Many of anime’s current offerings are based on recent and not-so-recent best-selling manga. We’ve reviewed manga that are bound to be popular in the coming months. Use these reviews for a ready-made display or to help you decide whether they should be purchased for your teen collections.
Coolkyousinnjya. Peach Boy Riverside: Vol. 1. illus. by Johanne. 192p. Kodansha. Jun. 2021. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781646513390.Gr 10 Up –Princess Saltherine has always dreamed of a life where she’s not cooped up in a palace. However, with monsters running amok, her father will not have any of it. It’s only when a vagabond traveler named Mikoto comes to town that Saltherine decides to learn more about what’s beyond her kingdom. Abandoning her princess title to finally go on her much-dreamed-about journey, this is Saltherine’s chance to write her own story. While based on the ancient Japanese tale Momotaro, this work will be accessible to readers unfamiliar with its folklore source, though it wouldn’t hurt to have prior knowledge heading in. This shonen adventure isn’t very ambitious and doesn’t offer much to distinguish it from others like it. However, protagonist Saltherine finds her true self early on and leaves behind a sheltered existence in a quick display of character progression. Enough action sequences and interestingly drawn creatures provide a fascinating world for readers to explore. VERDICT Saltherine’s exploits are worth a follow, but overall the story doesn’t provide enough fresh material when measured up against other titles in its genre to label it anything more than a so-so start to a series. The anime concluded September 2021.
Haruba, Negi. The Quintessential Quintuplets: Vol. 1.illus. by Negi Haruba. 192p. Kodansha. Dec. 2018. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781632367747.Gr 10 Up –Futaro’s not the most popular kid in his high school class, nor is his family the richest. However, Futaro excels with his schoolwork: Nobody can touch him academically. When the wealthy father of identical quintuplet girls hires Futaro to tutor his slacker daughters, Futaro accepts out of financial desperation. It’s clear from the start that these sisters have no intention of listening to anything Futaro says. The book’s opening pages offer a glimpse of the future—not only is Futaro not quitting, he’s going to marry one of the quints! But which one? The opening revelation is an early plot twist that will keep folks guessing. Futaro is also an uncommon male lead in a series like this; he’s not your typical Casanova in a romance yarn. Though he’s deadly serious and the quintuplets all enjoy goofing off, the chemistry is undeniable and the dialogue is funny. However, there are some fan service moments in the art, like emphasis on breasts and post-shower/towel shots, that could raise eyebrows. VERDICT This is an adequate setup for a romantic comedy. There is plenty to be curious about in this opening volume, including which girl Futaro’s destined to marry and just how he’ll get the sisters to improve their dismally low GPAs. The anime’s latest entry will debut in May 2022.
Hata, Kenjiro. Fly Me to the Moon: Vol. 8.illus. by Kenjiro Hata. 200p. (Fly Me to the Moon). Viz Media. Nov. 2021. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781974723546.Gr 9 Up –Married at a super young age, Nasa (18) and Tsukasa (a supernatural being who looks approximately 16) are still trying to navigate the tricky waters of love, particularly when it comes to displays of affection. The cute couple find themselves in new situations, including sharing a bath while on a getaway to a resort and settling on a temperature they can both agree on for their air conditioner. The series’s slice-of-life formula remains the same into this eighth volume, but our two protagonists are so likable that it continues to be a joy to peer into their still-developing married life. The artwork is solid but the lack of backgrounds in particular panels can be frustrating; when they are present, they are pleasing to look at. There is a bit of fan service in this specific volume such as a bathing suit–focused chapter that feels somewhat random. VERDICT A charming entry to the series. In a world where people in new relationships can feel pressure to have sex before they’re ready, it’s nice to see a couple not give in to societal expectations and figure things out at their own pace. The second season of the anime was recently announced.
