Reader’s Corner: Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 9), No Longer Heroine

Reader’s Nook: Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 9), No Longer Heroine (Vol. 5), and Solo Leveling (Vol. 8)

Stakes are high and the action is intense in offerings on this week’s Reader’s Corner, which include the latest volume of Issak, Solo Leveling, and Kaiju No. 8, as well as the omnibus manga adaptation of the Madoka Rebellion movies. But if those are too suspenseful for your liking, we’ve got calmer fare, too, like Play it Cool, Guys, Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds, No Longer Heroine, and Like a Butterfly. Read our reviews and see what releases might be just right for you!

Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound (Vol. 2)Issak (Vol. 5)Kaiju No. 8 (Vol. 9)Like a Butterfly (Vol. 4)No Longer Heroine (Vol. 5)Play It Cool, Guys (Vol. 5)Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie -Rebellion-: The Complete Omnibus EditionSolo Leveling (Vol. 8)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie -Rebellion-: The Complete Omnibus Edition, Manga

At some point this coming year (we hope), a new film will be added to the core series of the PMMM franchise, following on from Rebellion, which was released over a decade ago now (how time flies!). No doubt in anticipation of this historic moment, Yen Press has re-released the manga adaptation of the Rebellion arc, and let me tell you, it’s worth checking out—especially for the seasoned fan of the franchise. The art is well-handled by Hanokage, who avoids copying the film slavishly in terms of storyboarding and stylistics. The adjustments are small, so the classic boxy look to the faces is sustained here (unlike in some of the PMMM manga spin-offs), but the art is fresh enough to feel like you’re getting a slightly new perspective on the story. As a result, although not all of the film’s iconic shots are captured here, several new ones are created. There is a difference in the tone of the opening chapters as well, which lack the palpable sense of uncanniness and darkness that hangs over the first part of the film. This means that readers are able to spend more time enjoying the “happy” version of the magical girls’ timeline before it becomes clear that something is very, very wrong. It also means that the mystery/detective aspect of Rebellion is foregrounded more clearly, as the creepy psychological vibes are weakened with the loss of a soundtrack. Less successful are some of the changes in the dialogue in key scenes where Homura is unraveling the truth of what is really going on. A slightly different explanation for what is happening to the Law of Cycles is floated here, and it’s a little too on the nose. Yes, it clears up some of the ambiguity of the film, but that’s not a good thing in my mind—it was the ambivalence, the vast swathes of grey, the dialogue and imagery that demanded that viewers interpret for themselves what was going on and why, that makes Rebellion such a shocking and rewarding watch. I’m also not keen on the changes to Homura’s last interactions with Kyubey and the loss of those brilliant, open-ended final moments. But these kinds of disappointments are bound to happen when a film that has been so closely analyzed by fans is adapted to another medium, and it remains true that there is something powerful about reading a film, and reading this film in particular. The dialogue stands out so much more sharply as the ability to wow and distract with special effects is stripped away. There’s something raw and honest about a manga adaptation, by which a story sinks or swims. And in this case, despite my criticisms, I gained a lot by reading this powerful story and not just watching it, as some pieces fell into place for me in new ways. I feel like I was closer to the story here than when watching the film. In short, this omnibus is a great way to refresh on the lore of PMMM in preparation for the next film installment! But if you haven’t seen Rebellion yet, go watch it instead. ~ claire

Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie -Rebellion-: The Complete Omnibus Edition is published by Yen Press.

Issak, Manga Vol. 5

With the Catholic armies in the region fought to a standstill for the winter, Issak, Prince Heinrich, and Zetta should have earned themselves a breather. “Should” being the operative word. But with Lorenzo still on the loose and a major Protestant defeat near Prague upending the balance of power, it looks as if there will be little rest for the weary. Through his royal connections, Heinrich receives an intriguing request to help open backchannel peace negotiations between the Protestant and Catholic blocs of the Holy Roman Empire. The catch? Making contact with his opposite number will require a dangerous crossing of enemy-controlled territory. Issak is the only soldier brave enough to volunteer to serve as Heinrich’s bodyguard, but it’s not exactly easy to travel incognito in 17th-century Germany when your party includes a Japanese samurai. Meanwhile, Issak and Zetta’s relationship arrives at a major crossroads, although not a romantic one… With volume five, Issak takes a much-needed pause, however brief, to collect itself and retool for a new story arc. We also get a chance to see how the character dynamics of our main trio have changed from a group of allies by necessity to genuine comrades. Zetta has a particularly strong showing as we see her become both more proactive and more expressive than ever before, although she can still be more impulsive than wise at times. The series also has the sense to refrain from any overt “shipping” between her and Issak, as their relationship currently runs on an older brother–younger sister dynamic due to an age and maturity gap that only time can close. All in all, a very good volume which does everything necessary to keep the story going smoothly. ~ WacOtaku

Issak is published by Kodansha.

