Manga Monday: Falling Drowning Vol. 1

Series: Falling Drowning
Author/Artist: Yuko Inari
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: February 2, 2022
Received: NetGalley

I’ve been trying to make a point of taking more risks and picking up new manga series as they come across my searching. Sometimes those risks don’t pay off. Other times I find a new favorite series to follow. Falling Drowning is the latter, as this is clearly going to be a series I follow from here on out. Written and illustrated by Yuko Inari, Falling Drowning Vol. 1 is an endearing start to this series.

Honatsu is a girl who has been through more than she lets on. She’s starting her second year of high school, and the rumors are already spreading. At least this time, the rumors are positive, as people believe she is dating her best friend, Toma.

Honatsu isn’t opposed to the idea of dating Toma, to be clear. She’s just not sure if what she feels for him is love. The appearance of Shun Tachibana further amplifies this concern. There’s something about him, but again, she’s not quick to call these feelings love.

When I say that Falling Drowning is a new favorite series of mine, I am not overstating. I keep checking to see if the shop has updated, so I can just subscribe to the series and get each volume the day they release. That’s how swept up I am with Falling Drowning Vol. 1.

Right away, it’s pretty clear that something is going on with Honatsu’s character. She’s sweet and determined, but the overprotective nature of her friends hints at something else happening behind the scenes. This mystery pulls readers in while setting the scene for a potential romantic plot. It’s all wonderfully done.

No matter how you look at it, Falling Drowning Vol. 1 offers several potential romantic tropes for fans to fall head over heels for. Either it is friend-to-lover, or it is a mild version of enemies-to-lovers. Either way, the fans are going to win. Not to mention the whole love triangle aspect, mixed in with the mystery of Honatsu’s past.

On the note of romantic triangles, we have Toma and Shun. Toma is a sweet guy with strong ‘boy next door’ vibes. He adores Honatsu, and will clearly do anything for her. Shun overall offers the opposite vibes. He’s dark and moody. Yet all of his gruffness gives the impression he’s working too hard to avoid caring.

Overall, I really enjoyed Falling Drowning Vol. 1. I legit cannot wait for the second volume to release, especially since this volume concluded with a tease of a hint towards Honatsu’s past. More, please!

Thanks to Kodansha Comics and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Manga Monday: Fungus and Iron Vol. 1

Series: Fungus and Iron
Author/Artist: Ayaka Katayama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: February 8, 2022
Received: NetGalley

Before I dive into my review, I just want to point out that I am a sucker for nice covers. I adore the blue hue found on Fungus and Iron Vol. 1, which may have influenced my decision to read this one. Just a teeny tiny bit.

Fungus and Iron Vol. 1 is a bit difficult to describe. It’s sort of a mixture of 1984, classic dystopian elements, and manga tropes. I almost feel like it was trying to do too much at once, but I’ll get to that later in my review.

Dante is a bit of an oddball, to put it kindly. He lives in a world where a mushroom has taken over the planet. It does so by taking over the minds of its hosts – including people. Think cordyceps fungi (the fungus that turns ants into zombies) but for people.

You’d think that would make Dante a hardened guard, fighting to keep himself alive alongside all those he cares about. Well, some of that is true. Mostly, Dante survives on sheer dumb luck.

So, as I hinted at above, Fungus and Iron Vol. 1 feels like it tries too hard to be too many things at once. It’s a dystopian tale with romance, action (alongside gore), manga tropes, and even a 1984 vibe. It’s all too much for a relatively short period of time.

The result is that it just feels…shallow. I don’t feel like I know Dante. I know that he’s a lucky idiot, but being able to say that doesn’t mean that I actually know him, does it? Honestly, I didn’t even like him all that much. I certainly didn’t find myself rooting for him.

There lies one of the problems here. I wasn’t emotionally invested in the story. I think part of it is due to the issues I mentioned above. The other part is probably the pacing. Maybe if we had been given more time to know Dante and his love, I might have been able to care a little bit more.

Ultimately, Fungus and Iron Vol. 1 was a flop for me. However, if you’re looking for a read with lots of action and gore, this might be right up your alley.

Thanks to Kodansha Comics and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Manga Monday: Her Majesty’s Swarm Vol. 1

Series: Her Majesty’s Swarm
Author: 616th Special Information Battalion
Artist: Eiri Iwamoto
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: December 28, 2021
Received: NetGalley
Warning: Spiders, Gore, Slavery

It’s time for another reincarnation manga, as Her Majesty’s Swarm Vol. 1 throws the leading lady into the video game she cherished. While we’ve all probably dreamed of becoming the leading characters in the stories we love so much, it is unlikely we’d want those wishes to be taken so literally.

