Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 1-2 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

In short, perfect for fans trying to fill in the space skeleton dark fantasy horror void while waiting for any news about Alecto the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: NO. 6 Volumes 1-5 by Atsuko Asano & Hinoki Kino (2013-2014)

Genre: Science Fiction Shonen
Year Release in English: 2013-2014
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga ARC Review: UNDEAD GIRL MURDER FARCE Vol. 1 by Yugo Aosaki & Haruka Tomoyama (2021)

Genre: Fantasy Mystery Seinen
Year Release in English: 2021
Buy Link: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warnings: Blood, murder, nudity, disembodied head

In 19th Century France, vampires are allowed to live alongside humans. Detectives are called in but little does anyone expect, it’s the disembodied head who’s also a demon.

This manga opens up with a dead vampire, a family member suspected, and a kooky trio consisting of a maid, a himbo, and a disembodied head in a cage. It is wonderfully strange and not very deep. It ends on a cliff-hanger, and I’m eager to see what the cage user has hidden behind his kind lack of sense.

The art style is really neat, though at times, the background work gets in the way of comprehending the words on the page. I’m unfamiliar with the differences between ARC manga and finished copies, so perhaps it is cleared up, and I hope so. I had a ton of fun during this read.

If you’re looking for something with cheek, thought-out world-building, and engaging action, definitely give this a shot.

Light Novel Review: BOOGIEPOP AND OTHERS by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata (2006)

Genre: Horror
Year Release in English: 2006
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gaslighting, violence, blood, gore, murder, dismemberment, kidnapping

I had watched the Boogiepop Phantom anime several years ago and due to my recent foray into manga and light novels, decided to give the source material a try. It is a treat.

Told non-linearly, we follow a collection of high schoolers as some of their own disappear and others turn into either Boogiepop or their enemy the Manticore. Souls get devoured in a technological attempt to subjugate humanity, and Boogiepop needs their own set of allies to set things straight.

The craft here cleverly plays with reader’s sense of reality as the grounding of real vs. surreal becomes upended from the point of view of the character narrating that chapter. The kids are certainly not all right, and the adults are strangely absent. I’m interested in seeing if we get any of them involved. There seem to be strict rules about attendance, phone use, dating, etc. but when one of them goes missing, no one talks about it. It’s eerie in the same way groupthink is, and it just adds to the unsettling nature of this story and its telling.

I’m lucky to have already purchased the second novel, and I’m excited to dive in.

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: 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.