Inagaki, Riichiro. Dr. STONE: Vol. 1.illus. by Boichi. 200p. Viz Media. Oct. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781974702619.Gr 9 Up –High schooler Senku is one of the smartest human beings on the planet, and the world needs him now more than ever! When every living being on Earth is inexplicably turned to stone for millennia, science-savvy Senku doesn’t miss a beat when he wakes up after thousands of years. Knowing that humanity must continue, Senku (with a little help from his friends) uses all the knowledge he possesses to rebuild and find out why everything happened in the first place. This is an absolutely special work, with an extremely thoughtful story (even if it is totally over the top and outrageous) and a fantastical setting. The book’s characters are diverse and complex; readers will even empathize with the villain. While some of the science featured in the story is more wishful thinking than realistic, the explanations provided are convincing. The art is thorough and well done, and readers will marvel as much at the illustrations as at the writing. Senku doesn’t spend chapter after chapter obtaining what he needs to become a legend as in most shonen manga; instead, he already possesses what’s needed to survive in this situation. The anime’s third season is scheduled to run in 2022. VERDICT An outstanding way to begin a series.
Inuzuka, Junpei & Shufunotomo Infos Co Ltd. Restaurant to Another World: Vol. 1.illus. by Takaaki Kugatsu & Enami Katsumi. 144p. Yen Pr. May 2020. pap. $13. ISBN 9781975309039.Gr 10 & Up –From Monday to Friday, Western Restaurant Nekoya is as a totally normal establishment. But come Saturday, the door to the restaurant magically distorts the space-time continuum and allows patrons from other worlds to come and dine. Whether the clientele are treasure hunters, elves, or lizardmen isn’t important; all that matters is that they all have a preference for one-of-a-kind cuisine. And with the restaurant’s mysterious yet talented owner at the helm of the kitchen alongside the up-and-coming demon waitress Aletta, no culinary request is unfeasible! While the book is low on conflict, the short stories provide enough to hold readers’ attention. Aletta is an adequately developed protagonist, but the unnamed chef of the restaurant does remain a mystery. Fans of titles that have artwork that concentrate on edible delights will find themselves delighted, as the depictions of the chef’s creations are rich in detail (as are the character designs and backgrounds). There is some casually inserted fan service, but by and large, the book is a pleasing and sunny story, and one that could rope in casual readers of manga in addition to the medium’s usual fans. Order up! VERDICT Chapters may seem a bit repetitive in this slice-of-life story, but it still packs plenty of charm as each satisfied customer makes their way out of the restaurant’s doors. The anime’s second season is currently airing.
Itagaki, Paru. BEASTARS: Vol. 1.illus. by Paru Itagaki. 216p. Viz Media. Aug. 2019. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781974707980.Gr 10 Up –At Cherryton Academy, the student body and faculty are made up of anthropomorphic herbivores and carnivores. With the herbivores already wary of the carnivores, tensions escalate even further between the animal classes when an alpaca named Tem is brutally murdered on campus. Large gray wolf student Legoshi wonders why distrust of carnivores has to run rampant in his world, as he struggles to keep his carnivorous side at bay. When he takes notice of a lovely upperclassman, the white dwarf rabbit Haru, Legoshi’s internal battle becomes harder than ever. This is an absorbing title with a protagonist all readers can take a lesson from. Legoshi is a lovable, contemplative protagonist. This is a coming-of-age story in a unique universe, where characters deal with typical high school drama, with the dark cloud of Tem’s murder adding a dash of uniqueness to the narrative. The art style will not be everyone’s cup of tea, though helps the story to stand out from other manga for teens. Drawn in a sketchbook fashion, the characters occasionally come off as goofy in appearance. Such a marked difference from the typical manga art style could possibly draw in new fans and intrigue the format’s devotees who are looking for something new. VERDICT This title hits just about every note. The story is smart and engrossing, and readers will be invested in the characters. Well worthy of a purchase. The third season is tentatively scheduled for 2022.
Izumi, Tomoki. Mieruko-chan: Vol 1.illus. by Tomoki Izumi. 146p. Yen Pr. Nov. 2020. pap. $13. ISBN 9781975317577.Gr 10 Up –Mieruko is a high school girl with a sinister secret: She’s able to see grotesque monsters that other folks can’t. And even though you’d never know it by looking at her, deep down, Mieruko is scared to death. If she pretends she can’t see the monsters, eventually they leave her alone. So Mieruko is going to have to keep up her brave front if she’s going to navigate her way through this curious yet horrifying situation. Even if the simplistic schtick of “see monster, be afraid, soldier on” does become repetitive, it never gets boring. The artwork looks great, with the monsters standing out in particular. In a book that’s much more comedy than horror, the creatures are genuinely grotesque; while the story may be funny for readers, it’s no laughing matter for poor Mieruko. However, the excessive amount of fan service may make this inappropriate for younger readers. High school girls (plus their female teachers) getting fondled by monster arms, plus the locker room lingerie panels, will make this inappropriate for school libraries. Still, most readers will be eager to learn more about Mieruko’s daily happenings, to see why these monsters are visible solely by her, and to discover whether she’ll ever be able to experience a normal life. VERDICT A slice-of-life manga with a unique premise. Interest will certainly be piqued to see just how Mieruko will weather the latest monster storm. An additional purchase because of some mature scenes. The anime debuted October 2021.
