Summer’s in full swing, and it’s time to break out the beach towels and coolers! If you’re looking for a nice, cozy book to curl up to at the pool, check this out! Here’s a list of some recently released manga volumes on our (not patented) UwU scale!
Blackguard Volume 1 (Kodansha)
Out of all the publishers I review for these columns, Kodansha is the most eclectic. It’s the publisher that I give the highest and lowest ratings for, and every series is unique. However, my initial impression of Ryo Hanada’s Blackguard is on the latter, though it does have some good ideas.
In a post-apocalyptic future, creatures known as Shojo infect the dying world. There are teams that work to save the remnants of society, but when all hope is lost, they turn to the Reserve Unit. Nanao Minami is one such unit, as he single handedly destroys Shojo and rescues survivors. However, he has some baggage: Namely, he wants to die. It’s up to his partner Chris Miyaji to help him see the goodness of life, even in the bleakness of the infected world.
If there’s something I appreciate about Blackguard, it’s how the manga deals with a suicidal protagonist. He’s not instantly swayed by the efforts the other characters use to get him away from suicidal ideation. However, it seems that Minami’s initial beliefs will be tested as his antisocial life gets turned upside down.
Other than that, however, the manga feels like a second-rate Devils’ Line. Backgrounds don’t look complete, and Minami as a character feels flat and unlikeable. I’m going to assume that later volumes will have him more fleshed out, but as it stands, I’m not really vibing with the protagonist. Thankfully, Miyaji is a good foil to Minami, and I hope that the other supporting cast can make this a better series soon. This is a series I would recommend only to fans of Devils’ Line right now, but it could potentially get better soon.
Rating: 2 out of 5 UwUs
Deadpool: Samurai Volume 2 (VIZ Media)
So I didn’t realize that Deadpool: Samurai was an intentional short serialization until after the fact. Looking back, I think that the title uses its length well but still feels like an average Deadpool miniseries. Thankfully, an average Merc with a Mouth storyline is still enjoyable, and this volume amps up on the geeky fanservice.
In the second volume of Deadpool: Samurai, our heroes are faced with an intergalactic threat: Thanos! Or rather, they must defeat a clone conjured up by Loki. With the stakes simultaneously raised and lowered, it’ll take more than the current slate of characters to save the day. How will Deadpool get out of this and defeat his enemies?
As I said previously, Deadpool: Samurai works best when it’s referencing manga tropes than western comic ones. (The highlight of this volume was a guest appearance of All Might, of all people!) That said, it’s odd that the original characters for this series get written out before the final fight. It’s not even a convincing exit, with one character getting comically injured to have Deadpool fight solo (initially). I would have rather kept the trio (er… quartet) intact for the whole run, but whatever floats the publisher’s boat.
Speaking of which, it was entertaining to have an extra where Deadpool tries to get this manga serialized. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at the manga’s quality (it’s initially rejected due to being “average”). Honestly, that a bit too on the nose, but I appreciate the self-deprecation. Considering this is only two volumes, I don’t see a reason to skip it if you’re interested.
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
Alice in Bishounen Land Volume 2 (Tokyopop)
I really liked Alice in Bishounen Land in my last column, and I was ready to jump into this newest installment. This second (and sadly final) volume delves into Alice’s journey to get out of the gacha game she’s in.
This manga feels like it wants to wrap up, and it shows. The battle stages which were shown in the first volume finish immediately, and there’s no tension in the second half. The conclusion feels rushed as well, with no logical way to end the conflict, so it just ends. It’s a shame too, since it starts to delve into the greedy gacha mechanics in a great way here. I do appreciate the art style as much as I did previously, but the abrupt and nonsensical ending leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I would still recommend reading this if you want a short series, but temper your expectations.
Rating: 2 out of 5 UwUs
Alice in Borderland Volume 2 (VIZ Media)
Going back with the Alice in Wonderland back-to-back reviews, I’ve enjoyed Alice in Borderland much more this time around. While this omnibus is mired in tragedy and pain, it gives the reader a reason to root for Arisu as he tries to leave the game.
After surviving the deadly games last volume, Arisu and friends struggle to find one to extend Segawa and Shibuki’s visas. Here, we get the details on Shibuki’s game before meeting with the gang, which is a Hearts category. We get to see the troubling psychological horror that befalls these types of games, and then realize the group are facing one next.
I did say that I wish for the group to have more adventures together, but due to circumstances that won’t happen anymore. This changes Arisu’s personality and drive to survive in a way that is heartbreaking but empowering. The reintroduction of Yuzuha and eventual alliance makes for a great dynamic for the series going forward too. As the omnibus ends, we get to the Beach arc, with some grisly but engrossing adventures to come.
Alice in Borderland is a visceral piece of art, and fans of the show should definitely read this right now.
Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs
Penguin & House Volume 1 (Kodansha)
A long time ago back when I was at Gaming Trend, I reviewed a manga called Emperor and I. It was a full-color series that had a loveable chemistry with the protagonist and her penguin. Penguin & House wishes to recreate that similar bond, but with a less likable main character and a hyper-competent penguin.
I feel bad for Pentaro. The titular penguin acts as a butler for his absentminded owner as the two live in a house together. It’s a cute slice-of-life series that chronicles the misadventures of the duo as Pentaro’s owner neglects… everything! Dude probably couldn’t even get up in the morning without his penguin’s help. (It’s telling that the owner doesn’t isn’t named while everyone else is.)
The slightly sociopathic ignorance of the owner is in contrast with Pentaro’s hypercompetent housework. If it wasn’t for how adorable and efficient Pentaro was, I would be giving this series a much lower mark. This slice-of-life series is cute and surprisingly had me hooked with the dynamic the two have with each other.
That said, I would rather the owner be more appreciative of Pentaro’s actions, and his ungratefulness gets a bit repetitive as the volume continues. Thankfully, it comes from ignorance rather than maliciousness, and the owner gets his comeuppance from others. The owner’s friends are more than willing to pick up the slack and appreciate Pentaro’s efforts.
If you’re looking for a fun and lighthearted series with a penguin doing housework, you should definitely pick this one up!
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
Rooster Fighter Volume 1 (VIZ Media)
One Punch Man showed me how perfect action sequences can be in a shonen manga. It’s with this mindset that I went into reading Rooster Fighter, and I’m glad I did. A pastiche of gritty 90s action manga, this is one series that’s the surprising hit of the summer.
In the world of Rooster Fighter, human demons run rampant. However, there is a wandering rooster exacting justice in the only way he knows how: by fighting. Keiji is on a quest to avenge his sister, who was devoured by a demon in the past. On the way, he embarks on a perilous journey with colorful friends and foes. A hardened soul, he leaves a place after his work is done, but still fights for justice in the land.
Don’t let the odd premise fool you, this is a solid action series. The art is fluid and fast-paced, and the action sequences are amazing. Keiji being a rooster makes the ensuing battles humorous and unique. While the fights in this volume end in a similar fashion, I have no doubt the enemies will be different in the future.
What I appreciate about Rooster Fighter is that while Keiji is a powerful character, he’s still just a rooster at heart. He isn’t above debasing himself to eat more sea mollusks, and even thinks children are annoying. (He still saves multiple kids in the volume, however.) The fact that he’s envious of a one night stand who gets over his departure instantly was amusing as well.
This first volume delves into the mechanics of humans turning into demons, and also goes into Keiji’s backstory. I’m excited to see where the next chapters bring our hero, and I will definitely read the next volume of this series!
Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs