Light Novel Review: BERSERK OF GLUTTONY Vol 1. by Isshiki Ichika & Fame (2020)

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Abuse, violence, fantasy violence, dismemberment, death of a parent, poverty

Welcome to my first ever light novel. It came up on my radar because two of my friends had worked on the editing and localization, but I was not prepared for the fun time to be had.

Fate Graphite has an ability called Gluttony, which grants him massive power at the expense of, well, starvation. He’s a commoner who happens upon a snarky sword named Greed who helps him enhance his abilities at the cost of leveling up. He also comes under the employment of Lady Roxy, with whom he has very oblivious romantic feelings.

What surprised me is that despite the very RPG-esque descriptions of abilities and leveling, this isn’t an isekai. This light novel starts and stays in its secondary world fantasy. It’s a bit cheesy and takes some getting used to but Ichika uses it to great effect to establish stakes.

The art is great. Loved seeing the depiction of key scenes and getting to know Fate and Roxy a bit better. Seeing Greed transformed between sword and bow helped put it together better than my mind’s image could supply.

Overall, fun dynamics between characters, interesting world-building, definitely will continue reading.

Manga Review: THE KINGDOMS OF RUIN Vol. 1 & 2 by yoruhashi (2020-2021)

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

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gore, violence, public execution, internment camps, mass destruction

Witches and humans lived alongside each other until an industrial revolution ushered in an era of distrust, and the witch hunts begin. Adonis was only a boy when his mentor, Chloe, was publicly humiliated and executed. As a human who uses witch powers, he captured and hidden away for ten years. Until he wakes up as does a ferocious thirst for revenge.

This series is intense. It’s very grimdark and the precise art does not pull any punches. Some pages are just hard to look with the hyper violent content on them, but if that’s your thing, you’re in for some delights.

The set-up of a very capable anti-hero protagonist and the oppressive government he’s up against are evenly matched. This kingdom defeated the witches despite their magic somehow, and it’s internally consistent as far as the world-building goes. Plus, the magic system with Adonis using a pen to summon spells really works and renders beautifully from panel to panel.

I am definitely going to keep reading because I just have to know how these battles between magic and science play out and the twists that lay ahead.


Content warnings: Gore, violence, public execution, internment camps, mass destruction

In Volume 2, it seems all is lost for Adonis, until he’s rescued by other witches planning a resistance…from their base on the moon. It is here he discovers a way to review Chloe using magic and his memories.

This series in two just volumes achieved big Code Geass energy in that you know the unexpected is going to happen, but in which direction, you have no idea!

The world-building continues to be great, the art gorgeous. I really loved the design and concepts upon the lunar base. Adonis is consistently angry and bitter, but he’s not impulsive and I think that’s what makes him so interesting. It’ll be good to see him interact with other characters in future volumes.

Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 4 & 5 (2018-2019) by Akihito Tsukushi

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018 – 2019
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Maggots, immolation, body horror

Riko and Reg bring Nanachi along as their new companion into the Abyss’s Fifth Layer. The landscapes are gorgeous and inventive, and I love the dynamic among the three of them.

But at the bottom of the Fifth Layer is the Ido Front, stronghold of Bondrewd. He is irredeemable, but as a villain, he is so good. Charismatic and hateable, I won’t say anything more because spoilers.

The reveals that unfold between the two volumes are also incredible, so you’re in for a treat if you can also ride through the upset.


Content warnings: Body horror, so much body horror, dismemberment

I have no idea how to review this without spoilers.

It’s upsetting. The questions raised by the world-building are disturbing at best.

Bondrewd still sucks.

I cried for over an hour when I finished.

Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 1-3 (2018) by Akihito Tsukushi

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, illness, vomiting

A journey begins when a plucky cave-raider-in-training, Riko, finds a robot named Reg, during one of her training expeditions into the first layer of a giant cavern called the Abyss. It goes down seven levels, with the consequences of ascension getting more and more severe the further down you go. In this world, only White Whistle cave raiders can go far below. Riko’s mother is such. Her Whistle returns and Riko sets off to find out what happened to Lysa the Annihilator.

The tone of this manga is interesting. There is so much that lures you in with the promise of something wholesome with a positive, adventurous spirit. But there are so many details strewn throughout that might suggest that this series will be darker than initially thought. This first volume of introduction is so well done in that it lays the ground rules of the Abyss for the reader. And much like Riko, there is much wonder around the secrets to be found. But at what cost, and what horrors await?

Well, we’re about to find out as this first volume ends with Riko and Reg making their descent to the depths of the known world.


