Summer’s nearly over, but there’s still one month left of fun! Before you get some more sun at the beach, here’s a fall manga minis preview!
Secret Reverse (VIZ Media)
It’s hard to look at anything from Kazuki Takahashi now and not feel a little emotional. His sudden passing earlier this year has me longing for Yu-Gi-Oh nostalgia, and his Jump+ one-shot Secret Reverse satisfies. It doesn’t have the trademark Yu-Gi-Oh stakes, but it’s a beautiful comic/manga mashup featuring two Marvel heavyweights.
Iron Man and Spider-Man have been called to visit Tokyo, while Tony Stark gets a demonstration of state-of-the-art-tech. Using something called a Deathal machine, game creator Kaioh can bring his card game Secret Reverse to life. Some extraterrestrial brainwashing aliens control the machine and Kaioh, which is why his daughter Hiromi ask the two for assistance. What follows is a tale that pits the duo up against a villain in trademark Takahashi fashion.
I must say, Takahashi’s art is superb. As this manga-that-reads-like-an-American-comic is in full color, the designs pop out immensely. It’s similar to Deadpool Samurai, and honestly I hope Marvel can make more of these collaborations with lesser known heroes. However, like Deadpool Samurai, the plot is straightforward and very basic; you’re not getting a Civil War storyline here. It’s even more apparent as the cast outside the main two heroes are flat and uninspiring. The other character is a card-loving boy named Masaru who wouldn’t look out of place as a JoJo tagalong sidekick. (The ones that can’t do anything in a fight, I mean.)
That said, I like how Takahashi used the characterizations of the MCU for Spidey and Stark. It’s a very cool surrogate father/son dynamic, and the two play off each other quite well. For a Japanese interpretation of Spider-Man, he gets the quirkiness and sharp mouth down! The action scenes in the second half are vivid and entertaining, and I loved my time looking at the illustrations. I hope that we can get more Marvel collaborations with famous mangaka.
In the meantime, rest in peace to a legend indeed.
Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs
A Man & His Cat Volume 6 (Square Enix Books)
In my last review for A Man & His Cat, I praised the fact that the series morphed into something greater. While Kanda and Fukumaru are always adorable together, it’s great that we’re seeing more of the cast. With this volume, this manga becomes much more than it was before and becomes an amazing all-ages drama.
We pick up where we last left off, with Yoshiharu Moriyama panicking at his latest gig. He needs to play alone with his crewmates gone. That is, until Fuyuki Kanda and his middle-aged buddies deliver an amazing performance with Moriyama. While meant to be a one-off thing, the concert is an online success, with more characters coming into the picture. Meanwhile, rival Kanade Hibino leaves his cat Marin to stay with Kanda and Fukumaru while he travels abroad. Here, he meets a new foe that has a mutual distaste for Kanda, with the story taking a dramatic turn.
I appreciate the evolution of the story and its future direction. No longer are we focusing on just Fukumaru and Kanda, but rather a dynamic supporting cast (and more cats too)! The manga genuinely feels like a true slice-of-life, filled with comedic vignettes but also an underlying plot. Kanda’s still facing his performance anxiety here. It’s not fully recovered, but he’s getting out of his shell. Moriyama’s younger brother idolizes Kanda as a teacher, which means the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Even Hibino’s rivalry gets softer as he learns to love Marin more, which proves cats are awesome. Meanwhile, the 4-koma tales are still present, but with a fleshed-out main narrative.
This is one of my favorite manga in stores right now, and for good reason! A Man & His Cat is a definite recommend to everyone looking for a cute and inspiring tale.
Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs
Romantic Killer Volume 1 (VIZ Media) – Fall Manga Minis Preview
(These next three manga minis will feature reviews for volumes that will come out in the next couple months!)
A lot of us want to fall in love, but there are some that don’t. For Anzu Hoshino, she would rather play video games, eat chocolate, and spend time with her cat. Unfortunately, in the world of Romantic Killer, the universe doesn’t want her to do that. After being whisked away by the magical entity Riri, needs to find someone to love. If she doesn’t, the things she wants will be gone in her life forever!
The premise begins weirdly; the reason for this magical takeover is because the birthrate in Japan is at a decline. In order for magic to exist, the wishes of children need to come true, which can’t happen without kids! Anzu protests saying that she’s only in high school, but the story needs to have her date a hot guy so there we go. The rest of the volume delves into a deconstruction of shojo tropes where Anzu needs to avoid Tsukasa Kazuki. This is easier said than done as Riri magically causes a host of different circumstances to force Anzu into conflicts. While the situations feel forced, the actual relationship between the two is genuine and quite charming. It’s when the story tries to veer off into deconstructive wackiness that it’s at its weakest. Romantic Killer works best when it’s a romance, oddly enough!
