Monday, December 25, 2017


True to form, I end these holiday reviews with a story that's all about family and acceptance, as well as yet another stand-out LGBTQ-themed book from another unexpected source.

MY BROTHER'S HUSBAND (Ototo no Otto), by Gengoroh Tagame.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


Yaichi leads a largely comfortable life raising his daughter Kana, even as he tries to come to terms with the recent death of his estranged twin brother Ryoji.  Then one day his brother's widower shows up at his door, a big, burly, gentle ginger giant named Mike.  Mike has come to Japan to learn about his late husband's family and early life, but his presence ends up forcing Yaichi to come to terms with not only his own prejudices, but his own past as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


For me, Christmas is a time all about good food.  Naturally, this means my mind turns to good food manga, and we got a doozy of a food manga this year.

DELICIOUS IN DUNGEON (Danjon Meshi), by Ryoko Kui.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


Laios was deep in a dungeon when his sister was eaten by a dragon.  With Marcelle the elven mage and Chilchuck the halfing at his side, he's determined to make his way back to the dragon by subsisting entirely on food gathered from the dungeons.  Together with Senshi the dwarf, they will cook their way through floors full of basilisks, slimes, living armor and more.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


I also don't want to imply that there was no good josei either.  Kodansha took up the mantle there too, albeit mostly digitally.  The obvious choice would be Akiko Higashimura's Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but since that's getting a print release next year I'm going to hold off on that.  Instead I want to talk about another great josei series that mostly slipped under everyone's radar.

THE FULL TIME ESCAPIST'S WIFE (Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu), by Tsunami Umino.  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2017.


Mikuri spent her twenties working on a graduate degree in psychology, only to find herself unable to find work in both her field and through temp agencies.  To support herself, she takes up a housekeeping job for Tsukazi, a standoffish salaryman, but this job is put into peril when Mikuri's parents decide to retire to the countryside.  That's when she and Tsukazi come up with a bold plan: the two will go through with a common-law marriage to keep up appearances, but otherwise continue with the same professional arrangement they had before.  Things seem to go smoothly at first, but can these two fake being married without feelings ever coming into the picture or anyone learning the truth?

Friday, December 22, 2017


I feel bad for implying that there wasn't any truly stand-out shoujo series released this year as that's simply not true.  Things can't be all bad when you get a new series from the creator of Dawn of the Arcana.

THE WATER DRAGON'S BRIDE (Suijin no Hanayome), by Rei Toma.  First published in 2015 and first published in North America in 2017.


Asahi was just playing in her parents' yard when she's whisked into the pond and transported to a realm that's many hundreds of years before her own.  Initially she is saved by a young boy from the village, but the rest of the village sees her as an outsider who will do as a sacrifice to the water dragon in the lake.  Now she is trapped in the realm of the water dragon who has little interest in humanity, much less a bride, desperate to simply go home.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday Review: ACCA 13

It's rather appropriate that I brought up Natsume Ono in the last review, as her latest series came out here less than a month ago.  Does it live up to the high standards of her previous work?  Well, that depends on how you look at it...

ACCA 13: TERRITORY INSPECTION DEPARTMENT (Acca 13: Jusan-ku Kansatsu-ka), by Natsume Ono.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


The land of Dowa is a seemingly peaceful collection of 13 districts united under a king.  This peace is maintained in part by the Acca Office, whose duty is to inspect the other territorial bureaus for discrepancies.  Their best agent is Vice-Chair Jean Otus, who is known just as much for his smoking habit as he is for his keen eyes and mind.  Initially, his goal is to simply preserve the office from being shut down as a budget-saving measure, but as the story progresses we learn that he may have more ambitious goals in mind for himself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Yuki Fumino isn't the only BL mangaka to make an impression this year.  Haruko Kumota primarily makes BL herself, but she finally made her print debut in English with her josei series about an obscure form of stagecraft and a LOT of complicated feelings.

DESCENDING STORIES: SHOW GENROKU RAKUGO SHINJU, by Haruko Kumota.  First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2017.


Fresh out of prison, a young man is determined to find Yakumo,the rakugo master who inspired him and become his apprentice.  He manages to convince the difficult old man, but the newly dubbed Yotaro finds himself now caught in the middle of a long-simmering family feud between Yakumo, his adopted daughter Konatsu, and the dead man whose memories haunt them both.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Holiday Review: I HEAR THE SUNSPOT

Thankfully, there was a lot more LGTBQ-related manga that came out this year to counter missteps like the previous review, including today's subject.  Who could have guessed that the best BL book to come out in English this year wasn't from a specialized imprint, but from an oddball publisher like One Peace Books?