READ: Reviews of Issak Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3// Vol. 4

Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound, Manga Vol. 2

The cute puppy shenanigans are back, but in the form of a huge silver Fenrir! Takumi and Leo are adapting to their new world, including Takumi discovering that he has the magical gift of herb cultivation! He experiments with his new ability and just what and how exactly he can grow things. When he starts realizing the possibilities are almost endless, Claire reveals to him the legend of the Fenrir Forest…and how she would love for him to take her there! This is such a chill and sweet isekai! Well, sweet might not be the right word, but the story itself feels very laid-back with no high stakes (and no fan service at that!), making it a relaxing one to read. The sweetness comes in with Leo because even as a huge Fenrir she is so cute! I had completely forgotten how much I loved her and Takumi’s relationship in volume one since it had been so long since I had read it! Interestingly enough though, I had no problems with jumping right into this one with no rereading or skimming of the previous volume as I had still remembered what happened before. I never expected that, which means I enjoy this series far more than I realized! In fact, I’m going to look into getting volume three because I really like the idea of herb cultivation! It’s an interesting magical gift that Takumi has, and I think I love it because he has expressed wanting to use that gift to help others. Can’t be upset about that because that’s awesome! I continue to  recommend this series to those who enjoy isekai manga with no fanservice, want a focus on a cute “dog,” and are looking for an easygoing story! ~ Laura A. Grace

Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound is published by Seven Seas.

READ: Even Dogs Go to Other Worlds: Life in Another World with My Beloved Hound Vol. 1 Review

Play It Cool, Guys, Manga Vol. 5

I have been eagerly looking forward to reading the latest volume of Play It Cool, Guys, and it did not disappoint! The goofy gang is taking small steps forward in each of their dreams and goals, but none of them are prepared to visit Bear Cub Land with Mima-san’s niece! What kind of goofs are in store for them as they visit this treasured amusement park? My heart is so happy after reading this volume! Honestly, no surprise there because this is one of my favorite series ever, but having a new volume with new goofs from these guys was everything! I even ended up physically hugging my volume after I finished because I was just so happy! I deeply enjoyed hearing more about all of the guys’ pasts and their supposed “love lives.” I was a little nervous originally that this would lead to some kind of announcement of one of the guys having an off-page romance since they were all sharing past memories, but my fears were quickly extinguished! (As much as I love romance, I am so happy this has been a story purely focused on friendship, and would love for that to continue!) The highlight of this volume was definitely when visiting Bear Cub Land! Oh my goodness, the overwhelming goofy cuteness! Kokone Nata really delivered with the fun storyline, the heartwarming vibes with Ririka, the super cute hats, and the overall goofy adventure that resulted in these guys all growing closer. Those chapters have probably been my favorite in the series thus far because of how delightful of a reading experience it was and how absolutely giddy I felt! Another phenomenal volume that left me cheering at the end when there was a page that said volume six was coming soon! Eeeepppp! ~ Laura A. Grace

Play It Cool, Guys is published by Yen Press.

READ: Reviews of Play It Cool, Guys Vol.1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol. 4

Solo Leveling, Manhwa Vol. 8

Volume eight of Solo Leveling is framed around a daily life sort of event—the creation and naming of Jinwoo’s new guild. But if you think these chapters are going to slow down for that storyline or for the bits of humor and scenes or romance (!) that are included in these pages, you haven’t been keeping up with this series. Volume eight is as non-stop as the previous volumes as Jinwoo continues to grow in strength while assisting another guild on a raid. But the bigger, more mysterious questions in the series continue to gain prominence, including why gates are increasing in number—which is related to the primary action of this volume—and why does Jinwoo have his powers in the first place? That latter bit is somewhat addressed in the opening pages of this volume, which are meant to by mysterious but still are too confusing. That shortcoming is quickly forgotten, however, as the aforementioned action ramps up and doesn’t slow down in what I think is one of the all-time greatest action series. And yes, when it slows down and reflects the Korean sense of romance and humor, it excels in those areas too. What a webtoon! ~ twwk

Solo Leveling is published by Yen Press. Volume eight releases on January 23rd.

