Reader’s Corner: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Vol. 9), It Takes

Reader’s Nook: Frieren: Past Adventure’s Finish (Vol. 9), It Takes Two The next day, Too (Vol. 1), and Laid-Again Camp (Vol. 14)

What a fascinating review week! We have the most recent volumes of two of the most well-liked romance comics, a collector’s edition of a CLAMP classic, the most recent releases of excellently adapted fantasy anime, and much more! Explore our reviews below, then let us know what you’re currently reading!

CLAMP Premium Collection: Tokyo Babylon (Vol. 1)The Eccentric Doctor of the Moon Flower Kingdom (Vol. 3)Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Vol. 9)Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love (Vol. 7)It Takes Two Tomorrow, Too (Vol. 1)Laid-Back Camp (Vol. 14)Mint Chocolate (Vol. 9)MonsTABOO (Vol. 4)My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren’t Wicked (Vol. 2)The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices (Vol. 3)The Remarried Empress (Vol. 4)Tearmoon Empire (Vol. 2)Usotoki Rhetoric (Vol. 4)

Tearmoon Empire, Manga Vol. 2

While I generally enjoyed Tearmoon Empire volume one when I reviewed it last year, I had no intention of continuing the series. I did, however, decide to give it another shot after the anime announcement, and I’m so glad I did! In volume two, where Mia is attending the school academy and making every effort to avoid the three persons who had caused her death, I became completely engrossed. Unfortunately for Mia, they are all interested in her as a result of the assistance she provided to a character in volume one. Fortunately for Mia, she manages to locate a dancing partner who is different from the individuals she really wants to avoid. What will this new chapter hold in store for her specifically? As I mentioned, I might not have been certain about continuing this series, but after reading this second volume, I am totally committed! It was excellent! Mia is still hilarious, but I really, truly appreciated watching her develop a closer bond with Anne. She may be my favorite character, and I liked so many of the scenes with her. It’s just incredible how much she believes in Mia, supports her, and trusts her completely, especially in light of the resolution. As much as I want her to stay away from Sion and am fervently shipping her and Abel, I do have to laugh because I can definitely feel Mia’s influence! He is very adorable! I believe the narrator mentioned that we will see more of him, and I’m super pumped about that! I can’t wait to see him in upcoming volumes! This book has a lot of entertaining moments, and I can’t wait to read more! The artwork is still stunning and hilarious to a fault! It’s fantastic, and I wholeheartedly endorse it!

Tearmoon Empire is published by J-Novel Club.

READ: Tearmoon Empire Vol. 1 Review

CLAMP Premium Collection: Tokyo Babylon, Manga Vol. 1

Subaru Sumeragi is a member of the illustrious onmyouji line of exorcists with roots in Tokyo. The high school student spends his nights putting the spirits of troubled young women to rest and making his beloved, if somewhat seedy, Tokyo a little bit more pleasant for its 12 million residents. He is joined by his twin sister, whose personality is even bigger than the outrageously theatrical outfits she sports (those hats! ), and Seishirou Sakurazuka, the head of another spiritual spell-wielding clan. Tokyo in the 1990s; things are about to get really unpleasant. There is no question that at least some readers will feel nostalgic after reading this book! This is one of the series that helped establish CLAMP, the all-female feminist mangaka collective known for works like Cardcaptor Sakura and Magic Knight Rayearth. It was first serialized in 1990. This re-release is a part of the collective’s 30th anniversary celebration, and what a productive 30 years they have been! I’ll admit that this was my first exposure to CLAMP manga, and it met my expectations while also being completely unexpected. The art is great, so that’s a plus! The imagery and dialogue convey the intriguing undercurrent of edginess that points to the hidden costs and dirty secrets of the kind of astronomical urban growth that Japan’s capital has undergone since WWII (and which continues to this day: Tokyo has tripled in size since this series premiered). The style, of course, has that distinct 90s feel to it (the energetic forelocks!). The reader is drawn into the scenes by the deceptively simple character designs and layouts, which give them a clean, sharp feel. There are no two identical pages in the vivid paneling. However, a large portion of the plot itself is less interesting. Let’s just say it hasn’t held up well over time. The underlying story here is that Seishirou, a 25-year-old male, has sought to have a sexual relationship with Subaru, a 16-year-old kid, since it is believed that the boy was in his early teens. The boy’s sister is on board with it and acts as the man’s aide de camp, arranging times for him to spend time with her brother alone, pressuring Subaru to give in to his advances, and so on. Eek. It is also somewhat offensive to place so much emphasis on feminine pettiness (the spiteful spirits). In conclusion, I will try out CLAMP’s work again, but not in this series, as I appreciate their legacy and admire their creativity. I’ll let Babylon handle itself.

