ARC Reviews

Sakura’s Dedication, Vol. 1 by Fuyu Yukimiya

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ARC was given by NetGalley and Kodansha in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (February 22nd, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of cheating, scenes of brief verbal abuse

Calling all lovers of the manga Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku and just any slice of life manga! Put this manga series on your radar because this was really cute and I couldn’t help thinking about some of my favorite manga that’s more slice of life. Yet, this manga also gave me very brief vibes of Ouran High School Host Club. Look, if you know, you know. I really enjoyed my time reading this and it was a nice pick me up when I needed something light yet sweet, borderline wholesome.

We follow Sawa Hanasaki, a high school girl, who recently broke up with her boyfriend after finding out he was cheating on her. While she’s still trying to work out her feelings, Sakura Yuma has decided to confront Sawa to ask her to be his girlfriend. Despite rejecting him, Sakura is even more determined he can be the boyfriend that she needs.

“I feel like you’ll get lost and I don’t want to let go of you.”

I feel like my opinion is going to be on the minority side of things, but I actually enjoyed Sawa and Sakura together. In the aspect of them acting like high schoolers, still navigating feelings, and even learning what it means to find true, genuine people who care about you is hard. I think the mangaka did a fantastic job of translating all of this into the manga itself. I think readers, like myself, who’ve been out of school for a while sometimes forget how much a whirlwind high school really was and some of the things that we endured during that time. And I truly believe with my whole chest that the mangaka really brought that to life in this book. Even more so when it comes to navigating the waters of love.

There’s also this whole minor theme of appreciating the little things. You all know, I love a good sprinkling of appreciating the little things in anything I read. And oh, it was delivered so beautifully for us in this manga. Not to the point that it’d be really obvious or overwhelming, but just the right amount that when you do notice, it’s such a burst of warmth. I think we need more literature that has this theme casually sprinkled throughout it.

“But I find myself wanting to touch him like this longer.”

The main theme, though, is what really caught my attention. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a whole theme of discovering what it truly means to be loved, to be valued as you are, and what that can look like when you finally find those genuine caring people. I think Sawa and her relationship with Sakura is such a good example of what it means to truly navigate leaving behind someone who was clearly very toxic, potentially abusive, or even an absolute jerk of a person and find people who value you as you are. It’s not an easy thing to do. I think this manga was a great example of showing a very realistic relationship of love and self value, but the relationship shows us a bit of Sakura and how new it is for him to be with a person he cares so much for. I really loved this theme a lot and this is the main reason why I can’t wait for the next volume.

I will say, I did have one issue with this manga and to be fair, it’s still the first volume. There could still be more on the horizon that we as the readers are unaware of. I really wanted to see more of the scenes with the ex-boyfriend. The few scenes we get of him show that he’s a bit of a verbal abuser, but I also feel there’s a whole lot more to things with him. Even more so with the very first scene we have with him and Sawa. I’m not going to lie, I was on the edge of my seat, but I wanted more. I really wanted to see how those scenes would play out just to get a better feel for his character as a whole. I’m really hoping in future volumes we’ll see little more details.

Overall, I had a really fun time reading this manga. I feel like I say this a lot, but I’m not the biggest slice of life manga reader, but when I do pick them up, I typically enjoy them. Again, I’m really excited for the next volumes and really eager to see what the mangaka has for us. So far, I haven’t seen any announcements on the next book or anything, but you bet I’m keeping my eyes peeled for any bread crumb of news!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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ARC Reviews

Falling Drowning, Vol. 1 by Yuko Inari

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This post contains affiliate links; if you use the Amazon link to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Thanks for reading!

Arc was given by Kodansha & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (February 2nd, 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Depictions and talk of a car accident, talk of loss/death of a parent

I love a good manga that gets me eagerly invested, craving for the next volume to descend into my grabby, little hands. This was such a great manga and it had everything. It has a love triangle, protective friends, a dark horse love interest, a main character with a tragic backstory, just everything you want and need in a manga to keep you invested in the series. I think I can say, with my whole chest, there are going to be many manga readers who don’t want to miss this series.

We follow Honatsu Tenma, a high school student who’s starting a new year at school with her childhood best friends, Toma and Akine. Only Tenma has missed a good chunk of school due to being sick and upon starting her new year, her friends become even more protective of her especially Toma. Toma is so protective that the other students start to notice and soon start a rumor of the two of them dating. With the past of a tragic accident from six years ago claiming her memories, Honatsu tries her best to do things her own way, at her own pace, despite her two friends constantly interfering. While Tenma is trying to get her bearings among all of this, she learns about a new transfer student, Shun Tachibana, who’s Toma’s friend from childhood, but also has rumors going around about him too. This is the start of Honatsu’s journey of discovery her divided feelings between Toma and Shun, and the secrets that are being kept away from her and her tragic past.

“Rather than a single moment it’s more like your feelings of “liking someone” gradually accumulate.”

Let me start by saying there’s something about a childhood friend to lovers trope that hits differently in literature especially in manga. Sprinkle in a love triangle and you’ve got a spicy story just waiting to unfold. There’s also a whole mystery that surrounds to two love interests of our main character that just adds a nice little touch to this story as a whole. What I’m trying to say, I’m invested. I’m in deep and I don’t want anyone to take me out of this rabbit hole.

Starting off with the characters, we have a lot of groundwork being established in a steady pace in this first volume. We see bits and pieces of their history, pieces of childhood, and little details that have you wondering, eager to know more about those characters. While the brief details of Honatsu’s memory loss is sprinkled throughout this volume, the approach to build up the characters first was nicely executed and the best method to approach this first volume in the series. It leaves the readers invested in the characters, but leaving us with a fiery desire to seek out the truth by reading volumes as they release. Which I’m going to be honest, I really want to know more about Shun due to there being so much mystery surrounding his character.

“I think people who can take care of themselves are far more precious.”

Speaking of characters, Honatsu’s character is probably one of my favorite main characters in a while. The way the mangaka established her character was really refreshing to read about. Despite having lost her memories, she has a strong desire to learn things on her own and discover what she likes and dislikes. Her approach to love felt very realistic as well. Falling in love, crushes are both feelings that can cause such internal stress for anyone, at any age. So seeing her character have all these thoughts and feelings about falling in love while she’s under going her own journey of self-growth was really refreshing, and felt realistic for someone of her age.

Of course, I say this with every manga, but the art style was superb. It gives me similar vibes to Ouran High School Host Club and it’s just an art style that’s like catnip to me. There were little details in the illustrations that were really eye pleasing. The way some of the scenes are illustrated fit perfectly to the emotions being set or expressed during that scene. It’s beautifully done, absolutely beautiful.

Overall, I really adore this manga and I really wish we had details for volume two! For a first volume in a series, the story has me fully captured and I’m obsessed with what the next volume is going to give us. Not to mention, I have so much intrigue and questions about so many things, and I just really need the rest of this series. Of course, if you’re a lover of contemporary, romance, and slice of life kind of books/manga then I highly recommend picking this manga up. Plus, I think the way story itself will capture you, making this a fast read.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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My Boss’s Kitten by Yumi Hisawa | Series Review

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Please note, this is going to be a manga series review! 🤍

Content/Trigger Warning: Sexual scenes, talk of divorce, stalking (in a later volume 6 or 7)

Our story follows Aya, who was recently abandoned at the marriage alter and now she’s being face with eviction, and no place for her to go to. That is until one day she finds herself wandering back into the house that she was supposed to be moving into after her marriage. When she thinks she’s all alone, to her surprise her cold-shoulder boss appears before demanding why she’s in his new house. And thus their wild love story begins!

Per-usual when I get heavily invested into a manga series, I wanted to rush to the internet sea and shout at the top of my lungs about this manga. And if you’re a lover of romance, some spicy reads, and manga then you definitely should look into this manga series. Though I will say, this is a Josei manga series, meaning this is a manga geared towards the female audience or also classified as “ladies comics”. So this manga series may not be for everyone just due to the audience this caters to and the content within the pages.

