We’ve got something for you to be thankful for this week—oodles of new manga and light novel releases! We’re reviewing not one, but two new releases in the Rascal Does Not Dream series! But are they worth reading? And what about the second volumes of Books of Heartslabyul and Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, as well as volume eight of The Eminence in Shadow? So thaw that turkey, read our reviews, and buy (or maybe skip) some new volumes this Black Friday!
15 Minutes Before We Really Date (Vol. 1) • Banished from the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside (Vol. 6) • Disney Twisted-Wonderland: The Manga: Books of Heartslabyul (Vol. 2) • The Eminence in Shadow (Vol. 8) • My Girlfriend’s Child (Vol. 3) • Rascal Does Not Dream of His Student • Rascal Does Not Dream of Logical Witch • Sugar Apple Fairy Tale (Vol. 2)
The Eminence in Shadow, Manga Vol. 8
As this arc comes to an end, I was left wondering, has The Eminence in Shadow passed its peak? This entire arc involving The Crimson Tower and reviving witch has been substandard. The new characters aren’t terribly compelling, and the most important aspect to this series (the manga adaptation, at least)—the humor—has been lacking. There are a few funny moments in volume eight, to be sure, but much of the book is spent on action scenes as the arc reaches a fever pitch with Cid, Claire, and all the rest finally reaching the top of the tower and facing their foe. All of this happens pretty quickly, though, so there’s really not enough time dedicated to a story worth exploring, nor enough action elements to give us a rise. But the amount of action is enough that it prevents humor from coming out in full force, meaning that nobody wins in volume eight, at least when it comes to us readers. Unfortunately, the events of this volume seem to have more than a passing connection to the next arc, which worries me. Will this series, once so promising, continue this long slide toward mediocrity? I hope not, but I’m left doubting that The Eminence in Shadow can return to its former heights. ~ Twwk
The Eminence in Shadow is published by Yen Press.
Disney Twisted-Wonderland: The Manga: Books of Heartslabyul, Manga Vol. 2
Excuse me while I try and calm my giggles to write this review because this volume was everything! Much to Yu and the headmage’s surprise, Yu and Grim find the magestone they needed due to the shenanigans that unfolded in the previous volume. Not only are Ace and Deuce not going to be expelled from Night Raven College, but Yu is now the prefect of Ramshackle Dorm! Just when it seems things might calm, Ace shockingly arrives at his dorm asking for a place to sleep! I pretty much giggled and squealed my way through this second volume because, with every new cameo and character appearance, I could not help but get super excited! I love these characters so much and this manga has only strengthened that! It was incredible to see these characters drawn as wonderfully and beautifully as they were! Definitely one of my favorite parts is how it captured the fun of Cater’s character, but also this slightly dangerous side to him that made everyone pause for a moment and gulp. Ha! I really feel this series continues to bring a darker edge than the game does, and I am 100% here for that—and not just with Cater’s character, but with everyone! Another one of my favorite parts is how funny this volume was! I definitely remember laughing at a lot of the shenanigans that unfolded when playing the game, but Yu’s expressions were way too on point so that I would often burst out laughing when reading! He really does have a strong presence in this series such that even if he is not the focal point, he is still there blending in with these characters so well! Another fantastic and very well-done volume! I need the next one ASAP! ~ Laura A. Grace
Disney Twisted-Wonderland: The Manga: Books of Heartslabyul is published by VIZ.
