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?

Thursday, November 30, 2017


It's time to kick off our fifth year of the Manga Test Drive's annual Holiday Review extravaganza!  As always, I'll be putting up a new review every day from the 1st of the month to Christmas covering some of the manga and manga trends that defined 2017.

That also means that this is our fifth year of the Manga Test Drive's annual Holiday giveaway!  Our prize is once more a $25 RightStuf gift certificate, and entry is as simple as always.  All you have to do is leave a comment below noting what your favorite manga of the year was before Christmas Day.  It doesn't necessarily have to have be a new series, so long as it was new to you. After the holidays, I will pick one winner at random from said comments.  In the mean time, enjoy the season, enjoy the reviews, and get to commenting!

Friday, November 24, 2017


It seems like no matter how many of these I do, I keep coming back to Gundam Wing.  This one is the most recent attempt yet, having debuted this year in English.  Can this version improve upon its precedesors?  Can it possibly make Gundam Wing's story any more coherent?

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM WING ENDLESS WALTZ: GLORY OF THE LOSERS (Shin Kido Senki Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz: Haisha-tachi no Eiko), written by Katsuyuki Sumizawa, art by Tomofumi Ogasawara, and based on the franchise by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino.  First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2017.


In the year After Colony 195, the United Earth Sphere Alliance is at war with the space colonies orbiting Earth.  To save themselves and fight back against the Alliance, a group of scientists send down five young pilots in powerful mobile suits to strike fear into the forces of OZ.  As we follow the charismatic pilot Duo Maxwell, he learns that not only is he not the only Gundam pilot on earth but that their mission will force them to confront some of OZ's most skilled and dangerous pilots.

Friday, November 17, 2017


The majority of Gundam manga out there are spinoffs, be they spinoffs of shows, other Gundam manga, or (in this case) video games.  The vast majority of these go unlicensed, but today's review is one of the rare exceptions.  So what, if anything, makes this one so special?

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE LOST WAR CHRONICLES (Kido Senshi Gundam Senki), with art by Masato Natsumo, based on the game by Tomohiro Chiba and Bandai Games, the franchise by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino, and character designs by Koji Aisaka and Toshihiro Kawamoto.  First published in 2002 and first published in North America in 2006.


During the height of the One Year War, Zeon forces control much of Western Europe from their base in Odessa, Lithuania.  It is here at this fateful spot that an elite, experimental squad of Federation pilot plan on striking back, led by the dashing Lt. Matt Healy and Corporal Noel Anderson.  Even as failures and infighting amongst the Zeon troops force them to change their strategy, Matt's forces are confident that they can win.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


From UC side stories we move on to one of the more popular (or at least nostalgic) AU properties.  Is it worth our lover, or simply all our hate and our sorrow?

MOBILE FIGHTER G GUNDAM (Kido Butoden Ji Gandamu), by Kouichi Tokita, based on the franchise by Hajime Yadate & Yoshiyuki Tomino.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2003.


In the Future Century, Earth has been ravaged by years of war.  To prevent further disaster, the world governments have agreed to decide which nation rules the world through the Gundam Tournaments, where each nation's champion pilots a powerful mobile suit and fights their way to victory.  As the 13th Gundam Tournament begins, Neo-Japan's champion Domon Kasshu hopes to use his powerful Shining Gundam to clear his father's name and stop his wicked brother from taking over the world with the help of his former mentor.

Sunday, November 5, 2017


For the second year in a row, we'll be looking at the wild world of Gundam manga!  To start things off, let's look at one of the most recent additions to the franchise.

MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT (Kido Senshi Gundamu Sandaboruto), written by Yasuo Ohtagaki & based on the series by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino .  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2016.


As the One Year War reaches it peak, two sides face off against one another in the wreckage of the Side 4 colony, now know as the Thunderbolt sector.  One side is the Moore Brotherhood, a faction of the Earth Federation staffed by former residents of the colony and led by the daring pilot Io Fleming.  The other side is the forces of Zeon, who are using amputee pilots to test experimental suits and defend their supply routes at the same time, led by their star sniper Daryl Lorenz.  The two inevitably clash in the wreckage, but only one can survive.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Let's close things off with an devilishly charming little series that's been mostly lost to the ages.

STRAY LITTLE DEVIL (Sutorei Ritoru Debiru), by Kotaru Mori.  First published in 2004 and first published in North America in 2006.


