Did Spring actually happen? I had every intention of keeping up with these monthly wrap-ups… but with Summer looming I am busier than ever. Now that I apparently have a moment to myself, let’s see what I read 2 months ago, shall we!??
★★★★★ 5 Star Reads:
NOTHING!!! That’s disappointing!
★★★★ 4 Star Reads:
Alice 19th / by Yuu Watase (Translated by JN Productions, Adaptation Lance Caselman). This is a cute (and somewhat dark) shoujo manga series about the power of words. I’m not a fan on how rushed the ending is of this title, but overall this is one I love to return to over-and-over. I wrote a more complete review, here.
AJin Demi-Human / by Gamon Sakurai and Tsuina Miura (Translated by Ko Ransom). A hair-raising horror manga with a truly reprehensible main character… or is he? Not for the faint-hearted, but apart from the first volume which I found a little weak, is thoroughly engrossing. I wrote a more complete review, here.
Absolute Boyfriend / by Yuu Watase (Translated by Lillian Olson, Adaptation by Lance Caselman). Most of the series was rated 3 stars, I can’t remember what it was about these two volumes in particular that I liked… but there you have it. A broken-hearted girl accidentally orders a “sex doll” who acts like her ideal perfect boyfriend. Perhaps he’s too perfect? I love Watase’s series, but this is my 2nd least favourite in her entire backlist. My problem: there’s a rape-y plot device in the middle of the series which I’m not particularly entertained by.
Kindaichi Case Files (The Mummy’s Curse) / by Yozaburo Kanari and Fumiya Sato (Translated by Ray Yoshimoto, Adaptation by Matt Varosky). Has some of the ugliest cover designs in my collection, but is a series of surprisingly good self-contained mystery volumes. I’d liken the reading experience to a really good Agatha Christie novel.
The Quest for the Missing Girl / by Jiro Taniguchi (Translated by Shizuka Shimoyama and Elizabeth Tiernan). This one was pretty interesting, if a bit unfortunate in its set-up: helpless female characters need rescuing. This is the story of a man coming to grips with his own guilt and having to literally climb over his feelings. His story was moving, her(s) story unfortunately soured the overall title for me slightly. Just slightly.
Master Keaton / by Naoki Urasawa, Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki (Translated by John Werry). Was there ever such a manga more perfectly written for me? If it weren’t for the episodic nature of this work, it’d be a perfect 10. Master Keaton is a full-time archaeologist at a poor college, and has to supplement his income with undercover insurance work. His past military experience and his knowledge of the classical world makes him a formidable foe. Plus this features an astutely handled translation by John Werry. I was impressed.
Aishiteruze Baby / by Yoko Maki (Translated by Marie Cochrane). Ahhhhhh. This is so impeccably adorable. Who doesn’t love to see the cool teenage boy doting on a small child? Also, I didn’t notice how busy these covers were until I uploaded the images above… yikes!
Fake / by Sanami Matoh. This almost feels like a spoof on 80s cop shows… like Starsky and Hutch maybe, only with more MxM romance. As “yaoi” this one features solid character development and in my opinion a more believable romance as one of the boys painfully struggles with his sexuality. There are some really quirky characters in this, some compelling mysteries, and is set in New York (not Japan) which is an interesting change of pace.
★★★ 3 Star Reads:
Everything in this block of pictures I partially rated already in the 4 stars. I don’t have much more to say about any of these, except that I wanted to include the books to actually show the total books I read during the month.
But Laura, I thought you said you were too busy to do anything? Well… let me tell you. When I get stressed, I read manga. It’s about the only place I can escape and recuperate from a long day of work and chores and school and more school and family and other obligations… It probably also adds to my stress since I don’t normally have time to pick a book up until 11pm at night.
Pig Bride / by KookHwa Huh, SuJin Kim (Translated by Jackie Oh). I wrote about this a bit more in depth for my #MangaMonday recommendation on Manhwa. This is the story where the boy and girl meet as young children, and make a promise to wed when they meet as “adults” or just when they’re a bit older. Unlike shoujo manga, which often handles this topic, this is a title where the two characters actually did get married as children. It’s pretty cute, and adds in the always interesting theme of reincarnation.
Platinum Garden / by Maki Fujita (Translated by Egan Loo. Adaptation by Sarah Dyer.) I’ve got a more complete review, here. This series is incompletely published in English, and I’d say overall not the strongest series. It starts out incredibly weak, but it does slowly improve over time. The large cast of characters, and dark family secret remind me a lot of Fruits Basket. If you had to choose which to read of the two, though, I’d still choose Fruits Basket.