Mashima, Hiro. EDENS ZERO: Vol. 1.192p. Kodansha. Nov. 2018. pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781632367563.Gr 10 Up –Shiki has never known any other existence aside from life in an abandoned amusement park in the Granbell Kingdom, where his only communication is with the bots that reside there. Adventurer Rebecca (also a B-Cuber—a pun on v-tuber—seeking a million subscribers on her channel) and her feline partner Happy get Shiki off planet Granbell and show him that there’s an entire cosmos full of places to discover and explore. Shiki’s life will never be the same again. After joining up with Rebecca’s guild, a whole new world of action and dramatics await. This title inevitably will draw comparisons to Mashima’s smash hit “Fairy Tail,” though this series takes place in a science fiction setting. However, due to the lack of differences among the plot, characters, and artwork, this title doesn’t stand out much, especially with so many other shonen adventures readily available and, frankly, more interesting. VERDICT If readers don’t mind the obvious similarities to Mashima’s other works, they’ll eat this title right up. This genre will always have its die-hards, as will this mangaka. However, fans looking for something new may walk away disappointed. The first season of the anime concluded September 2021.
Matsumoto, Naoya. Kaiju No. 8: Vol. 1.illus. by Naoya Matsumoto. 192p. (Kaiju No. 8). Viz Media. Nov. 2021. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781974725984.Gr 9 Up –At the age of 32, Kafka is resigned to the fact that in a world where kaijus (or monsters, in the vein of Godzilla and Mothra) exist and wreak havoc, he’ll never be one of the ballyhooed members of the kaiju neutralization defense force, the Third Division. Instead, he’s working in a field that while still important is far less appreciated: kaiju cleanup. When the Third Division raises the maximum age for new recruits to 33, and a chance encounter with a kaiju gives Kafka the ability to transform some of his body parts into kaiju ones (and, in turn, gain their strength and speed), he receives a second lease on life. This title follows the typical shonen hero formula, where an lead ordinary lead becomes extraordinary. However, that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Peeks into the character’s backstories give them and the narrative some depth. All female leads pack just as much of a punch as their male counterparts, if not more so. The pacing is quick and fun, and the artwork is sharp and detailed, particularly when it comes to the kaiju illustrations. VERDICT Absolutely worth the read. The anime is planned for 2023.
Shimizu, Akane. Cells at Work!: Vol. 1.192p. Kodansha. Nov. 2016. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781632363565.Gr 9 Up –Red Blood Cell, an anthropomorphized cell, would love nothing more than to simply do her job in the human body. However, with so much bacteria floating around, things just never seem to go as planned. With maladies such as pneumococcal disease or influenza plaguing this particular human, everyday seems to bring about some sort of DEFCON 1 situation. The book also features Red Blood Cell’s other buddies inside the human body, such as the strong White Blood Cell, platelets, and Killer T’s. Learning about anatomy has never been more fun! This title is edutainment at its finest, an absolute dream franchise from an educator’s standpoint. The scientific descriptions provided by the mangaka are clear and expressive, keeping readers engaged and informed. A great deal of artistic detail is dedicated to the panel backgrounds and to the various character designs that dwell within the unseen human host. The pacing is quick and intense, making even a mundane ailment such as a scrape of the knee feel like the sky is falling; readers will be on the edge of their seat to learn how the human body will get out of the latest pinch it finds itself in. The characters all have distinctive personalities and have their opportunities to stand out. VERDICT If there ever was a title to boost the movement that graphic novels should be in the classroom, it’s this one right here. The anime concluded in early 2021.