Showing posts with label manga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manga. Show all posts

Early Book Review: A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation, Vol. 1 by Momochi, Misaki, Sando

A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation, Vol. 1 by Momochi, Misaki, and Sando is currently scheduled for release on August 11 2020. When Lizel mysteriously finds himself in a city that bears odd similarities to his own but clearly isn't, he quickly comes to terms with the unlikely truth: this is an entirely different world. Even so, laid-back Lizel isn't the type to panic. He immediately sets out to learn more about this strange place, and to help him do so, hires a seasoned adventurer named Gil as his tour guide and protector. Until he's able to find a way home, Lizel figures this is a perfect opportunity to explore a new way of life adventuring as part of a guild. After all, he's sure he'll go home eventually so he might as well enjoy the otherworldly vacation for now.

A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation is a charming manga that felt very much like some of the fantasy I read as a kid, and the video games that I played. Lizel seems sweet and innocent, but is smart and crafty enough to make the perfect choices in companions, who to trust, and how to interact with them. Gil is a nice foil to Lizel, seeming to be much harder and more jaded, but they balance each other out even as they confuse each other. There are many layers to what is happening, and I want to follow them all. I want to know more about the background and skills of both Lizel and Gil, how they ended up who and where they are. I want to see them deepen their friendship, I want to learn more about several secondary characters, and what is really going on with how Lizel got there and the person that put in a request at the guild. I thought the artwork matched the story, theme, and characters very well and added details and personality to each page. 

I enjoyed A Gentle Noble's Vacation Recommendation and hope to continue the series.

Early Book Review: There Are Things I Can't Tell You by Edako Mofumofu

There Are Things I Can't Tell You by Edako Mofumofu is currently scheduled for release on July 21 2020. Kasumi and Kyousuke are polar opposites when it comes to personality. Kasumi is reserved, soft-spoken and shy; Kyousuke is energetic and has always been popular among their peers. As the saying goes though, opposites have a tendency to attract, and these two have been fast friends since elementary school. To Kasumi, Kyousuke has always been a hero to look up to, someone who supports him and saves him from the bullies. But now, school is over; their relationship suddenly becomes a lot less simple to describe. Facing the world - and one another - as adults, both men find there are things they struggle to say out loud, even to each other.

There Are Things I Can't Tell You 
is a friends to more romance in manga format. I found the slow reveal of each character's feelings, and the way they struggle with their own self esteem and attraction to each other is very well done. I also liked the secondary characters and the way the story unfolded.  Kasumi is shy, clumsy, and down on himself for the most part. Kyousuke seems to be outgoing and confident, but he is just as insecure as everyone else- he just hides it behind trying harder to be perfect and staying on what he thinks is the right path. Finding their happy ever after is hard, and most of the obstacles are their own perceptions of happiness and their ideas about societal views of right and wrong. The artwork is very well done, and adds emotion and detail to the story. I will warn readers that this is a romance and there are some sex scenes, which could get awkward if you are reading in public or have someone sneaking peeks at what you are reading. The illustrated format makes them a bit more obvious, so just be aware.

Early Book Review: RWBY: Vol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami is currently scheduled for release on July 21 2020. In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc is a solid start to an engaging story. A few very important characters are introduced and fleshed out in the midst of settling into school and a very dangerous mission. I think story did a great job of introducing the world this all takes place in, and the characters in their strengths and weaknesses. I liked the variety of personalities and skill sets and think that it does a good job of interesting readers that might never have heard of the series previously. The art is nearly perfect, although I will admit that I occasionally had trouble keeping track of who was who in some of the action scenes, because there was just so much going on. I think this promises to keep newcomers to the RWBY Universe and long time fans happy and entertained. 

Book Review: Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka

Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka is a popular shojo manga series that was adapted into the Blue Spring Ride anime. In high school, Futaba gets a second chance with her first love, Kou. Futaba Yoshioka thought all boys were loud and obnoxious until she met Kou Tanaka in junior high. But as soon as she realized she really liked him, he had already moved away because of family issues. Now, in high school, Kou has reappeared, but is he still the same boy she fell in love with?

Ao Haru Ride is a story that felt very classic to me. Girl that wants to fit in, but does not want to quite be the stereotype that she would need to act like to really fit the mold. Figuring out who she really wants to be, and how she wants to interact with other people. Trying to decide is Tanaka is who she thinks he is, and then where she stands with him, is at the heart of the story. However, being herself and figuring out the importance of how she interacts with others and being herself is a close second in importance. The story was classic for young adult literature in general, and this style of manga. I liked the art style, it was consistent and showed the emotion, motion, and mood of each moment very well. 