Content warnings: Child abuse (traditional punishment), bed-wetting, corpses, body horror, vomiting

The wonder and majesty of the first two layers of the Abyss can only be matched with the fresh hell found within as Riko and Reg make their way. Riko’s uncle tries to stop them, but it ultimately convinced by their determination. Reg’s mission is to keep Riko safe, but that gets called into question when they meet Ozen the Unmovable, another White Whistle.

The lore of this world blows my mind. There are so many details that Tsukushi weaves in the background, with both intricate art and the pause-pages which explain a relic or a new beast.

Most fascinating, to me, are the White Whistles. Each new one we meet has been more unhinged than the one before it. Are they like that before going into the Abyss or have the various ascents through treacherous layers damaged them? Guess we’ll find out next volume when they arrive at Ozen’s Shelter.


Content warnings: Child torture, attempted amputation, poisoning, bleeding from every orifice, execution, disfigurement, body horror

Volume 3 concludes the anime. And, oh boy, is it a doozy. Riko and Reg complete a messed up training regiment with Ozen before setting off again. Between the third and fourth layers, they’re attacked by a creature. The suddenness of the ascent and a poisoned puncture wound almost spells the end for Riko, but the two are saved by an adorable fluffy named Nanachi’s whose entire backstory is one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever read. Complex and emotional charged, Volume 3 covers so much ground that I need to recover after a bit.

With regards to the depravity of the White Whistles, we start with Ozen dealing out corporal punishment to see how powerful of an Artifact Reg is. She also puts the kids out to wander without any assistance for 10 days as part of training. And then we meet Bondrewd through Nanachi’s flashbacks and just…

As I mentioned before with Volume 1, it lays out all the rules of the world. You’d think that one would be prepared for the tragedy, pain, and suffering. And yet, seeing it unfold in real time with the attention to detail in the gorgeous artwork. My eyes wouldn’t stop leaking during the last scenes with Nanachi before the volume’s end.

Bondrewd can take a hike, but I need a bit of distance before diving into this story again, because wow does my heart ache.

Manga Review: IBITSU by Haruto Ryo (2018)

Genre: Horror
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Trigger warnings: Gore, body horror, self-harm, torture, asylums, suicide, sibling abuse

A young man is on his way home when a girl dressed up as a gothic lolita sits in a trash heap and asks him if he would like a little sister. He answers her, and what begins is a nightmare of stalking and supernatural entities. I could not tear myself away from this read, even as shit escalating to the murderous.

What this manga does so well is set up its world rules as soon as we hit the first chapter. There is an urban legend, but otherwise there is no magic in the world. So everyone involved is left to their own devices in terms of dealing with the terrors that unfold.

This one is creepy from start to finish in a way that you hope the protagonist unlocks some kind of key to getting his fake-sister to leave him alone. Until the ghostly lolita tricks his landlady into giving him a copy of the key, and starts terrorizing his younger sister. Their parents aren’t safe either, and though he tries to tell his friends about the lolita, they’re scumbags who can’t see past their own interests.

A fantastic urban legend horror, but keep in mind the trigger warnings before diving in because it is a lot.

Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 2 by Tomoki Izumi (2021)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, disturbing imagery

It took so much of my self-control to not immediately inhale this as soon as it hit my phone. Continuing with the excellent ghost designs, this volume introduces new characters and new lore (?), while still keeping up the slice-of-life pacing.

I winced at every new ghost introduced here. They are larger, more intricate, but I really liked how Izumi introduces softer moments where maybe the ghosts aren’t all bad. In fact, helping them find closure Sixth Sense style might be a way for Miko to find peace with her new horrifying ghouls.

One of my favorite archetypes is the character who declares themself to be someone’s apprentice. Here comes Yuria, a fledging medium who wants to know why the old woman closed up her shop and what exactly is up with Miko seeing ghosts beyond ever her comprehension. I can’t wait to see how this relationship evolves, especially since Miko tries to maintain that she cannot see anything going on around her.

Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol 1. by Tomoki Izumi (2020)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, groping, disturbing imagery

This manga might be my new favorite thing. It follows a girl, Miko, as she goes about her daily life with one major problem: she can see ghosts. They are not friendly, and no one else around her can interact with them. Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s horrifying, and I am so interested in where this story is going.

The ghost designs are so excellent. The art style really balances the slice-of-life and the ghostly terrors. They’re so inventive, and each one has me both terrified and unable to look away. The page-by-page jump scares are exquisite. I really enjoy Miko and Hana’s friendship, they do every day girl things that leave me convinced they are girlfriends.

There is a brief introduction of rules and lore, with the breaking spirit beads and visits to mediums. It’s light in this first volume, and I really hope it gets explored.