Monday, April 04, 2016

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 4/2

There's no time for existential doubt -- I have a stack of books to tell you about!

(Eek, I accidentally rhymed. Oh well, leave it be.)

This week, I got a number of current books from the fine people an Yen Press, most of which are manga -- but I suspect there are a few light novels lurking in there to confuse and befuddle me. As always, I haven't read these, and have, actually, barely looked at them before this second. But here's what I have....

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 5, a manga by Chuya Kogino based on the original (light novel, I think) by Kazuma Kamachi with character designs by Kiyotaka Haimura. This entire volume seems to take place on the last day of summer vacation, from which I deduce it's a school story. You're welcome.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Vol. 5 is another adapted-from-a-light-novel series, this time by Akio Hiiragi out of Satoshi Wagahara. And, yes, it's about an extradimensional Dark Lord who was cast out and now lives as a Tokyo teenager, where he works as assistant manager of a not-McDonald's. Wacky!

Deep breath for this one: Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story: The Ice Reaper, Vol. 4 has something to do with the long-running series of FF games, but it's only a "side story," so gamers can ignore it, I suppose. It's by Takatoshi Shiozawa, with supervision (right there on the cover, which is pretty darn supervisory) by Tetsuya Nomura. And that sword on the cover has a pretty impressive beard, if I do say so myself.

First Love Monster, Vol. 4 comes from Akira Hiyoshimaru, and is apparently about a high school girl dating a fifth grader. (Yes, I know -- but that's him on the cover, so maybe he's just really dumb and has been left back a lot?) I also suspect this volume has an epic jump-rope contest, from the cover props -- or, if not, it should.

High School DxD, Vol. 8 continues the fan-servicey story of angels and devils and fallen angels (and probably even more supernatural factions by now), from Hiroji Mishima adapting the light novels of Ichiei Ishibumi. It's also probably a harem manga by now. (See my review of the first volume for possibly more context.)

It is very difficult to read the light-yellow title of Horimiya, Vol. 3, so I hope the fans of this series are particularly fanatic. It's credited to Hero -- presumably not the ancient inventor from Alexandria, but you never know -- and Daisuke Hagiwara, and it seems to be a slice-of-life school story about two girls. (I don't know who the grumpy fellow in the middle is -- those girls on the cover might not even be the two girls, since manga tend to rotate covers among the minor cast to show everyone in color.)

How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend, Vol. 2 is a title that I hope sounds less creepy and sexist in Japanese, and it's also a series adapted from a light novel. In this case, the novelist is Fumiaki Maruto and the manga-ka is Takeshi Moriki. And it does seem to be a bout a highschool boy grooming some girl to be his perfect girlfriend -- in a wacky way, I suppose.

Kagerou Daze, Vol. 5 was adapted from I need to say it?...light novel by Jin (Shizen No Teki-P) by the slightly more conventionally named Mahiro Satou. I have no idea what the series as a whole is about, but this volume sees the two main characters gaining eyeball-based superpowers.
So, I Can't Play H, Vol. 5 is the last volume of the series by Sho Okagiri adapted from Pan Tachibana's original story, which I believe means this finishes off the original light novel. It's some kind of harem comedy, and this piece involves a swimsuit competition and some missing pieces of swimsuit.

Taboo Tattoo, Vol. 2 features a woman on the cover who does not appear to be tattooed at all.
 But she also doesn't appear to be clothed, and I'm pretty sure she is, so maybe she's got tattoos lurking as well. The back cover copy is all about fighting and training, with not a word of taboos or tattoos. So I really don't know what's going on here.

Barakamon, Vol. 10 continues Satsuki Yoshino's story of a fish-out-of-water calligrapher and the down-home Japanese town that's humanizing him despite all his efforts. See my review of the first volume for more details -- at least, details of what this series was like about sixteen hundred pages ago.

The Devil Is a Part-Timer, Vol. 4 is not the prequel to the book above; this is the actual fourth light novel, as opposed to the fifth volume of the manga, which I expect is somewhat behind this point. One might think that it would be good to have a slightly different naming scheme for such closely related and easily-confused properties, but one  clearly would be wrong. This is by Satoshi Wagahara, has illustrations by something called 029 (Oniku) , and features the Devil King taking the summer to work at a beach house.

Handa-Kun, Vol. 2 is another highschool story, this time from Satsuki Yoshino (yes, the same creator as Barakamon). I don't really understand what's going on here -- it's in a four wide panels to a page format, something like 4-koma, but tells a continuous story -- and the characterizations are really broad and weird in ways that are clearly aimed at satirizing something, but I have no idea what.

And another light novel: Fujino Omori's Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 5. This is still the middle of the crawl through the first dungeon -- no idea how big that is, or if there's any standard dungeon measurements to compare it to.

Servant X Service, Vol. 1 is a 4-koma collection by Karino Takatsu about the new low-level employees of a local government somewhere in Japan. There are four of them, and they are presumably meant to be wacky in specifically Japanese ways.

And last for this week is Yowamushi Pedal, Vol. 2 by Wataru Watanabe, about a young would-be bicycle racer, his "granny bike," and the usual work-hard/do-your-best stuff that every shonen manga ever tries to indoctrinate its young and impressionable audience with.

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