READ: Disney Twisted-Wonderland: The Manga: Books of Heartslabyul Vol. 1 Review
Rascal Does Not Dream of Logical Witch, Manga Vol. 3
“Rio’s nursing a one-sided crush, unable to admit her feelings—and she’s got huge boobs!” Wait a minute, artist Tsukako Akina wouldn’t have written that in the afterword for the first half of the manga adaptation of the light novel of the same name, right? Right? Unfortunately, the quote really is in this manga, and it pretty accurately portrays how Akina adapted the light novel volume in this extra-long edition. The Rascal series is kind of an in-between when it comes to ecchi content—it doesn’t show enough in the anime or discuss such content so thoroughly in the light novels to be categorized as ecchi, but it has its moments too. The manga, on the other hand, is straight-up ecchi. Curves matter in almost every panel; the focus on fanservice is almost comical. The story? You know, the one about how Rio is now suffering adolescent syndrome related to her feelings about herself and Kunimi, and of the newfound issue involving a young Shouko entering Sakuta’s life? Well, that all feels somewhat secondary to making sure you get the perfect angle of Mai’s behind or (and especially) Rio’s chest. The dialogue is sometimes too sparing and the panels jump from scene to scene too quickly without proper transitions. This is clearly the worst adaptation of this arc, which is a shame because Rio’s story is relatable and captivating, and the slight changes in character design for the manga are cute. What a disappointing release. ~ Twwk
Rascal Does Not Dream of Logical Witch is published by Yen Press.
15 Minutes Before We Really Date, Manga Vol. 1
I am a huge fan of the childhood friends-to-lovers trope and am always excited to find more, with 15 Minutes Before We Really Date being a great new addition to my reads with that trope! Yuuki and Natsuha have been neighbors in their apartment complex for ten years. With them always being together and hanging out, rumors continually follow them that they’re a couple. With them being third years and having half a year left of high school, they get the silly—or not so silly—idea to actually start dating! I thought this was a very well done and just overall fun read! It seemed fast-paced at times, but not necessarily in a bad way, as I really liked how that played an actual role in the story! There was a moment when our leads did feel (and say) that they were going too fast and that they didn’t have to rush. I really liked that because it showed the progression of their relationship as well as them “transitioning” from longtime friends to something more. One thing that surprised me is that there are two younger characters, and I thought they were so cute! I had to laugh at how one of them said they were “playing for keeps” in regard to our couple’s relationship because yes! Please continue to help nudge our leads to be more couple-y! Ha I also really liked the art and thought each chapter was fun! For a volume that might sound repetitive at the beginning of each new chapter, I appreciated how each chapter had a slightly different way of saying the leads were dating one another. Overall, I am very much looking forward to the next volume! This was such a fun and sweet first volume! Definitely recommend! ~ Laura A. Grace
15 Minutes Before We Really Date is published by Yen Press.
Banished from the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside, Manga Vol. 6
Volume six features two major scenes of Rit and Red in their house, laying in their beds. In the first, Rit is awake, full of anxiety at an unexpected encounter with a friend from the past (which, as it’s revealed to the readers, is even more worrying than she even imagined); the second involves the two lovebirds acting the part. There’s a parallel here between this volume and the series overall, which offers moments of fun and warmth but also action and suspense. The latter is especially strong in volume six, continuing the trend of the last few volumes, with the sinister plan involving drugs, growing anger among the lower socioeconomic classes regarding their living conditions, and a larger plot involving demons and Red’s former party evolving more and more. The result is a very solid volume and a series overall that continues to surprise me with how complex it is since the first couple of volumes had me assuming this was just going to be a gentle series. It is not. Even the scenes between Rit and Red are less gentle at first (as a warning, there’s good reason for the mature rating of the volume this time around). But the story is also much better than I had anticipated and with so much development in the plot, and other characters and stories currently “off-screen” that still must be woven into it, I’m excited to see where this increasingly excellent tale will ultimately go. ~ Twwk
Banished from the Hero’s Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside is published by Yen Press.
