Manga Monday: Lovesick Ellie, Vol. 1

Series: Lovesick Ellie #1
Author/Artist: Fujimomo
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: November 28, 2017
Received: NetGalley

Apparently, I’ve been on a bit of a romance binge with manga, and I’m okay with that. Next on my list is Lovesick Ellie, Vol. 1. It’s one part romance and one part comedy, making it the perfect balance, as far as I’m concerned.

Nearly everyone has a high school crush that they look back on and feel a little embarrassed about – mostly because of how we behaved. Eriko Ichimura is the latest to join these ranks. She has a major crush on Akira Ohmi (aka Omi-kun), but rather than approach him; she quietly stays on the sidelines.

Or, more accurately, she runs a Twitter account dedicated to her daydreams and fantasy interactions between her and Omi-kun. Her username is Lovesick Ellie, and it was all fine until a series of unfortunate events led to Omi-kun finding her account – and discovering how she feels about him.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m charmed. Lovesick Ellie, Vol. 1 isn’t quite what I expected, but boy, did it have fun with the premise. This is a series that knows better than to take itself too seriously. Yet it doesn’t make the fatal mistake of diving into the realm of goofy. It toes the line, creating something both interesting and funny.

It helps that Eriko is an extremely charming character. From the start, it’s easy to sympathize with her, making readers willing to root for her. Omi-kun takes a little longer to open up, but that’s to be expected in this story of the tale. Once he does, it’s like we’re reading about a new character, and I loved their interactions.

Long story short, Lovesick Ellie, Vol. 1 was a lot of fun to read. I’ll probably pick up the next in this series, as I’m curious to see where it goes.

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

Manga Monday: My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! Vol. 1

Series: My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! #1
Author: Tetsu Tsutsui
Artist: Koyubi Sugawara
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: January 4, 2022
Received: NetGalley

What would you do if your idol transferred to your school, but nobody seemed to recognize her? This is the question that My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! Vol. 1 decided to tackle.

Sakiko Manaka is obsessed with Chiro-chan. Not in an unhealthy way; she just thinks that Chiro-chan is the best idol out there and that the world will someday see this and agree with her. So imagine Sakiko’s surprise (and delight) when her favorite idol walked into her classroom one day.

Only nobody else seems to know that it’s Chiro-chan. She seems to be trying to fly under the radar, likely hoping to get a good education. As a fan, it is Sakiko’s duty to keep this secret.

Oh my, goodness, did this series have potential! I love the premise of My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! Vol. 1. For the first few chapters, I was hooked. The plot was strong enough on its own before they decided to go and throw in another complication.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really like that complication. Her name is Maaya Tozawa, and this girl should probably come with her own trigger warnings. She’s a stalker and cyberbully and is pretty willing to do whatever it takes to get closer to her idol, including indulging in abusive behavior.

It adds a sour tone to what was otherwise an endearing and charming series. I didn’t like how lightly the whole Maaya plot was addressed. Heck (spoiler warning), at one point, Sakiko invites Maaya into the friend group, knowing full well that she’s a cyberbully. Not only was this pretty naive, but it was unkind to Chiro-chan, whom she didn’t bother to warn (side note: if you know somebody is stalking your friend, TELL THEM).

Long story short, I had high hopes for My Idol Sits the Next Desk Over! Vol. 1, but they kinda fell flat thanks to a couple (read: one) unnecessary plot points.

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

Manga Monday: Vampire Dormitory Vol. 1

Series: Vampire Dormitory #1
Author/Artist: Ema Toyama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: August 20, 2019
Received: NetGalley

So I’m a little bit late to this one. Vampire Dormitory Vol. 1 first dropped in 2019, and I only recently found it. On the bright side, there are plenty more books in the series for me to dive into! (I hope my library has them!).

Mito has had a tough life. She lives on the streets, having been cast out by her family. She has nobody to love or cherish and nobody to care for her. To help make her life a little bit safer, Mito masquerades as a young boy. Yes, she still looks like an exceptionally attractive boy, but this is still safer than the alternative.

Enter Ruka. After rescuing Mito, he takes her into his life, though perhaps not for the reasons you might expect. Ruka is a vampire, and Mito’s blood is the first human blood he’s tasted in ages. It tastes bitter and sad – the effects of living so long without love. With any luck, Ruka will be able to change that.

Vampire Dormitory Vol. 1 is a solid start to the series. We’re quickly introduced to the leading characters, plus a few relevant secondary characters. Likewise, it doesn’t take long to understand the gravity of Mito’s situation.