Tokyo Babylon (the CLAMP Premium Collection series) is published by Yen Press.

The Eccentric Doctor of the Moon Flower Kingdom, Manga Vol. 3

“I have got to go after this dream and get that muscle!” Oh, how I adore Koyou and her passion for strength! But before she can admire all the muscles, this volume begins with her performing surgery on a young woman whose life is in jeopardy if she is not “cut open.” Koyou is adamant that it’s the only way to save this woman’s life, and she has finally persuaded those who aren’t sure if that’s the wisest move. not just hers, but also that of a later-met stranger. Will Koyou ever discover the “buffet of brawn” she wants as she aids those around her? This series remains one of my top three favorites that are coming out this year for shoujo! Every volume makes me laugh harder, lean in closer, and generally have more fun than the one before it. This one didn’t disappoint and has once again exceeded my expectations! It was excellent despite the beginning being somewhat intense (particularly given my phobia of needles)! I’ve never seen a surgery like this in a manga before, but for those who are wondering, it is non-graphic and has no blood. I had everything riding on whether Koyou would be successful. On a different subject, I was shocked by the degree of political intrigue in this book! A new character that Koyou meets is very attractive and also appears to be quite dangerous. I’m anticipating his role with apprehension because I feel like something significant is about to occur, but I’m not sure what. But even so, I still heartily endorse this series! It combines several genres and is always quite intriguing and enjoyable. eagerly anticipating the release of the next book!

The Eccentric Doctor of the Moon Flower Kingdom is published by Seven Seas.

READ: The Eccentric Doctor of the Moon Flower Kingdom Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2

Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, Manga Vol. 7

In the most recent Ima Koi volume, Mirai and her affections for Noda are still in the spotlight. Mirai doesn’t think Noda is being sincere when he says he likes her, despite the fact that he has more or less made it clear he does. She keeps trying to win his heart, but she’s taken aback when a special someone from her youth reappears in her life! How will Noda respond to Mirai’s newfound “bounciness” around her ex-boyfriend? When it comes to this volume, I’m so torn! It’s still a great book in the series, but the only reason I’m torn between my feelings is because I adore Yagyu and Satomi so much! They are some of my favorite shoujo couples that I have ever read, thus their absence from this volume was greatly felt! But reading about Miria and Noda is a lot of pleasure! Since I could not stand Noda in the beginning episodes of this series, I can say with certainty that I now like him. But I believe he has significantly softened, making him a much more endearing figure. He still cracks jokes and occasionally comes out as cruel and indifferent, but now that I know he is a tsundere man, it has changed the way I perceive him. I still really enjoy Miria, too! She did a lot of really humorous things, especially with her faces! She adores Noda so much, and the events of his volume made me tremendously pleased for her! I sincerely hope that she will continue to be happy in the future! Goodness, what a cliffhanger! We’ll have to wait until December to find out if she actually does what she feels she needs to do in light of how things ended.

Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love is published by Shojo Beat, an imprint of VIZ Media.

