What setting most strikes your fancy? Would you love to inhabit an elegant but haunted mansion? Attend a school full of super-powered mutant students? Walk to and from school thinking of the moon clouded over on a rainy night? Or breakdance at a competition in a packed and unbelievably loud underground club?
Too hard to choose? Well, how about all of the above? Travel to destinations urban and rural, here and in another world, familiar and exotic, through the volumes we review on this week’s Reader’s Corner!
Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle, Manga Vol. 4
I think it’s human nature to cheer when we read or watch a scene in which bullies receive their comeuppance. Even so, Chitose’s rescue of Kenta from his former friends, which concludes the first arc of the manga series, feels particularly satisfying and provides a worthy resolution after volume three’s cliffhanger ending. One of the things I liked most about this scene is that Chitose comes across as a good person through and through, and so does Yuuko, who shows up at the scene of the crime as well. That the latter happens is almost a miracle because the girls of “Team Chitose” come across so poorly in the light novel series from which the manga is adapted. And indeed, Heaven comes crashing down in the second half of volume four, in which another of Chitose’s harem, Yuzuki, has a very, very long conversation with him that leads to a peculiar deal, ending in a highly suggestive final few pages that—and this is no spoiler—are obviously a red herring. The characterization of the women is a real problem in the series; just because they wink wink nod nod that their desire to be Chitose’s (insert any of a litany of unacceptable words they might use) is partly an act doesn’t mean that performance is cute, acceptable, or anything less than cringe. By this volume, they still all share the same basic personality as well. Chitose, on the other hand, is an interesting character; it’s quite hard to pin him down and figure out exactly what makes him tick. But he’s made less interesting when paired up with one of the girls. How I wish the writing was as strong for the harem as it is for the lead! ~ Twwk
Chitose is in the Ramune Bottle is published by Yen Press.
Shadows House, Manga Vol. 4
Miss Kate is hanging by a thread and time is running out! This volume sees the grande finale of the debut arc as Edward’s theatrics reach a crescendo. Though his intention was to weed out the majority of the children by pitting them against one another, his plans have backfired thanks to Emilico’s pluckiness and Miss Kate’s ingenuity, and by the day’s end, not only are the living dolls speeding toward friendship, but now even the young shadows are beginning to bond. And a good thing too, given the dark secrets that Miss Kate uncovers about August Grandfather and Shadows House. If she is going to protect Emilico and herself as she unravels the rest of the mystery, she is going to need allies. It’s time for the
Avengers shadows and dolls to assemble! As a fan of the anime, I’ve been anticipating this moment since the first volume—the moment when the children begin to trust one another and relationships start to form; when they begin to discover who they are, and who they want to become; and most of all, when the peerless Miss Kate grabs hold of her agency with both hands and starts to come up with a plan that displays all the genius packed away in that little brain of hers. (Do shadows have internal organs?) This volume expands the world and cast of Shadows House, introducing new tiers within the manor house’s hierarchy among both the adults and children, and revealing the relationship between the noble house and the village at the base of the mountain, which lives in thrall to August Grandfather and his family. Also, it is in this volume that the dashing (and hilarious) Mary-Rose finally makes her first appearance (wait, is it her first though?), alongside the intriguing Barbara/Barbie duo—an OP shadow paired with an ill-tempered doll who for some reason gets a pass when ordering shadows about. A veritable smorgasbord of rich characters is now laid out before us readers! The feast extends to the visuals as well, and some fascinating supplementary material about the artist’s process helps to explain why. Shadows House has always been a fine-looking series, but the draftsmanship in this volume is particularly striking. The cover art is also worth a good long stare for this one—secrets are revealed in those shadows! Seriously, this series just keeps getting better. ~ claire
Shadows House is published by Yen Press.
READ: Shadows House reviews Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3
The Moon on a Rainy Night, Manga Vol. 1
Although it begins as a softer, shoujo-ai parody of A Silent Voice, by the end of volume one, The Moon on a Rainy Night has evolved into something entirely different and magical. The manga, which is centered on Kanon, a high school student with a hearing handicap, and Saki, her classmate who tries to make friends with her despite opposition, contains a lot of unique topics. Many references to handicap are made, such Kanon’s and others’ uncertainty while attempting to speak, bullying (part of which is due to an over- or under-reliance on others), and the blossoming attachment between the females, albeit at this point, only Saki has a (big) crush. As I mentioned before, there is some brutality throughout the series, albeit not quite as much as in A Silent Voice, and it is toned down as the volume progresses. In reality, I’d say the tone of the book is largely lovely and endearing, especially when it’s amusing, like when Kanon fangirls or another girl in class gets “otaku mouth” in her excitement about light novels. The transition from coldness to such warmth feels planned and relatively complete—with a few modifications, this might have been a one-shot manga book. However, the ending contains an unexpected piece of knowledge that both intrigues me and links the series closer to its subgenre. In that vein, Christian readers of this column are advised to assess their approaches to media before opting to try (or dismiss) this series. ~ Twwk
The Moon on a Rainy Night is published by Kodansha.