Let me say, I wasn’t expecting this series to wrap me around it’s finger as rapid as it did. I became so heavily invested in this series after reading the first volume. I don’t know how I got here, but all I know is falling down this rabbit hole so hard and constantly thinking about this series since reaching this point. I was expecting to like this series, but I wasn’t expecting only seven volumes and to have really enjoyed the storyline as a whole. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Let me say, the characters are a bit of a mixed bag for me. Our main character, Aya wasn’t my cup of tea for a main character. I wish we had more character development for her because she maintains a very pure/innocent, naive presence throughout this entire book until about volume 5-6. It’s only then we start to see her build more confidence and attempting to be assertive on certain things. However, I love Bucho and I love the fact that Bucho is a divorcee. I often say we don’t see divorcee or widow characters even in literature and how much I would love to see those characters more often. So I really loved that Bucho is a divorcee and how we learn that the way he approaches things with Aya is from the perspective of being divorced. His character development is also slow burn as well. We see him start to change about how open he wants to be more open about his relationship with Aya by volume 5. Look, volume 5 is a big turning point for these characters and I’m here for it.

Continuing with those mixed bag feelings on the characters, let me just say Bucho’s nephew had me cringing and getting some serious secondhand embarrassment. You all know, I strongly don’t like second hand embarrassment when it comes to books, television series, etc… And if you decide to read this series, you know the exact scene that I’m talking about that will make your skin crawl. I’m going to throw Aya’s ex into the mix of the horrible secondhand embarrassment and doing extremely questionable things. Though it was brief, it was some serious cringe for me. On the opposite side of all of this, meeting Bucho’s ex-wife was delightful. She’s a character you want to root for and see get a happy ending. She really does her best and even though she has some awkward moments, I really loved her character. Truly, truly adored her and I lowkey want a spin-off series for her so she gets the happy ending she deserves.

Jumping to talking about the turning point of this series, volume 5-7, was a wild experience. Wild as in these last three volumes have so much jam packed into them and there are a few moments that almost feel rushed, that could have deserved a little more time. In these volumes we meet Bucho’s ex-wife and his brother (around the holidays) and then we meet Aya’s ex-fiance and her family. There’s so, so much that happens in these three volumes. The amount of times that I was death gripping my phone because I was like, “Why is this happening now and there’s not more details or pages dedicated to these scenes?!” It was a lot to work through, but it made the pacing so fast. Also, we get to see how Bucho and Aya reveal their relationship and announce it to their department at their work. It’s all good, but it feels rushed because these moments, introductions, and scenes are packed into the last three volumes of this series.

Of course, I need to talk about those spicy scenes. For those of you have been waiting for me to address the spicy scenes, the coitus scenes here it is right here. They’re good, so so good! The scenes are some really good scenes and the way they’re established just had me clutching my pearls every time. Also, I want to address how before any of these scenes escalate to what they are, there’s an addressing discussion about having painful intercourse from Aya. This isn’t in the sense of the virgin character (though Aya is a virgin) dynamic, but more so in the sense of this is a very real issue that happens to so many women and how many relationships are ended because a woman is constantly suffering during sexual relations. This was a moment that I loved more than any of the other scenes because this is the first time seeing this kind of conversation happening and as someone who has a disease that causes this to happen to them, it just hit a soft spot in my heart. I appreciated it so, so much!

Overall, I had a fantastic time reading this series. I was full blown devoted to completing this series and wanting to write this series review. I think I messaged about five or six people gushing about this series, how much I adored it, and just babbling nonstop about it. Though there were issues with some of the characters and scenes, I still enjoyed my time within this series. And I just wanted to recommend it to all my fellow manga lovers who are looking for a new manga series read.

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ARC Reviews

I’m Looking for Serious Love! by Shoko Rakuta

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Arc was given by LOVE x LOVEs & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 15th 2022)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bigotry (those who live in the city/country), brief scene of cockroaches (censored), entomophobia (fear of bugs), scene of underage drinking, drink spiking/drugging, brief fatphobiac name calling, sexual predator behavior, stalking, harassment, brief mentions of abandonment, sex

Oof, friends this manga was rough for me to read. I’m still wondering what the hell I just read. On one hand, I can acknowledge a lot of the cultural references that are happening in this book that relate to things actually happening in present day. On the other hand, the amount of second-hand embarrassment was a lot to read through. And second-hand embarrassment is something that’s always hard for me to recover from with a book. Either way, this was a doozy of a read.