Ao Haru Ride felt familiar and comfortable. It is classic high school story of finding yourself and figuring out what you want and who you want to be.

Early Book Review: Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino

Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino is a manga style graphic novel currently scheduled for release on June 10 2020. It is a psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan. After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

Not Your Idol is a well drawn and suspenseful story. I liked the pacing, including the action and the character backstory and development. I really enjoyed the character dynamics of Nina/Karen and how her life and perspectives have changed over time. The issues of sexual assault and related issues are handled very well, and how different people react to them is an issue we all need to think about. The story is very engaging, and kept me turning pages to learn more about the characters and what might happen next. It is not an easy read, as there are a number of tough moments and some things that survivors might find very triggering, and others will find upsetting. However, it is well written and I am very eager to see where the story goes from here, and learn more about the major players as the story continues. My only complaint is the cliffhanger that the volume ends in. Be prepared to be left wondering, and eager for the next volume. 

Not Your Idol is an intense and engaging read. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Early Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo is a manga currently scheduled for release on June 2 2020. Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!
Spy x Family is a fun and entertaining read. I liked seeing the lone wolf spy trying to make his next mission a success, even when it means bring a child and wife into the fold. He keeps his goal under his hat, but when the little girl you adopt is a telepath that does not do much good. Watching him struggle with what do with a child is very entertaining, and when his attempt at gaining a wife only ramps up the humor and complications. The characters each have their own issues, on top of their secrets, and it was an interesting and entertaining read. My only complaint is one I have with many manga that I enjoy, the story had just reach a point of everything coming together and high interest and I really need to know where the story goes from here. 

Book Review: Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 by Io Sakisaka

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 by Io Sakisaka is a graphic novel continuing a young adult manga story. Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites—Yuna is an idealist, while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated! Love and friendship have become quite complicated for these four friends. Yuna has fallen in love with Rio, but he has feelings for Akari that he’s never been able to express. While Yuna keeps his secret, Akari makes a move on the person she’s interested in.
Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 is a good follow up to the first volume, but it did not grab me and keep my interest as much as the first. It took me a couple pages to remember all the details of who everyone was and where we left off. Once I was back in the swing of things there were emotions, angst, and teen conflict left and right. Yuna and Akari come to some conclusions and are working toward being more honest with themselves about their emotions, and in some cases more open with others. There were heart wrenching moments, and some that have left me as confused as the characters in the story. I think readers that enjoy character angst and emotional struggles will want to keep reading this series, and will enjoy it. 

Early Book Review: Blue Flag, Vol. 1 by KAITO

Blue Flag, Vol. 1 by KAITO is a young adult manga that is currently scheduled for release on May 10 2020. It’s the last year of high school, and love is in the air. Romantic feelings that have been building up over years of friendship come to light. When Taichi’s classmate Futaba asks him to help her confess to his best friend, Toma, it sparks the catalyst that begins the sweet and heart-wrenching journey of their third and final year of high school.

Blue Flag is a well written and drawn story. I liked the art style, and how no character is too perfect or bad. They are all just high school students trying to navigate school, relationships, and their own feelings. They are each complex characters, and changing as they grow and figure out who they are, what they like, and who the like. At that age these things are all moving targets, and  think the story does a good job of illustrating that. Taichi is getting a better understanding of some of the choices he has made, and how he appears to others. Futaba is trying to come out of her shell and be a stronger person, and Toma has secrets he is not ready to share. Watching their interactions with each other, and the larger scope of schoolmates and family, was fascinating and I cannot wait to see what happens next. I will admit that I saw some of the complications or secrets coming, but I so enjoyed the ride. My only issue with the story is that it ended just as things were getting good and I really want the next book.

Book Review: Kakushigoto: My Dad's Secret Ambition Vol. 1 by Kouji Kumeta

My Dad's Secret Ambition Vol. 1 by Kouji Kumeta is a manga style graphic novel. Kakushi Gotou is a single father with a secret: He’s a top-selling manga artist of a raunchy series that perhaps isn’t suitable reading material for his young daughter, Hime. So he does what any doting father would do, he hides it all from her, no matter the hi jinks that ensue!

