Valentine’s Day might be over, but there’s still tons of love in the air! (Or tons of love with manga, at least!) From Deadpool Samurai to TWO titles with the name “Alice” in them, here’s our next batch of Miso Manga Minis!
Missed out on our first Miso Manga Minis? Check it out here!
It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story, Volume 1 (Kodansha)
As I mentioned previously, the Isekai genre is one that needs to impress me to enjoy. I don’t mean any hate towards it, but the competition feels like a dime a dozen nowadays. Thankfully, It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story is an entertaining story. This is a manga that works in Isekai tropes in a way that simultaneously mocks and respects them.
An unnamed virus researcher (who may or may not have done some biological warfare research on the side) mysteriously dies. However, he’s reincarnated by a goddess in a strange new world. Unfortunately for him, he’s no longer human but rather a strain of virus. Hoping to infect the entire land, he devises a plan to work up the viral food chain to spread his reach with the help of a newfound ally. Perhaps he could even be an adventurer!
Considering current events in the past two years, it feels weird to romanticize viral spread. However, the premise is done tastefully enough that it’s more of a lighthearted journey. While we don’t know much about the main character, his obsession with viruses mixes well with his inquisitive nature. The virus spreading techniques are treated like video game moves, and the virus isn’t massively overpowered. The art style isn’t remarkable, and every time the virus attracts a host there’s some facial reconstruction with the target. It’s a strange transformation that doesn’t gel well with the rest of art, but I can overlook that.
I’m interested in seeing where the story goes as the virus reaches town and desires to be an adventurer. It’s an entertaining hook that has room for improvement, but is fun nonetheless.
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
Deadpool Samurai Volume 1 (VIZ Media)
I’ve been collecting comics on and off since 2015, and Deadpool is a character I love to read. However, my favorite recent comic run was Hasting’s Gwenpool, which was mostly drawn by Gurihiru. The anime-styled art translated well for the comic, with a gripping story to boot. I wanted to see if any recent efforts after Marvel’s Mangaverse would work for Deadpool. Enter Deadpool Samurai, a series that sends the Merc with a Mouth to the medium of manga, with varying results.
Lovably loony Deadpool heads to Japan, where he establishes an Avengers initiative, the Samurai Squad. Initially paired with Sakura Spider (probably a Spider-OC do not steal), he gets around with his immortal antics. For purely fanservice reasons, he also converses with Iron Man and Captain America as well as fight established villain Loki.
I feel like this manga tries to capitalize on the recent Deadpool films by introducing the character to Japanese audiences. As such, this feels like a good starting point for those who want to read a Deadpool story but not to be bogged down by decades of comic material.
However, because of this, Deadpool’s characterization feels like an average Deadpool comic storyline. You’ve got fourth wall references and namedrops to popular anime aplenty here. That said, there were a few times I chuckled at the manga references, like a parody of Demon Slayer’s first volume here in the third chapter. I just wish the non-referential humor matched the other gags. It feels like Deadpool in Deadpool Samurai is sanitized for Japanese audiences. (That said, there’s a lot of gore which makes the T+ rating completely justified.) Thankfully, the art style is amazing, and with a much better story, could be an instant classic.
There’s nothing wrong with having a vanilla take on the Merc with a Mouth, which is mostly fine. However, after reading this I felt like I was reading another manga: Undead Unluck, to be exact. That manga does the “brash guy, shy girl” dynamic better, though I admit it took a while to get there. Sakura Spider (and later definitely-not-Hatsune-Miku-with-a-symbiote Neiro) are fine Japanese takes on established hero archetypes. Having cute idol singer Neiro with a dangerous symbiote reminds me of Tom Hardy’s comedic Venom, which is funny. However, I don’t feel the synergy between the three is there just yet.
With the introduction of Thanos (pulling out the big guns now, huh?), there’s a lot of potential in Deadpool Samurai. This is a great read for diehard Deadpool fans or manga readers looking for an artistically great comic crossover. I just hope it can get better writing soon.
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
My Hero Academia: Team-Up Missions Volume 2 (VIZ Media)
When I read the first volume of My Hero Academia: Team-Up Missions last year, I was disappointed. The description promised an exploration of the cast, but it ended up featuring Midoriya for the main chapters. Now that the series established itself, we can finally get to the fun stuff!