Pam Akumachi was always told by her grandmothers that nice devils were real.  They even taught her a spell to summon them.  When Pam finally tries to use it, though, she ends up getting sucked into another world full of devils and angels.  She discovers that she has been transformed into a devil and gets attacked by an angel that looks just like her best friend.  Now the only way for Pam to get back to her world is to become a full-fledged devil and that means starting from the beginning.  She has to learn to read their language, work her way through the demonic ranks, and find a familiar, even if she has to shake up a few rules to do so.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Just as there are many BL books about angels, there are just as many about devils, including this one from one of the genre's best loved creators.

THE DEVIL'S SECRET (Akuma no Himitsu), by Hinako Takanaga.  First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2008.


Father Mauro is a priest in a small, rural village.  One day while out on a walk he finds a strange, badly beaten young man in the bushes named Raoul.  Raoul can't remember a thing, much less why he was injured in the first place or why he has horns on his head.  He swears he can't be a devil, yet the more he molests Mauro the better he feels.  When the truth is revealed, Mauro has to decide how much he values Raoul over his faith.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Alas, a lot of devil-themed dramas are no better than the ones about angels, at least if this series is any indication.

THE DEMON ORORON (Akuma no Ororon), by Hakase Mizuki.  First published in 1998 and first published in North America in 2004.


Chiaki has led a lonely life.  Her parents disappeared long ago and most people ostracize her for her ability to see spirits, so she's mostly lived on her own.  One day she stumbles across a strange blond man on the street and takes him in.  She couldn't have possibly guessed that she is part angel, or that her powers have made her a target to the forces of heaven and hell.  Luckily for her, the stranger she found is Ororon, the king of demons, and he swears to protect her from all those that would threaten her.

Friday, October 6, 2017


Last month was on the side of the angels; this month it's all about the devils, demons, and other nefarious forces.  Today's review is far from nefarious, though, despite what its title may suggest.

LUCIFER AND THE BISCUIT HAMMER (Hoshi no Samidare), by Satoshi Mizukami.  First published in 2005 and first published in North America in 2014.


Yuuki is an ordinary guy with an ordinary life and because of that he can't seem to muster up any sort of strong emotion about anything.  He spends his days drifting through life least, until he meets the talking lizard Noi.  He tells Yuuki that he is a magic knight who must save Earth from destruction by a giant magical hammer.  Yuuki takes this about as seriously as you might expect, but he finds himself convinced when he meets Samidare.  She's a friendly girl with super strength and a desire to win so that she can destroy the world herself.  It's a bizarre motivation to say the least, but it's just the thing to convince Yuuki to join her cause.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


To wrap things up, let's look at a forgotten magical girlfriend series from an equally forgotten publisher (...and a later one that I wish we could forget).

GUARDIAN ANGEL GETTEN (Mamotte Shugogetten), by Sakurano Minene.  First published in 1997 and first published in North America in 2003.



Tasuke Shichiri is just another lonely, dorky high school boy with an absent family, few friends, and no girl to call his own.  This all changes when he gets a strange Chinese artifact from his father, from which emerges the moon spirit Shao Lin.  She declares that she will protect him from all harm, but can Tasuke protect her from the modern world and himself from his own growing feelings for her?

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Finding BL manga about angels is not a particularly hard feat to accomplish.  Now finding a GOOD BL manga about angels?  That's the tricky thing.

FALLEN MOON (Daten no Tsuki), by Toui Hasumi.  First published in 2004 and first published in North America in 2008.


In this collection of stories, a man cast out of his personal Eden finds himself trapped in the lavish household of a fallen angel, where he is held captive just as much by his captor's will as he is by the walls.  In another world, an artist and his patron turn out to have a far longer and far more divine history than at first glance.  Finally, a bounty hunter and his partner face off against demons, only to undergo transformations and revelations of their own.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


This one may not be as literally angelic as the last one, but it's certainly a lot more interesting to talk about.

CHEEKY ANGEL (Tenshi na Konamaiki), by Hiroyuki Nishimori.  First published in 1999 and first published in North America in 2004.


Megumi is a brash young boy who simply wants to do martial arts and to grow up into the manliest man ever.  A chance encounter with a wizard leads to Megumi getting a magic book, which in turn misinterprets his wish and turns him into a girl.  By the time he reaches high school, Megumi has become renowned just as much for his beauty as for his fighting prowess, and class thug Soga becomes her number one fan.  Megumi is conflicted; he still sees himself as a heterosexual man at heart, so the last thing she would want to do is fall for a man...right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


This fall, we're going to kick off a two-part theme.  This month will be all about angelic titles, and I can't think of a better place to start than with the most notorious shoujo series about angels around.

ANGEL SANCTUARY (Tenshi Kinryoku), by Kaoru Yuki.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2004.