READ: Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol. 5 // Vol. 6

The Remarried Empress, Manwha Vol. 4

Rashta is capable of influencing public opinion in order to further her own personal goals. I cannot perform the same. The empress is me. I have to think about the empire and its people. Can we please take a moment to acknowledge the greatness of our Empress? She really is one of the best and most motivating heroes in English-language manhwa right now! Trashta Rashta, on the other hand, only gets annoyance and frustration worse. She is becoming more and more agitated as a result of her perception that the authority and positions of others pose a threat. Kosair, Navier’s brother, is one of them. He won’t put off taking revenge on Rashta and those who were against Naiver for very long due to his growing rage. This book’s opening chapter made me dread reading it even more than usual, but only because Rashta seemed to get a lot of page time, which she sadly does. Ugh! Although hearing what had occurred to her was undoubtedly frightening, I grew increasingly irritated with both she and the Emperor. Do they truly not understand how horrible it is to announce Navier will be their child’s adoptive mother without even speaking to Navier or taking her feelings into account? twice ugh But here comes Navier’s brother. Everything about the way he defends and lashes out for his sister! Because no one but for him and her ladies-in-waiting appears to care about Navier, which is terrible because she deserves nothing but happiness, I found it amusing to watch him coerce responses from a particular character. Heinrey is undoubtedly one of those individuals, though, and I am in dire need of him to reconnect with our Empress and charm her. The brief amount of page time he had was greatly appreciated! Despite the fact that Rashta had a lot of page time in this volume, it was still an amazing volume where Navier ruled like the Empress! ~ Laura A. Grace

The Remarried Empress is published by IZE Press, an imprint of Yen Press.

READ: The Remarried Empress Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3

My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren’t Wicked, Manga Vol. 2

The “wicked” stepmother and stepsisters are back at it with their less-than-evil actions! As Miya spends time with her not-so-wicked family, she begins to grow ever closer with each member and even meets a new family member! With each fun and precious shenanigan, Miya’s worries of being out of place dissipate more and more. This was another really sweet volume in this series! My favorite part was gradually seeing Miya much more comfortable around her sisters and stepmother than she was when she first came into their home. She definitely still gets nervous and apologizes when she feels she’s “messed up” or upset the other person, but she smiles freely so much more often that it leaves my heart feeling happy. I truly hope that this continues as the series goes on and that it continues to be a feel-good story, because this volume gave me just as many warm fuzzies as the sequel did! I think the last chapter was also one of my favorite parts because it was such a sweet way to wrap up this volume, even though the bonus chapters were funny and enjoyable too. Honestly, if I had any complaint about this series, it’s that the volumes are just so short! With how easygoing this series is, I easily caught myself reading this volume under thirty minutes, which is quite a feat for me! Despite the shortness though, I will continue to keep recommending My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren’t Wicked and hope the third volume will be just as sweet!

My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren’t Wicked is published by Seven Seas.

READ: My Stepmother and Stepsisters Aren’t Wicked Vol. 1 Review

Usotoki Rhetoric, Manga Vol. 4

I prepared myself for this fourth volume because the third had more than just the standard Scooby Doo feelings, and the last one had me making sure I had a light on at night. I was instantly and pleasantly delighted to see familiar individuals returning and that our pair is meeting new people! The major mystery is Kanoko and Soma’s assistance to their friend Kanji, even if some of the episodes may not necessarily be related to one another. He is charged with being one of the perpetrators of a death that happened while he was on a remote island. Can Kanoko and Soma assist solve the mystery of the true offender? I keep falling more and more in love with this series! I always look forward to new volumes because it has so much heart, humor, and intrigue. As I previously mentioned, I was quite grateful that this volume was substantially less spooky and that Chiyo and her solution to her own less-than-spooky case were even included in the first chapter! I also enjoyed re-observing Kanji! It hit differently than the previous volume because Kanji truly wanted the perpetrators to be innocent, despite the fact that our duo did some detective work. My heart truly hurt when he openly sobbed in one instance. I’ve seen some reviews that claim this is a romantic tale, and while I’m not sure if it will be, I did think there were at least two very endearing moments that suggested romance. I’m not sure whether it will, but during those sequences, I did feel a little excited. Hehe! I’m interested to see how this story develops and what case these two will solve next. If you’re searching for a fun shojo mystery, I’d definitely suggest it!