I HEAR THE SUNSPOT (Hidamari Ga Kikoeru), by Yuki Fumino.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


Taichi is a cheerful, outspoken college kid who is driven more by his hunger than anything else.  That hunger ends up leading him to Kohei, whose hearing loss has led him to withdraw from most of his peers.  Taichi accepts his offer to take his notes in exchange for food, and the two become friends.  That friendship is put to the test when Kohei's condition gets worse and Taichi begins to understand his true feelings.

Monday, December 18, 2017


You'd think that I would have been looking forward to this one, considering that it was a 4-koma comedy all about BL fandom and Seven Seas's first tenuous steps towards licensing the real deal.  If only it had more than just one joke.

THE HIGH SCHOOL LIFE OF A FUDANSHI (Fudanshi Koko Seikatsu), by Atami Michinoku.  First published in 2015 and first published in North America in 2017.


Ryo Sakaguchi has a secret: he loves BL manga.  He loves it so much that he ships his classmates, spends all his money on manga and merchandise, and confuses his best friend Nakamura with fandom jargon.  Yet he's afraid of others finding out and thinking that he's gay, so he often has to settle for Twitter and lurking in the BL aisles of bookstores.  So how is he going to deal with manipulative, openly gay Shiratori, fanatical fujoshi Nishihara, and fellow fudanshi and amateur mangaka Daigo?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Review: AHO-GIRL

There wasn't a lot of comedy manga to speak of this year, so all we had to read was manga like....THIS.

AHO-GIRL (Aho garu), by Hiroyuki.  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2017.


Yoshiko is stupid.  Abysmally stupid.  Her only interests seem to be playing, eating bananas, and tormenting teasing her neighbor Akkun.  Meanwhile, he's simply trying to study while keeping Yoshiko's stupidity under control and endure the weirdness of his fellow classmates.

Saturday, December 16, 2017


Meanwhile, Dark Horse was largely busy this year with the American side of their business.  The manga side was mostly just keeping up with Berserk's most recent return from hiatus, but they also put out a single volume manga dealing with one of modern horror's favorite authors: H. P. Lovecraft.

H. P. LOVECRAFT'S THE HOUND AND OTHER STORIES (Maken - Lovecraft Kessakushu), adapted and artwork by Gou Tanabe.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


This collection covers three stories from Lovecraft's earlier days.  First there is "The Temple," where a crew of a Nazi U-boat is slowly driven to madness and mutiny by ancient forces.  Next is the titular story, where a pair of graverobbers steal a pendant and unleash a terrible supernatural creature in the process.  Finally there is "The Nameless City," where an explorer discovers a lost city in the desert, and barely escapes from the forces that destroyed it in the first place.

Friday, December 15, 2017


There was a small but strong line up of horror manga to come out this year, kicked off with a collection by one of the genre's masters.

DISSOLVING CLASSROOM (Yokai Kyoushitsu), by Junji Ito.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


Across Japan, a strange phenomenon is happening.  People are having their brains melted out of their very heads.  Sometimes their entire bodies disappear into a puddle of goo, leaving nothing but a stain.  Others have their faces warped into hideous visages, all while telling themselves that they are unparalleled beauties.  All of these strange occurences seemed to be tied to two people: Chizumi Azawa, a creepy girl with a fondness for brains, and her big brother Yuuma who can't stop apologizing for everything.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday Review: SP BABY

That wasn't the only josei series to come out this year, though.  Viz continues to sneak out the occasional josei title through the Shojo Beat line, and sadly they can't all be Everyone's Getting Married levels of good.

SP BABY (SPxBaby), by Maki Enjoji.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


Tamaki Hasegawa was simply trying to get to an interview.  She just couldn't help kicking and lashing out when she saw what she thought was a man in a fight.  That man turned out to be Kagetora Suga, the nephew of the prime minister, and he thinks she'll be perfect to serve as his bodyguard.  No one ever said that this new job would also require fending off a lot of stolen kisses and possibly her own changing feelings for her new boss.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Holiday Review: FRAU FAUST

This was easily one of my most anticipated titles of the year since not only was it a new josei title, but one from the creator of one of my favorite ongoing manga.  So why does it feel like a bit of a disappointment?

FRAU FAUST, by Kore Yamazaki.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


To young Marion, Johanna was simply the strange yet smart stranger in town who needed his help.  He could have never guessed that she was the Dr. Faust of legend, who made a deal with a demon and now seeks to reassemble the same demon she dealt with.  Soon Marion finds himself joining her motley household of orphans and creations, all while holy crusaders try to hunt her down.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Then there's the work that everyone presumed was shoujo but wasn't.  Much like The Ancient Magus' Bride before it, this is technically shonen but still managed to capture something strange yet beautiful.

THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE: SIUIL, A RUIN: (Totsukuni no Shoujo), by Nagabe.  First published in 2015 and first published in 2017.


Deep in the forest, past the abandoned village, lives two beings in a cozy cottage.  One is Shiva, a friendly and curious young girl who waits everyday for her auntie to return for her.  The other is nameless, known only as "Teacher" to Shiva.  He cares for her and protects her, but makes her promise one thing: that she never touch him.  He bears a curse that turned him into a dark and demonic-looking creature, and if Shiva should touch him the curse will spread to her.  That's far from the only danger she faces, though.  Not only are there soldiers looking to kill anyone who might be tainted with the curse, there are other creatures like Teacher whose intentions are nowhere near so noble.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Review: BEAUTY BUNNY

Kodansha has been picking up all sorts of shoujo manga, but most of it is digital only.  I have to wonder whether this because they want to give harder-to-market works a chance to find a fandom or to simply hide titles like this out of shame.

BEAUTY BUNNY, by Mari Yoshino.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


Kohane is a 17-year-old who takes care of her flighty, irresponsible hostess mother while she accomadates to her new high school. Things get off to a bad start when class prince/makeup company scion Iori calls her ugly.  Things only get worse when he gets Kohane out of a scrape with a makeover and he decides to make her his personal pet project.  Kohane never had much interest in makeup and other girly things, but maybe his skills will help her change her mind...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Review: THE ROYAL TUTOR

Yen Press's shojo offerings have always been hit or miss, but today's review covers one of the more notable ones, not the least of which is because it was originally one of their digital exclusives.

THE ROYAL TUTOR (Oshitsu Kyoshi Haine), by Higasa Akai.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


Heine Wittgenstein has been summoned to the Royal Palace of Granzreich for a daunting task: to become the royal tutor and turn the king's four younger sons into men worthy of the throne.  This is no small feat, as he has to deal with the stubborn and childish Leonhart, the quiet and taciturn Kai, the scholarly and competitive Bruno, and the flirtatious and flippant Liche.  It will take all of Heine's intellect and wit to get past their defenses and prove to them that he is worthy of the role as their teacher.

Saturday, December 9, 2017


There was plenty of shoujo manga that came out this year, but for once it wasn't Viz leading the charge as far as number or quality.  With debuts like this, it's little wonder why this year was an off one for them.

ANONYMOUS NOISE (Fukumenkei Noizu), by Ryoko Fukuyama.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


Nino Arusigawa's childhood was defined by two major losses.  The first was her best friend Momo, who would sing with her from their bedroom windows whenever their parents fought.  Her grief over him led her to Yuzu, a moody young boy with a gift for songwriting.  Both boys were captivated by her voice.  Momo told her that if she sang loud enough, he would always find her; Yuzu simply wanted to keep that powerful voice for himself to fuel his own passion for music.

Fast forward to high school, where Nino's grief is still so strong that she wears headphones to shut out the world and a surgical mask to keep herself from screaming in grief.  She reunites with Yuzu and finds her voice again, unaware that Momo may be closer than she expected...

Friday, December 8, 2017


A lot of recent isekai stories have tried to distinguish themselves by having the hero reincarnate as something other than human within their fantasy worlds.  Some of them can get particularly wacky with this idea, but when it works the results can be interesting.

THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME (Tenshi Shitara Slime Datta Ken), based on the novel by Fuse, with art by Taiki Kawakami and character designs by Mitz Yah.  First published in 2015 and first published in North America in 2017.


Satoru Mikami is another run-of-the-mill salaryman until the day he gets stabbed to death.  Instead of crossing over into the afterlife, he is instead reincarnated as a humble slime monster within a cave.  After making a deal with a dragon to gain some senses and absorb some new skills, the newly redubbed Rimaru Tempest plops his way into the world, ready to explore the world.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Of course, the isekai trend continues unabated in the world of light novels and most of those end up with a manga adaptation for good measure.  Of course, the longer a trend goes on, the less inspired and more lazy it least, if this book has anything to say about it.

DEATH MARCH TO THE PARALLEL WORLD RHAPSODY (Desu Machi Kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyosokyoku), based on the novel by Ayamegumu, art by Hiro Ainana and character designs by Shri.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


Ichirou Suzuki is a programmer who is currently in the middle of a crunch to finish a new JRPG.  In the middle of testing, he falls asleep only to find himself in the game in a younger form of his body.  A chance encounters gives him all the resources, levels, and skills he needs to get by, so he's content to lay low, explore the world, and try to learn as much as possible from the many pretty girls that come his way so he can find his way back.  It seems this dream world has a greater destiny for him in mind, though, and he'll have to put all his knowledge of the game to the test.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Holiday Review: GOLDEN KAMUY

Of course, the real stand-out action manga from this year wasn't any sort of super-hero related thing, but instead a historical piece that's just as much about the anthropological detail as it is about intense survival action.