Mushi-nee is arguably an appropriate nickname, as this one game is obsessed with a real-time strategy game – one that lets her control an army of arachnids. She’s the spider queen in this world, and everyone knows it.

You can imagine Mushi-nee’s surprise when she one day wakes up in a world eerily similar to the game she adores. Not everything is the same, but it is enough to make her mission clear. She must rule the Arachnea faction and help them on their path to victory.

“I am destined to become the most vile mass murderer the world as ever seen.”

With an introductory quote such as that, it is easy to understand how some people might go into Her Majesty’s Swarm Vol. 1 expecting Mushi-nee to be a monster. Perhaps one day that is exactly what she’ll become. But for now? Now she’s a girl newly thrown into a world both new and familiar to her, and she’s still trying to process it all.

I was surprised by some of the twists that occurred in volume one. I’m not sure if this is to show how different her character is from expectations – or if this will allow readers to make comparisons later down the road. Only time will tell.

I should mention that Her Majesty’s Swarm Vol. 1 does not steer away from more graphic details and implications. The first bit is obvious: there are plenty of spiders in this series. Don’t read if they freak you out. Likewise, there’s a fair bit of gore, plus slavers and the like. Their behavior isn’t condoned (hence the gore), but it is still present.

Her Majesty’s Swarm Vol. 1 was a solid start to the series. I can’t say that it was my favorite, though I did enjoy all of the surprises that it brought with it. It will likewise be interesting to see how the series evolves from here.

Thanks to Kodansha Comics and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Manga Monday: Bootsleg Volume 1

Author/Artist: Suzuhito Yasuda
Publisher: Kodansha
Released: March 29, 2022
Received: NetGalley

I’m going to be honest here; I didn’t know what I was getting into with Bootsleg Volume 1. It had a dark and foreboding cover, which caught my attention. Still, I was not prepared for what I found on these pages.

Zen was just a young boy when Shake Hand murdered everyone around him – Zen’s family included. The killer also took Zen’s left leg – an insult to injury and all that. Now Zen is on a quest for vengeance, but he will need help and training to get it.

Luckily for Zen, there’s an artisan syndicate sworn to stop Shake Hand. Naturally, Zen wants in on the action (and the revenge, don’t forget that bit!).

Okay, so I wanted to like Bootsleg Volume 1. The beginning reminded me of Fullmetal in terms of tragic backstory meets graphic nature. However, the comparisons end there. While I don’t regret reading Bootsleg Volume 1, I don’t think I ended up enjoying it as much as I had hoped.

The art style is busy – and on the whole, I don’t mind that style, but it did make the fight scenes challenging to decipher at times. So I think that took away some of the impact and power of what we were being shown.

The other characters in this volume surprised me, though I wish we could have gotten to know them better. Most introductions felt shallow at best, especially for the ones that I was most interested in. I’m hoping future volumes will solve that issue.

Thanks to Kodansha and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Manga Monday: It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story Vol. 1

Series: It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story
Author: Kalaku YukiArtist: Pirota
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: January 11, 2022
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Death

It’s that time again! Time for another reincarnation manga that is. It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story Vol. 1 is not the longest title I’ve read, but it is arguably one of the more entertaining ones! It’s also very to the point, don’t you think?

What would be the best reincarnation for a virologist? As it turns out, the answer is a virus! That is the new life for one virus researcher after they met their untimely demise. Now they’re on another planet, and their history is giving them the best chance to succeed as a virus in this life.

“Th-That’s right! I remember! I was working at my pharmaceutical company…and just like normal, after everyone left…I borrowed the lab for juuust a little bit to work on my own research. I don’t have any memory of what happened after that. Which means I made some sort of mistake and died.”

I don’t normally include quotes for my manga reviews, but it just felt so perfect in this instance. Also, I’m not ashamed to admit that it gave me a good laugh. If there’s one thing you can count on in It’s That Reincarnated-as-a-Virus Story Vol. 1, it’s that it has a good sense of humor about itself.

Actually, it has a decent sense of humor in general. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and matches the same tone presented through the title (always refreshing when that happens). The leading character is a workaholic virologist who died when working after hours (with no other humans around to help when an accident occurred, naturally). Oh! And let’s not forget the strong anti-hero vibes they give off.

That sets the scene for everything else that happens in volume one. It’s fast-paced and an even faster read, as events quickly spiral to shocking levels. It made for a fun read, and I think fans of Cells at Work! would really appreciate this one. 

Thanks to Kodansha Comics and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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