Monday, August 30, 2021

REVIEW: Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 1) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider & Me is a post-apocalyptic slice-of-life story. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Twelve-year-old Nagi lives alone in the little house she and her father moved into three years ago. Her father likes to go exploring, but it's been longer than usual since Nagi last heard from him. Still, she tries to stay cheerful, taking care of her garden, making good food, and occasionally going to the nearby village market.

Then one day she encounters an enormous spider. She's scared at first, but it seems friendly, so she feeds it, names it "Asa," and begins trying to learn more about it and communicate with it.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

REVIEW: Play It Cool, Guys (manga, vol. 1) by Kokone Nata, translated by Amanda Haley

Play It Cool, Guys is a slice-of-life comedy series. I got this volume via interlibrary loan.


This full-color manga stars four different "clumsy-cool" guys: Hayate Ichikura (age 20, college student), the "embarrassed and introspective" type; Shun Futami (age 17, high school student), the "bluffing stoic" type; Takayuki Mima (age 27, working adult), the "unaware and unaffected" type; and Souma Shiki (age 19, vocational college student), the "self-accepting positive" type. Each guy is introduced with examples of how they manage to remain cool despite being awkward or clumsy, and each section transitions to the next guy by having the previous one bump into the new one. By the last few chapters, however, their paths start to cross in more significant ways.

REVIEW: My Hero Academia, Season One (anime TV series)

My Hero Academia is a superhero series based on a manga of the same title. I bought my copy of this season brand new.


In the world of this series, people started mysteriously developing superpowers, called Quirks, some time ago. Now 80% of the world has them, and they're seen as normal.

Izuku Midoriya has looked up to the hero All Might since he was a child and always wanted to be just like him, so it was a huge blow when a doctor told him that he was Quirkless. Now that he's older, it's still his dream to attend U.A. High School, the top school for prospective heroes, but is that even possible for someone without a Quirk? Then one day he encounters All Might, learns his hero's biggest secret, and is gifted powers that could make his dream a reality, if he can ever figure out how to control them.

REVIEW: At War with Yourself (graphic novel) by Samuel C. Williams

At War with Yourself is a nonfiction graphic novel about the author's friend's experiences with PTSD. It was one of my library checkouts.


Samuel C. Williams is a UK-based illustrator and comic artist who decides, with his friend Matt's permission and approval, to make a graphic novel about Matt's experiences with PTSD. As he and Matt walk, Matt talks about things like his PTSD symptoms, the way his military training has played into some of those symptoms, his triggers, and the way therapy helped him understand what was going on with him and learn practical calming mechanisms. His wife also briefly talks about Matt's sometimes very violent dreams.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

REVIEW: Sunshine Cleaning (live action movie)

Sunshine Cleaning is a 2008 drama. I bought my copy brand new.


In high school, Rose was a popular cheerleader with a handsome boyfriend. Years later, she's a single mom who works for a cleaning service. She tells everyone she's taking real estate classes when in reality she's meeting up with her old high school boyfriend, who's now a married cop. When her son's behavior gets him kicked out of school, she decides to try her hand at crime scene cleaning, because she heard it was lucrative and the money could help her get him into a good private school. She can't do it alone, so she enlists her sister's help.

What starts off as a way to make some cash turns into something more, as both sisters think more deeply about their lives, their relationships, and their memories of their mother.

REVIEW: Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions (nonfiction book) by Deborah Hathaway, Paul Kelsey, Stacey Marien, and Susan E. Thomas

Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions is nonfiction. I read it for work-related reasons and got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Don't let this book's slim size fool you - it's an excellent resource, and I can't recommend it highly enough for someone who's either just gotten their first job as an Acquisitions Librarian or who has suddenly had Acquisitions duties added on to their regular duties. I was facing the latter situation when I originally requested this via ILL, and if library administration hadn't suddenly changed their mind and given those duties to someone else, I'd have purchased a copy and kept it on hand as I tried to learn my new job. As it is, I'd like to own a copy simply because it's helpful for understanding work that overlaps somewhat with my own (I'm a cataloger).

