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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Manga Review: Sweet Blue Flowers, Volume 3, by Takako Shimura


Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Signature (VIZ Media)
Release Date: March 2018
Volumes: 4.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 2. 4.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A genre-defining saga of love and friendship between girls.

Akira Okudaira is starting high school and is ready for exciting new experiences. And on the first day of school, she runs into her best friend from kindergarten at the train station! Now Akira and Fumi have the chance to rekindle their friendship, but life has gotten a lot more complicated since they were kids…

It’s time for the Fujigaya theater festival again, and this year Akira and her friends have chosen an ambitious Japanese play. Not only will it seriously challenge their acting abilities, but the number of characters in it means they’ll need all hands on deck to pull it off. But ever since Fumi admitted that she had feelings for Akira, their friendship has been a little awkward. Will the forced intimacy of collaborating on the play help them work things out, or make things worse?

Review:

They perform the play in the first half of this volume. The costumes are really good, and a few of them are much better actors than they expected. It goes off really well, with only a little mess-up. I'm not fully sure what the meaning behind the play for this book was, but it was there for a few of the characters.
In the second half, it's another girls vacation. Only, this time, there's more feelings and embarrassment between Akira and Fumi. Fumi is struggling with their relationship, as she knows how she feels and what she wants to do; Akira is very inexperienced and clueless about all of it, though.
There's a surprise move in the second half of the volume, which I didn't see happening so soon. I rather like how it's handled, though. Same as when Fumi talks to Ono about what happened in the previous volume. Fumi is reluctant and unsure, but she's also honest and rather upfront about herself, and I respect that. This isn't a thing talked about much, and could easily cause problems for Fumi, but she's being honest about it, while also quiet and private for the most part. That takes a lot of courage.
I really like this series, it's soft and sweet, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it wraps up in the next volume.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Manga Review: Tiger & Bunny, Volume 9, by Mizuki Sakakibara, Sunrise, Masafumi Nishida, and Masakazu Katsura


Rating (Out of 5): ~2.5-3
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: 2016
Volumes: 9.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 8.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Humans turned genetic superheroes fight crime—and compete as sponsored reality stars?

Superpowered humans known as NEXT appeared in the world 45 years ago. Some of them fight crime in the city of Stern Bild while promoting their corporate sponsors on the hit show HERO TV. The people love their superheroes, even if they don’t completely understand them, and not all of the NEXT use their powers for good.

The heroes have uncovered that Kriem is the one controlling the Mad Bears and move to neutralize those stationed around Stern Bild. Meanwhile, Kotetsu and Barnaby finally reveal the secret behind Jake’s mysterious powers!

Review:

Just getting thrown into the story on the last volume probably earned me having no idea what was going on. I knew nothing about the characters, and so I had no connection to any of them or understanding of their relation, and I had no idea what was happening with the story line.
For some reason, I always thought this was more of a comedy series, not a somewhat serious action series. But the main characters are saving people and working together to fight crime, pretty much. They seem to have an odd companionship, and were in a conflict, but are getting the hang of working together and enjoying it.
There seemed to be some odd characters and situations, but this wasn't what I was expecting, at all. Not really my kind of series, though, so I suppose that's why.


A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Manga Review: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Volume 7, by Izumi Tsubaki


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: May 2017
Volumes: 10+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 6. 8.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Is there love in the air, or has everyone just gone plain loony?!


Has Chiyo's affection for her brusque shoujo manga-ka beloved finally soured?! She's suddenly extorting Nozaki...and plotting his destruction in the tournament ball game...! The absurdity doesn't end there, as Wakamatsu confesses his love to Seo, the person he dislikes most...! Even Yukari starts an "adult" relationship with hilarious consequences...! Is no one safe from the crazy going around?!

Review:

In this volume, the main three attempt to stay in shape, for a short stint. We see how Seo is a hindrance to the basketball club. There's a lot of mangaka and editor issues, and Nozaki attempts to research what bullying is like—it doesn't really work well with Sakura, since she likes Nozaki too much.
I love all of the interactions in this series, to be fair, but I particularly love when Seo and Kashima show up. They're very different characters, and I love their reactions. They're definite scene stealers.
These volumes are a really nice break at times, and just what I need some days. They're so much fun to read.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Novel Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West


Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance; Lottery
Publisher: Point (Scholastic)
Release Date: 2017
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

The Cover:
  
This cover is super cute to me. I think the merry-go-round gives a different impression, since they work at a zoo, but it is kind of relevant. And otherwise, I think it gives the right feel, makes it look sweet and fluffy, like it mostly is.

