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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Light Novel Review: OUR LAST CRUSADE OR THE RISE OF A NEW WORLD Vol 1 by Kei Sazane & Ao Nekonabe (2019)

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Fantasy violence, war

One of the greatest pieces of Jo bait are stories in which a technology faction is at war with a magic faction and neither seems to be winning. Throw in, specifically, ice witches and an enemies-to-lovers romance, and I’m hooked.

A mechanical utopia, The Empire, is at war with a paradise for witches, The Sovereignty. Iska is the youngest to rise to the rank of Saint Disciple in the military, on a mission to capture the Ice Calamity Witch, Alice. Epic fights ensue while intrigue and plotting unfold in the quieter moments, culminating in a literally earth-shattering fight against a originator witch possessing multiple elemental powers.

There are some beautiful turns of phrase throughout this novel that makes the prose as exciting to read as seeing the illustrations. The world feels lived in, with one of my favorite details being the culture present within the neutral cities. It’s where main characters Iska and Alice get to know each other, specifically attending an opera and seeing an art exhibition together. They can’t attack, and that forced proximity and peace makes for some charming awkwardness that brings the characters together almost as efficiently as their weapons and magic clashing in battle.

There are more powers that be than just the Empire and the Sovereignty, and I’m eager to keep reading.

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: 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: MISS KOBAYASHI’S DRAGON MAID Volumes 1-4 by coolkyousinnjya (2016-2017)

Genre: Fantasy Slice-of-Life Seinen
Year Release in English: 2016-2917
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

An absolutely adorable slice-of-life series about an office worker who drunkenly and unwittingly invites a dragon girl back to her house to work as her maid. I love the balance between a greater plot happening in the background with more everyday silliness as a dragon girl learns to be a human girl.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: KASANE Volumes 1-4 by Daruma Matsuura (2017)

Genre: Contemporary Seinen
Year Release in English: 2019-2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

The girls are kissing in this one and there is nothing romantic about it. Kasane Fuchi is a very ugly girl with a secret: she inherited a lipstick from her late mother that allows her to borrow people’s faces. She wants to become an actor and you can see where this is going. Intense, gray morality to the nth degree, I’m strapped to the seat of this wild ride.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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