My Dad's Secret Ambition is a book that hit some really good notes. I liked the single father struggling to do right by his daughter, and the lengths he would go to in order to keep her happy and healthy. The social gaffes and caste of characters were interesting, but I was rarely fully engaged in the story and found myself having to go back to re read or look closer at a picture to decide if I missed something. The artwork style is nice, but it just did not match up with my personal preferences consistently. I did like the personal notes and writings from the author, which put some on the scenes and moments in context and made it more interesting. 

My Dad's Secret Ambition is a good graphic novel, with some really good moments. It just did not wow me after having read some absolutely fabulous ones recently.

Early Book Review: Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka is currently scheduled for release on April 10 2020. Four high school friends share the springtime of their youth together. Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites—Yuna is an idealist, while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated!

Love Me, Love Me Not is a sweet story of four high schoolers trying to figure out what they want from love, friendship, and themselves. I liked the way the characters were different from each other and none was perfect. I enjoyed the art style, it did not stand out as unique, but did a wonderful job of capturing the moods and emotions of the text and characters. The four major characters all had moments when they absolutely shone, and others when they showed their flaws. I think the self doubt and worries were all very realistic and the story covers Yuna and Akari facing some of their issues in how they see themselves. My biggest complaint is the big reveal and cliff hanger ending opening up more questions than were actually answered in the story. Of course, thes just means I need to read the next one, but still. AS a whole I really enjoyed the story, and am glad that I read it.

Love Me, Love Me Not is a young adult graphic novel that will appeal to many. I enjoyed the story and will be keeping an eye out for volume two.

Book Review: Komi Can't Communicate, Vol. 1, by Tomohito Oda

Komi Can't Communicate, Vol. 1, by Tomohito Oda is a young adult magna. The journey to 100 friends begins with a single conversation. Socially anxious high school student Shoko Komi’s greatest dream is to make some friends, but everyone at school mistakes her crippling social anxiety for cool reserve! With the whole student body keeping their distance and Komi unable to utter a single word, friendship might be forever beyond her reach. Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!

Komi Can't Communicate is a graphic novel about finding your place in school, and I really like that it shows how different the way people feel can be from how they are perceived by others. I think readers of all ages can identify with Tadano on some level. He just wants to get through school unscathed, but things are not all that simple. In real life they never are either. Befriending Komi might not be good for flying under the radar, but it does help her start toward her own goals for school. I really liked that we get to see multiple perspectives, which gives the reader a bit of room to wonder how much of the story might be different from another view, and how much of their own worries or fears are fueled by similar assumptions and misperceptions. Aside from all that heavy stuff, there was also a good deal of humor and funny moments, and I found the read engaging and entertaining. I enjoyed the artwork very much, and think the line work did a great deal to add to the emotion and overall story through out. I thought the cast of major characters was well done and fun, and I look forward to seeing more. I did find the ending a bit abrupt, like maybe the last couple pages and back cover were missing from my digital copy, but that could have just been a clever hook to make me want the next installment even more. 

Komi Can't Communicate is a fun and engaging read. I think most middle schoolers through adults would find something entertaining and relatable in the read. 

Early Book Review: Dekoboko Sugar Days by TOKYOPOP, Yusen Atsuko

Dekoboko Sugar Days by Yusen Atsuko and Tokyopop is currently scheduled for release on February 18 2020.  Yuujirou Matsukaze has been close friends with Rui Hanamine since the two of them were children, and at that time, Yuujirou was the one who stood up for and took care of his adorable, soft-hearted friend. But as it turns out, Yuujirou's childhood dreams end up growing a little too big to handle - or, rather, too tall! At over six feet in height, the cheerful and happy-go-lucky Rui towers over his would-be protector, and still has no idea Yuujirou's had a crush on him since they were kids!

Dekoboko Sugar Days is an enjoyable graphic novel that show two fairly clueless high school guys finding their way from friends to more. They each have to figure out their own feelings and then gather the courage to share that information with each other. I like that it showed their continued struggles with communication- which often gets left out of the story. Insecurities and figuring things out is more than half the struggle particularly for young and new adults that are still trying to figure out what they want, never mind how to talk about it with they person you care most about. The assumptions of those around them, and the doubts they each had felt the most real in the story. I liked the artwork, although I do have to admit that there were a couple of moments that I confused a couple of characters and it took me a minute to figure it out. I liked the occasional breaks in the fourth wall, and the amount of humor that was sprinkled through the story. I had a few issues with continuity or flowing storyline, particularly the moment of their first time together. I felt like a couple pages were missing, as they went from insanely awkward to french kissing to clarifying that Rui was still good to be bottom. I missed any conversation about that, and I went back to make sure I had not accidentally flipped pages to quick or something. So I did enjoy the story, I did see many tropes and stereotypes, but for the most part I was happy with the read.