Review:

Maddie is very strict in her ways and has a plan for herself and is on her way to getting it. But on a disappointing night, she decides to purchase a lottery ticket, pretty much in spite. And then she wins, and everything changes.
During all of this, when people start asking for money and trying to use her and she doesn't know who's actually her friend anymore, there's always the zoo she works at, and Seth. Seth doesn't seem to know, and he's still there to joke around and flirt with.
I will admit that I didn't get into this one as much as I have some of West's previous books. It was cute, but just okay overall.
I did like Seth, and the zoo elements. Those were a lot of fun. And I enjoyed the quirky, flawed elements in them. Maddie sometimes speaks when she doesn't mean to, and she usually acknowledged it, even aloud, which I thought was refreshing.
Maddie's brother annoyed me—but probably because I related to Maddie in that way. I didn't completely buy how easy Trina decided to be friends with Maddie. And I also didn't really agree with how Maddie blamed Elise for the article—I really don't think she meant anything bad by it, and it sounded more like she gave them hints than any real details. I was sympathetic to Elise—she just doesn't know what she wants with her life, and she just wants people to like her. I don't think it was her fault, and the journalist could have easily researched the numbers after mentions of places and dates.
This was cute and fun, but just okay in the end.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Manga Review: Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits, Volume 1, by Waco Ioka, Midori Yuma, and Laruha


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: January 2019
Volumes: 5+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Faced with the choice of being married to a strange spirit or being made into dinner, Aoi decides to create a third option for herself!

Aoi Tsubaki inherited her grandfather’s ability to see spirits—and his massive debt to them! Now she’s been kidnapped and taken to Kakuriyo, the spirit world, to make good on his bill. Her options: marry the head of the inn her grandfather trashed, or get eaten by ayakashi. But Aoi isn’t the type to let spirits push her around, and she’s determined to redeem her grandfather’s IOU on her own terms!

Aoi wants to work off her debt to the Tenjin-ya inn, but she only has one day to find a position and none of the managers are willing to hire a human! If she can just get someone to see past her family background, Aoi is certain she can prove her worth!

Review:
 
 Aoi's grandfather just passed away, and she's trying to clean up his affairs, his belongings. Unbeknownst to her, her grandfather made a deal with a yokai, and thus sealed her as a bride to a yokai inn owner. She's always been able to see yokai, as she bonded with her grandfather over this, but she hasn't dealt too much with their world.
Now that she's thrown into this yokai inn, she refuses to marry this yokai, and thus tries to prove her usefulness in other ways to pay off the debt. But the inn is already being taken care of as it should, and the other yokai aren't so welcoming to her.
This was definitely a start to a new series. Aoi finds one friend in the inn, but her betrothed, the ogre, doesn't seem too bad to me. Aoi's grandfather put her in this position, and didn't seem like a great guy, but she was still close to him.
I'm feeling optimistic about this series at this point. I don't feel like I got enough to go on quite yet, as I'm not sure where the romance is going or even where her place at the inn is going from here. It could be interesting, though.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Manga Review: I Hear the Sunspot: Limit 1 (Volume 3), by Yuki Fumino


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: One Peace Books
Release Date: November 2018
Volumes: 4+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 2. 4.

Goodreads Synopsis:

"You rescued me from a world without sound. If it wasn't for you, I never would've known the world was such an amazing place!" Because of a hearing disability, university student Kohei had made a habit of distancing himself from those around him. But after meeting the exceedingly cheerful Taichi, he gradually begins to embrace a more positive outlook on life. Kohei eventually begins to see Taichi as more than a friend, and after he finally confesses his love to Taichi, the feelings become mutual. In this new addition to the I Hear the Sunspot series, Kohei continues on as a student, while Taichi makes his way out into the working world to pursue his own calling and the two begin a new life together!

Review:

Now that Taichi and Kohei are officially together, they're still finding their way with that. At the same time, Kohei is discovering that his hearing might be going even more, and Taichi is at a new job, where he's helping people with deafness, and he's being taught some hard lessons.
I really like the realistic aspect of deafness that this series takes. As Taichi starts his new job, he's being made to learn how to deal with it in the real world, how he can help but also how he can't take over like he wants to, in order to do everything he can to help in the moment.
We meet a new character in this volume, when Kohei is shown a deaf sports team. Ryu seems rude at first, but we discover that he's just got his own sense of boundaries and morals. He can be very intense, in good and bad ways, I think. I'm intrigued by him.
We see Kohei and Taichi finding their balance in their new relationship, and in the new places they're at in life in general. I'm really glad this series didn't end at either of the single volumes before this, as I really want to read more, and it never quite felt like their story was done yet. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Manga Review: Kiss Him, Not Me!, Volume 13, by Junko


Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5-4
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: February 2018
Volumes: 14.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 12. 14.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Heya! Kae again! I can hardly believe that Mutsumi-senpai and I are a couple! And on top of that, Mirage Saga has a sequel?! Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

But maybe I'm not in paradise, after all...I got carried away with the Mirage Saga Event and ended up ditching my date with Mutsumi-senpai to spend time with his friend, Yashiro!

And when Mutusmi-senpai finds out about everything, he forces me to face and unthinkable question: who do I love more, Shion or Mutsumi-senpai?! Ohhh...what will I do? Do I go with boys love or the boy I love?!

Review:

Kae is forced to make the true decision in this volume: the real boy (Mutsumi) or her anime obsession (Shion)?
It's a hard decision for her, because she's truly obsessed with her fictional boys, and it's hard to give that up. When there's a special event, she automatically must go, even if Mutsumi wants to do something instead. Mutsumi lets her get away with it for longer than he should, but he's also the only one who sees the real issue. He understands what the true reason behind all this is, and doesn't blame someone else unnecessarily.
It's nice to see the gang still help each other despite being rejected; they're all still friends. I also liked that Kae's competition ended up being the real life version of her fantasies. It was a little cliché, but I also appreciated it, and how it was handled for the most part.
The next part is the conclusion, and I look forward to seeing how it wraps up. I like that instead of making her harem decision be the final one, it made her go through these things as well. Because she is an odd character, and can be a hard girlfriend to have, and it's good they both had to face that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Manga Review: Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, Volume 8, by Yasuo Ohtagaki, Hajime Yatate, and Yoshiyuki Tomino


Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: VIZ Signature (VIZ Media)
Release Date: August 2018
Volumes: 13+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 5. 9.

Goodreads Synopsis:

An epic story of war and survival set in the legendary Gundam universe!

In the Universal Century year 0079, the space colony known as Side 3 proclaims independence as the Principality of Zeon and declares war on the Earth Federation. One year later, they are locked in a fierce battle for the Thunderbolt Sector, an area of space scarred by the wreckage of destroyed colonies.

The mission to recover Zeon’s Reuse P. Device technology leads Daryl Lorenz and his unit to the Rig, a network of oil platforms inside Nanyang Alliance territory now repurposed as a floating city. The Rig is a haven for refugees and deserters from both sides of the war, all living under the watchful eye of the warrior monks of the Alliance. Ordered to infiltrate the Rig undercover, Lorenz and his team must make contact with a Zeon operative and begin a covert operation to learn the secrets of the Nanyang Alliance and its leader, Sojo Levan Fu, who plans to do far more than simply mass-produce the Psycho Zaku…

Review:

This is an odd series, with an odd concept, and I seem to have a hard time understanding who the main character is and what they stand for. Maybe that's just what happens in Gundam though? I've never read or watched any of it, really, so I guess I wouldn't know?
I'm really not a mecha fan, I'm finding out. This is also such an odd dystopian world, that I have a hard time following it. It doesn't make much sense to me, I guess. Maybe cause I missed how the story started.
There are some religious and political themes in this volume, and I'm not quite sure where the characters stand. There are a few different battles, a lot of moving around, some battles in the water. And then the volume ends as they're possibly getting caught.
I am definitely not the audience for this series. I care too little for the suits and battles and themes, and there isn't enough character for me to follow, I think.


A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Manga Review: The Promised Neverland, Volume 8, by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shonen Jump (VIZ Media)
Release Date: February 2019
Volumes: 14+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 7. 9.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The children of the Grace Field House orphanage must escape a macabre fate before it's too late.

Life at Grace Field House is good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious food and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems...

Review:

It's easy to get pulled into the crazy plot lines and cliffhangers in this series, but then I have to remind myself that they don't usually last very long. This series doesn't drag out anything unnecessarily. It's still intense and dangerous, and bad things could happen, but it doesn't take several volumes for one plot line, which I appreciate.
So Emma, Ray and the man have ventured out to reach the next point. After the man sets them up, he clearly has bad intentions for them. He's not on their side. So it's up to Emma and Ray to prove to him that they're going to succeed at this, that they're not easy to kill. Emma has enough hope that this is going to work out for all of them. It's infectious, and is likely what is keeping them going.
I won't spoil how that goes, but reaching Goldy Pond is a bigger plot twist than I expected. I didn't imagine this, at all, and am wondering what William Minerva has planned for them next. It could be anything, at this point.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Manga Review: The Water Dragon's Bride, Volume 8, by Rei Toma


Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Shojo Beat (VIZ Media)
Release Date: January 2019
Volumes: 11.
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 1. 7. 9.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A modern-day girl gets whisked away to a strange land where she is sacrificed to a water dragon god!

In the blink of an eye, a modern-day girl named Asahi is whisked away from her warm and happy home and stranded in a strange and mysterious world where she meets a water dragon god!

Asahi is captured by a human who’s using the god of darkness to take over the world! Trapped in the underworld, Asahi resolves to figure out the true intention of this ruthless boy while the water dragon god and Subaru form a tag team to try and save her!

Review:

In the first half of the volume, we get to see how Asahi deals with being locked in darkness, and what kind of connection she has with both Subaru and the Water Dragon God. She has come a long way since she was first transported here and taken by the Water Dragon God. At this point, when faced with a cruel god, she doesn't cower anymore. It's really nice to see how far she's come.
But then we're left with a cliffhanger, as the second half of the volume is taken up with backstory on these new characters. It's interesting to see the boy and the god of the underworld, to see how he got there and what a different life he's had when compared to Asahi. They're very similar, but with very different perspectives, I think.
I really need to know what happens next between Asahi and the Water Dragon God. I'm so hooked.