Ran and the Gray World Volume 1

Ran and the Gray World by Aki Irie contains some classic fantasy genre ideas, but the overall tone is unfocused with a touch of creepy. Ran is a magical little girl who appears as a well-developed young woman when she dons a special pair of tennis shoes. Her absent mother temporarily returns in a cloud of magical cakes, with everything too much, showing us where both Ran’s potential for power and her lack of discipline come from. Her older brother […]

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Horimiya Volume 12

I had a hard time following Horimiya volume 12, simply due to its place in the series. This is a long-running relationship manga, which means by this point, we’ve left the core couple as focus a while back and spun out into various friends and schoolmates as continuing characters. We’ve caught up with Japan in terms of releases — there isn’t a backlog — so the previous volume came out almost six months ago. Combined, that means a whole lot […]

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Laid-Back Camp Volume 4

It’s finally the perfect time of year for the winter camping of Laid-Back Camp volume 4 by Afro. The big vacation trip is happening over Christmas, with the club planning meals and making sure everyone has the right equipment. This time, all the girls are going out together, instead of Rin by herself. I admit, I couldn’t keep all the characters straight, since it’s been a while (this past summer) since I read the previous volume. That didn’t matter, though, […]

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Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku Volume 2

We’ve lost most of the office setting I enjoyed in volume 1, but the various fannish activities and the humor that comes with them are entertaining enough I didn’t care in Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku volume 2 by Fujita. There’s a continuing sequence, running through multiple chapters, where Hirotaka and Narumi go on a real date to an amusement park, where they bet each other they won’t behave as fans. They’re not very good at that. We also […]

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Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 1

Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu is a charming, relaxing series about how good Japanese food is. Adapted by Virginia Nitouhei from a light novel by Natsuya Semikawa and character designs by Kuriri, it’s the story of a time-traveling izakaya (Japanese tavern). Two German soldiers in a fictional medieval city stumble across a new pub with delicious chilled ale called “Whatsontapp”. The chef prepares something different every time, but it’s always what the audience loves but didn’t know they wanted. The various food […]

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My Solo Exchange Diary

My Solo Exchange Diary is the sequel to the much-awarded My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness by Nagata Kabi. It’s a collection of short chapters — twelve, labeled as diary entries, each 10-14 pages — about living alone and becoming a comic creator as a career. To start, I should reveal that I couldn’t make it through My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness. It’s not very visually interesting — mostly background-less sketchy figures — and I found the constant “my life is […]

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Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku Volume 1

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku by Fujita is something of a rarity still in the US — it’s a manga starring adults in an office setting. It’s a comedy about nerds in their workplace and romantic lives, which I tried because I like seeing more mature characters in manga than the usual school-age kids. Narumi has been hiding her fandom, because guys keep dumping her for liking yaoi. (She won’t date another otaku, because they’re “creepy”.) She bumps into […]

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Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? Volume 1

What Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! does for Tokyo restaurant reviews, MAKIHIROCHI’s Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? does for neighborhoods in the city. Kichijoji is regularly voted the most popular neighborhood, but the Shigeta twins help their clients find other, better-suited places to settle down. I should find a manga about the details of where to live in Tokyo off-putting or less interesting, given I’ve never been to Japan, but the stories of various […]

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