in particular, is dealing with the state of her heart as she continues to come to terms with her feelings for Akira. The story also advances to a heavier focus on the creation of a vaccine to halt the zombie virus. Big events in the story happen in these chapters, both interpersonal and in the larger world of Zom 100. And as expected from Haro Aso, unexpected revelations occur as well, including a confession from the heart that isn’t the one the chapters appear to be building toward, and a cliffhanger that I won’t even begin to ruin here. All of the above makes me realize how important these characters have become to me and how deeply I’m invested in this world. What a wonderful series—but what a cruel way to leave us hanging until volume thirteen drops in February! ~ Twwk
Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is published by VIZ Media. Volume twelve releases on November 21st.
Takopi’s Original Sin, Manga
Takopi’s Original Sin is just sixteen chapters long, but within roughly four hundred pages, Taizan5 (The Ichinose Family’s Deadly Sins) is able to weave a painful, emotional, and very complicated story that mostly succeeds. The complexity of the tale is apparent from the start with the juxtaposition of the leads: a squishy (I assume) alien from Planet Happy and the elementary schooler it appears to, Shizuka, who is neglected at home and bullied relentlessly at school. Takopi, as Shizuka comes to call it, came to Earth with the expressed purpose of using his gadgets to make Shizuka smile; it tries many methods, which of course all fail. Though Tapoki doesn’t understand why, we do as we see the often violent abuse that Shizuka endures and come to know the two other young people in the story, who have their own difficult lives. The incongruency between Takopi’s bubbly personality and the goings-on, which become more and more violent, make for a really interesting approach to a tale that’s otherwise painful to read and which, especially when a couple of surprising events occur (there are a number of crazy turns in this story), keep the reader hanging on when we think that nothing good could come of this story. Ultimately, though, I appreciate how grim Taizan5 makes the tale; we’re left contemplating the impossibly terrible lives that so many children really have, maybe even right under our noses. And though the conclusion comes together a little too quickly, I still felt it was earned, mostly because of the mangaka’s excellent characterization and his unwavering approach to the complexities of the subject merited it. You may not be able to make it through this story, but if you do, you’ll find it thoughtful and rewarding. ~ Twwk
Takopi’s Original Sin is published by VIZ Media. It releases on November 21st.
Overgeared, Manhwa Vol. 1
I thought I’d grown weary of webtoon VRMMORPG series, but it turns out that I’m tired of mid webtoon VRMMORPG series. Overgeared proves the same thing that isekai adaptations do—if the material is good, it doesn’t matter if the genre is overdone. Good is good. And volume one of Overgeared is excellent, in part because of the relatively unique story elements it introduces into the genre, most impactfully through its protagonist. Youngwoo Shin is an average player in the popular game, Satisfy, and yes, he gains an immensely powerful ability (to become the successor of the legendary blacksmith), but unlike some other heroes we root for, he doesn’t particularly seem to be deserving of his newfound fortune. Youngwoo is a slacker who doesn’t care to work toward any type of professional or personal goal, instead focusing on sinking as much time as possible into Satisfy. But when he stumbles upon the blacksmith skill, which allows him to create incredible gear to wear (“overgeared”) and sell, he also finds his level wiped away, not to zero, but to -1. Yikes. But even that proves to be a stroke of luck, leading to the grinding in volume one, particularly in a blacksmith shop, that makes the book so much fun. These elements draw you into the story and feature bits of humor, too. One negative, though: the art isn’t up to snuff. It’s not painfully bad, but the full-color pages don’t hide the fact that the art is nothing special. I also don’t really have a sense of whether this series will be worth continuing on down the line, but I was fully entertained by the initial offering, and at the very least I’m eager to see how the story progresses in volume two. ~ Twwk
Overgeared is published by Yen Press.
“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.