Miyazawa Kyouhei just moved to Tokyo from the country and he has this big idea of the city life is, and how those who live in the city actually are. When Miyazawa goes to give his new apartment neighbor a gift of welcoming, Miyazawa is met with Takara Tomohiro, his senor. And thus begins their wild story of shenanigans and how they come together.

For those who love manga like Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi or Junjou Romantica then this book is right up your alley. However, I will caution that the difference between those manga and this manga is the content warnings. I wasn’t kidding when I said I had a lot of second-hand embarrassment. Not to mention, instead of this manga coming off as leaning more to the romantic, slice of life side of manga, this manga leads more towards contemporary and has back to back scenes that could make the reader really uncomfortable. Often times if feels like you can’t catch your breath on the amount of serious scenes.

However, I really enjoyed the art style and I really appreciate the bursts of happy, positive moments throughout this story. For example, there’s a side character who really enjoys a popular J-Pop group and when this character meets Miyazawa’s grandmother, they have such a wholesome connection that brough the biggest smile to my face. Truly, one of my favorite moments of this manga.

Overall, this wasn’t a terrible read, but this definitely wasn’t the best. A lot happens in this one manga and there’s a lot to process while reading through it all. Plus the second-hand embarrassment from a lot of the incidents that happen. Also, I wish we got to see more romance between the MC and the love interest, but it was interesting to watch them come together. Still a good read and if you’re looking for more contemporary manga then I’d definitely recommend giving this one a chance.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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The Cat Proposed by Dento Hayane

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ARC was given by NetGalley and LOVE x LOVE in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (February 23rd, 2021)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Suicidal ideation and mentions of attempted suicide

“That day… I took a story by the hand.”

It’s very easy for me to fall in love with a manga and The Cat Proposed is no exception! I fell head over heels in love with the manga. Despite the dark themes of this book, I really enjoyed my time reading it. I really wish we would see more of this book or see it turned into a series. I’ve always loved the lore and mythology of the bakeneko of Japanese culture and knowing this manga exists, ugh, it filled my heart with so much warmth and excitement.

“We may be completely different, but I still want you.”

Our story follows Souta Matoi, a company worker, who’s contemplating suicide because nothing has changed, his life seems to be stuck in a terrible loop. Living the same routine day in and day out, overworked by his company, a deep exhaustion has set into his bones and he desperately wants to make a change. Then one fateful night Souta decides to change the routine by going to a kōdan storytelling. And that’s when his whole world begins to change. Starting with meeting Kihachi, the kōdan storyteller.

I really loved the way the author portrayed Souta and Kihachi. Though they seem like absolute polar opposites of one another, the chemistry between them is perfection. Souta is very timid and bashful, has a hard time expressing how they feel, declaring what they want. Whereas Kihachi is the opposite. Not only is Kahachi a bakeneko, but he’s very upfront about what he wants and direct with how things will work between one another. Also, they’re both sensitive beings who care very deeply for others. They’re both the type of people who puts everyone before their needs. And they just balance each other out so well. There’s some really hilarious side characters we get to meet as well. Yamabuki is absolutely hilarious and I enjoyed the little pokes of fun he has with Kihachi. Also, he’s a lover of stories like Kihachi is and somehow, between all their banter, you can tell they’re long-time friends!

“The light in the darkness is twinkling beautifully.”

If you haven’t guessed already, this manga involves Japanese mythology and folklore. Bakeneko appear a lot throughout Japanese history and culture. From works of literature and landmarks all the way to famous legends, bakeneko have played a role in Japan’s mythology and folklore. Most commonly found within the Endo period, but don’t quote me on that since there’s a chance they appeared during the Kamakura period with the nekomata, since they’re so similar. But I really loved how the author took that mythology and knowledge to weave their own tale. I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing to life the world of bakeneko and finding a way to encourage the reader to learn more about this mythology.

