Tag Archives: manga review

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. 7

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 7. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

At last, Sariphi is able to carry out her first official job as Acting Queen Consort-giving a royal blessing to the newborn prince of the nation of Sarbul. That same night, Leonhart whisks her away to a place far from prying eyes. Once they’re alone, he tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past, which only deepens their bond. But just when Sariphi believes she and Leo can overcome anything together, a new duty may pull the two apart…

The Review

The Sarbul arc looked pretty much wrapped up with Sari and Leo rescuing the brash Princess Tetra. However, it extends two more chapters. As it turns out, the neglect suffered by Tetra not only allows Sari a path to reach out to the lonely princess, it dredges up painful childhood memories for Leo.

The mystery of Leo’s human form has been a mystery from the start. When I read on the back flap teaser that Leo “tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past,” I eagerly expected to learn the secret behind his parentage.

Unfortunately, that secret remains one. Turns out Leo has no siblings and no memory of his mother. He’s completely ignorant of his human origins, but his father was fully aware of and took pains to hide that aspect of Leo. Thus, we merely get more cold-hearted parenting and awful childhood memories, which is turning into a repeated theme for this series.

We then get a single-chapter interlude of Sari expressing her love and concern for Leo through the timeless medium of food before the story moves on to her next assignment as acting queen. This challenge is twofold. One, she must ratify the new lord of the city of Maasya without Leo’s company. Two, she must select a captain to lead her personal bodyguard.

I thought Anubis had softened somewhat towards Sari, but the manner in which he foists this task onto her indicates otherwise. Despite the supposed importance of the captain selection, Anubis gives Sari virtually no time to make her choice before rushing her out the door to Maasya. At any rate, we get new character Lante added to the cast.

Lante is a hyenafolk, whose tongue perpetually hangs out in a really distracting way. That aside, he draws nearly as much suspicion as Sari. Once more we get a chunk of hitherto unknown history and prejudices within Ozmargo. While it’s fine that Lante is a bit of a double edged sword, Sari’s personality feels inconsistent in her interactions with him. With Tetra, she was a trusting fluff-head who couldn’t interpret Tetra’s vindictive actions as anything but play. With Lante, she’s aware of his sketchy motivations from the get go and makes the conscious decision to trust him in spite of everyone else’s doubts. At any rate, she’s well on her way continuing the pattern of winning beastfolk hearts despite their universal hatred of humans.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters, bonus sketches, and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Servant.”

In Summary

We get a glimpse of Leo’s childhood but, disappointingly, no revelation on his human roots. Rather, Tomofuji-sensei gives yet another portrayal of a rejected child before continuing with Sari’s next challenge. Although the test ostensibly is to execute royal duties without Leo’s supportive presence, ultimately it boils down to the same formula of her conquering beastpeople’s prejudices about her.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Beastars Vol. 02

Animal tales are often considered the purview of kids and fun fantasy. However, sometimes you’ll get one like Orwell’s Animal Farm, which is more a commentary about human society. Beastars also falls into that category, and you can read on for my review of Volume 2. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Dwarf rabbit Haru’s odd behavior causes wolf Legoshi to flee. He then learns that the Drama Club recruits new students with inner demons. What does their club president, red deer Louis, wrestle with? Before Legoshi can figure it out, Louis pressures him to face not only his own weaknesses but also his strengths. Legoshi’s character is truly put to the test when his onstage fight choreography with Bengal tiger Bill turns all too real. Has someone broken the school rules? And could the battle between Legoshi and Bill involve…rabbits?

The Review

Volume 1 ends with Legoshi unexpectedly encountering the rabbit he attacked during an errand for the Drama Club. In Volume 2, that scene progresses but not in the way you’d expect. Despite the injury to her arm, Haru doesn’t remember Legoshi’s attack. As such, she treats him like any other male student. As for Legoshi, he’s completely unaware of Haru’s reputation. So when Haru assumes he wants what every boy wants from her, it *ahem* comes as a shock to the innocent young wolf.