Monday, August 16, 2021

REVIEW: The Cat Proposed (manga) by Dento Hayane, translated by Katie Kimura

The Cat Proposed is a fantasy BL one-shot manga. It's licensed by Tokyopop. I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Souta is so overworked he's to the point of considering suicide. He snaps out of it, barely, and finds himself taking a detour to listen to a kodan storyteller. As the storyteller transitions to a story about a bakeneko, a type of supernatural cat that can transform into a human, Souta sees the storyteller briefly transform into a bakeneko. He figures it's just exhaustion, until the storyteller, Kihachi, confirms it and says that they're now both bound by bakeneko rules. Souta must agree to become Kihachi's mate and not reveal the existence of bakeneko to other humans, or both he and Kihachi will be killed.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

REVIEW: Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (manga, vol. 1) by Motoro Mase, translated by John Werry

Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit is dystopian psychological fiction. It's licensed by VIZ. I bought this volume used.


Content warning for this volume: on-page bullying and rape.

In this version of Japan, there's something called the National Welfare Act. In elementary school, all children are vaccinated against various diseases. Some of the injections include a special nanocapsule that eventually comes to rest in the child's pulmonary artery, where it ruptures on a specified day and time, at some point between their 18th and 24th birthday. No one knows who has a capsule inside them, and the goal is to make citizens value their lives more and increase their productivity. Any citizens who object to this system are immediately injected with a capsule.

Fujimoto has just started working as a messenger, one of the people whose job is to deliver ikigami, death papers. These are given to citizens 24 hours before they're scheduled to die, so that they may better appreciate their last 24 hours. The families they leave behind will be given a bereavement pension, unless they choose to spend their last 24 hours committing crimes, in which case there is no bereavement pension and the family must pay large fines as compensation.

This particular volume features the delivery of two ikigami, one to a man who was bullied so severely when he was in high school that it derailed his entire life, and one to a young singer/guitarist who has lost sight of what's really important to him in his quest to become famous.

REVIEW: Sweet Admiration (book) by Yuuki Kousaka, illustrated by Midori Shena, translated by Andria Cheng

Sweet Admiration is a yaoi novel, basically m/m contemporary romance. My records tell me I bought it brand new, and it looks like it can be purchased for a reasonable price.

This review includes major spoilers.


Katsuya and Kazuki befriended each other over the course of a summer when they were kids, and they kept in touch after Kazuki went back to the city. While Katsuya considers Kazuki a friend, the person he really can't forget is Shio, Kazuki's older brother. It's now 12 years later, and Katsuya has decided to take a risk and accept a job with a small company Shio helped found in the hope of seeing Shio again.

However, things don't go quite the way he planned. Shio doesn't actually spend much time at the company now, and the company housing Katsuya was promised may have been a lie. Katsuya resigns himself to not seeing Shio, but the question of his housing really needs to be settled, so he confronts the company president about it...and gets assigned to a "company dorm" that's actually Shio's condo. Katsuya isn't sure whether to be happy or horrified. On the one hand, he gets to spend time with his childhood crush. On the other hand, Shio has made it clear that he's only putting up with this arrangement because the company president asked him to.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

REVIEW: Beautiful People (manga anthology) by Mitsukazu Mihara, translated by Haruko Furukawa

Beautiful People is a manga anthology that ranges from fantasy to contemporary drama to apocalyptic fiction. It was originally published by Tokyopop and is now out of print. I bought my copy used.


Like many anthologies, this had a mixture of so-so, not so great, and good stories. Overall, I'd say the collection was so-so. "Blue Sky" was very good, "Princess White Snow" was decent but a bit off-putting, and "The Lady Stalker" was creepy. The rest of the stories weren't necessarily terrible but didn't really work for me.

Something about Mihara's artwork occasionally reminded me of Paradise Kiss - probably the elaborate clothes. I wasn't really a fan, but again, it wasn't necessarily terrible.

Like I do for most short anthologies, I'll go over the stories one by one.

REVIEW: Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga, vol. 2) by Amy Kim Ganter

Sorcerers & Secretaries is a contemporary romance series. It was originally published by Tokyopop. It looks like the author now goes by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

I bought this volume used. This review includes spoilers.


Nicole has decided to cut things off with Josh because being with him distracts her from the story she's been writing about Ellon. However, when Josh chases after her and asks for an explanation she finds herself telling him about the story - and then he even reads part of it in her dreamlog and loves it. From that point on, Josh becomes Nicole's writing cheerleader, encouraging her to finish the story so she can submit it to a magazine. He still loves Nicole, but he's determined not to let it show so he doesn't mess things up again. However, things come to a head as Nicole is forced to choose between studying enough to pass the business classes her mom wants her to take and finishing the story in time for the magazine deadline.