GOLDEN KAMUY (Goruden Kamui), by Satoru Noda.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2017.


"Immortal" Saichi Sugimoto is a veteran of the Russo-Japanese War who simply wants to make some money to save his former sweetheart from poverty and potential blindness.  He gets his chance when a prospector clues him in on a fortune in gold stolen from the local Ainu people, where the only clues are tattooed on the skin of escaped prisoners.  His search leads him to Asirpa, an Ainu girl with a personal stake in his search and the survival skill he'll need if he is to survive the harsh Hokkaido winter.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Holiday Review: INFINI-T FORCE

It's no surprise that with the worldwide popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that someone in Japan would get the idea to try to create their own Avengers-style story with Japanese properties.  The only problem is when they try to export them outside of Japan...

INFINI-T FORCE (Infiniti Fosu), based on multiple series by Tatsunoko Productions, written by Ukyou Kodachi and art by Tatsuma EjiriFirst published in 2015 and first published in North America in 2017.


Emi Kaido's ordinary high school life is changed forever when she receives a mysterious package with a pencil that claims to grant wishes.  Then during a store hold-up she finds herself wishing for a hero and involuntary drawing four different figures.  These turn out to be four costumed heroes from four different universes, each of them with their own motivations.  Together with Emi and her magic pencil, they must find a way to work together and protect Emi's universe from evil forces gathering within Emi's universe.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Review: AFTER HOURS

The most surprising thing about this year's yuri boom was seeing Viz get in on the act.  Viz has always been one of the more cautious manga publishers when it comes to their licenses, so for them to pick up a couple of yuri titles is an incredibly encouraging sign for the future of yuri in the US.  As easy as it would have been to pick their long-awaited print release of Sweet Blue Flowers here, I wanted instead to talk about the other yuri title Viz picked up.

AFTER HOURS, by Yuhta Nishio.  First published in 2015, and first published in North America in 2017.


Emi's night out at the club is going badly.  Her best friend bailed on her to hit on a guy and now she's being cornered by a weird drunk.  The night is saved when Kei, the DJ, takes her under her wing and shows her a good time.  Now Emi finds herself increasingly drawn into Kei's world and to Kei herself, but at some point will have to come to terms with stuff like her current apartment and the boyfriend she's supposed to be living with...

Sunday, December 3, 2017


OK, let's look at some proper yuri from the genre's first and biggest supporter: Seven Seas.  They put out a lot of good yuri titles this year, but this one may be the cheeriest of them all.

KASE-SAN AND MORNING GLORIES (Kase-san shirizu...), by Hiromi Takashima.  First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2017.


Yamada and Kase first meet when they discover that they have been both tending a patch of morning glories on the school grounds.  From that point on, Yamada is obsessed with Kase but believes herself to be too untalented to be worth of Kase's notice.  Will Yamada ever find the courage to tell Kase how she feels?  Or at least stop denying her feelings long enough to realize she's in love?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Holiday Review: MURCIELAGO

One of the most surprising trends to come out of 2017 was the rise of yuri manga.  We saw not only more new titles, but also more publishers taking a chance on it.  It's safe to say that no one pushed the boundaries of yuri more than Yen Press with this series, though.

MURCIELAGO, by Yoshimurakana.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2017.


Kuroko Koumori is a vicious killer with over 700 victims to her name.  Instead of execution, she is given a new job: to kill any criminal deemed too dangerous or too strange for the police.  With her cutesy assistant Hanako, she'll take on everything from a drugged-up killer wrestler to a couple of wanna-be robbers to a murder mansion full of traps and other career criminals like herself, all while hitting on every pretty girl she sees.

Friday, December 1, 2017


Let's kick things off with what is indisputably one of the biggest manga titles of the year.  This title not only made a splash with manga fans, but with the LBGTQ community as well.  As we speak, it's currently popping up on more than a few Best of Comics lists  (and will likely appear on many more before the month ends).  So what was it about this title that spoke to so many?

MY LESBIAN EXPERIENCE WITH LONELINESS (Sabishisugite Rezu Fuzoku Ikimashita Repo), by Nagata Kabi.  First published in 2016 and first published in North America in 2017.


This autobiographical tale covers the author's descent into depression and anxiety issues when life after high-school leaves her feeling adrift and desperate for the approval of others.  After a lot of rumination and lifestyle changes, she decides that perhaps part of the problem is that she craves physical affection but has never had sex.  So, she hires a lesbian escort to help her take care of things.  Is this act the solution to her problems or just the beginning of another personal revelation?