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, Manga Vol. 2
While I didn’t super enjoy volume one of this series, the ending left me interested enough to want to continue reading and see if I would enjoy it more or not. I am happy to report that I enjoyed this second volume a lot more! With the sudden disappearance of the silver sugar that Anne needs in order to enter the Royal Candy Fair, things look very bleak. However, thankfully Jonas was able to “come in clutch” and share a plan of how she could still get some silver sugar, make her candy for the fair, and get to the fair in time. It’s just unfortunate that things go from bad to worse as she travels once again, making Anne question if her dream of becoming a Silver Sugar Master is even reachable. As I shared, I’m grateful I kept reading this series because a lot of the issues I had in the first volume were addressed in this one in the sense that Anne’s decisions were fueled with her mother in mind. Would her mother want Anne to buy a fairy slave just so she can have a bodyguard and enter the Royal Candy Fair in honor of her? No, I definitely think she wouldn’t, but this volume really showed how loneliness really drove Anne’s actions. Not justifying her actions as to why she did what she did, but I didn’t dislike Anne nearly as much as I did either. She definitely was a much more engaging character in this volume after the reveal of the reason behind her struggles and justification. It resulted in me feeling a genuine connection with Anne as well as celebrating the fact that she wants to pursue her passion for candy crafting not for the sake of her mother, but for herself. It was very touching and very beautiful. Really look forward to the next volume releasing! ~ Laura A. Grace
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is published by Yen Press.
READ: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale Vol. 1 Review
My Girlfriend’s Child, Manga Vol. 3
This was definitely another fantastic volume in this incredible series! Fuku and Takara are feeling the full pressure for her to get an abortion, but she questions if an abortion is the right choice. Her mom said she needs to take responsibility for her actions, so she wonders if having the baby means taking responsibility. As she continues to question what to do, her and Takara’s families meet, and even more opinions are shared on what Fuku should do. Once again I felt all the emotions, and even more so this time because as Takara’s mom said, how can a kid raise a kid? I don’t mean that in an offensive way as she did, but in a way where the realization is sinking deeper and deeper that Fuku is young and that it will be hard to raise a child. However, I love the emphasis on saying thank you for having raised “X” character. This volume really showed and captured the beauty of life and how important a name is. A child being born may not seem like the “right time” or a hardship compared to other things in our life, but that doesn’t take away the beauty of new life growing. Takara continues to be absolutely amazing! I love his persistence and diligence in supporting Fuku’s choice, regardless of what their parents and family may feel about her being pregnant. I also loved how even if Fuku felt frustrated or even overwhelmed, she diligently tried to learn all she could in regards to having a baby. I deeply admire her courage! When it comes to the art, there were many panels where no words were on the panel or page and instead lets the art convey the emotion behind the characters’ actions. It was very powerful and one of the first reads I’ve experienced like this! Overall, another excellent volume that isn’t necessarily a happy read, but one that is deeply touching and thought-provoking! ~ Laura A. Grace
My Girlfriend’s Child is published by Seven Seas.
Rascal Does Not Dream of His Student, Light Novel Vol. 12
While it’s held back by the same lingering issues as every other volume in the series, Rascal Does Not Dream of His Student still managed to be among the franchise’s best. And that excellence starts with the titular girl, who was introduced previously but takes center stage here. Sara Himeji is Sakuta’s newest student, and she apparently has Adolescent Syndrome but has no desire to be cured of it (and no wonder since everyone seems to gravitate toward her). But Sakuta is worried that she is connected to the “miniskirt Santa” (also introduced previously), who in turn seems to almost certainly be connected to the worrying message about Mai’s safety that Sakuta received (again, see the last volume). This is a bit complicated for this series, but that seems to be purposeful, part of a whole new direction in what might be called the “college arc,” which differs from the “high school arc” in that the overarching plot connecting these volumes is the main story, while the individual girl stories are simply components of it, as opposed to the other way around. I give author Hajime Kamoshida credit for trying to create something more complex than where he started from, though outside of Himeji, I don’t really care for any of these new characters. Meanwhile, the older ones show up in cameo roles that, aside from Mai’s, are unnecessary as anything other than fanservice. In other words, there’s still plenty of bad writing here, including the contrived scenarios that Kamoshida can’t (or chooses not to) get away from. The climax of the book, however, is heartfelt and the syndrome this time unique and captivating. So there’s plenty of good writing in this volume too, enough to make me forget (mostly) about the worst of it by the time I completed the book. I wouldn’t say I’m at the edge of my seat, desperate to see this arc continue, but I’m invested enough now—and even more so when a good volume comes along, as compared to the last—to likely see this franchise through to the very end. ~ Twwk
Rascal Does Not Dream of His Student 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.
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