REVIEW: Sorcerers & Secretaries (OEL manga, vol. 1) by Amy Kim Ganter

Sorcerers & Secretaries is, I believe, a contemporary romance series with possible fantasy elements. It was originally published by Tokyopop. It looks like the author now goes by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

I bought this volume used.


Nicole has extremely vivid dreams and daydreams about a lonely sorcerer named Ellon who was betrayed by his familiar and only friend, Sonneth. She writes these vivid dreams into her dreamlog, paying only the most minimal attention necessary to things like her business classes and her friend Susan. At night she works as a secretary.

Josh is a bookstore employee who's gotten all his tips about interacting with women from Riley, a pickup artist who happens to be his roommate. Female customers practically fall over themselves to give Josh their number, which he always deposits in a jar. The person he's really interested in is Nicole, who he was never able to charm. When Nicole enters his store, Josh figures he'll give it another shot, but he doesn't realize that he's competing against Nicole's daydreams about Ellon.

REVIEW: Sword of Destiny: Tales of the Witcher (book) by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French

Sword of Destiny is another anthology of Witcher stories. I'm not really sure about the series chronology, but it was sold in a set with The Last Wish, as though it followed that anthology. Goodreads tells me that starting with The Last Wish and then Sword of Destiny is the best reading order.


The stories in this Witcher anthology are all on the long side, a change from The Last Wish. Also, there are no efforts that I could recall to transition from one story to the next, although several of the stories do naturally work well in the order in which they're included.

Geralt encounters a mermaid and other sea creatures, dryads, a dragon, and a shapeshifter. He also deals with further complications in his relationship with Yennefer and finds himself face-to-face with a destiny he's not entirely sure he wants anymore but can't avoid.

REVIEW: Sadako-san and Sadako-chan (manga) by Aya Tsutsumi, original concept by Koji Suzuki, translated by Thomas Zimmerman

Sadako-san and Sadako-chan is based on Koji Suzuki's Ring franchise, but this one-shot is actually a comedy. It's licensed by Seven Seas Entertainment. I bought my copy brand new.


Sadako-san, the ghost from the Ring movies and books, has been summoned to a padlocked closet, the location of her newest victim. Inside the closet is a little girl who says her mother calls her Sadako's reincarnation. Her mother supposedly keeps her locked in the closet because she's "special" (the girl can read minds, which is how she can understand Sadako-san) and only lets her out for short periods when she's home.

The little girl has been called "Sadako's reincarnation" for so long that she can't remember what her real name is, so Sadako-san calls her "Sadako-chan." Sadako-san laments the fact that people don't have CRT TVs or watch videos much anymore, so Sadako-chan proposes that she upload cursed videos and become a streamer. Through these activities, Sadako-san eventually meets Kazuma, a streamer who's a little creeped out by her but also impressed with the number of views she's been getting.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

REVIEW: The First Stage of Love (manga anthology) by Kazuhiko Mishima, translated by Melanie Schoen

The First Stage of Love is essentially a manga anthology, since it's composed of multiple stories and no single story dominates. It's published by DMP's Juné imprint, and it looks like it can still be purchased relatively inexpensively. I bought my copy used.

Parts of this review include spoilers.


Since this is basically composed of a series of unrelated stories, I think it'll work best if I discuss them one at a time. However, I'll say that, overall, I liked this volume quite a bit. The art style wasn't really to my taste - most of the couples looked enough alike that you could have shuffled them up and it wouldn't have been particularly noticeable. But the stories were generally sweet and enjoyable, and no one was cruel or rapey.

REVIEW: Don't Rush Love (manga) by Mio Tennohji, translated by Leona Wong

Don't Rush Love is contemporary-set yaoi manga. Like so many of these volumes I own, it appears to be out of print. It was originally licensed by 801 Media. I bought my copy used.

This review includes major spoilers.


Morino just transferred to a new school and immediately falls head-over-heels in love with Kusama, a handsome volleyball player who turns out to be his new roommate. However, he also notices the way Kusama looks at Kanzaki-sensei, and since Kusama is out until late every night, he figures the two of them are in a secret relationship.

He eventually learns that Kusama actually has unrequited feelings for Kanzaki-sensei and deals with it by going out every night to have meaningless sex. Unable to bear seeing his crush go out like that, Morino confesses his feelings to Kusama and proposes that Kusama use him instead to forget Kanzaki-sensei. To his surprise, Kusama agrees. However, this arrangement may be more emotionally difficult than either one of them anticipates.