Zodiac P.I. by Natsumi Ando (Translated by Takae Brewer, Adaptation by Chris Poole). A girl detective who gets help from the zodiac to solve crimes. It’s a completely unbelievable story, and unfortunately features a fairly rushed plot. It would be best appreciated by a pre-teen who loves cute magical romance stories. I have already written more about this series for my #ReadManga18 challenge wrap-up, here.
A.I. Love You / by Ken Akamatsu (Translated by David Ury, Adaptation Adam Arnold). This is another series where a boy falls in love with his ideal woman. He knows she’s ideal… because he created her virtual self before she magically became flesh-and-blood. It’s actually a pretty funny series, but it definitely has the same comedy style of Ken Akamatsu’s other series, which I’m not necessarily a fan of.
R.O.D. Read or Die by Hideyuki Kurata and Shutaro Yamada (Translated by Steve Ballati). I only read the first volume of this, but I’m eager to get back into it. This had a surprisingly dynamic plot, and mysterious main character that I was excited to keep going. I think I stopped because I got sick in March… it can always curb a good reading experience. I don’t remember if this follows a story after the OAV or before… I’m thinking it was probably before. The OAV is a fantastic anime… and R.O.D. The TV (Anime), I recall made my cry buckets of tears. But more important than anything, I relate so much to Yumiko’s neurotic love of all things books…
RA.I / by Sanami Matoh (Translated by Adrienne Beck, Adaptation by Jill Freshney) By the same authors as Fake (Above) and actually have characters which cross over into the Fake series in some of the side stories. Like Fake, this one deals with a private investigator. But unlike Fake it takes on a supernatural element as the boy Ra.I exhibits telekinetic abilities. It’s still a comedy, has overly obnoxious declarations of love, and the art is a bit clunky. But, it’s a fun read, particularly if you have recently read Fake.
07-Ghost / by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara (Translated by Christine Schilling, Adaptation by Mallory Reaves). This had potential. I’m never too concerned when a series starts with a overly complicated plot, or just a poor premise. It takes time for artists to settle into their series. But, unfortunately this was the best volume of the three that I read. It quickly tanks. Overly complicated. Too much information dumping. Boring. Frankly, I’m glad there wasn’t more in our collection.
★★ 2 Star Reads:
Marionette Generation / by Haruhiko Mikimoto. Wow. I recently finished buying this series… and it is just… I don’t know. I have a very different memory of it. I am certain I’d seen some of the anime in the past, but this wasn’t at all what I remember. It’s basically about a sentient “puppet” with no hands or feet who has some dark secret… but can’t remember what it is. I don’t know if it was the translation, the age of the book, the bizarre story… what? But I really didn’t get into this. But never fear. I believe in reading everything in my collection. I’ll get back to it eventually.
Grace for Gus / by Harry Bliss. Not a manga. Not a manwha. And not from my collection. It’s the only library book I read this month. I guess when I get stressed I don’t have time for library books. This was… poor. It wasn’t actually that it was bad, just that it doesn’t make sense as a publication. This follows an incredibly simple premise of a “peanut’s-esque character/aka Marcy/aka Grace” who realizes that the class guinea pig needs a friend and so sneaks out at night and busks to earn some money. Along the way random celebrities appear in the background, mostly NY residences and primarily popular in the 70s. Because. Why not? This simple plot was too simple for there not to be something hidden in the backgrounds, but I doubt that children would be interested in seeing these old celebrities that even their parents would be too young to remember. The audience isn’t clear. And, I clearly wasn’t impressed.
★ 1 Star Reads:
We end off with this series. I’ve already discussed above. I was actually surprised how much I didn’t like this considering how popular it is… but there you go. Everyone can’t love the same things.
…So that’s everything I read in the month of March! Which manga have you read lately and loved? And perhaps more interesting, which manga have you read lately and hated?
*I’ve recently begun attempting this thing where I add translators and English adapters to my “reviews” and wrap-ups. I missed a few above due to the books being too high on the shelf (and being too lazy to pull out a step-ladder) or for the fact that the books are currently AWOL at the time of writing this. If you know who translated the series’ that I missed and would like to fill me in feel free to let me know below so I can give credit where it’s due.