It would be an understatement to say that Setsuna is a messed-up kid.  Not only is he constantly fighting with his classmates, he harbors a deep and shameful love for his younger sister, and now he's caught up in a literal holy war between heaven and hell.  Setsuna is the reincarnation of a powerful angel and both sides want his power for themselves and both are willing to hurt others in Setsuna's life to get their way.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Of course, I can't let an Old School Month pass without some old shoujo, and there's no better source for mostly forgotten 90s shoujo than good ol' CMX.  Alas, they can't all be gems like Swan and Eroica; most of them are middling dramas like today's offering.

TOWER OF THE FUTURE (Mirai no Utena), by Saki Hiwatari.  First published in 1994 and first published in North America in 2005.


Takeru's life was for a while not all that different from that of any other 14 year old boy.  He's struggling with his choice of high school and a newfound crush and his desire to be a fantasy novelist often leaves him lost in his own imagination.  That all changes the day Takeru's mother dies and reveals that Takeru has an illegitimate half-sister in England.  This revelation shocks Takeru to his core and his reactions threaten to tear apart what is left of his family.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: 3 X 3 EYES

Of course, Hunter x Hunter is still quite well-known for an old-school shonen series.  Today's review covers something that's quite a bit more obscure these days.

3 X 3 EYES (Sazan Aizu), by Yuzo Takada.  First published in 1987 and first published in North America in 1995.


Yakumo was on his way to work one day when he came across a young woman getting beat up by thugs. He fends them off, only to discover the woman, Pai, was looking for him in the first place.  She delivers a skull and letter from Yakumo's father, explaining that Pai is the last of a supernatural race of people and it is up to Yakumo to keep his promise to make her human.  Yakumo is skeptical at first, but after a harpy attack the two are off to Hong Kong to begin their quest.

Friday, August 11, 2017


It's August, which means it's time for yet another Old-School Month!  This time we're going to kick things off with an old-school Shonen Jump favorite that somehow is still running, even today!

HUNTER X HUNTER (Hanta Hanta), by Yoshihiro Togashi.  First published in 1998 and first published in North America in 2005.


Gon wants nothing more in the world than to become a Hunter.  To be a Hunter means to seek the wildest, most exotic, most profitable, and most magical things in the entire world, and the Hunters who discover them can gain fame and wealth beyond their dreams.  Gon, meanwhile, simply wants the chance to follow in his father's footsteps.

Simply getting to the first Hunter examination site is an adventure onto itself, but Gon manages that with ease thanks to the help of his new friends Kurapika and Leorio.  The next step for them is to survive the Hunter tests, and sometimes the applicants are more dangerous than the tests themselves.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


It's not shocking that there would be a flood of spinoffs in the wake of Attack on Titan's massive success.  It's not shocking that one of those spinoffs would be about Levi, the fangirl favorite of the cast. What is shocking is how little I care about it.

ATTACK ON TITAN: NO REGRETS (Shingeki no Kyojin Kui Naki Sentaku), based on the manga series by Hayate Isayama.  Written by Gun Snark & art by Hikaru Suruga.  First published in 2013 and first published in North America in 2014.


Years before Eren Jager and his friends would join the Survey Corps, Levi Ackerman was simply doing his best to survive in the dark, run-down ruins below the Royal Sector alongside his friends Isabel and Furlan.  Survey Corp commander Erwin Smith sees great potential in them and brings them into his squad, depsite the misgivings of both his fellow soldiers and his new recruits.  They are all put to the test when Erwin tries out a new troop technique beyond the walls, only to end up luring out an abnormal titan.

Friday, July 21, 2017


A decade ago, the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise was the biggest thing around.  Not surprisingly, its popularity led to a number of spinoffs getting licensed with today's selection being the most recent.  Does it manage to capture some of the original's off-beat charm or is it just a pale copy?

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF NAGATO YUKI-CHAN (Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoshitsu), by Puyo, based on the light novel series by Nagaru Tanigawa and character designs by Noizi Ito.  First published in 2009 and first published in North America in 2012.


Yuki Nagato is a painfully shy, insecure high school who spends her days getting boss around by her friend Asakura, hanging out in the literature club room, and pining from afar for her classmate Kyon.  She gets her chance to finally confess her feelings when they decide to throw a Christmas party.  Will Yuki summon up her courage in time or just die of embarassment yet again?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Normally I would be saving this for a future Gundam-themed month, but I'm currently just shy of the midway point of Gundam Wing thanks to a groupwatch with some of the Wave Motion Cannon boys and I'm ready for a good rant so this prequel will have to do.

GUNDAM WING: EPISODE ZERO (Shin Kido Senki Gundam W EPISODE ZERO), written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa & art by Akira Kanbe, based on the Mobile Suit Gundam series created by Yoshiyuki Tomino & Hajime Yatate.  First published in 1997 and first published in North America in 2002.