REVIEW: Cute Devil (manga) by Hiro Madarame

Cute Devil is yaoi manga published by Tokyopop's old Blu imprint. It's now out of print and looks to be extremely expensive to buy online. I'm pretty sure I bought my copy brand new.

This review includes spoilers.


Akiyoshi has always had a bit of a complex about his effeminate looks, so he can't help but feel a bit sorry for Naruse (called by his given name, Fuuta, by most of the class), who's even prettier than he is. Still, when Naruse asks Akiyoshi to be his friend, he has no intention of saying yes. Which is when Naruse reveals his hidden devilish side. He wants to have sex with Akiyoshi and had initially planned to gradually win him over, but if Akiyoshi won't play along, then Naruse figures he'll just rape him. And so he does.

And that's how things continue. Akiyoshi can't say anything to anyone because Naruse's so good at pretending to be a delicate flower that no one would believe him. Plus, there's the issue that he kind of enjoyed it.

REVIEW: La Esperança (manga, vol. 2) by Chigusa Kawai, translated by Sachiko Sato

La Esperança is a school drama series with light BL romance elements. It was licensed by Digital Manga Publishing and appears to be out of print now. I bought my copy of this volume used.

This review includes spoilers.


Ever since meeting Robert, Georges has started to open up a little. He's always been friendly but a little unapproachable. While his friend Henri appreciates the changes he's noticing in Georges, it bothers him that Robert was the one to inspire them. Does Georges really view him, Henri, as a true friend, or would he act just as friendly with anyone else?

Next is a story about Georges meeting a boy named Chris who works for a charity. Robert and others warn Georges that the charity Chris works for is really a front for a group that's up to no good, but Chris seems like such a nice guy that Georges can't bring himself to doubt him.

After that are two stories still set in the same world, but starring, I think, very minor characters from the main story. Erwin accidentally runs into a girl named Cecile, who becomes convinced that he's her soulmate. The volume wraps up with a story about Erwin's friend Joshua, who has an unrequited crush on the dorm Patron.

REVIEW: La Esperança (manga, vol. 1) by Chigusa Kawai, translated by Sachiko Sato

La Esperança is a school drama series with (so far) light BL romance elements. It was licensed by Digital Manga Publishing and appears to be out of print now. I bought my copy used.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Georges is well-liked by everyone at his school. He helps everyone feel at ease, but he also keeps everyone at a distance due to feelings of guilt about the lives his father has ruined. Then a transfer student named Robert arrives and begins shaking everything up. Robert seems determined to dislike Georges, telling him that he knows his purity and perfection are only a mask and that he's going to rip away. Even so, Georges is determined to befriend him, forcing Robert to confront the things about his own past that Georges reminds him of.

Monday, August 2, 2021

REVIEW: A Man and His Cat (manga, vol. 2) by Umi Sakurai, translated by Taylor Engel

A Man and His Cat is a slice-of-life series. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Fukumaru and Mr. Kanda continue to make an adorable little family, although Fukumaru has some leftover worries that Mr. Kanda might ditch him for a cuter cat. We see a little more of the pet store employee who first helped Mr. Kanda, Mr. Kanda's coworkers, Mr. Kanda's friend Kobayashi, and even some flashbacks to Mr. Kanda's time with his wife. We also learn a little about Mr. Kanda's childhood.

I was not quite in the right mood to read this volume when I first started it. It seemed very aimless in every way to me, and I kept trying to recall whether volume 1 had given me a similar impression. But I continued on, and after a certain point the volume grew on me. I'm still not really a fan of Fukumaru's design, although I suppose that's the point - he's an odd-looking cat for everyone except Mr. Kanda. 

REVIEW: Angels of Death (anime TV series)

Angels of Death is a psychological thriller series based on a game. I watched it on Funimation's streaming service.


Content warning for this series, beyond all the murderers: child abuse.

Rachel Gardner wakes up in the basement of a strange building with no memory of how she got there. The last thing she can recall is going to see a doctor because she'd witnessed a terrible murder. It isn't long before Zack, a scythe-wielding serial killer, finds her and tries to kill her. However, Zack isn't the only deadly person in the building - and all of them want to kill Rachel. Luckily (I guess), Rachel soon decides that she actually wants to die...but she wants Zack to be the one to kill her, and he won't do it unless she helps him escape.