Jungle Juice, Manhwa Vol. 1
Do you recall the scene in the original Spider-Man film where Mary Jane kisses Spidey while he’s upside down? I wonder if she would have done the same thing, or if she would have delayed a little if Peter had, say, four extra hairy arms attached to his tummy. Would she have screamed and fled instead? Jungle Juice takes a unique approach to the “cross-mutated with an insect” plot by giving its protagonist, Suchan Jang, not only dragonfly powers, but also dragonfly physical traits. Suchan has been hiding his insect wings since he developed them after spraying a dragonfly with “Jungle Juice,” the most bizarre insecticide on the market (how did this get certified by the Korean government?). As a result, the series is a lot of fun, set in a “human insect” university, with pieces of sweet romance mixed in with exciting and occasionally brutal sequences and school-life fun. I really enjoyed volume one, which does exactly what a school series should do: make you wish these were your friends and teachers. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the series is about bugs and a protagonist who is attempting to overcome his fear of insects, it never feels nasty; it doesn’t reside in the world of horror or campiness, as you might think (or prefer). Rather, despite being situated at Bug High, the entire manhwa tone, which is at once over-the-top and often sweet and romantic, is kept. Volume one also ends on a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see how the story concludes in the next volume. ~ Twwk
Jungle Juice is published by Yen Press.
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent, Manga Vol. 2
I was already excited to read this volume after enjoying volume one, but when I realized it would begin with Sir Albert and Sei on a date, I was squealing and stamping my feet within the first few pages! Ha! What a fantastic way to begin this collection! After the thrill has subsided (for me or Sei, it’s difficult to say—HA! ), Sei is back at the research institute, eager to acquire a new magical ability: enchanting! When the Director assists in making that happen, she begins to study and apply her newfound skill! I’m still really enjoying this series, and I was overjoyed when Sir Albert and Sei went on a date right away! That was my favorite moment by far because these two are so lovely together! I really enjoyed seeing Sei develop yet another magical skill (perhaps much to Jude and the Director’s chagrin)! She continues to astound all around her with her quest for knowledge—as well as her extremely OP skills. Another thing I’d want to express is how proud I am of Sei! She was brave and acted in a given situation while knowing she would never be able to return to a “ordinary” life following her activities. I fully agree with a knight who commented earlier in the book that she truly acts like a saint in her concern for others and desire to do whatever she can to help them. I wish this lovely woman nothing but the best! I continue to adore her, root for her romance, and eagerly await the next new magical power she learns! ~ Laura A. Grace
The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is published by Seven Seas.
READ: The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent Vol. 1 Review
Wandance, Manga Vol. 6
When do you abandon a series that was once a favorite but has been trending in the wrong direction for far too long? Maybe when the “trend” becomes the bulk of the manga’s run, that’s a sign you should look into it. I’ve reached that point in Wandance, which began with the promise of watching one main character grow and the other be revealed while we witnessed a dynamic picture of dance on the page, but failed to deliver. Wandance has severe issues with its key couple six volumes in and reaching the end of the dance fight arc. Wanda still lacks individuality and doesn’t have any distinguishing features beyond the surface, whereas Kabo’s growth—both in confidence and his newfound excellent dancing abilities—is unjustified. The supporting characters, particularly the two lads at the heart of this volume, are marginally more fascinating than Kabo and Wanda, but not to the point where Wandance becomes a powerful character piece. Meanwhile, the dancing panels remain appealing, but with little characterization, I’m not motivated to try to visualize the moves and learn about dance. In fact, this was the first volume in a long time that I couldn’t bear listening to the music the dancers battled to or slowing down to digest the dance scenes. It’s simply no longer worth the effort. ~ Twwk
Wandance is published by Kodansha.
READ: Wandance Reviews: Vol. 1 // Vol. 2 // Vol. 3 // Vol. 4 // Vol. 5
“Reader’s Corner” is our way of honoring the amazing world of manga, light novels, and visual novels, creative works that are inextricably linked to anime yet have their own beauty. Each week, our authors share their impressions on the books they’re reading, both new releases (to keep you up to date on new releases) and older literature that you might find as wonderful (or, in some cases, terrible) as we do.