Before AC 195 and the events of Operation Meteor, there are still stories to tell.  There are the stories of five young boys each suffering through their own personal tragedies, as well as that of a lost princess.  Their pasts not only shaped their appearances and minds, but led to chance encounters with other notable figures from their future and eventually to the Gundams they would someday pilot.

Friday, July 7, 2017


Well well well...look who flaked out last month?

Yeah, thanks to a lot of real-world projects and general household stuff, I was not able to finish up last month's theme month.  That just means I have to double down and make sure I get this month's content going.  With the return of another summer comes another month of manga sequels, prequels, & spin-offs.  To kick things off and to make up for lack of content last month, let's start with the return to everyone's favorite otaku college club.

GENSHIKEN SECOND SEASON (Genshiken Nidaime), by Shimoku Kio.  First published in 2011 and first published in North America in 2012.


While the original club members have mostly graduated, Genshiken lives on (even if the members are largely female and their focus is largely on fujoshi matters).  The club is thrown for a loop when a lovely young lady named Hato walks through their door, only to Hato to be revealed as a boy in drag.  While some members have a harder time than others grasping Hato's situation, they all soon bond over their mutual love of manga and man-love.  Meanwhile, former Genshiken president Madarame is having a hard time coping with transiting to the working world.  He finds himself drawn back into club affairs when his place turns out to be the most convenient place for Hato to change, but will it be enough for him to get over the one who got away?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review: POPO CAN

With E3 having come and gone, it feels appropriate to look at a manga about games.  Alas, like a bad E3 trailer this one promises one thing and offers something else (and something worse) entirely.

POPO CAN, by Masakazu Iwasaki.  First published in 2003 and first published in North America in 2003.


Yasuharu Koizumi was only looking for a weird new video game to play.  What he got was the game's heroine, Popomi, popping out of his TV on a vague quest.  In the mean time, she's content to hang around Yasuharu's house, eat his food, get fawned over by his grandfather, mess with Yasuharu's childhood friend Miko, and generally sow chaos wherever she goes.  That's not even counting the robot housekeeper and the ineffectual villainess that follows after Popomi!

Thursday, June 8, 2017


With con season in full swing, it's time to once again take a look at manga that are all about fandom, otaku-dom, and all things nerdy.  Of course, these days the focus is less on the traditional male otaku and more on their pervy sisters in slashiness, the fujoshi.

FUJOSHI RUMI (Mousou shoujo otaku kei), by Natsumi Konjoh.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2008.


Rumi was simply content to spend her days squeeing over her favorite shows, her favorite man-on-man ships, and especially her own vivid fantasies about class hunk Chiba and his best friend Takahito hooking up.  Then Takahito accepted an invitation to model for her in art club and instead found himself falling head over heels for Rumi.  He might not understand what she's talking about half the time, but he's determined to make his feelings for her known even if he must compete with both his best friend and Rumi's newest fujoshi friend for her time and attention.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: ANDROMEDA STORIES

Well, at long last we reach the end of the month.  After all of these books, I want to end things on a high note.  As such, I decided to go back to the early days of shoujo itself for something special.

ANDROMEDA STORIES (Andoromeda Sutorizu), written by Ryu Mitsuse and art by Keiko Takemiya.  First published in 1980 and first published in North America in 2007.


Deep within the Andromeda Galaxy on the planet of Astralis, the people are celebrating the marriage of Princess Lilia of Ayodoyo and Prince Ithaca of Cosmoralia.  All seems joyous on their world until a bright star appears in an unfavorable position that soon falls upon Astralis and brings doom upon the royal house.  In the midst of this disaster, another ill omen occurs: the queen gives birth to twin boys.  The queen's nurse spirits one of the children away to be cared for by a gruff gladiator, unaware that this child may just be in fact the savior of prophecy who will save Astralis.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Merry Month of Manga Review: SHINOBI LIFE

How do you combine family drama, ninjas, time travel and romance in a way that isn't completely ridiculous? Well, I don't know if today's selection is the perfect way to do so, but it's certainly a good start.

SHINOBI LIFE (Shinobi Raifu), by Shoko Conami.  First published in 2006 and first published in North America in 2008.


Hundreds of years ago, Kagetora was a loyal ninja serving Princess Beni.  During an attack on her home, the two are separated by an explosion and Kagetora finds himself flung through time and right onto another, modern day Beni.  She's a rich girl with a seething hatred of her greedy stepfather and she sees Kagetora as a new way to spite him.  Soon enough, she comes to care for him, but helping Kagetora won't be as simple as just taking him back to his time.