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.

Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 10 by Akihito Tsukushi (2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, gore, suicidal ideation
There may be spoilers for Volumes 1 through 3, 4 and 5, and 6 through 9.

We’re at the end of another arc in Made in Abyss and all I can say is: glad Riko made another friend, but holy shit at what cost.

The Hollow Village’s upset is definitely more philosophical than strictly bad bodily shit happens to the characters (though there is plenty of that). So, seeing all the emotional threads come together made me glued to each chapter.

I have a theory that what makes dark fantasy and grimdark slap so hard is the promise of cool stuff to look at amidst all the distress and duress. The battle between Faputa and the Turbinid-Dragon is absolutely incredible. It’s so easy to follow, but what really shines here is the culmination of the themes and stakes. I love how Tsukushi ties together the entire concept of value, but more importantly, how it ties into humanity, especially as the bends in this level of the abyss lead to loss of said humanity.

They’re at the literal bottom of the barrel, and I’m so nervous about what’s to come.

Manga Review: CAN’T STOP CURSING YOU Vol. 3 by Kensuke Koba & Natsuko Uruma (2022)

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Self-harm, gore, murder
See my reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 for more thoughts on this series

This series is end-to-end edgy nonsense and I love it. In Volume 3, the school is under attack by a Curse-God Contractor (yes, again), this time featuring a deadly game of tag where every 666 seconds, the “It” person dies.

I really liked the twists in this one! The villain isn’t who you think it is, and it’s such a great vehicle for the world’s further rules and building. We actually find out how a person becomes a Curse-Breaker, and I think that’s neat.

What I’m enjoying the most, however, is with every peek into Saeyama’s moral compass, there’s a few steps back. He’s powerful, he’s seen some shit, and I hope we get more of his backstory in the upcoming volumes

Manga Review: OROCHI Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezz (2022)

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: Forbidden Planet NYC

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first volume of a short story collection from a new-to-me horror writer. To be honest, I picked this volume up because the cover and packaging were gorgeous. I found myself delighted by the horrors found within.

A mysterious young woman finds herself entangled in others’ personal lives with powers that can shift the tides of fate.

It’s easy to tell that the art style is much older, with the original works having come out in the late 60’s, early 70’s. The lines are bold and there’s great use of blank spaces with solitary figures. There’s also not a lot text to be found in the pages, letting the art do a lot of the story-telling. Some of it is unsettling, and I’m invested in the stories told in facial expressions alone.

I found both stories chilling, but “Sisters,” to me, had the more effecting twist. I’m definitely into the style and I’m looking forward to the stories found in the following volumes.

Manga Review: THE KINGDOMS OF RUIN Vol. 3 & 4 by yoruhashi (2021-2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2020 – 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. Click here for my reviews of Volumes 1 and 2.

This series continues delivering hyper violence with a politically-charged back drop while humans witches face off in a war of obliteration while one young man is on a mission to eliminate them both.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: CREEPY CAT MANGA Vol. 1 & 2 by Cotton Valent (2019-2022)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror Comedy
Year Release in English: 2019-2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

In yet another adorable manga series about a cat, Flora inherits a mansion from a distant relative, and it comes with a live-in critter, Creepy Cat. With full-color, adorable art, the hijinks this cryptid kitty gets himself into are a delight to behold

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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