New Year, New Manga – January Manga Minis

If your New Year’s resolution is to read more manga, you’re in for a treat with our January Manga Minis! Check out a new batch of manga volumes and watch for another 5 UwU review!

YoRHa: Pearl Harbor Descent Record – A NieR:Automata Story Volume 1 (Square Enix Manga)

Let’s start our January manga minis with an adaptation! As someone who hasn’t played NieR: Automata to its entirety, I’m glad that the written adaptations are fund standalone adventures. YoRHa: Pearl Harbor Descent Record – A NieR:Automata Story is similar, as it chronicles an alternate take on its characters.

In the year 11941, machines have overtaken humanity and are ravaging earth. To defend it, female humanoid androids known as YoRHa head down and try to save any survivors. A unit of 16 of these YoRHa go down to earth for a mission, but the unit’s whittled to four. With seemingly no hope left, they are rescued by older androids and reluctantly make an alliance to survive.

For someone who doesn’t know the deeper lore of NieR: Automata, I’m impressed with how much this manga works. It’s not necessary to play the game, but it does help (especially since this event is present in supplementary materials). The art style is slick and action-packed, and moves at a brisk pace. I liked the different designs of each character, especially the older androids. This is beneficial because most of the supporting cast feels one-dimensional due to length.

I’m guessing it’ll be a short run but I’m excited to see where it goes next!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses Volume 1 (Square Enix Manga)

In this short gag manga, student Komura realized something odd: his childhood crush Mie forgot her glasses! What follows are pages of misadventures as he tries to assist her in everyday tasks. Komura is shy when it comes to talking with Mie, but Mie’s lack of glasses causes hilarity.

Like other comedy manga I’ve reviewed previously, The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses uses one trick. It does use the gimmick well, but even after reading this short volume I felt that it will get overused quickly. It’s also shorter than most standard manga, clocking into something like Look Back’s length. Still, it’s an enjoyable treat as an impulse buy, and the second half is cutesy.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

Welcome to the Outcast’s Restaurant! Volume 1 (Kaiten Books)

Oh hey, yet another restaurant manga for our January manga minis! After reading a few of these, I’m starting to grow a bit complacent to them. However, I enjoy when a series takes its own spin on a genre, and Welcome to the Outcast’s Restaurant! does an excellent job with its cast.

After getting kicked out of the Silverwing Battalion, maxed out leveled chef Dennis decides to create his own restaurant. While he doesn’t have much in terms of wealth, he has a penchant for making great food. After freeing the young Atelier from slavery, the two manage to build up the reputation of the fantasy restaurant.

I appreciate that Dennis is a strong protagonist that mentors the novices that enter his restaurant. From the swordsman Henrietta (who’s reminiscent of Konosuba’s Darkness) to the arrogant mage Vivia, the cast works well with Dennis. (I also chuckled at how plain “Dennis” sounds in a fantasy setting.) The chemistry of Dennis and supporting characters is fun and lighthearted, and I can’t wait for more adventures with them.

The art style is nice and complements the restaurant and action scenes with fanservice food shots, for better or worse. It’s sometimes distracting but does make sense in context. The Older Teen rating does include some strong language as well, which I felt was surprising but added to the work.

If you’re looking for a fun spin on the restaurant fantasy subgenre, check out Welcome to the Outcast’s Restaurant!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Beastars Volume 22 (VIZ Media)

We have reached the end of the tale of wolf and rabbit here in our January manga minis. While it was an overall treat to experience it, I feel like the ending to Beastars could have been better. This volume is a satisfying ending to the current arc but still feels like there should be more to come.

The battle between Legoshi and Melon reaches its climax as the two half-species mixes come to terms with their vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, Yahya and Gosha try to quell the curiosity of animals from the black market’s outskirts, Louis also tries to help with his support during his press conference. The conclusion of Legoshi and Melon’s fight is spectacular, which is the selling point of this volume.