That said, I think the art style is very charming. Additionally, the whole volume is in full-color, I haven’t seen often for manga. It likewise complements the art and makes for a cutesy, soft style perfect for a shojo manga. For all the begging that Anzu doesn’t want to be in a shojo series, the whole package is quite nice. Check this one out if you want to find a romance series that’s uniquely refreshing.
Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs
Drip Drip (VIZ Media) – Fall Manga Minis Preview
Look, Beastars is one of my all-time favorite manga. I recommend it everywhere I go, and I’m excited to see where Paru Itagaki goes next. While I understand there’s some questionable content in Beastars, it’s never to a point where it’s uncomfortable. It seems that Itagaki went all the way with this with the single volume tale Drip Drip. The premise is intriguing but is dripping (pun intended) with sociopathic characters and copious amounts of gore and sex.
Mako Higari is a model office worker with a bit of a clean streak. She needs everything so clean that she has massive nosebleeds should she touch anything dirty. By nosebleeds, I mean huge gushing streams of blood from her face. This unfortunately affects her intimate relationships, and she longs for one thing only.
To get laid.
What follows is a handful of chapters as Mako unsuccessfully tries to woo unwitting suitors to uh… know her biblically. While the first half of the story features standalone vignettes, the second half sets her up with Ryunosuke Tokuma. A childhood acquaintance brought back by fate, the two start to have a relationship that may test her bloody limits.
The premise was actually interesting (a girl who gets constant nosebleeds from touching anything dirty). However, the execution of the whole idea missed the mark. Instead of exploring something more emotional, the narrative uses any excuse to strip Mako and her one-night stand excessively. We’re exposed to full frontal depictions often, and it’s always in a way that feels unpleasant. This is also mixed in with huge amounts of blood, which works to the manga’s detriment. Itagaki’s art style is amazing, but it’s marred with black ink all over, and I can’t properly enjoy it here. This manga wastes its Mature rating on sleazy depictions of sex and nudity.
It doesn’t help that the characters are one-dimensional and unlikeable. Mako just wants to do it, and she won’t even let her parental issues get in the way. The people she gets involved with are just as horny and selfish. Even the one person that seems to be likeable turns out to be the worst one of the bunch. It says something that the one-shot included (called White Beard and Boobs… yeah) was leaps and bounds better. And that story was about a sex worker trying to seduce Santa unsuccessfully! I understand this was released in a seinen magazine, but it all feels so juvenile.
Speaking of that one-shot, it’s thanks to Drip Drip that we’ll see more of ripped Santa in… Sanda. Itagaki asked to use the Santa character from the one-shot to a (presumably shonen) magazine. The editor agreed on the condition that she write a one-volume serialization for the current magazine. I guess this was a necessary evil, but I can’t wait for Sanda to make it to the west.
Even if you’re a fan of Beastars, I would wholeheartedly recommend skipping this entirely.
Rating: 1 out of 5 UwUs
Alice in Borderland Volume 3 (VIZ Media) – Fall Manga Minis Preview
It seems survival games and psychological horror are all the rage with live-action adaptations these days. Alice in Borderland is getting a second season, which means time to catch up on the manga in the west! This third omnibus collects the fifth and sixth volumes of the series, which gives the Beach arc an engrossing climax.
The idyllic paradise of the Beach is in jeopardy as the 10 of Hearts game begins. In this game, titled Witch Hunt, players must find out who killed one of the Beach residents. Simple enough, but since their main leader the Hatter died last time, there’s more than enough paranoia going around. What makes this even more sadistic is the new leader Aguni and his subordinate Last Boss. They decide to kill first, accuse later and go on a rampage, using process of elimination to find the killer.
Meanwhile, Yuzuha Usagi is in a frantic race against time to find Arisu, who was kidnapped in the last volume. While much of the first half has Arisu out of commission, we still see him struggling to stay alive. Will he succumb to the regrets of his past, or will he be murdered by the oncoming slaughter?
What I appreciate about these omnibus releases is that I can get more of the story in one go. The 2-in-1 format is perfect for longer arcs like this one. These chapters sell how Alice in Borderland features an ensemble cast rather than focusing on Arisu himself. While he’s active in the second half, his kidnapping lets other players shine. From Usagi to the executives from the science division, there’s no shortage of awesome supporting characters.
I also liked the inclusion of an earlier Four of Hearts game, which had stakes but was also a breather. Introducing Hayato Dōdō as a new character felt organic as a flashback and fleshed out Hearts games’ sadistic nature. The story takes an action-filled turn into a Battle Royale-esque story, filled with psychological thrills and chills aplenty. I also appreciated the fact that Arisu hasn’t forgotten about his fallen friends, and they appear here too. It’s a nice balance of everything I’d want in a darker manga, and fans of the show should check this one out.
Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs
Thanks for checking out our Fall Manga Minis Preview! What manga are you reading right now? Anything you’d like us to check out? Sound off below!