Dekoboko Sugar Days is a read that hit some good points, and a few head scratching moments. However, overall I enjoyed the read. 

Book Review: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (Otaku Can't Fall in Love) by Fujita

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is the first volume in the Otaku Can't Fall in Love manga by Fujita. This series was originally published in 2015, but the English translation was released in April of 2018. 
Narumi and Hirotaka are, by all appearances, a power couple. They're young, good-looking professionals. But they have secrets from everyone but each other: They're serious geeks! Narumi is a fujoshi, and Hirotaka's a hardcore gamer. Their sweet, awkward love story started life as a webcomic before becoming a full-blown manga series by popular demand, and is about to become a major anime series!
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is a fun manga series that shows day in the life drama of gamers and geeks that are also friends. They might all have real jobs, and look professional, but they also love anime, games, or cosplay. I liked the story arch about them all trying to find their place in their friend group, and in relationships. It is complicated and sometimes cringe-worthy, just like real life. I liked the story and the characters, but to be honest I wanted more of the secondary couple, I found them to be a little more interesting, but as a whole the story was light and fun. I like that the book offered vocabulary and information for terms that casual readers might not already know or need some clarification on. I think I might follow up with the next book, or maybe I will wait for the anime. 

Book Review: Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyamab

Grimms Manga Tales (English) by Kei Ishiyama is a classic manga version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales with the authors special, creative twist. The book features the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Two Brothers, The Twelve Hunters, Snow White, The Frog King, Puss in Boots, and The Singing, Springing Lark. This fantasy manga retells these timeless tales with a twist of originality.

Grimms Manga Tales is an interesting look at fairy tales that are well known, and some much less common. I like the manga twist, but recommend reading in paper rather than digital copy- mainly because the book is in the traditional Japanese format- meaning that it is read back to front and right to left.The stories are definitely given twists that surprised me, some of which worked for me and some that just did not. The artwork was well done, and the stories were interesting. However, I had trouble getting fully engaged in the stories- including the ones that I knew less well than the others. Maybe it was because each of the retellings was so short, or maybe I missed something along the way, but I just did not love it like I do most things fairy tale related.

Grimms Manga Tales is a quick read, and offers some new twists to fairy tales. Those looking for quick reads, and those that love fairy tales and the manga style of story telling might enjoy the read, but it is not something I think everyone will love. I think this would be best for young adult and older audiences, because of some of the content.

Early Book Review:Let's Eat Ramen and Other Doujinshi Short Stories by Nagumo, Aji-Ichi

Let's Eat Ramen and Other Doujinshi Short Stories by Nagumo and Aji-Ichi is a graphic novel that is currently scheduled for publication in the states on August 18 2015.  Doujinshi, otherwise known as independent manga in Japan, is rarely published in English and is typically considered underground. It begins with Let's East Ramen, a three-part tale of Saeki- a girl who loves ramen noodles. At last, she thinks that she has finally found the perfect ramen shop, but the problem is the shop is completely full of old regulars and she can't get in. Will the timid Saeki ever summon the willpower to reach out and get the ramen that she desperately wants? The other stories are about high school students and involve love, ghosts, and more.

I really enjoyed Let's Eat Ramen and Other Doujinshi Short Stories and my biggest issue with the volume is that I would have liked to see more of the title story. I want to see more of Saeki's story and will be pursuing that. The other stories ranged from 'huh?' because I was not quite ready to leave the Ramen story, to very good and wanting more. I really liked the story involving the swim team member and ghost rumors, and the opening story. I thought the volume was a good introduction to some manga that we rarely get our hands on here in the states, unless you are an enthusiast or have some connections. The artwork was charming and displayed the style and emotion that I expect from manga. I was very happy with this and loved every moment of the read. As I said, my only disappointment was with my desire for more.

I would recommend Let's Eat Ramen and Other Doujinshi Short Stories to anyone that is interested in manga, or general enjoys it. The stories are bite sized and wonderfully charming. I hope it inspires more people to explore the artwork and literature of other cultures, particularly the less available items.