While I know it’s a dark turn of things, I want to take a moment to pause and appreciate the way the author wrote about suicide in this book. I think the author did really well at talking about what it means to be suicidal, to have suicidal thoughts, and to feel such a bone deep exhaustion that’s almost suffocating. And on top of that, I love how the author made sure to show how one person can save us from and how important little acts of kindness, endearment can truly make a difference. I thought it was beautifully and respectfully written.

Overall, I just really loved this manga. I truly wish the author would consider turning this into a series because I have no doubt that I would purchase the whole series for my manga collection. I loved it so, so much! I adored the characters, I really wanted to see more of the bakeneko community and their world. There’s so much untapped potential with this one book and honestly, I want more. I’m excited to see what this author will do next and I’m so glad I got to read an arc of this manga early.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Whisper Me A Love Song (Whisper Me A Love Song #1) by Eku Takeshima

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Kodansha Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (October 20th, 2020)

What a supper cute, humorous manga! Typically I don’t read a lot of fluffy manga, but in some case it really works well and this is one of those books. I adored the characters, their personalities are so memorable and easy to fall in love with. Even the side characters fit the perfect story. I’m truly surprised I haven’t heard of this manga series sooner, but I’m super excited to continue this series and watch these characters fall in love with one another.

🎶 Himari Kino – Is a cheerful, very loving first-year in high school, who ends up falling in love at first sight on her first day at school, during the open live performance from SSGirls. With her best friend Miki-chan besides her and being in the front row, when she’s suppose to check out Miki’s sister, Himari can’t help being swept off her feet by the cool singer of the band.

🎶 Yori Asanagi – Is a cool, lone wolf third-year high schooler, who loves to sing and write their own in their personal time, ends up filling in for the singer of SSGirls. With the members of SSGirls begging Yori to write them songs and join their band, Yori refuses due to severe stage fright, until they meet Himari. Soon, their world changes and be a little head over heels.

Though these two are new to love, we follow their story after they confessed their feelings to one another, as they get to know each other, chat about their love for cats, and become more entranced with one another. There’s just one problem… They both have a hard time believing the other is really in love with them and keep misunderstanding one another’s words.

“I’m going to make you fall in love so hard. So you better brace yourself.”

I really loved the personality of both main characters. Yori is calm and collected, but easily gets embarrassed and has a deep love for cats. Himari is very energetic and has a very bubbly personality. When the two come together, they balanced each other out really well and have great chemistry. I also love how Yori never gets over-shadowed by Himari’s personality, as well. Himari is very much the instigator, Yori always speaks for herself, allowing both of them to be on equal footing. The process in which they grow closer is also super adorable and they have an amazing supporting cast with the side characters. I would have loved to see more of Miki-chan have a role in helping out, but the band is really fun and supportive of Yori.

This is very much a feel good story. It’s meant to be light, fluffy, and the music angle was such a good hook to make Yori stand out. There’s a lot of really cute moments throughout this book and the way Himari is so encouraging is refreshing. The way this manga leaves off, there’s bound to be drama on the horizon especially from the trope that’s being used in this book. However, I think the one issue many readers will have with this book is the clashing of two elements. You have the ‘love at first sight’ trope and then you have the ‘two people not being on the same page’ element added in. Sometimes it can feel like a bit much and I think many readers may struggle with that balance.

Overall, this was really enjoyable. I was chuckling and smiling the whole time reading this. I think the manga does an excellent job at being a feel good read. I think if readers are looking for something fluffy, charming, and just a read that’s going to leave you happy. Plus, the way this manga ends will leave you wanting to know what’s about to happen next with these characters!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Blue Period, Vol 1 by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Kodansha Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking and side remarks directed at a side character who crossdresses

“Here are a few tips to ensure a smooth relationship: Tell people what they want to hear. Don’t focus on yourself, make sure they are having fun in the conversation. At least that the only way I know how to communicate.”

I can’t believe how much I loved this manga and I still can’t believe I didn’t know about this series sooner! This might be a new favorite manga series I need to invest in because this story line, these characters, oh be still my fluttering soul. Going into this book, not realizing how centered around art it was, and then being blown away by so much within these pages was truly an experience. And I just really enjoyed this manga so much, with my whole heart!

