In which we extend our profound sympathies to Sean, languishing without internet thanks to a hurricane and his crappy ISP.
The Dorm of Love and Secrets, Vol. 4 | By Nikki Asada | Kodansha Comics (digital only) – Structurally, the conclusion of The Dorm of Love and Secrets is a lot like another of Kodansha’s short, digital-only, shoujo series, Let’s Kiss in Secret Tomorrow. The heroine’s big secret is received with very little fanfare (in Asahi’s case, her high-achieving dormmates had already figured out she was a member of the normal class) and instead the focus is on reassuring the secondary character who’d been interfering with the main couple’s happiness that they are, in fact, a good person. Here, Asahi helps Tsukigase fight to save Midnight Oil Hall from being torn down. It’s a decent ending, though the plot thread about Yokaze’s grandfather’s dojo is never addressed again. I also would’ve liked more with Asahi and her older sister, who was largely responsible for Asahi’s inferiority complex regarding her supposed lack of intelligence. Ultimately, this was a pleasant series but not required reading. – Michelle Smith
Haikyu!!, Vol. 39 | By Haruichi Furudate | VIZ Media – Karasuno has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Spring Tournament and their opponent is Kamomedai, a defensively skilled team with a “little giant” of its own. In fact, the original little giant is in the stands, and seeing him be impressed by the next generation of small players is great. My favorite part, though, is that a couple of Hinata’s classmates, who had assumed he was a benchwarmer, happen to catch the game on TV and are astonished by how good he is. In fact, throughout the volume, whenever he scores a point, Furudate-sensei will toss in a little panel of these guys celebrating his success. It’s a really nice touch. Oh, and also Tsukishima the elder literally sparkling with pride over his little brother’s performance. The volleyball part is as great as ever, but the sheer warmth exuding from these pages is why I love this series so much. – Michelle Smith
Love on the Other Side: A Nagabe Short Story Collection | By Nagabe | Seven Seas – Collecting six short manga, Love on the Other Side is more akin to Nagabe’s series The Girl from the Other Side than the The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms anthology, although there are certainly some aesthetic similarities to that volume, as well. While the narratives in Love on the Other Side are unrelated to one another, the stories are all about an intimate (not necessarily romantic) relationship between a human child or young woman and a beast. In many cases, that beast is a literal monster. Some are kind-hearted, some are not, and with some, well, it can be difficult to tell. In part, the tension and unease caused by that is what gives Love on the Other Side such an effective and affecting atmosphere. The stories are beautiful and touching but also often unsettling—love shadowed by peril, uncertainty, and the unknown. Overall, it’s an excellent collection. – Ash Brown
Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 | By Aoi Makino | Viz Media – Given the fact that the main protagonist of Not Your Idol is an assault survivor, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the manga is intense, but I don’t know that I was fully prepared for the level of its intensity going into the first volume. I hesitate to call Not Your Idol “dark” (even though it is) as that could seem to imply that the story goes beyond reality when what makes it so disconcertingly effective is the horrifyingly realistic sexism and misogyny underlying the manga’s drama and psychological suspense. The first volume is not a feel-good debut, but it is a very strong one. I’m anxious to see where the series goes next, especially considering some of the twists towards the end of the first volume—I desperately want to know if those developments are truly what they seem or if there are more shocking revelations to come. – Ash Brown
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, Vol. 4 | By Honda | Yen Press – Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san began as an amusing depiction of the hectic goings-on (and kooky customers) at the bookstore at which its creator worked. After volume three, though, Honda quit that job and is now hurting for material (by her own admission). In desperation, she interviews various people in the bookselling industry (and takes a trip to Taiwan), but the frenetic energy of earlier volumes is completely gone. Now it’s just informative and rather dull. The story peters out and then we get random short comics from Pixiv and Twitter. I did like a couple of things, like the page capturing the various ways people show joy before the shelves, and Honda’s reaction to a senseless act of destruction. Honda-sensei quit the bookstore to become a full-time manga creator, and I hope we see some of her other series here in the near future! – Michelle Smith
Wanna Try Dating Inoue? | By Fujitobi | Futekiya (digital only) – This is another exceedingly cute BL oneshot from Fujitobi, who also wrote Faded Picture Scroll. Although named for the first trio of stories, the volume is actually about two different couples at the same high school, set in a world where humans and anthropomorphic animal people coexist peacefully. Asthmatic first-year Yuzuta Inoue falls for a kind third-year tengu named Karasuma, and it is mostly cute, although Inoue’s persistence in trying to get Karasuma to fall for him crosses the line into problematic initially. Rooting for them are a couple of side characters named Asaka and Ookami, who turn out to be the protagonists of the next trio of stories. Ookami is 100% the best thing about this manga. He’s sweet, gentle, shy, and stuck in the big, imposing body of a werewolf. I love him. I hope we get more Fujitobi titles in the future! – Michelle Smith