Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Review: READ OR DREAM (R.O.D.)

 I've never been shy about my fondness for Read Or Die.  Hell, for years my choice of online avatar was usually some form of Yomiko Readman.  But my fondness for this franchise only goes so far...

READ OR DREAM (R.O.D.), written by Hideyuki Kurata with art by Ran Ayanaga.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2006.


The Paper Sisters Detective Agency is made up of three members.  There's Michelle, the eldest member, who is the most romantic, optimistic, and obsessive of the lot.  There's Maggie, the quiet, dreamy, androgynous one in the middle.  Then there's Anita, the youngest, a spunky tomboy who actually doesn't like to read.  While they are not related by blood, they are all united by two things: the ability to control paper and their commitment towards solving any and all book-related mysteries, even if they also happen to involve estranged family members, sick kids, and the occasional alien.

Monday, January 9, 2023


OK, it's time to shake off the holiday hangover, look forward to my birthday at the end of the month and enjoy another month of Dealer's Choice reviews.  There's no theme connecting these reviews beyond "I want to talk about them," and we're starting with another lady-led slow life kind of isekai book.

THE SAINT'S MAGIC POWER IS OMNIPOTENT (Seijo no Maryoku ha Banno Desu), based on the light novels by Yuka Tachibana and character designs by Yasuyuki Syuri, with art by Fujiazuki.  First published in 2018 and first published in North America in 2020.


Sei was just another overworked office drone coming home to an empty apartment when all of a sudden she was transported to another world alongside an unknown teen girl.  While the teen girl was whisked off to become the destined Saint of legend, Sei was left to her own devices.  A trip through the castle gardens leads her to the Royal Research Institute, where Sei turns out to have a knack for potion-making.  She soon finds herself applying her skills in all sorts of new directions, winning over not just her fellow researchers but also the hunky captain of the royal guard.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Holiday Review Giveaway Winner & 2022 In the Rear View Mirror

 First of all, it's time to announce this year's winner for the Holiday Review Giveaway: @WanderinDreamr, who took her opportunity to promote a Manga Plus series:

I'm gonna put in a good word for Magilumiere Co. Ltd., a series about a magical girl start-up where everyone is trying to have a good work-life balance!

Congratulations! I'll be getting in touch you shortly to sort out your prize.

So how did our 10th year of The Manga Test Drive turn out? Honestly, not that much different from the others aside from a little bit of growth from some new Patrons. Things were somewhat more busy over at our sister site Renaissance Josei, where I completed not one or two but four new Disaster Reports. It also wasn't a bad year for me as a panelist. While I was not able to attend Anime Boston as planned and one of my Otakon panels got mis-scheduled and removed, my history of stop-motion panel went over well at both this year's Anime Iowa and filled a panel room at Otakon. That's not even getting into my many appearances over at Giant Robot FM, where I got to indulge my fondness for Gundam: The Origin and the works of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko a lot.

So what does 2023 hold in store for me? Aside from Year 11 of this humble little review blog, there will likely be more Disaster Reports (along with maybe another project). There will certainly be more panels. There might be another Anime Feminist appearance. Odds are good I'll end up on more podcasts at some point. Beyond that, I can't say with certainty but I'm sure that at the very least it'll be interesting.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone out there continues to find use and enjoyment from my words, share them with others, and maybe even join my Patreon (since who knows how long promoting things on Twitter will hold out).   Hopefully your 2023 will be a happy one as well.

Sunday, December 25, 2022


I knew from the moment I started sorting out what manga to cover this month which series I would end it with.  It had to be the series that no one ever thought would be licensed, to the point that its unlicensability had become something of an inside joke among manga readers and reviewers.  It was too old, too odd, too obscure, and generally unmarketable to your average reader.

And yet here it is, less than a year after it was first announced, like a proper Christmas miracle.

YOKOHAMA KAIDASHI KIKOU, by Hotoshi Ashinano.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2022.


Alpha the android runs her master's coffee shop while they're away.  There's not a huge demand for it in a world where most of Japan's major cities have been swallowed by the sea, but she does have a few neighbors who regularly pop for conversation and trade.  Sometimes Alpha ventures out on her trusty scooter to faraway towns, traversing the few paved roads that haven't broken down or turned into beachfront property, enjoying the sights and hoping to get a new message from her long-absent owner.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Holiday Review #24: BABY BEAR'S BAKERY

 The holidays are also a time for copious amounts of sweet things, so it's the perfect time to read something like this.

BABY BEAR'S BAKERY (Koguma no Cakeya-san), by Kamentotsu.  First published in 2018 and first published in North America in 2022.


This is the story of a baby bear who runs his own cake shop.  He's eager to learn about the world around him alongside the shop's waiter, all while making and sharing his many magnificent cakes with others.