Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 6 by Tomoki Izumi (2022)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, disturbing imagery

Miko goes to the temple hidden by a forbidden barrier with Mitsue and Rom, despite Mitsue warning them both about trying to put those spirits to rest. The young woman might be the key to putting the disturbance to rest, however.

This volume has smaller cast, featuring just the three in the summary with references to Hana and Yuria in flashbacks and mentions. The focus of the art in this one, as a result, is centered on the horrific ghosts, and Izumi really shows off what they’re capable of. I recoiled at some of the panels, and it’s great fun.

I did not expect to get so emo about the ghost psychic shill, Rom. The backstory about him and Mitsue is among the most touching. While this series veers towards more comedy and slice-of-life, those take a backseat to horror and more linear plot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hilarious that Rom metal music playing from his phone as part of his ghost-taming arsenal. But, it’s a mostly seriously volume that has me on the edge of my seat for the next volume.

Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 8-14 by Sui Ishida (2016-2017)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2016-2017
Source: Viz Media Digital Subscription

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. My review of the first half can be found here.

My review starts with me cupping my face with my hands and yelling into my palms. The journey beyond the anime is incredible and definitely something that will stay with me as I keep growing into my dark fantasy/horror self. It’s definitely making me want to go further and explore more within my work, but also the stark differences between the anime and the manga are making me appreciate manga as a medium a lot more.

The standoff between the CCG and the ghouls comes to an end with casualties on both sides, more deranged characters with their own ends and ideas of ghouls vs humans, with a deep thread of defining the boundaries of goodness, kindness, and the things people are willing to do to protect those they care about. Amid the blood and the gore, there is so much compassion that left me somewhat shaken.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 1-7 by Sui Ishida (2015-2016)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2015-2016
Source: Viz Media Digital Subscription

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

Tokyo Ghoul is an anime that I watched early during my creative journey. The aesthetic, the music, the character journeys, the violence, the world-building—it all has stuck with me since 2015 when it first aired. Unfortunately, the story never finished getting adapted (do not talk to me about Root A, though it will be mentioned when I finish the second half).

This series comes with hauntingly beautiful art, compelling characters, and a unique exploration on what makes people good told both through monstrosity and monstrous humanity, this is going to continue being one of my influences and series to return to moving forward.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: DICK FIGHT ISLAND Vol. 1 by Reibun Ike (2021)

Genre: Fantasy Josei
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Dubious consent with lots of male sexuality on display

This over-the-top sexual fantasy story has chosen warriors from various clans vying for the spot of king in a tournament where whoever comes first loses.

The lads who are signed up for this are so enthusiastic about participating and giving sexual pleasure to their opponent. One of them, Harto, returns from studying abroad with a new technique that’s destined to decimate his enemies. But he also has a secret that might disqualify him. There’s tenderness and so much mutual respect as warriors and interesting powers that verge on magic. It’s so earnest, and the characterizations are top notch. My personal favorite is Vampir, but that’s because I’m predictable.

The art is high quality and the variety of dicks is delightful. Each one has elaborate armor that comes off during the battle. If you want to squeal in the delight that is the absurdity of a political system that revolves around orgasms, this one is for you.

Manga Review: FIRE PUNCH Vol. 1 & 2 by Tatsuki Fujimoto (2018)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: Viz Media

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fire Punch is the first manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, best known for Chainsaw Man. This dystopian horror in which certain humans are blessed with elemental powers feels scoured directly from the litany of things I like in my fiction. It’s hyperviolent, it’s bleak as all get out, there’s an ice witch who destroyed the world, there are people with powers and completely irresponsible ways of using, it’s complete Jo bait.

I’m only two volumes in, and I am definitely continuing with the series as the need for treats come in because wow.

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Manga Review: THE ROKUDO ROUNDS by Serina Oda (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In an underground world, the only way to achieve any kind of social mobility is to participate in the Trial of the Six Realms (which also happens to be an alternate translation of the series’ title). En is a street rat living in a literal trash heap, until he’s betrayed by a beloved mentor and discovers he’s actually a cyborg with lightning powers. There are many like him and they all fight in the Trials. He enters and it’s a bloodbath with uncertain outcomes and even more unpredictable characters.

If you’re searching for a seinen anime with the trappings of a shonen battle saga complete with over-the-top powers and people shouting their abilities before using them, give this a read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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Manga Review: LAND OF THE LUSTROUS Vol. 1 – 11 by Haruko Ichikawa (2017-2021)

Genre: Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018-2021
Source: Barnes & Noble Physical Copies

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In this blend of science fiction and fantasy, the Earth has been long abandoned by humans and is now inhabited by the Lustrous, gem people whose literal crystals are occupied by micro-organisms called inclusions. Every so often, they’re attacked by the Lunarians who take them to the moon for unknown reasons. The story starts with the primary character, Phosphophyllite “Phos”, asks Sensei for a job. It only gets existential and angsty from there.

This series is meticulously researched with evolving world-building and plenty of heart-shattering moments, I’m so glad it’s back on hiatus and resuming chapters because I’m so invested.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: CREEPY CAT MANGA Vol. 3 by Cotton Valent (2022)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror Comedy
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Flora discovers the trials and tribulations of having a patron in this one. It starts when an artist commissions a whole bunch of work for her mansion, starting with a Biblically-accurate Creepy Cat that comes to literal life. What unfolds is a sequence that reminded me a bit of The Picture of Dorian Gray as we learn what makes Flora’s paintings so special. It’s a fun installment to a series that offers sustained spooky, goth charm.

The plot definitely feels coherent in this volume. While there are elements of the slice-of-life charm, the comics feel less like they can be read out of context. This isn’t a bad thing, it really works, and kept me glued to this latest installment.

While the humans continue along their character arcs, seeing all the different paranormal interact is definitely the highlight here. They have such unique powers that lend themselves well to saving Flora and her painting career.

Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 5 by Tomoki Izumi (2022)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, disturbing imagery

The ghosts continue to be horrifying and Miko is avoiding them with varying success. We get some more school insights, but the plot moves along nicely.

The female friendships in this series are so good. There’s the link between Godmother and Miko, there’s Yuria, Miko, and Hana as a trio, there’s also Hana and Miko as lifelong friends. The protection and care they show towards each other is so cute. I really liked the scenes of Miko trying to preserve Hana’s aura via snacks and meals.

Meanwhile, Yuria investigates Shindou Romm’s ghost tours. The ghosts are the scariest yet, and it’s unclear whether or not Romm can see them. The Ardyn Izunia-looking YouTuber has several tricks and grifts, and possibly blackmail, up his sleeve, and I’m so nervous for Miko teaming up with him to learn the truth about the mysterious shrine.

Manga Review: COLORLESS Vol. 1 by KENT (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gun violence, kidnapping, body horror

This science fiction requires much suspension of disbelief in order to work. Basically, the premise is that a solar flare knocked out all the color on Earth, and all humans are monsters now. A bunch of technology got wiped out as well. So, when hitman are going after a café waitress, it’s up to a rogue Professor to get her back, until everyone realizes she has a pre-solar flare human visage. Mysteries unfold, but Chie’s life is still very much in danger.

I really like the art in this one. The lines are crisp and the monster designs are unique. The city designs are also rad, the urban landscape feels very much lived in with its own sets of rules and curfews that really fit where the story kicks off. But, most importantly, I’m a sucker for the trope of a character who only knows her name and not much else, so I’m super invested in how she fits in among the different groups at war.

Like, there’s a color-worshipping cult that I want more insight about and, more generally, how Earth adapted and evolved into the world as established in this manga.