Sunday, May 31, 2020

REVIEW: Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 3 (book) by Miya Kazuki, illustrated by You Shiina, translated by quof

Ascendance of a Bookworm is isekai (basically a portal fantasy). It's licensed by J-Novel Club.


At the end of the previous volume, Myne passed out due to the Devouring and seemed likely to die. But of course she didn't - in the beginning of this volume, it's revealed that she was taken to the guildmaster to be saved by one of the fragile magical items he collected in order to save his granddaughter, Freida, who also has the Devouring.

It's a good thing that Myne has saved up so much money, because even old and nearly broken magical tools cost a lot, and are typically only available to nobles. And not only that, they don't cure someone with the Devouring, they just temporarily lower the person's mana level enough for them to feel better. If she doesn't sign a contract with a noble and agree to become their slave, Myne likely only has another year at most before the Devouring kills her.

Freida and the guildmaster, who already have connections with nobles, want to corner Myne into working with them. Benno wants Myne (and her lucrative product ideas) to stay with him and the Gilberta Company. Then there's Myne's family and her friend Lutz - if she signs a contract with a noble, she'll likely never see any of them again. So Myne has some tough decisions to make.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

REVIEW: Nyankees (manga, vol. 1) by Atsushi Okada, translated by Caleb Cook

Nyankees is a gang fight/cat manga with humorous elements. It's licensed by Yen Press.


This series stars a bunch of stray cats who are usually depicted as tough human thugs and gang members. Ryuusei is a newcomer in Nekonaki, the territory ruled by Taiga and his gang. He doesn't always think before getting into fights, but he's tough and has the scars to prove it. Taiga and the others think he might be looking to steal some territory, but in reality the only thing he's interested in is finding a mysterious calico tom with a scarred eye. There's a chance that the cat Ryuusei wants to find is the new leader of the Goblin Cat Tails, but in order to meet him he'll first have to fight his way through a bunch of cats trying to create a cat utopia.

Monday, May 25, 2020

REVIEW: Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 2 (book) by Miya Kazuki, illustrated by You Shiina, translated by quof

Ascendance of a Bookworm is isekai (basically a portal fantasy). It's licensed by J-Novel Club.

This review includes slight spoilers.


In order for Myne and Lutz to become the official apprentices of Benno, a merchant, they must first create prototypes of the paper Myne told Benno about. Myne soon realizes she may have bitten off more than she can chew, even with Lutz's help - the prototypes will require supplies and equipment that will take them ages to make. However, the two of them aren't doing this alone anymore. As Myne learns more about how apprenticeships and the world of merchants works, she comes closer to her ultimate goal, obtaining a book. The hairpin Myne made for Tuuli also makes a reappearance, and turns out to be more profitable than Myne could have imagined.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

REVIEW: Beast Master (manga, vol. 1) by Kyousuke Motomi, translated by JN Productions

Beast Master is a high school romance series. It's licensed by Viz.


Yuiko loves all much so that she scares them away with the intensity of her affection. One evening, while trying to get her cat home after accidentally scaring it up a tree, she encounters a wild-eyed boy covered in blood. The next day at school she learns that he's Leo, a new transfer student in her class.

Leo is rumored to have gotten into a fight with a group of thugs and won, and everyone's scared of him. Everyone, that is, except Yuiko, who's fascinated by and jealous of the way animals trust him and easily come to him. She approaches him and quickly finds out that he's actually very gentle and sweet, if unused to living among people. Apparently he used to live on an uninhabited island.

However, Leo has a problem. Anytime he sees blood, he blacks out and turns violent - possibly a defense mechanism he developed while on the island, to help him survive against predators. When Yuiko witnesses one such incident, she learns that she can do something no one else has been able to do: tame the beast inside Leo and get him to calm down.

REVIEW: Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 1 (book) by Miya Kazuki, illustrated by You Shiina, translated by quof

Ascendance of a Bookworm is isekai (basically a portal fantasy). It's licensed by J-Novel Club.


Urano is a Japanese college graduate who's absolutely obsessed with books and reading. Both she and her mom are thrilled when she gets a job at a library, but before she even has a chance to start, an earthquake causes Urano's book collection to fall on her and kill her. She wakes up in the body of a sickly 5-year-old child named Myne.

Although Myne's memories tell her that she loves her parents and older sister and they love her back, it's a little difficult for her to connect with them emotionally, since they feel mostly like strangers to her. Still, she tries to adjust to her life as best as possible, arranging things so that both she and her new family's cleanliness is improved and trying to make something resembling Japanese food without any of the proper ingredients, not even rice. The thing that's hardest for her to take, however, is the complete lack of books. The nobility can afford books, but poor commoners like her own family can't. Rather than succumb to despair, however, Myne/Urano (who I will refer to as Myne from here on out, although the real Myne is technically dead) decides that she will somehow make her own books.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

REVIEW: My Androgynous Boyfriend (manga, vol. 1) by Tamekou, translated by Jocelyne Allen

My Androgynous Boyfriend is a "slice of life" manga. Maybe a "slice of life" romance? It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment.