READ: Reviews of Solo Leveling Vol. 3 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7

No Longer Heroine, Manga Vol. 5

I don’t know why I love this series as much as I do, especially with how dramatic it is, but here I am really loving this volume! Ha! For the first time, Hatori is in a relationship where someone likes her and is returning her feelings! She is so happy being by Hiromitsu’s side, and everyone around her seems to feel the same. Well, that is except Rita, who is now having to come to terms not only with the fact that Hatori is in a relationship but also with how he feels about her being in said relationship. I never thought I would say this, but I really admired Hatori’s actions when it came to how she handled the curveball that Rita threw at her halfway through this volume. Ha! I don’t think I have ever admired Hatori’s actions at any point, so I’m very impressed that I can even say that! I feel she has had some very unhealthy decision-making in the past, and because of that, I fully expected her to make another unhealthy one. However, it was Rita who made the awful decision! Not only that, Nakajima has been the voice of reason this entire series, but I don’t like what she is telling Rita now. Is she wrong? Well, not necessarily, but! Shouldn’t she be on Hatori’s side in this? Shouldn’t she, Nakajima, be avoiding starting any more drama than there already is? I was disappointed with them both, but the person who impressed me the most was Hiromitsu! Wow! His actions showed a lot about his character in how even when Hatori was going to “gift” herself to him, he did not push or pressure her when it was extremely obvious that she was very uncomfortable and didn’t want to do anything intimate. He’s had a playboy aura this whole time, but it’s like it broke right from the very first pages, and I continually felt my jaw drop from shock! Ha! Definitely another great volume that isn’t nearly as toxic as previous volumes, but no less dramatic! ~ Laura A. Grace

No Longer Heroine is published by Yen Press.

READ: No Longer Heroine Reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol. 4

Kaiju No. 8, Manga Vol. 9

After a certain scene that takes place at a church, I honestly had to take a short break from reading this latest volume. The fear I felt had me in a chokehold, and I couldn’t seem to shake the fear I felt at that moment for the characters involved! Hoshina continues to train Kafka so that in battle he is not purely depending on the kaiju side of him. As he dutifully trains, an unprecedented amount of kaiju attacks appear across the nation of Japan. The Defense Force makes multiple preparations because while the kaiju attackers mysteriously vanish, they know this is the calm before the storm. Boy, were they right! I feel like with every new volume I’m always saying the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, and that is exactly what I want to say about this volume! However, I think the stakes are different because, unlike previous volumes, multiple people have been wiped out. These are innocent civilians, and I can’t even imagine how many people have been taken out due to there being an overwhelming amount of attacks that are extremely well planned. I think I felt more fear in this volume than I have in any other volume thus far! There were a lot of fighting scenes due to this, but I was surprised that despite all the action, it was also a touching volume as well. Kafka had a large focus again, and as a result, there were a few reunions that made me tear up a little bit. I truly hope that his fear that people will turn away from him or be afraid of him has diminished due to everything he has seen and heard from people who care for him. Definitely another amazing volume, and I continue to love this series so much! ~ Laura A. Grace

Kajiu No. 8 is published by VIZ Media.

READ: Kaiju No. 8 Reviews Vol.1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol.4 // Vol. 5 // Vol. 6 // Vol. 7 // Vol. 8

Like a Butterfly, Manga Vol. 4

This story continues to be so adorable! However, the secondhand embarrassment is real when reading this volume because these two are so incredibly awkward! Ha! Kawasumi is officially walking Suiren home and she is over the moon! As their walking home together continues, she feels they are steadily growing ever closer, with them hopefully eventually becoming romantically closer. Since the cultural festival is right around the corner, Suiren works up the courage to ask if they could walk around together! Will they finally become something more? I squealed so much when reading this new volume! My heart even felt like it could just fly away “like a butterfly” because of all the cuteness! Suiren and Kawasumi really are taking big steps in their romantic story even if they still don’t talk a lot. I was so proud of Suiren and how she found a way to start conversations with Kawasumi! I was unsure of what she was doing when she showed her friends a certain item, but once it was shown as to why she was using it, I thought it was extremely creative! I’m even proud of Kawasumi too! The way he told his best friend that he doesn’t want help and wants to do things on his own even if he’s not good when it comes to romance. You go Kawasumi! On a different note, I really like the dual perspectives of seeing things from Suiren and Kawasumi’s eyes! It gives a greater picture and understanding of how each of them is feeling, which I think is super important with how little the two talk. Definitely excited for the next volume as I love this series so so so much! ~ Laura A. Grace

Like a Butterfly is published by VIZ Media.

READ: Like a Butterfly Reviews Vol.1 // Vol. 2

“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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