Usotoki Rhetoric is published by One Peace Books.

READ: Usotoki Rhetoric Vol. 3 Review

Mint Chocolate, Manga Vol. 9

“When I said that she was my weakness, I was mistaken. She is, in fact, my pillar of strength. What an incredible phrase from our “grumpy” male hero, pardon me while I squeal and try to compose this evaluation! He had every right to be irritable, though, because the student council president’s actions went too far and made Nanami weep, pushing him past his breaking point. When Kyouhei confronts him directly, the student council president decides never to interfere in their relationship again. A new character who isn’t afraid to employ blackmail comes just as things start to settle down a bit! Even though the encounter in the first chapter was everything I had hoped it would be, seeing how much Kyouhei has developed since the start of the book has been incredibly fulfilling. There were many tender areas in him and the way he saw Nanami that gave me the warm fuzzies but also occasionally made me want to swoon. We clearly see how much he loves Nanami and how genuinely caring he is for her when he said the opening quote I shared. This is perhaps one of my favorite scenes. The chapters when the new character appears were really fantastic! He and Kyouhei had some difficult conversations, for sure, but they also had some heart-moving, incredibly poignant exchanges. Even though Kyouhei is currently in quite a pickle as a result of the fallout from confronting the student council president, I’m glad he was there to help and said the things he did! The next book is one I am really anticipating because each one has gotten better and better in terms of grippingness, romance, and overall quality.

Mint Chocolate is published by Yen Press.

READ: Mint Chocolate Vols. 1-8 Review

The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices, Light Novel Vol. 3

The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices has been a fun and clever but mostly generic “isekai’d fujoshi protagonist” read for the past two volumes. As she solves mysteries in the BL world, Octavia frequently refers to the game she was obsessed with and is now living in to help her. But volume three suddenly and much-appreciatedly shifts to a more somber tone by expanding lore that had previously only been briefly touched upon to a nearly exponential level. This volume feels more like a western fantasy epic than the lighter read that was offered in the first releases, and I’m not exaggerating. The junior ball serves as the backdrop for these seismic shifts, which also feature an expansion of the Adjustant tale and an examination of the kingdom’s prehistoric past. However, the thrill of the plot goes beyond dancing and Octavia’s hunt for a “fake boyfriend” because recently presented and new characters play crucial parts in a major action that takes place. I was unable to put this book down because it was so rich, the world-building actively fueled the action, and the characters were coming to life as their intentions, thoughts, and even dreams came into focus. I can’t wait to see where this series goes next as it seems to be showing itself to be an engaging, imaginative, and insightful piece of fantasy as a whole.

The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices is published by Yen Press.

READ: The Princess of Convenient Plot Devices Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2

MonsTABOO, Manga Vol. 4 (Final)

The fourth book of MonsTABOO has about 250 pages, which may seem excessively long, but when you realize that the creators have practically combined ten volumes’ worth of material to get this point, it’s almost admirable that they were able to do so. Naturally, it comes as no surprise that volume four is a bad read. Awful. You can decide to leave loose ends, only complete the most important parts of your story without fully exploring all the key avenues you meant to explore, or you can try to cram everything in when your work is canceled, as I thought happened with MonsTABOO. Because we haven’t spent enough time with any of these characters besides Maruka and Zukky, we are unable to sympathize with them when their Groan-Ups are killed, applaud them when they succeed in overcoming personal challenges, or in some cases, even truly remember who they are. There are an appropriate number of major characters for a 10-15 volume manga series, but way too many minor characters. And yet, volume four makes an effort to give each character a complete story and a happy ending. Too rapidly for me to feel anything is how it all happens. Perhaps this was the best way for the series to end after all, both for the mangaka who opted to finish their tale (as short as it is) and for the audience, who are no longer required to read this jumble of a series. In the meantime, the series still isn’t really sure what it wants to say about perversion. ~ Twwk

MonsTABOO is published by Yen Press.

