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[ARC Manga Review] Not Your Idol by Aoi Makino (Volume 1)

Warning: Includes topics of physical and sexual assault, and gender discrimination. Reader discretion advised.

Thank you to Viz Media and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. Not Your Idol by Aoi Makino Volume 1 goes on sale May 5, 2020.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel, YA
Series: Not Your Idol
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

 

ABOUT: A psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan.

After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

 

My Review:
Warning: Includes topics of physical and sexual assault, and gender discrimination. Reader discretion advised.

I’m ambivalent about this first volume of Not Your Idol. I don’t dislike it but I don’t necessarily like it.

Most of the characters in this story I either strongly dislike as a character or disagree with their point of view on what’s happening within the story. However, the story’s biggest strength is the variety of opinions (the good, the bad, and everything in between) on the important issues of physical/sexual assault and gender discrimination. This I think brings an apt realism.

The art was good, one of my favorite art styles in manga. A few transitions between scenes or past/present were jarring. But each time I was able to reorient myself within the story.

The ending was great, leaving off on an emotional high. But I think I would have to read volume 2 to really know if I want to continue this series.

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[Manga Review] An Incurable Case of Love by Maki Enjōji (Volume 1)

*review of vol. 1 only*

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: An Incurable Case of Love, Vol. 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Nurse Nanase has striven to once again meet the prince of her dreams, so how is it he’s become such an aggravating doctor?!

After witnessing a handsome and charming young doctor saving a stranger’s life five years ago, Nanase Sakura trained to become a nurse. But when she meets the doctor again and they start working together, she finds Kairi Tendo to be nothing like the man she imagined him to be!

 

My Review:
I wanted to read An Incurable Case of Love because it seemed like it would be a funny rom-com story. I bought Volume 1 – the only volume in English published at the time – on optimism alone. I’m so glad I found this series because it was an enjoyable read.

Volume was super cute. Nanase studies to become a nurse so she can one day work with a guy she met five years ago who helped her save someone’s life. It’s a frivolous reason to become a nurse. But when she finally reunites with the handsome doctor, things go sideways fast. I knew then – from the way these stubborn titans constantly clashed – that I was going to fall in love with this series.

Five years is a long time. I’m curious to learn what changed for Tendo that he’s now so gruff and unapproachable a person that no one wants to be assigned to his department. He’s a great doctor but not easy to work with. I predict this is because of possibly a bad relationship, the stress of his profession, or perhaps mental trauma from losing a patient.

All the characters you meet so far are great and compliment the two main characters. Sparks are already flying in volume 1, so I’m eager to continue the story.

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[Manga Review] Kamisama Kiss (Vol. 1) by Julietta Suzuki

Review of Volume 1 only

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Kamisama Kiss
# of Volumes: 25
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

ABOUT: Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she’s just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwillingly taken over his job as a local deity!

Nanami has all kinds of new responsibilities she doesn’t understand, dangers she’s unaware of, and a cranky ex-familiar who’s… actually pretty hot. What’s a new-fledged godling to do?

 

My Review: This was a great start to the story. I’ve only watched the anime so this was a nice re-introduction to the story. Reading was a nostalgic experience.

Nanami is alot different than I remember. She is an eh character as of this first volume but I’m sure I’ll grow to like her character more. She’s vocal when she needs to me. She doesn’t allow Tomoe to walk all over her or scare her.

Tomoe is like any other of my favorite white-haired main character. You can tell how deeply the betrayal has affected him. He doesn’t think much of Nanami because she’s human. But I also think he’s projecting his anger onto her. I like his character the most because of his cool attitude.

I can’t wait for more characters to appear. I think they will add a lot of color and humor to the rest of the story.

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Book Review: “Backstage Prince” by Kanoko Sakurakoji

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
# of Volumes: 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT (Vol. 1): Drawn into the exciting world of kabuki theatre, young Akari spends her time after school assisting the internationally famous actor, Shonosuke Ichimura. In the real world, however, this prince of kabuki is actually a high school cutie by the name of Ryusei.

Akari is totally clueless about kabuki–and boys–but she’s eager to learn about both. Her first encounter with Ryusei doesn’t go very well, but with the help of a cat named Mr. Ken, the two teenagers quickly become prince AND princesses of kabuki. Love was never so dramatic!

ABOUT (Vol. 2): There’s trouble brewing behind the kabuki curtain. Ryusei’s dad doesn’t want anything–or anyone!–distracting his son from his chosen profession. It’s no secret that he disapproves of Ryusei’s romance with Akari. Now he’s determined to sabotage their relationship anyway he can!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Backstage Prince was an interesting read. Being only two volumes long, the story couldn’t help but feel rushed

The story begins with an inciting incident that gets right to the overall plot of the story. Akari is a nice girl, pleasantly ordinary but flat in character. She doesn’t grow or change much throughout the story. Ryusei is every bit the dashing prince but is extremely antisocial so often comes across as rude and brutish. I get that he’s not good with feelings and expressing himself but sometimes he did not treat Akari well. At least you can see he does regret his behavior at times and makes some effort to change.

I wish that we could see more of the reaction Akari’s classmate have after learning who she is dating and whether they treat her differently or not. The reactions are 99% focused on the industry, media, and fan reactions.

I liked both volumes equally and the stakes do raise as the story progresses. It’s a nice story; a bit different from my usual reads which was a nice change.

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Book Review: Otomen (Volume 1) by Aya Kanno

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Otomen
Rating: 2 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe

 

ABOUT: Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things – sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo comics. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and play the part of a masculine jock instead. Ryo Miyakozuka, on the other hand, is a girl who can’t sew or bake a cake to save her life. Asuka finds himself drawn to Ryo, but she likes only the manliest of men! Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to the girl that he’s falling for?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Otomen was one of my most anticipated end of the year reads. Perhaps I read this at the wrong time but I did not enjoy this first volume.

I expected more from this story. The premise caught my attention immediately. And I’m always up for a story about characters who learn to won who they are and what makes them special. But the three principal characters you first meet are pretty flat in design. They’re nice but I couldn’t bring myself to care about what was going on. The disjointed writing and transitions between scenes didn’t help either.

I’m still interested enough to give volume 2 a chance. I liked the artist’s style and there were a few laugh out loud moments. But that probably wouldn’t be for many more months.

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Book Review: Library Wars: Love & War by KiiroYumi

Story & Art by Kiiro Yumi, Original Concept by Hiro Arikawa

 

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Library Wars: Love & War
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

Vol. 1 Summary (via Goodreads):
In the near future, the federal government creates a committee to rid society of books it deems unsuitable. The libraries vow to protect their collections, and with the help of local governments, form a military group to defend themselves–the Library Forces!

Iku Kasahara has dreamed of joining the Library Defense Force ever since one of its soldiers stepped in to protect her favorite book from being confiscated in a bookstore when she was younger. But now that she’s finally a recruit, she’s finding her dream job to be a bit of a nightmare. Especially since her hard-hearted drill instructor seems to have it in for her!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I liked Library Wars more than I thought I would, which is good because I am definitely aimed to read the entire series.

The title peaked my curiosity first. With a word like “library” in the title, how could I resist? I read the summary and became more curious but still wary. I was sold on the idea but not completely sold, so I only took out volume 1.

Kasahara is very head-strong and sometimes doesn’t look before she leaps. But all her actions are always in good faith. She is also a fellow bookworm so that makes her okay in my book (no pun intended). She’s kind of an air-head with a heart of gold. I expect she’ll do many great and surprising things in this series.

I liked that the conflict, though in the background at the moment, is censorship of books (and by extension any typed of media deemed “harmful”). But censorship is on a whole different level and I really like that aspect of the story. That the world has come to military actions to protect books is intriguing.

In the foreground at the moment is Kasahara and her place in basic training for the Library Forces and the introduction of other main and secondary characters.

Also, there is heavy romance in the air clearly between Kasahara and her instructor, Sergeant Atsushi Dojo. It’s so obvious they like each just as it’s obvious to all the other characters.

Still, I enjoyed volume 1 a lot and will continue with this series. The writing is pretty solid and the story captivates me. Plus, I have to know if Kashara’s dreams come true.


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Manga Series Review: Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel, YA Fantasy
Series: Dawn of the Arcana
# of Volumes: 13
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Sumamry (via Goodreads):
Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced to marry Prince Caesar of the enemy country Belquat, tantamount to becoming a hostage. While Caesar is pleasing to the eye, he is also selfish and possessive, telling Nakaba outright: “You are my property.” With only her attendant Loki at her side, Nakaba must find a way to cope with her hostile surroundings, her fake marriage…and a mysterious power!

~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I really enjoyed reading Dawn of the Arcana. It was funny and sweet, but sad and depressing.

I actually liked the love triangle between Nakaba, Caesar, and Loki; it’s one of the better one’s I’ve seen. Love isn’t so instantaneous in this series, which is good. It grows organically albeit quickly.

There’s so much going on and so much action. The series touches greatly upon the race relations between humans and Ajin. Humans are seen as higher beings than Ajin. Ajin are treated as slaves. These moments were hard to read because this theme echoes so loudly and powerfully within actual history. All the royal families (except a very select few) are just horrible people and it’s no wonder the children ended up just as hateful and spiteful as their ancestors. It’s all just sad.

But I grew to like Caesar rather quickly – one of those few royal lights with the dark. He’s rather sweet and amusingly awkward where Nakaba is involved. He is open to change and rather thoughtful when he tries to be.