Meguru is a gorgeous androgynous Instagram model who loves looking cute for his girlfriend. Wako is his girlfriend and generally doesn't care about her own looks much. What she enjoys is looking at cute things. She works as an editor and used her photo editing skills to help launch Meguru's modeling career.

In this volume, Meguru wrestles with his desire to be open and honest about his girlfriend and how much he loves her, even though people in his industry are supposed to be single so that fans can imagine being with them.

REVIEW: Sweat and Soap (manga, vol. 2) by Kintetsu Yamada, translated by Matt Treyvaud

Sweat and Soap is a contemporary workplace romance series. It's licensed by Kodansha Comics.

This review contains slight spoilers.


Asako finds herself having to talk to Natori's assistant, Korisu Ichise, who she's worried might have a crush on Natori. Then Natori and Asako go on a company trip, where hiding their relationship becomes a little more difficult than expected. After that, Asako visits her family and ends up inviting Natori to the restaurant her brother Keita works at. Natori is aware of how close Asako is to Keita and wants to make a good impression. Meanwhile, Keita is convinced that Natori must secretly be a sleazebag who's playing his sister.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

REVIEW: BL Metamorphosis (manga, vol. 1) by Kaori Tsurutani, translated by Jocelyne Allen

BL Metamorphosis is a "slice of life" series licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment.


Note: I've seen a few places online tag this as "boys' love." While it includes characters that read that genre, as well as a few panels and pages of the works they read, this is absolutely not a "boys' love" series, in case the cover doesn't make that clear.

Ichinoi is in her 70s and lives a quiet life. Her husband died a while ago and her daughter lives in another country, so most of the people she sees on a regular basis are the children and elderly people who come to her for calligraphy lessons. This changes when she goes to a bookstore for the first time in a while and buys a manga volume because it has beautiful artwork. She figures it will be like the manga she read when she was younger, but it turns out to be a romantic "boys' love" (BL, m/m) series. She ends up hooked and goes back to the bookstore for more volumes, attracting the attention of one of the store's employees, Urara, a high school student and huge BL fan.

REVIEW: My Roommate is a Cat: The Complete Series (anime TV series)

My Roommate is a Cat is a "slice of life" series. It's licensed by Funimation.


Content warning for this series: Parent death, kitten death.

Subaru is an introverted 23-year-old novelist dealing with grief and social anxiety after his parents' death in an accident. While visiting his parents' grave, he encounters a stray cat, finds inspiration for his next novel, and decides to take the cat home with him. The cat, Haru, becomes the first living being he has purposely invited into his life since his parents' death. As he learns to take care of her, he begins taking tiny steps outside his comfort zone and slowly broadens his social circle. Meanwhile, Haru adjusts to her new life and figures out how to take care of this odd and quiet human being.

Episodes are generally structured so that viewers see Subaru's POV and then many of the same events from Haru's POV. However, there are also a few flashbacks, and I highly recommend keeping tissues on hand for those.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

REVIEW: The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (book) by Keigo Higashino, translated by Sam Bett

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store could be called Japanese magical realism, or possibly General Fiction with fantasy aspects. It's published by Yen Press's Yen On imprint.


Content warnings for this book: suicide, child abuse and neglect, multiple deaths due to cancer.

In the late 1960s, the Namiya General Store became known for its particular gimmick: the owner would write serious replies to any letters asking for advice, even those that were clearly intended to be pranks. People would slide their letters through the store's mail slot after it closed for the night, and in the morning they'd find a response in the store's milk crate. This continued for about a decade, until the owner was no longer able to run the store.

In the book's present (probably about the same time it was published, 2012), three delinquents named Shota, Kohei, and Atsuya have completed their first big theft and need a place to hide out until morning. The hideout they select is the abandoned Namiya General Store. A short while after they arrive, someone drops a letter into the store's mail slot. Scared that they've been found out, but also curious, they open the letter. It's written by someone going by the name "Moon Rabbit," a female athlete who's faced with a serious dilemma. Her boyfriend is dying of cancer and she wants to be by his side, but both she and her boyfriend also want her to qualify for the Olympics. She can't train at the level and amount required and also be by his side, and she wants to know what she should do.

The three guys quickly find themselves emotionally invested in the letter writer's problems, but as they attempt to help her, and the other letter writers after her, they realize that there's something odd going on at the Namiya General Store. Somehow the letters coming through the mail slot are arriving from decades in the past.