My News and Reviews
With American Thanksgiving, traveling, and visiting family, last week was once again a quiet one at Experiments in Manga. However, I am at least still reliably posting the My Week in Manga feature. Yen Press, though, was a little busier than I was last week and announced three new licenses: Asari Endō’s Magical Girl Raising Project light novel, Mutsumi Okubashi’s Grimgar of Fantasy & Ash manga, and the first Sound! Euphonium novel by Ayano Takeda. Of the three, Sound! Euphonium is definitely the one that I’m most interested in and am looking forward to. Even if I wasn’t a brass player (fun fact: I actually have a degree in horn performance), that would probably still be the case.
Attack on Titan: Lost Girls, Volume 1 written by Koji Seko and illustrated by Ryosuke Fuji. Considering how well Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan has been doing in North America, it’s not too surprising that most of the various spinoff series have been licensed as well. I actually didn’t know much about Lost Girls before reading it except that the series focuses on some of the more prominent female characters of Attack on Titan. The first volume of Lost Girls is a complete story in and of itself featuring Annie during the time she served as part of the Military Police Brigade. (Interestingly, it’s one of the few spinoff stories to take place within the context and timeline of the original series.) What I didn’t anticipate was that the first volume of Lost Girls is basically a murder mystery, or at least that’s what it turns into after Annie agrees to investigate the disappearance of a young woman. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised by the first Lost Girls; it’s actually pretty great. The manga follows Annie as she searches for clues, uncovering some of the seedier aspects of the city and kicking ass as necessary. It also delves into her backstory. After reading the first volume of Lost Girls, I’ve come to appreciate even more how interesting a character Annie is.
Fire Force, Volume 1 by Atsushi Ohkubo. Although Fire Force isn’t the first manga by Ohkubo (who is probably best known as the creator of Soul Eater) to be released in English, it is the first one that I’ve actually read. I really like the basic premise of Fire Force. In order to fight back against something akin to demonic possession combined with spontaneous human combustion, brigades of Fire Soldiers have been formed. These teams are essentially exorcism units with unique firefighting capabilities, including pyrokinetic members who can control and create fire. The series’ main character is Shinra, a young fire user with a tragic past who has recently joined one of these brigades and who has the unfortunate habit of grinning maniacally whenever he’s nervous. Fire Force has the potential to be a fun and exciting manga with some great action sequences, but the first volume managed to extinguish most of my enthusiasm for the series. Ohkubo’s exposition is incredibly heavy-handed, frequently stating the obvious and relying on forced conversations to tediously explain everything that is going on rather than using more natural methods of worldbuilding or allowing the artwork to convey the action on its own.
His House, Volumes 1-3 by Hajin Yoo. If I recall correctly, the first manhwa that I ever read was Yoo’s boys’ love series Totally Captivated and it remains a series of which I am quite fond. And so, when I learned that Netcomics was releasing His House, one of Yoo’s most recent full-color manhwa, I was immediately interested. The series follows Gangyoo, an orphan trying to finish college while struggling to make ends meet. In order to earn enough money for room, board, books, and tuition, he’s been renting himself out to women who for one reason or another temporarily need a fake boyfriend. Fortunately, his most recent gig pays so well that he won’t have to worry about his finances for a long time, however it’s a challenging and strange situation–not only is his client Soohyun a man, he doesn’t seem to actually like Gangyoo or even be interested in his services. The strongest points of Yoo’s manhwa tend to be the lead characters and their well-developed personalities. The stories, while engaging with excellent pacing, can sometimes run a little wild and end up somewhat convoluted. This is true of His House, too, but I still enjoyed the series. The manhwa is a page-turner as Gangyoo and Soohyun’s relationship evolves and their hidden pasts and true motivations are slowly revealed.
My Love Story!!, Volume 7-10 written by Kazune Kawahara and illustrated by Aruko. I absolutely love My Love Story!! and yet I still somehow manage to forget just how much I enjoy the series between readings. This, of course, means that I get to rediscover my love for the manga on a fairly regular basis which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My Love Story!! is one of those series that just makes me incredibly happy to read it and sometimes that’s just exactly what I need in a manga. It’s a funny, charming, and upbeat series with loveable and endearing characters which, incredibly, doesn’t come across as being overly sweet or idealistic. Takeo and Yamato’s earnest and pure romance is marvelously refreshing. But while I have no doubt that their relationship will continue there is still some uncertainty in it and it still takes communication and work on both of their parts. They have moments when they feel insecure or lack confidence, often because they love each other so much and want the absolute best for the other. Takeo and Yamato’s friendships with the other characters in My Love Story!! are likewise wonderful. I especially appreciate Sunakawa’s presence in the series and the closeness that exists between him and Takeo. I continue to adore My Love Story!!.