This volume feels like the end of an (admittedly long) arc rather than the series. As such, the last few chapters are rushed and the resolutions are there, but not fulfilling. I do appreciate that most characters get some screentime, but a lot of plot threads in the story get ignored. Heck, even the title of beastar doesn’t hold much weight at this point.

Thankfully, Beast Complex volume 2 heads to the west soon, which includes an epilogue of sorts for Legoshi and Haru. That said, it’s a great volume to wrap up the arc’s fight, but a somewhat disappointing ending overall.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

Alice in Borderland Volume 4 (VIZ Media)

I keep gushing praises for Alice in Borderland, and this volume is no different. We get to wrap up the Beach arc and set up the story for the next half. The first part of the volume is the most heartbreaking, as the mystery of the witch hunt reveals itself. Arisu and his friends lose nearly everything to complete the game, and what comes afterwards may just break the survivor’s wills completely.

I think this volume as an excellent blend of elevating the main arc but also dealing some worldbuilding. The second half includes a game that seems like a throwaway sidestory at first, but introduces a greater scope villain. The respite of the Ten of Hearts’ conclusion is well-deserved but easily broken. It’s here where I get why I love this manga so much; it balances trauma and healing excellently. The artstyle remains as gritty as ever, and we have some great interactions with the supporting cast. I’m counting the months until our next batch of chapters and a new gauntlet to experience!

Rating: 5 out of 5 UwUs

Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man: 17-21 (VIZ Media)

It’s crazy to believe that Tatsuki Fujimoto is only in his late 20s (and about a month younger than myself). It’s also wild to think that he had some killer manga before Fire Punch. Tatsuki Fujimoto Before Chainsaw Man: 17-21 is an anthology of assorted one-shots from the Chainsaw Man mangaka. It’s a mostly strong showing of interesting manga stories, and demonstrates the writing chops of the author.

This anthology collects four stories, each from Fujimoto’s college years. A Couple Clucking Chickens Were Still Kickin’ in the Schoolyard, Sasaki Stopped a Bullet, Love is Blind, and Shikaku. The stories have their own spin on the genre they represent, from a romantic comedy to a sci-fi monster adventure. While Fujimoto’s trademark style is present in these stories, it’s interesting to see how his work advances in that aspect. My favorite would be the first one, as it has the biggest twist in its storytelling and raw artwork. Sasaki Stopped a Bullet and Love is Blind have similar school themes with much different approaches. The weakest of the stories is Shikaku, but only because the “assassin turned vampire” plot is a bit overused.

All in all, this collection of one-shots is a great recommendation for those looking to get started with Fujimoto’s work. It’s a brilliant showing of how versatile the mangaka is, and there’s a lot of emotions to process throughout.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Night of the Living Cat Volume 1 (Seven Seas)

Night of the Living Cat introduces Kunagi, an amnesiac who might have a role to play in the recent cat-pocalypse. It’s basically like zombies, but humans are turning into cats when in direct contact with them. The story begins with one of Kunagi’s comrades turning into a feisty feline before we go back to the beginning.  As a former cat café worker, Kunagi is infatuated with cats and wants to pet them… which doesn’t work here. As such, he has to fight his intrusive thoughts to play with the kitties in order to live another day.

What I love about Night of the Living Cat is how serious it takes its premise. If you looked at the art of any given page, you’d think it was an excellent zombie manga. Look closer, however, and you’ll probably laugh at how serious Kunagi takes his job. The usual genre trappings are here (including a group trapped in a supermarket), but done in a loving satirical way. In a way, this manga feels like Junji Ito’s Cat Diary, and the artwork is just as great. Those looking for a pure horror series will be disappointed, however; it’s not scary at all, but rather unnerving. However, if you’re a cat lover and want a few giggles, this is a purrfect volume to check out.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Thanks for checking out our January manga minis column! Missed out on our previous manga minis columns? Check out our last three here, and stay tuned for more manga reviews here on Miso!

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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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