Our story follows second year student, Yatora Yaguchi, who’s always gone with the flow and making sure to be practical, to stay on the path his family expects of him. He’s spent most of his time pleasing those around him, never really talking about his passions or interests because to choose those would cause trouble for those around him, or so he believes. When one day he returns to the art room, he comes across a painting that stirs something within his soul and shortly after, his thoughts begin to be consumed by art.

I really loved Yatora as our main character. Yatora’s character is such a breath of fresh air especially in the manga world. Yatora is classified or labeled as a “delinquent”, but despite the bleached hair and the terrible smoking habit, Yatora is actually an honors student and has really high marks on their grade card. And like any coming of age story, we see a light shined upon some of the inner thoughts almost every high schooler has, thoughts such as passion vs. money, hobby vs. career, follow expectations vs. make your own path, peer pressure, parents support and disappointment, etc… We see a lot of that inner monologue with Yatora and I think many readers will be able to connect with a lot of those thoughts. There’s a moment where Yatora receives praise for a class assignment and how it touched him, how good it felt, and I truly believe that scene alone will resonate with so many readers.

“And those who are true to themselves make truly great art. Because art is a language without words.”

I think the progression of the story is the biggest factor that impacted my reading of this manga. The progression of this book is very much geared towards providing information about art and the various art school in Japan. Setting that aside, I couldn’t help becoming swept up in all the hard work, the dedication, and the way Yatora’s skills were developing. Even meeting the side characters and learning about their own skills was really enjoyable. I’ve never been an artist, but this book reminded me of how much I love to draw and sketch. However, I do think some readers will feel bogged down with the amount of information that’s scattered throughout this book.

I do want to say that there were a few minor things that caused me to reread the passages to make sure I was reading them correctly. Yatora’s friends are really disrespectful and there were times where it caught me off guard or it would throw off the entire vibe of a scene. There were also one or two moments where side remarks were made towards the side character Yuka, who cross dresses. For most readers, I think this will get overlooked or no one will talk about it. However, when I caught it and then noticed it was never challenged, it didn’t quite sit right with me. And that might be my own reaction especially due to cross dressing in the past myself, but it was hard to tell what the intentions were with those remarks and hopefully in future issues this will be challenged more.

“Liking something and saying so is scary.”

Overall, I had a pleasant experience and as I said, this might be a new series I’ll end up investing in. I’m eager to see how things will play out, I’m dying to know if Yatora will tell his parents, and most importantly, I want to see more of the side characters in the art club. There’s just a really soothing and enjoyable mood when all the art club students are together. Plus, the teacher is a a true gem and she’s one of those teachers who really cares for her students. If you’re looking for a new manga series to fall in love with, I definitely recommend give this series a chance. I think many readers will enjoy the progression of this manga and be eager to find out what will happen next!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Weathering with You, Vol. 1 by Makoto Shinkai & Wataru Kubota

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Vertical Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published after the release date (September 22nd, 2020)

Content/Trigger Warnings: Homelessness, physical assault, gun violence, mentions loss of loved ones

Did I request this manga because I loved Your Name? Yes. Did I completely fall down a rabbit hole reading this manga and therefore need to know what’s going to happen next? Also, yes! I really loved Your Name. It was a very emotional, whimsical series and movie. So naturally my interest was at an all high when I saw this was available for request. And this book didn’t disappoint! It fully captured my heart and I think many manga readers are going to fall in love with this series, if they haven’t already!

We follow a boy named Hodaka, who’s run away from the island he grew up on, fleeing to the Kabukichō neighborhood of Tokyo to start a new beginning. However, Hodaka finds himself struggling to adjust to the new city and all the gloomy weather. Until he comes across a girl named Hina, who has a the special ability to bring out the sun, also known as a sunshine girl. Together they’ll turn Hina’s ability into a means of helping Hina gather funds to support herself and younger sibling, but Hodaka is keeping secrets and Hina is keeping her own.

“All this time, I think… I was chasing the light that you bring, Miss Hina.”

I loved these characters so much. They’re not your typical main characters who are fierce warriors or magical beings. They’re just two kids who come from rough backgrounds, trying to survive in the big world. I love when characters are just like everyone else, but we get to see their hardships, they’re struggles. It makes those characters feel more realistic and easier to connect to. And of course, the story line that pulls these two characters together is so beautifully woven. I loved seeing the small pieces of Japanese myths and legends tie in to the events happening and the characters.

Just like Your Name, Weathering with You has underlying themes to it. Looking at Hina’s character in this book, he character is designed to show the weight that women often carry. Women are often expected to provide warmth, comfort, and happiness, more time than most being the caregiver of the household. Now, I don’t want to spoil too much (especially for the anime), but the author does a brilliant job of showing this and how if affects women, how much energy the deplete from themselves, and the toll it begins to take on their bodies. I thought it was so beautifully done and I think this book shows the beginning of that process really well.

And of course, I have to talk about how stunning the art style is because it is gorgeous! The beginning of this arc we have one to two pages of colored art and it is everything. That alone had me gasping for breath. It so beautiful and I wish more manga had more little glimpses into colored panels. Even the black and white panels just really had an extra emphasis on the events happening throughout the book. The illustrator of this book is truly talented and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!

Overall, I really enjoyed this manga with my whole heart. I think the story line does a fantastic job hooking the attention of the reader, pricking the curiosity of those who want to know more. It truly is a beautiful story and I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough. I hope my fellow manga readers will be picking this series up and if you haven’t checked out this series yet, please do. It truly is wonderful!

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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Heaven’s Design Team 1 ([Ten-De-Bu] What a strange animal! #1) by Hebi-Zou, Tsuta Sizuki, & Tarako

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ARC was provided by NetGalley and Kodansha Comics in exchange for an honest review.

This review is being published before the release date (October 13th, 2020)

This truly was an adorable manga! This is one of those manga series that’s unique and hasn’t really been dabbled with before (at least to my knowledge). I loved the the different personalities of the teams and how some of the characters are named after the planets of the solar system. And I think this is a great way to spread information about animals many people might not know about. Just a really enjoyable manga for a rainy day! A side note; this series has already been printed (back in 2017, I think), but I do believe this is going through a reprint because of the new anime series. You can watch the trailer HERE!

Our story follows the design team of Heaven who have been tasked with one major project, create creatures to populate the Earth. However, things are easier said than done. With their reject pile climbing higher and higher, the team fears they’ll never be able to fill all the request flying into their inbox. But even in times of doubt, inspiration can strike the most. We join Heaven’s design team on this wild adventure, literally!

I really do love the cast of characters we’re given in this book. Our cast of characters has such a diverse personality range and even though it’s never specified, a plethora of ages. I also really enjoyed each character’s interests. For example, I love how Mr. Saturn is an older gentleman who’s pride and joy project is the horse and has an obsession with all this horses (including unicorns and pegasus). There’s also Neptune who’s a gentle giant and creates some of the cutest animals. Neptune is such a cinnamon roll character and might be my favorite thus far.

I also really liked how this is more on the educational side of manga. While the design team crafts these animals, at the end of each chapter we receive a paragraph of information and facts about the animals that were created in that chapter. For those who don’t have zoology in their background or never had interests in animals in their life, this is was a unique way to provide that information to that reader base. I also think this is going to be a manga series perfect for those who are younger and just starting to discover manga.

My biggest struggle with this manga was the humor in this book. It’s not that the humor is bad or anything, it just didn’t translate on page well for me. I know there’s an anime out and I think the anime will be able to better convey the humor that this manga is trying to portray. I think for other manga lovers, this will be perfect for them to get some chuckles, but I’m very much a “slapstick” humor kind of person and to hear how the humor is trying to be expressed.

My other thing about this manga is the plot and story-line. There really isn’t any end goal or objective to this manga. I think for many manga reader, they might not like this aspect because this book really relies on the educational elements in this manga. The sole purpose of each chapter is to educate the reader on the animals the design team is creating. For me, the banter was fun and so were the conversations, but in the end, I would’ve liked to have seen more at stake (like a time limit) to make things a little more exciting or make me more invested in the story.