The premise of this manga is that we get to see more of the supporting cast of My Hero Academia. I’m biased this time since my favorite characters (Kirishima and Ojiro) have their own chapters, but it’s a good read. Whether it’s doing hero work or having fun, these chapters have a lighthearted feel to them. Each chapter normally features a small cell of characters assisting a group with a variety of activities.
While the supporting cast is well represented here, there’s only so much you can do in 20 or so pages. Since these adventures only last a chapter, they have to wrap up quickly, so they’re not that fleshed out. However, there’s still enough meat on the bone to enjoy these spinoffs for what they’re worth. For those who’ve watched the films, there’s a story that centers on Heroes Rising, which is a neat call back. I appreciate the variety of stories and cast members here this time around. This is great since most of these characters don’t appear much in the latter half of the main story.
I liked this volume especially since it features characters from Class B as well as Shiketsu High. My favorite chapter in this batch was the one that featured Camie, Todoroki, Bakugo, and Kirishima at a theme park. Seeing Todoroki come out of his shell to perform a Super Sentai show alongside the hotheaded Bakugo was hilarious!
Team-Up Missions Volume 2 is a lighthearted, if superfluous, treat that’s grat for My Hero Academia fans. This second iteration features more of the cast’s wacky hijinks, and while it’s over too quickly, there’s more to come soon!
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
Alice in Borderland Volume 1 (VIZ Media)
It seems that the survival death game genre is making a full-on renaissance these days. Gone are the days of the Hunger Games/Battle Royale debate as more media have depicted high-stakes brawls. Back in 2020, Alice in Borderland got a critically acclaimed live-action adaptation worldwide. Now the manga is available in a deluxe 2-in-1 omnibus, and it’s a thrill ride for those yearning for more.
Alice in Borderland focuses on Arisu and his childhood friends, the former of which is bored with his everyday life. When Arisu wishes for his days to become more exciting, the trio is whisked away to another version of Tokyo. Meeting office worker Saori, the four end up participating in deadly events scattered across the land. The rules of the game are explained slowly, and if they don’t participate, they will end up as messy smears. This series will test Arisu and his friends as they try to live another day in a hellish paradise.
I haven’t watched the live-action show myself, but I’ve heard great things about it. If the manga is any indication, Alice in Borderland is a gritty and endearing tale of survival. While Arisu is a boastful protagonist at first, the second he’s transported he becomes humanly vulnerable. The cast’s reactions and realizations throughout the manga are palpably relatable, and it creates a heartfelt narrative and conflict. The mysteries that have risen in the beginning are a wonderful hook that made me want more, and I cannot wait for the next omnibus.
Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs
Alice in Bishounen-Land Volume 1 (Tokyopop)
As someone knee-deep with Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage at the moment, I can see the appeal of gacha games. However, as someone knee-deep with Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage, I can also see the potential of spending a ton. Luckily, Alice in Bishounen-Land is a quirky romantic-comedy that’s parodies the greedy nature of gacha games. It’s a fun first volume that I’d definitely take out my wallet to read more!
After being roped into a friend’s gacha obsession, Alice Kagami is transported into the world of Love Color School Stars. Her friend Tamami is ready to lose herself with idol management, but Alice just wants to leave. In order to find a way out of the game, she has to manage a team of beautiful boys to perform well. However, due to her inexperience, she picks a ragtag group of five guys, each with their different quirks. From a half-man/half-dog hybrid to a very tiny hothead, Alice will need to do her best while spending as little money as possible!
The best part of this manga is it never takes itself seriously. The protagonist is basically Beauty from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, a down-to-earth girl that reacts to the world around her with confusion. Each of the idol characters are unconventional yet gel together as a group. Alice’s friend/rival Tamami is also hilariously evil, taking her gacha obsession to an absurd degree. The characters are silly, and it’s just a fun time in general.
What I also love about Alice in Bishounen-Land is the fact that it lampoons gacha games every chance it gets. From hilariously under-leveled and cheesy-looking equipment to nonsensical affinity side episodes, it’s all parodied. Poor Alice gets the brunt of this money-grubbing scheme, and it never failed to make me laugh. You might be disappointed if you’re looking for a shojo story, but regardless, it’s a great comedy.
It might not be the strongest romance story, but Alice in Bishounen-Land is a wonderful comedy manga. It has a crazy cast and a crazier premise, all wrapped up in some fun gacha-type antics. I seriously can’t wait for the next volume!
Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs