Manga Review: BARBARITIES Vol. 1 by Tsuta Suzuki (2023)

Genre: Historical Yaoi Seinen
Year Release in English: 2023
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Political corruption, sexual harassment, explicit sexual content

People call this a historical fiction inspired by Renaissance Europe but I’m pretty sure it’s a secondary world fantasy minus the magic and monsters (I would love for someone to correct me if this is not the case).

Viscount Adam Canning is hired to be the bodyguard of Lord Montague, who has several secrets up his sleeve in order to maintain the efficiency of his station. But tensions between church and state brew in the background, and while a romance between a playboy and a sexually inept young man play out in the forefront.

I kept this manga on my radar when an artist was drawing Luis and Gil, one of the other couples in this work (they are very gay and absurd in their affection). The characters are charming with very quick work done by Suzuki to establish their backstories. I am pulled in hard by the political intrigue unfolding in this work. There’s a tension between the main religion and the more secular monarchy, plus Adam’s entanglements with the queen and her cohort. Joel seems to have several tricks up his sleeve, including eluding an assassination attempt. Who sent the killers? What does he know? I’m invested in the story as well as seeing when (if?) the insta-love and the slow-burn crush will even out in their attraction.

Manga Review: GUNBURED X SISTERS Vol. 1 – 3 by Wataru Mitogawa (2022-2023)

Genre: Fantasy Yuri Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022 – 2023
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thought I had reviewed the first two volumes of this high octane manga about a religious order who fight vampires, but apparently not. It is sexy and little perverted, it’s over-the-top, there are girls in love, girls in rivalries, and knights who use she/they pronouns. The series is fun and irreverent with really fun fights and so many ulterior motives among people supposedly working together.

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Manga Review: THE KINGDOMS OF RUIN Vol. 5 by yoruhashi (2022)

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

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series. Click here for my reviews of the previous volumes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gore, violence, blood, robot necrophilia (aftermath), beheading

After the levity of the previous entry into the series, Adonis and Doroka continue on their way through the wastes with Redian special forces hot on their trail. They come across several abandoned towns, each ruined by technology in different ways.

Despite Doroka using her love powers to defensive means, it’s charming to see that she hasn’t lost her faith in humanity (in the spiritual sense) while Adonis works extra hard to maintain his edge. Their rapport is so good, giving necessary levity to the bleakness of their surroundings. The landscapes are chilling, especially with the ways that decay is evident and what becomes of the people left behind. What’s almost as frightening are the super-powered humans chasing the witch and boy-witch, and that fight introduced at the very end of the volume is bound to be a doozy.

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: CAT MASSAGE THERAPY Vol. 2 & 3 by Haru Hisakawa (2022)

Genre: Slice-of-life comedy josei
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There’s not much to say about this series aside from like, if you like cute art, cats, and turning your brain off for an hour or so to the bad things in the world, this is a gift.

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Light Novel Review: BOOGIEPOP RETURNS: VS Imaginator Part 1 & 2 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, threats of sexual assault

I’m back to reading my favorite genderfuck Shinigami, Boogiepop. I was in the mood for something unsettling in its presentation, where the visuals are scary, but as is the fact that the reader has to pay close attention to the narrators of different sections. No one is as they seem in this prequel to the fight with the Manticore, an enemy less overtly violent but worse in terms of how they transform their victims: Imaginator. Perfect for a modern tale, despite having been originally released in the late 90’s.

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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: 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.