Overall, this was a fun little read. I think this is really going to be a manga for those who are just now discovering manga and dipping their toes into the vast pool that is manga. As I said, this is the first manga I’ve encounter that has an educational element to it. I do come from a background of zoology, so a lot of the animals and facts mentioned in this book weren’t anything new for me. However, for those who aren’t from that background, I think it’s going to intrigue those readers especially those of a younger audience. It’s just an easy going book and I think many readers will enjoy this manga. I’m definitely interested in seeing the anime and seeing how the manga compares. I think if you’re looking for a unique manga or you’re just starting out, then I definitely recommend checking this series out.

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Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1 (Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku #1-2) by Fujita

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sexual harassment, mentions of anxiety, alcoholism

Friends, this was the absolute cutest! I had a fantastic time reading this and I had such a hard time setting this down. This is such a whimsical, charming, and perfectly geeky book for those who are looking for a book to brighten their day up. And you might just laugh yourself silly like I did. This manga has also been made into an anime, you an watch the trailer HERE.

We follow Narumi, a secret fujoshi who seems to be down on her luck with relationships. Until one day, she reconnects with her childhood friend Hirotaka, a secret hardcore gamer, at their office job. This sparks Narumi suggestion they should go out for drinks to catch up with one another. And while they’re catching up, Narumi reveals to Hirotaka how hard it is to find someone who accepts her for who she truly is. To Narumi’s surprise, Hirotaka offers a solution. And this is their story.

This manga focuses on two different relationships. The main relationship this manga focuses around is Narumi and Hirotaka. Not only do they work together, but when they’re together they’re absolutely precious. Since they’ve known each other for such a long time, we see soft moments like when they can tell the other is upset or aren’t acting like themselves. We also get some really great moments where we see their personalities show a different side compared to when they’re in the work place. The other relationship this manga also focuses on is between Kabakura and Hanako, friends and coworkers to Narumi and Hirotaka. Their relationship is intense, they fight almost constantly, and the tension between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

“We’re together because I love you and I like seeing you doing things that make you happy.”

I really enjoyed Hirotaka and Narumi together. Their interactions with one another were so cute and wholesome, but they have a deep understanding of each other. They have some really precious moments that really show how much they care about one another, not only as couple, but also as two individuals who have been friends for such a long time. I really loved that. I also really appreciated how we see both couples in this manga on double dates. I rarely see the double dating in books. So that was a pleasant surprise that I really enjoyed. I also really adored how close Hanako and Narumi are in this manga. They cosplay together and seem really protective of one another. I’m always here for a friendship that’s positive especially between two women.

I only had two issues with this manga. The first one was with the second relationship, the one between Hanako and Kabakura. I felt like we never got to see them be soft and gentle with one another. For the majority of this book, they’re constantly arguing at each others throats, insulting one another, and there’s even a scene where Hanako tries to pressure Kabkura into cosplaying when he specifically says no. We see maybe one or two moments between them where they’re being gentle to one another, but the majority they’re fighting with one another. I’m hoping in future books, we see more moments shared between them where they’re being kind to one another or loving.

My second struggle with this manga was no solid story line or plot. It felt like there were outlines of a plot or story line, but for the most part it felt like this manga was just sharing moments between Hirotaka and Narumi. It felt very repetitive because of no solid story line or plot. With that being said, I’m hoping in future volumes we’ll see change of scenery and things won’t have a repetitive feeling to it. We’ll see an actually story form of how their love is growing, maybe we’ll see some character development, and maybe we’ll see some end goal within this book.

“If my smile could reach the person I love… I think I’d explode with happiness.”

Overall, I really did have a fantastic time reading this book. I loved how we follow two geeky people who’ve been friends since childhood form a relationship. They’re incredible sweet to one another and Fujita has an incredible way of capturing that. I also really enjoyed the art style. Fujita has a way a capturing the emotions of characters and make a panel play to the moment. And the way Fujita writes has such a subtle way of saying so much meaning with saying very little, I really loved that. It was just a really great times reading this manga. I’m really eager to give the anime a try and see how similar it is to the manga. But if you’re looking for something funny, charming, and wholesome then I can’t recommend this manga enough!

Buddy read with Kayla from Books and Blends 🧡

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