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2024 New Year Manga Minis!

It feels like just yesterday we celebrated the end of 2023, but this time we have 2024 New Year Manga Minis! We’ve got reviews from our regularly read series, but also a couple new debuts as well. Check out picks below!

Alice in Borderland Volume 8 (VIZ Media)

With our new year manga minis, we’re approaching the end of some great runs. We’re finally in the endgame with Alice in Borderland, and that means the face cards are finishing up. While there’s an amazing arc featuring our favorite conniving tritagonist, this omnibus acts as a breather before the final confrontation.

Instead of beginning of another game, we’re treated to a home video log of a doomed player recording his journey. This gives us a deeper look at the events of the second stage with other characters but ends predictably. What follows is Shuntaro Chishiya clearing a couple more games, the main one being the King of Diamonds’ Beauty Contest. It’s strange that this intellectual game was one of the most nail-biting ones so far. (Honestly, how can you make sequences of guessing a number a crazy battle royale?) After these chapters comes a flashback to see how the current citizens of Borderland entered their roles. With this comes a tense encounter between Arisu, Shuntaro, and Suguru Niragi before we close for the next installment.

This omnibus feels like preparation for the end, which will wrap up in the next one. That’s not a bad thing, but unfortunately this means there’s a ton of flashback chapters. The resulting issue is that the story grinds to a halt before and after the King of Diamonds arc. Seeing how Shuntaro and the King of Diamonds clash with their wits and philosophies is a page-turner indeed. However, the other chapters develop characters who we either know die or will predictably perish. It’s not as powerful as the last omnibus (with a supporting cast that are important to the narrative AND survive). There aren’t many action sequences either due to the framing of narratives here, which could put a hamper on this omnibus’ effectiveness.

That said, even at its weakest, Alice in Borderland Volume 8 sets its hand up for an explosive finale. We’ll have to check back soon to see what will happen to Arisu and the rest of the survivors next!

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

Mr. Villain’s Day Off Volume 2 (Square Enix)

Mr. Villain’s Day Off was a surprise for me when I reviewed the first volume. I didn’t see much about the series, so getting to see it with fresh eyes was a treat. This next volume continues the entertaining daily lives of villains and heroes with a bit more lore sprinkled in.

This second volume of slice-of-life hijinks follows the mysterious Mr. Villain as he continues to relax on his day off. (Woah, big revelations there.) However, he still must juggle subordinates and envious colleagues on the way to his panda paradise. In addition, we also get to see what goes on with the good guy organization, the Rangers. Specifically, Pink wants to do more than her job… she wants to be a magical girl! Will our Villain overlord foil her plans, or help her transform out of her shell?

For some reason, this volume feels more mystical than the last. We have the Villain encounter Santa and a couple of young ghosts as well. These supernatural aspects make the series feel rounded, and there’s much more going on in the world than meets the eye. If you liked the last volume, this one is more of the same. However, that “more of the same” is still comforting to read. I especially like the dynamic of the Evil League, and how the Villain cares for his henchmen. Pandas are a repeated motif here as well, which are always a cute touch.

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

One Operation Joker Volume 2 (Kodansha)

Since I reviewed the previous DC Kodansha manga in the last column, I guess now’s a good a time as any to review the next one! One Operation Joker Volume 2 picks up with the Clown Prince of Crime’s escapades to take care of Batman-turned-baby. While it does feel grating near the middle, some choice supporting cast members ultimately bring this volume up a notch.

This collection of chapters includes a few vignettes of Joker’s misadventures in babysitting as he enrolls Batman into daycare. What follows is something out of Spy X Family as Joker needs Harley Quinn to act as a loving family. I thought his interactions with her were genuinely heartwarming (though throughout these tales you can hear his inner monologue). In fact, I feel like these thoughts hamper the experience, as they bring an otherwise dour mood to the zany situation at hand. The result is whenever Joker is by himself and Batman, the story slows to a crawl with melodrama. Not something I’m used to with better Joker stories, if I’m being honest.

I would have rated this second volume a little lower if not for the inclusion of Alfred, Batman’s proficient butler. Alfred provides a hypercompetent foil to Joker’s bumbling parenting antics and provides some real conflict with the narrative. After all, Batman is still missing, and Gotham needs to find a way to get Bruce Wayne back. I liked how silly Alfred’s obsession with serving Batman was (and it wasn’t soaked in a sour mood like Joker’s conflicts). It provides a great driving force that will continue the story into a climactic clash of surrogate parents.

Rating: 3 out of 5 UwUs

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten Volume 1 (Square Enix)

New year means new debuts, so we have a first volume review for our 2024 New Year Manga Minis. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten has an interesting title, but I can see why its anime adaptation was a hit. Featuring a slowly developing romance between two students is a tried-and-true formula, but it works very well here.

Amane Fujimiya is an average high school student who lives alone in squalor. His next-door neighbor, Mahiru Shiina, is a popular girl who he thinks won’t notice him. A chance meeting at the park brings these two students together. Because of Amane’s lack of housework and cooking skills, Mahiru decides to help him out. While initially showing no interest in each other, the story implies that something may grow between them.

Honestly, this is such a cute manga. I was intrigued at how this series would handle its high school romance, and it does so quite well. While Amane is shown to be a messy individual, his development is not done out of malice. Mahiru does exhibit the usual tsundere tropes, but she has a heart of gold. Amane isn’t useless though, as he helps Mahiru get out of her shell. The art matches the cute premise, with some closeup shots for the intimate scenes. (Not that this is explicit, it’s more so cute slice-of-life interactions).

While it feels formulaic, there’s enough here that will interest even the most jaded romance readers. The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten is a solid debut volume that’s sure to please!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

Since I Could Die Tomorrow Volume 1 (Tokyopop)

Finally, to close out our 2024 New Year Manga Minis, we have an advanced review from a surprisingly great debut volume. I’m getting older and I do think about the days when I might settle down and (gasp) stop playing video games and reading a ton of manga. It’s not that often that I see a manga that speaks to me as an aging millennial, and Since I Could Die Tomorrow is an important story for that demographic.

42-year-old Sawako Honna is a hard-working woman in a film promotion company. While she has a good position, she feels inadequate in other areas of her life. She also has a problem setting boundaries for herself at work and in her personal life. This builds into a health scare as she faints and gets hospitalized. Realizing that she’s no longer the young aspiring girl she once was, Sawako navigates the series with a new lease on life.

In a way, Since I Could Die Tomorrow is a slice-of-life series but delves into topics that appeal to the older crowd. From aches and pains all over your body to finding a coworker who has cancer, there’s a lot of parallels I’m just starting to see in my life. It’s a slow burn, but one that feels relatable to those in the workforce. I love the workplace narrative, and seeing how everyone affects Sawako’s life is touching. I especially like the intergenerational friendships she has with the rest of the cast, and it does feel like a regular workplace. (After all, having 28-year-old and 42-year-old coworkers in similar positions isn’t too far off nowadays.)

If I had one complaint about this series, it’s that the art feels inconsistent, with some scribbled backgrounds here and there. That said, the poignant story of this series is something that I don’t see often, with a protagonist that’s relatable to a different crowd. This was a unique read, and I can’t wait to see the next volume soon!

Rating: 4 out of 5 UwUs

We hope you enjoyed our manga minis this month! Check out next month for more 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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