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Early Christmas Manga Minis!

The week before Christmas, and all through the site, the otaku were stirring with Early Christmas Manga Minis, alright! (Not my best rhyme scheme, to be clear.) If you’re looking for some last-minute gifts, check out our reviews below, featuring some new debuts and solid continuations!

Tokyo Aliens Volume 5 (Square Enix Manga)

It’s time; I think I can finally up my rating for Tokyo Aliens. It’s been slowly growing on me, and it’s turned from a solid three UwU rating to something a little more… well, more! This volume cements the procedural buddy-cop adventures of our cast and dives deeper into the overarching mystery of Akira Gunji and his past.

In a bout of training gone wrong, Reiji Amamiya continues to push Akira to use his latent powers. However, because of the situation at hand, Reiji cuts his act short and allows the mission to quickly succeed. What happens is a revelation that will cause repercussions for the rest of the series moving forward.

In the meantime however, Akira and his buddy Sho Tenkubashi need to monitor a rogue alien roaming around. While he doesn’t seem dangerous initially, a sudden string of events causes Akira’s judgment to veer wildly. What occurs is a tough moral dilemma that question Akira’s heroic attitude. Additionally, we get another appearance from yandere-esque Raika Nadeshiko as Akira needs to confront her. The second half of the volume explicitly shows why Reiji shouldn’t be on your bad side.

This volume encompasses what I needed Tokyo Aliens to do to grow as a manga: more worldbuilding and character development while keeping the quality art. Needless to say, it’s proved itself today with an excellent fifth volume.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Superman Vs. Meshi Volume 2 (Kodansha)

Now that I’ve written reviews of the three Kodansha/DC manga collaborations, it’s time to start with the second volumes! Superman Vs. Meshi was the first one I looked at, and I thought it was the weakest of the bunch. With the second volume now available in print form, will the Man of Steel get out of his manga funk?

Volume two of this series follows Superman in some zany slice-of-life antics as he continues with his Japanese food obsession. Even while trading blows against Lex Luthor (physically or on an Instagram clone), Superman continues to visit Japan to eat. This selection of chapters also includes meetings with the Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Cyborg. Additionally, Superman goes on a date/interview with Lois Lane, who notices that Clark Kent has put on a few pounds.

I appreciate the inclusion of more Justice League members; I still can’t help but notice the out-of-character personalities. Honestly, the whole “Clark Kent gets chubby” chapter was a bit too nonsensical for me, since I was under the impression that Superman could metabolize food at a monumentally fast rate. Meeting his deceased father in the fortress of solitude was a nice touch, but at the same time the encounter was too silly. Again, I don’t mind this with Joker’s manga, but it doesn’t feel appropriate here. The art style for the food looks great, however, and there was a surprisingly emotional final chapter for this volume.

My opinion still stands that this is probably the weakest series of the three right now, but it might stick the landing next volume.

Rating: 2 out of 5 UwUs

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stone Ocean Volume 1 (VIZ Media)

Jolyne Cujoh is in rough waters. Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, she is sentenced to the Green Dolphin Street Prison. Struggling to survive, she ends up making some terrible impressions to the people around her. What complicates things further is the fact that she gets mysterious powers thanks to her father’s pendant. (Just in case you didn’t already know, Jolyne’s father is Jotaro Kujo, protagonist of Stardust Crusaders). She makes a new friend in Ermes Costello, and ends up involved in a breakout attempt by her roommate Gwess. Jolyne needs to navigate the prison life while also trying to find a way out and staying alive.

Compared to the mafioso-laden Golden Wind, this debut feels oddly rougher in comparison. Jolyne is a dynamic heroine, but her first chapters are a bit strange in characterization. (For context, some of her first lines in prison are her being embarrassed about masturbating.) It’s vastly different from Giorno or Josuke, but it’ll take some time to get used to it. While I get the prison setting makes for initially unlikable roommates, I don’t feel the chemistry with the new allies. Ermes and Gwess feel rough around the edges, and it’ll take a few more chapters before I can grasp their personalities.

It’s also here where the “Look at Jotaro!” appearances feel a bit strange. It’s weird to think of him as an estranged father, and the relationship between him and Jolyne feels strained and unnatural. I’ve seen a lot of Jotaro in Diamond is Unbreakable, and I feel like the relationship between him and Josuke feels more organic. The action sequences are still solid as always, however, and I can see this being a fan-favorite down the road. Stone Free’s powers feel a bit underpowered, but that just means there’s more potential yet.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

The Darwin Incident Volume 1 (Kodansha)

Wrapping up our Early Christmas Manga Minis is The Darwin Incident. Honestly, out of the recent manga series I’ve read, I just picked this one up out of the blue. It’s an interesting series that takes its premise and goes from 0 to 60 quickly. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a solid debut.

The Darwin Incident stars Charlie the humanzee – a hybrid of a human and chimpanzee. While he lives a sheltered life in Missouri, his parents want to help him live a normal life. However, the Animal Liberation Alliance (eco-terrorists hellbent on freeing animals) want him to join their ranks. After befriending Lucy, a girl from school, Charlie does his best to protect the ones he loves. However, what can one humanzee do when society wants to use or abuse him?

The premise is serious, with some great philosophical questions brought up by Charlie. Moral quandaries regarding human and animal life are brought up frequently, and I was surprised to see them referenced here. That said, a lot of the conversations themselves have a strangely goofy context, not helped by Charlie’s deadpan delivery. Since he lacks social cues or graces, the conversations feel stilted and stiff, with the humans pondering on their condition. Oddly enough, it works well. However, sometimes it just feels like these conversations come in at random times, and too many of these talks end up randomly falling flat.

That said, the art for everything else is a bit lacking. I loved the designs for Charlie and Max (the main antagonist fronting the ALA). Max’s conniving yet cool demeanor creates a disconcerting aura and drew me in. The volume ends on a cliffhanger that will invite more moral questions for future chapters. If The Darwin Incident can cut its disjointed ethical dilemma discussions, it can be a tight narrative for the next volumes.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

And that’s it for our Early Christmas Manga Minis! If there’s something you’d like us to review, please sound off in the comments below! Stay tuned for more manga news and reviews here on Miso!

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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 edeograc (at)
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