Naturally, when Ruka steps in to save the day, I found myself rooting for all this to work out. Even if it does mean that Mito will have to continue hiding who she is (read: a woman). I kind of like this added complication to the story. Even though I can predict how it may end, it’ll still be highly entertaining to see it all unfold.

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

Review: Unfamiliar

Author/Artist: Haley Newsome
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Released: December 6, 2022
Received: NetGalley

If you’ve spent time on Tapas, you’ve probably already spotted this witchy read. Unfamiliar is a fun series written and illustrated by Haley Newsome. It’s a series I’ve been following for a while now on Tapas, but when I saw it was getting a graphic novel, I knew I had to re-read and support it!

Planchette is a young kitchen witch setting out on her own for the first time. While she can spell up all the pizza she wants, she otherwise feels wildly unprepared for the future. More accurately, she doesn’t feel equipped to deal with her haunted house.

Thankfully, Planchette is far from the only witch or magical being in town, and this haunted house adventure is precisely what she needs to go out into the world and make some new friends. So that is what she’ll do.

Unfamiliar is by far one of my favorite series on Tapas at the moment (seriously, if you’re not reading it, you should go and check it out! It’s free!). So I was absolutely tickled when I learned about this graphic novel.

To say that this graphic novel is charming would be an understatement. Planchette and all her newly made friends have so much personality – not to mention backstory. We have a cursed girl, a bird girl, and a shy siren. Plus, a sassy familiar. What more could you ask for? Oh right! Ghosts! There are plenty of those too.

If you love enchanting (pun intended) stories with complex and cute characters, Unfamiliar is the tale for you. Because it is based on an online comic series, the plot arcs are less sequential and brief, with a few exceptions. This helps make it a lighter read. Think a magical slice-of-life story, and you’re pretty close.

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

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Manga Monday: Tying the Knot with an Amagami Sister Vol. 1

Series: Tying the Knot with an Amagami Sister #1
Author/Artist: Marcey Naito
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Released: February 1, 2022
Received: NetGalley

Who doesn’t love a good harem manga every now and then? Tying the Knot with an Amagami Sister Vol. 1 sets up the most unlikely of scenarios, forcing the main character into quite the predicament. All for our sake, of course.

Uryu Kamihate is on his way to his new foster home, which shouldn’t have been much to report. Only…it’s not so much a foster situation as an arranged marriage. Uryu is expected to choose one of the three daughters to become his bride.

The Amagami sisters are lively and quirky, all with their own personalities and temperaments for Uryu to work around. How will he ever choose which sister to marry?

I’m being rhetorical here. There’s really only one choice for Uryu. The writer makes it clear from the start which sister is the most likely candidate. The older sister isn’t a good fit (and I feel like her personality has the least focus because of this), and the youngest one is too young!

Seriously, the age of the youngest sister is enough to make me uncomfortable. I get that arranged marriages can happen young, but that’s not the only thing worth discussing here. After all, the three girls are courting Uryu, which means they all get put in sexual situations. Think fan service.

On the bright side, Uryu seems to be a good guy. He wants to date the girls and get to know them before making his choice. So he gets bonus points for that.

Tying the Knot with an Amagami Sister Vol. 1 is an entertaining series perfect for fans who love this genre.

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

Review: Disney Manga: Beauty and the Beast – The Beast’s Tale

Series: Disney Manga
Author: Mallory Reaves
Artists: Studio Dice, Gianluca Papi
Publisher: Disney Manga
Released: March 15, 2022
Received: NetGalley

Beauty and the Beast – The Beast’s Tale is the second novel in a two-part set. As you might have guessed from the title, it’s a graphic novel/manga retelling of the beloved Beauty and the Beast story, with one major twist. Both stories show the main character’s thoughts and perspectives on the matter. This time we get to see what the Beast thinks of everything.

Once again, I’m not going to bother summing up Beauty and the Beast – I feel like it’s a story that most readers already know all too well. Any summation I try to do will simply pale in comparison.

I’ll admit that while I was really looking forward to both Belle’s Tale and The Beast’s Tale, I was more interested in seeing what the Beast had to say about things. After all, Belle’s perspective is pretty much the dominant focus for most retellings.

Beast’s story is naturally a bit darker than its counterpart, but not to the point where it’ll alarm children. Though admittedly, it didn’t have the level of insight I had been hoping for (though, if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting).

The issues I mentioned in Belle’s Tale still exist here, though some things make more sense now. Having read both, I do wish that this was one collected story and not two separate editions. I think that would have made more sense in the long run.

Where Belle’s half is brighter and happier, the Beast’s artwork style tends to be darker – literally. There’s less color and an overall more somber impression of the style. It’s quite appropriate, all things considered, and I think I like this artwork better.

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

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