Nakaba I liked but there were times when she was just so winy. She’d complain and hesitate every time the “mysterious power” was used or going to be used. And I get it. The power is not easy to wield and rather complex. It’s almost soul-crushing. But I feel if she just stopped and really thought about things she wouldn’t stress so much.

Loki I loved so much in the beginning but my feelings for him began to wane as the story went on. I’m not sure why. Probably because of the conflicting ways he treated Nakaba. In the end, I just had indifferent feelings about him. I feel like there were better choices he could have made.

It’s a lovely story told beautifully but with a few jarring transitions and jumps in time between scenes. The ending felt rushed as if there could have been more pages to make it truly satisfying. Regardless, I was still happy with how things turned out overall.

I loved this series and devoured each volume rather quickly. I’m so glad I found this series.


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Book Review: The Water Dragon’s Bride by Rei Toma (Volume 1)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel, YA Fantasy
Series: The Water Dragon’s Bride, Volume 1
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
A modern-day girl gets whisked away to a strange land where she is sacrificed to a water dragon god! 

In the blink of an eye, a modern-day girl named Asahi is whisked away from her warm and happy home and stranded in a strange and mysterious world where she is sacrificed to a water dragon god! What plans are in store for her, and what will happen when she comes face to face with this god?

A young boy named Subaru comes to Asahi’s aid, but despite his help, Asahi must endure a test of survival! Will she be able to make it out alive, or will she end up being sacrificed?

~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Great start to what I’m sure is going to be a fantastic series. It has a nice The Little Mermaid vibes to it but a more sinister reversal effect.

Asahi is so cute and funny. I just love her character. It’s sad what she’s going through but I strongly believe things will work out for her in the end.

The water dragon god is very cruel to Asahi. However, Subaru’s mother comes across as more wicked than the water dragon god in this first volume. There’s so much you don’t know about the water dragon god. He is beguiling and stoic. Uninterested in humans who to him are greedy and lower than dirt. I like him as the antagonist. As flat of a character as he is, he’s certainly giving off some powerful vibes.

The story is really interesting and quickly captured my attention. I’m looking forward to reading more volumes. I anticipate unexpected twists and turns unlike anything I’ve every seen.


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Book Review: The Demon Prince of Momochi House by Aya Shouoto (Volume 1)

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Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel, YA Fantasy
Series: The Demon Prince of Momochi House, Volume 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
On her sixteenth birthday, orphan Himari Momochi inherits her ancestral estate that she’s never seen. Momochi House exists on the barrier between the human and spiritual realms, and Himari is meant to act as guardian between the two worlds. But on the day she moves in, she finds three handsome squatters already living in the house, and one seems to have already taken over her role!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I am loving this series. It’s like a cross between Fruits Basket and Kamisama Kiss with a sprinkle of Inuyasha. So of course I adore all of the characters. Himari is a nice girl. She’s kind of a flat character but I hope that we learn more about her in the next volume. Aoi I am crushing on because he is so goofy and sweet. His story so far is sad and I feel for him. But I’m hoping that Himari will be his salvation. You learn hardly anything about Yukari and Ise, Aoi’s companions and shikigami. But again we’ll just have to wait and see. I have a strong feeling The Demon Prince of Momochi House is going to become a favorite series of mine.


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Book Review: Dawn of the Arcana by Rei Toma (Volume 1)

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel, YA Fantasy
Series: Dawn of the Arcana, Volume 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Sumamry (via Goodreads):
Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced to marry Prince Caesar of the enemy country Belquat, tantamount to becoming a hostage. While Caesar is pleasing to the eye, he is also selfish and possessive, telling Nakaba outright: “You are my property.” With only her attendant Loki at her side, Nakaba must find a way to cope with her hostile surroundings, her fake marriage…and a mysterious power!

~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Dawn of the Arcana is going to turn out to be a great series.

The premise and art style really interested me. I wanted to know how Princess Nakaba would overcome her unwelcoming circumstances.

Princess Nakaba has had to live with ridicule and now the same scorn follows her to Belquat. She calmly tells Prince Caesar, “Do you know how much suffering I’ve endured because of [my red hair]? This country or my own my fate is the same. The only difference is where I die.” Such profound words made her a more appealing character and captivated me.

This story. The world the author has created. It’s beautiful and charming and wicked.

For all his faults, I liked getting to know Prince Caesar. He’s not a kind man but his disposition is largely due to how he’s been treated and a lack of self-worth. In a way, I feel for him but of course I do not condone his actions thus far.

Loki is darling. He’s cool, mysterious and loyal. You don’t learn much about him in this volume so I’m hoping we get to dive more deeply into his character in the coming volumes.

I’m so excited for this series!