READ: MonsTABOO Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, Manga Vol. 9

The journey for Frieren and her party takes an unusual turn in volume nine of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End. While the series has mostly been a quiet, contemplative, humorous trip so far, it swerves toward action and danger here—and unlike in previous volumes, where it wasn’t exactly enthralling, the action comes alive in these chapters. After making their way through more geographic challenges and meeting old friends, Frieren, Stark, and Fern accept a mission to work with Denken to kill one of the Seven Sages of Destruction, who is currently trapped within a city that he turned into gold. Frieren, however, was already once defeated by the demon, Macht, and sees no way to win even now against this powerful enemy who, oddly enough, considers himself to be a pacifist. That last bit makes for an opportunity to dive more into the minds of demons in the world of Frieren, and they are indeed fascinating and terrifying creatures. It also adds to the terrifying character of Macht, who does seem near-unbeatable. I’m on pins and needles as we wait on volume ten to see how this battle will turn out.

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is published by VIZ Media.

READ: Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol. 4 // Vol. 5 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7 // Vol. 8

It Takes Two Tomorrow, Too, Manga Vol. 1

A manga that centers around a couple that is living together as lovers and being able to see into their daily life? Count me in! Yuya and Rio, a couple in their mid and late 20s, have decided to move in together. They are in fact the opposite of the anime More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers, as these two are content and happy with being lovers, and not married just yet. When I heard about the license announcement from One Peace Books, I knew this one was for sure I needed to check out and it was so cute! I realize they aren’t a married couple, but this is such a nice change of pace from the shoujo romances I love and read! Yuya and Rio are working adults who live together with the hope (enter question mark here?) of getting married one day! I definitely saw me and my husband in many of these chapters, creating a lot of relatability with these characters. For example, the food grudge… Ha! Also when Yuya calls Rio and asks her a certain question about an event he really did not want to go to and hopes she says no, only for her to say yes and he’s whispering about how he hoped she would say no. Ha! Talk about on point! I definitely was laughing from beginning to end, especially with that bonus chapter! I wouldn’t say there is anything “groundbreaking” with this series, but I’m definitely going to keep reading as I had such an enjoyable time! A very down-to-earth couple that really captures the everyday life of living together! Highly recommend it if you’re looking for an adult romance with slice-of-life vibes! ~ Laura A. Grace

It Takes Two Tomorrow, Too is published by One Peace Books.

Laid-Back Camp, Manga Vol. 14

With the release of Volume 14, Japan has finally been caught up with the Laid-Back Camp! The entire set of bound books chronicling the exploits of the Outdoor Activities Club is now available in both English and Japanese. Even though that’s not entirely true, can we still refer to the camping club as the Outdoor Activities Club now that fourteen volumes have been published? The girls are considering changing the name of the club in volume 14 as they try to attract new members by showcasing Nadeshiko’s outdoor cooking, but will this be enough to distinguish them from other clubs that are also benefiting from the outdoor camping trend? And may a relatively new character who gets a lot of screen time in this volume become a new and unanticipated member of the group? You are aware of who I am referring to, yes: It’s none other than Charikuma, the “bear that loves bikes and food” who became too heavy to ride a bike due to his love of eating. Unlucky kuma. Of course, I’m joking. In volume fourteen, which is full of good times with friends (most of them are human), old and new, as their adventures in camping, friendship, and growing up continue to hit all the right notes, there are a few characters who suddenly become more prominent. The comedy and beauty of the show remain unchanged. I’m hoping volume 15 won’t be too far off.

Laid-Back Camp is published by Yen Press.

READ: Laid-back Camp Reviews Vol. 5 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7 // Vol. 8 // Vol. 9 // Vol. 10 // Vol. 11 // Vol. 12 // Vol. 13

Reader’s Corner is our way of embracing the fantastic world of manga, light novels, and visual novels, artistic creations closely related to anime but possessing a magic all their own. Every week, our writers share their opinions on the books they’re currently reading. They discuss both newly released books so you can stay up to date on new releases and older books you might find just as magical (or, in some cases, repugnant) as we do.

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