April showers bring May manga! We have a ton of new volumes to recommend, so check out our mini reviews below!

Missed out on a previous column? Check out our first and second review roundups here!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Deserted Island Diary Vol. 2 (VIZ Media)

Let’s get one thing clear: I think this manga is great for younger audiences that can’t get enough Animal Crossing. The team of four human villagers is a fun way to frame the stories, and there’s lots of family-friendly antics. That said, there isn’t much substance for those looking for a deeper Animal Crossing manga.

Like the previous volume, Deserted Island Diary chronicles the adventures of four human characters. You have hot-blooded Coroyuki, the academic and not-at-all street smart BenBen, the lavishly pampered Himepoyo, and the chronically sleepy Guchan. These four wreak havoc on Tom Nook’s plans to create an idyllic island, and a bunch of zany hijinks follow afterwards.

The manga also includes other NPCs from the game, including fan-favorites like Raymond and Dom. The problem is that other than the event characters (like CJ or Redd), the animal villagers are underutilized. It doesn’t help that the episodic structure makes scenarios feel shallow as well. The art style is still a treat, but for anyone not a kid, it’s a chore to read.

Rating: 2 out of 5 UwUs

The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch Volume 1 (Kodansha)

The Transcendent One-Sided Love of Yoshida the Catch follows strict businessman Yoshida, who is loved by all at his job. Secretly, however, he moonlights as a volunteer manga assistant in order to impress the mangaka, Shimakaze. The reason for this is that he loves Shimakaze, but his feelings are routinely ignored thanks to her naiveté. What follows is a comedy of errors as the team of assistants try to get the duo together, with disastrous results.

I really like a cute romance, and the “will they/won’t they” trope is a personal favorite. I also appreciate older relationships in manga, and having the dynamic between both characters is a refreshing one. While it feels like Shimakaze’s neglect is grating, I feel like it just comes with the job of a mangaka. It’s also helpful that the rest of the team is supportive of their relationship, and their efforts are relatable. The pacing could be a bit snappier, but I’m fine with the antics that happen in this volume.

What also makes this manga stand out is how it’s a good look at the manga industry too. Ever since Bakuman, I’ve been looking at more behind-the-scenes coverage of how manga series run. The fact that a cute romance manga can also be informative is a treat.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Death Note Short Stories (VIZ Media)

Death Note is the quintessential shonen mystery series of the 21st century. It’s a shame that quite a lot of material hasn’t made an official western release yet. This volume of (mostly) republished Death Note side stories is a good way to tide you over for now, though!

As the cover states, this is a collection of short side stories from the Death Note franchise. Notably, the headliner on the cover is the A-Kira one shot from 2020. This was a great addition to the series, and I wished that Minoru had a bigger appearance afterwards. I’ve had a couple years to stew over the ending, and while I think it’s cheap, I feel it’s poignant. After all, the house always wins, and Shinigami are no different.

If the newest addition doesn’t impress you, you’ve also got the C-Kira epilogue chapter here as well. This was previously published in the all-in-one Death Note omnibus that’s out of print, and it’s in a larger format. This story delves into Near’s stint as the next L as he solves a string of copycat Death Note casualties. It’s not as striking as the 2020 one shot, but it’s a nice inclusion nonetheless. It doesn’t conclusively end the narrative, but gives us a look at a world sans Light and (the original) L.

I think the main issue I have with this collection is how much of it isn’t republished. The only stories that are new to the west are a couple of L flashbacks, which are admittedly charming. It’s a cost-effective way to grab the epilogue and 4-koma strips, since they’re only in two out-of-print titles. Grab this manga if you’re a diehard Death Note fan, but it’s meaty enough for a standalone purchase.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

Beauty and the Feast Volume 2 (Square Enix Books)

I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a guilty pleasure of mine, but Beauty and the Feast impresses me. While the cover of this volume suggests… something different, it’s a surprisingly feel-good story. I think this second volume improves upon the last quite well, and something I’d recommend for slice-of-life fans.

This second volume gives us a peek into high school baseball player Shohei’s sports life as he enters a tournament. Doting and well-meaning widow Yakumo continues to support the guy by cooking up a storm for him. This time, however, her skills extend to the whole baseball team, and Shohei even gets to cook for her! She also must contend with the envious Rui, who thinks the worst of the duo’s friendship.

I appreciate that this manga sheds the slightly uncomfortable vibes from the first one. As the relationship between the 28-year-old Yakumo and high-school-aged Shohei is strictly platonic, and the manga explicitly states this. It’s still interesting for the supporting cast to misinterpret this friendship, and part of the entertainment value comes from that. The art style is fun and complements the slow situational environments of the setting, which is a nice treat. The food aspects are quite good as well, and presented in a mouth-watering way.

If you like sweet slice-of-life manga, you’ll love Beauty and the Feast!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

The Breaker Omnibus 1 (Ablaze)

I’m warming up to manhwa nowadays, with King of Eden being a good entry to the medium. It helps that more publishers are getting into the manhwa game in the west, with Ablaze releasing popular Korean series The Breaker in regular omnibus collections.

The Breaker focuses on Si-Woon, an ordinary high school student who gets bullied to the verge of near suicide. Thanks to transfer teacher Han Chun Woo, this doesn’t happen, and Si-Woon decides to train to get stronger. Chun Woo starts to show his true colors to the high school student, who becomes embroiled in a crime syndicate. As the story continues, Si-Woon must learn to control his ki through a series of events.

I love how slick the action is in the panels. The fight scenes are grounded but can be over-the-top when they need to be. The violence is gritty and gory, with a style that translates well to the manhwa medium. For a series released in the late 2000s, it feels like a fresh, modern take on the action genre. It helps that there’s a ton of humor peppered in that doesn’t make the whole thing too serious.

The only issue with this collection is that it takes a while to get to the good stuff. It’s a two-volume omnibus that devotes its first half to wacky shenanigans. Nothing wrong with that, but it feels like the second half of the manhwa collection is much better in comparison.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

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About Katamaris

During the day, Elisha is an aspiring businessman, but at night, he's a wacky freelance writer. Born into the world with a fleeting knowledge of rhythm games, he loves shonen manga and still wants Pushing Daisies to have some closure. For any manga/anime/video game inquiries, please contact him at katamaris4ever (at) gmail.com

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