Haru’s upfront manner also took me by surprise. I had assumed the rumors about her were unfounded, that she was being unfairly slandered by that jealous harlequin rabbit. Judging from her interaction with Legoshi and a candid conversation between male students, she has slept with a number of herbivore guys and had no hesitation offering herself to a carnivore like Legoshi. I also got thrown off because I thought intimate relationships stayed within species, but I guess not? Anyway, although Haru’s been branded a slut, Legoshi sees her as a nice girl, which complicates his already complicated emotions about her.

Then the focus shifts back to the Drama Club, which is getting ready for its first performance of the year. Amid their frantic preparations, we learn that only beasts that have been deeply traumatized are invited to join that club. It is a strange criteria, and we’ve yet to meet to the advisor who supposedly scouts out these scarred kids. However, the information initiates speculation about what dark secret the seemingly perfect Louis could harbor.

The perspective then actually switches to Louis’ as he takes the stage for the play’s opening performance. We know he’s good at putting up an act on multiple levels. Now we get his unfiltered thoughts on his fellow students and circumstances as his plans go awry.

It’s pretty much a given that Louis’ hidden injury would eventually get out. The surprising twist is that Legoshi gets recruited to take the role vacated by Louis’ understudy Bill. Bill the Tiger is Legoshi’s polar opposite, and their different personalities make for gripping conflict on and off stage. It does get a little over the top when Louis inserts himself between the two clashing carnivores, but other than that, it demonstrates how tenuous the school’s herbivore/carnivore peace is.

Extras include character design notes, bonus comics, and the creator’s afterword.

In Summary

Things get awkward between Legoshi and the rabbit he nearly ate–but not the way you’d expect. Similarly, Louis’ injury forces last-minute changes in the school play, but not the way you’d expect. Itagaki-sensei does an excellent job keeping the plot interesting and heightening the tension at Academy with the emotional baggage of the main characters.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #08

The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime was a surprise favorite for me in 2017. With a title like that, I was almost too scared to give it a try, but conniving little Tanya turned out to be nothing like I anticipated. Yen Press has released Volume 08 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of other Tanya the Evil works, click here.)

The Review

This volume, like Volume 7, kicks off with a glimpse of the divine. However, rather than an interaction with humans, the divine forces discuss among themselves the most effective means to manipulate humanity. These characters are depicted as a rather jarring collection of religious figures. Fortunately, the interlude is brief, and we quickly return to Tanya’s battle against Colonel Sue’s aerial unit.

Unlike the anime, where Tanya kills the Colonel without much trouble, he puts up a serious fight, and Tanya only survives due to luck and Imperial reinforcements (who thankfully are considerate enough to show up with a spare coat for the naked Major). From the Tanya/Sue dogfight, the action zooms out to the positions of the 203rd unit. Then it takes a further step back to a macro level perspective for the Imperial Northern Sea Fleet’s invasion and the tremendous damage they dish out to the Alliance troops. Overall, Tojo-sensei does an excellent job conveying the fight’s progression and the chaos wreaked upon Os.

Having survived the Battle of Osfjord, Anson Sue handily provides a window into two groups within the defeated country: the ordinary citizenry and the politicians. The loss of their homeland is inevitable, so the Colonel arranges for his family to escape the country, and we witness his touching farewell to his wife and daughter Mary. Mary doesn’t do much but smile and look charming, but quite a few pages are devoted to her introduction. Oddly, even though the Entente Alliance is a northern country and it is December, she frolics in a meadow in a spring dress. Even odder, she’s half her mother’s height, which makes her look twelve at most, but she’s drawn with a C-cup bust. That aside, the manga shows the means by which Mary obtains her submachine gun present to her father, a detail that was not included in the anime or novel.

As for Colonel Sue, he’s stuck with carrying out his defeated government’s plans to continue the fight against the Empire. With the enemy closing in, the Entente politicians desperately reach out to the Albion Commonwealth. The two countries scheme to smuggle out a high-level Entente official for the purpose of establishing a government in exile, and Colonel Sue is assigned to accompany that official out. Although it’s somewhat dense, the diagram that explains the Alliance and Commonwealth plan to get around the Imperial naval blockade is super helpful. By the way, this arc was part of the light novel but not the anime, and I look forward to seeing Tojo-sensei’s visual interpretation of it.

Extras include battle log thus far, character introductions and detailed glossary of terms between chapters.

In Summary

Aerial dogfights, battleship salvos, and marine landings, oh my! Military buffs will get their fill of action in the conclusion of the attack on the Osfjord. Then the cloak and dagger types will get their turn as the Alliance schemes with the Commonwealth to smuggle out a high level official to form a government in exile. The focus is less on Tanya and more on the plight of her defeated enemy, but the narrative remains a compelling one.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: The Promised Neverland Vol. #12

The Promised Neverland anime was a surprise favorite of mine for 2019. Its blend of mystery, suspense, and heart grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. For English-speaking fans who can’t wait to see what happens to Emma and their friends, they can read ahead in Viz’s translation of the manga. Read on for my review of Volume 12.

Back Cover Blurb

Life at Grace Field House is good for Emma and her fellow orphans. While the daily studying and exams they have to take are tough, their loving caretaker provides them with delicious food and plenty of playtime. But perhaps not everything is as it seems…

With the demons of Goldy Pond finally defeated, Emma and the other children now focus on their next task—finding the Seven Walls. But it won’t be easy, especially with a dangerous new foe trying to hunt them down. Can Emma and Ray decrypt the ancient clues that will lead the children to true freedom?

The Review

The Goldy Pond arc went out with a literal bang, with bullets flying and the whole place blowing up. Now that the kids plus two adults are safely at the B06-32 shelter, the gears switch away from action to sleuthing and intrigue.

The mystery is twofold. First is the situation between the Minerva group and the Ratri Clan members that shut them down. The kids have extremely limited access to information on the human world, so they’re stuck making conjectures on what the actual situation is. Thing is, the Ratri Clan is also conjecturing about the escapees and their whereabouts. The creators do an excellent job keeping readers on the edge of their seats as Peter Ratri and his terrifying minion Andrew strive to sniff them out.

The second mystery is the Seven Walls, which they must locate if they want to attempt a new promise regarding the humans in the demon world. This starts off a lot like the trail of clues at Grace Field House, but then it takes a great leap in scope. The search involves distances that require months to cover. What this does is force a rapid progression of time; the events of Volume 12 span over a year and a half. As a result, the kids are pushed right up against their deadline to return for Phil and the remaining Grace Field kids by the end of the volume.

Another leap is that the Seven Walls investigation takes on a mystical aspect. Whereas before they obtained clues from those they encountered or gleaned them from books and objects, this time Emma gets overtaken by a vision. I wasn’t expecting the series to take a turn for the supernatural. Then again, elevators supposedly connect human and demon worlds, so why not?

After several chapters of furtive investigations, things get charged up again when Peter Ratri’s thugs invade the B06-32 shelter! It’s a compressed, more intense version of the battle at Goldy Pond. Once more, the kids get pushed to the brink, except this time their pursuers are other humans.

Extras include side scenes and the creators’ notes.

In Summary

Fans of the clue-tracking aspect of this series will enjoy the kids’ search for the Seven Walls. It’s a long investigation–over a year and a half! But the creators do a good job presenting events such that the pacing doesn’t get bogged down. Then it’s back to action and thrills when the Ratri Clan invades the shelter!

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 18

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 18! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

It’s been a year since Handa arrived on the island, and a lot has changed for the residents of Nanatsutake Village. Hiroshi’s in Tokyo, Miwa and her friends have graduation on their minds, and Naru and her classmates are going into their second year of elementary school. With everyone looking to the future, the time to say goodbye approaches in the final volume of Barakamon.

The Review

It’s been a year since Handa arrived at the island, and this final installment notes how the characters have moved forward over that time. Some progressions are mundane. The kids advance another grade in school but are otherwise exactly the same. The notable exception is Tama, who achieves a significant milestone when her work gets published as an honorable mention in a manga contest. The subject of that work, however, is a massive detour from her usual genre and turns into a bit of a running joke.

Unlike Tama, who’s been diligently working at her mangaka dream, Miwa has been more a giant goof-off, but in this final volume, Miwa decides to become a brewer. Because she’s the flaky type, I took it as a joke at first, but apparently she’s serious. (Or as serious as Miwa can get.) I found it rather sudden, nearly as sudden as her dad shutting down his store to take a job on Yuuichirou’s ship. Overall, the timing feels odd because there wasn’t foreshadowing for either development, and because the series is ending, we don’t actually get to see Miwa set out on the path of the brewer or how she adjusts to life without her dad at home.

An arc that actually achieves a kind of resolution, however, is the relationship between Naru and her dad. Theirs is definitely not the typical parent-child dynamic, but it starts to shift in that direction with some help from Miwa and Handa. Unfortunately, it is not entirely satisfying because we never get any information on Naru’s mom, nor does Naru show any interest in learning about her.

As for Handa, this final installment has him growing into his calligraphy teacher role although he remains as immature as his students. This is evidenced by the final chapter in which the now second-grade kids designate Handa their substitute first-grader at the school’s first years welcome party. While the villagers have become accustomed to Handa and he’s found a way to support himself, he hasn’t changed that much.

Extras include translation notes.

In Summary

The series concludes! It doesn’t exactly go out with a whimper, but it’s not a strong finish. Some loose ends get wrapped up, like Naru’s relationship with her dad, but Yoshino-sensei oddly chooses to introduce a couple new elements with the story about to close. As for our main character Handa, he merely exhibits his usual immature behavior for the last chapters.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: A Bride’s Story Vol. 11

Kaoru Mori is best known for  Emma, an exquisite romance/slice-of-life set in Victorian England. Her latest work to be released in the United States, A Bride’s Story, is also a historical/slice-of-life but is vastly different than Emma. Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the early 19th century, A Bride’s Story revolves around a young woman, Amir, who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. Volume 11 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Having reached his destination in Ankara, Smith is not only reunited with his old friend, but also Talas, the woman he briefly stayed with on his journey. An agreement was made, and now Smith must travel back to Amir and Karluk with his new companions and newly acquired camera. However, the roads back are perilous as war approaches…

The Review

Volume 11 opens with Chapter 70, “Song of Midwinter.” Rather than a narrative, this chapter is a gorgeous montage of single and double-page illustrations depicting different winter scenes in town and on the plains. There’s no dialogue, but captions following Amir’s perspective provide almost poetic descriptions.

Then the story returns to the reunited lovers, Mr. Smith and Talas. As it turns out, their meeting in Ankara was not entirely the result of serendipity. The clock winds back to show the highlights of their relationship from Talas’ perspective. For such a quiet character, she’s remarkably determined and passionate. Equally remarkable is the husband her uncle forced her to marry. Not only does he sympathize with her heartache, he helps her journey to Ankara to look for Smith. When they don’t immediately find him there, Talas sells off her jewelry to prolong their stay. It’s a mind-boggling step of faith, especially considering there was zero coordination between Talas and Smith.

But fate has rejoined them, which causes new problems. Smith’s no-nonsense British compatriot Hawkins is quite vocal about the disapproval their marriage would stir in England. Talas, for her part, is oddly diffident in this discussion. The woman has literally given up her whole world to go after Smith, and after all that sacrifice, she says she’s content to be used as a servant? Perhaps that is an accurate characterization of a nineteenth century Central Eurasian woman, but from my Western perspective, her attitude is perplexing.

At any rate, despite the tensions brewing in the region, Smith resolves to travel back through Persia to take photographs. And despite the danger and uncertainty, Talas chooses to accompany him. There is no wedding, but once again, the two exchange promises and a token of their love.

That resolved, Smith and company make preparations, which include a chapter-long lesson in 19th-century photography. The wet collodion process is a lengthy, material-intensive endeavor involving various implements and chemicals. It’s largely the mixing of various compounds, so it’s less visually stimulating than the chapters on sewing or falconry, but if you are curious about early photography, it lays out the steps very clearly. When Smith finally leaves Ankara, he’s gained a couple camels, one fiancée, and the guard Nikolovsky on loan from Hawkins. The additional people bring a new dynamic to Smith’s travels, and considering Talas and Nikolovsky are tough, reliable individuals, spacey Mr. Smith appears to be in better hands than ever.

One more thing. For fun, Mori-sensei throws in a chapter about the watch that was Smith’s original engagement pledge to Talas. The journey carries the tone of a tall tale as the watch acquires a reputation so grand that Smith is gobsmacked when he chances upon it again.

Extras include Mori-sensei’s manga style afterword.

In Summary

A renewal of vows, a lesson in 19th-century photography, and then it’s back on the road for Smith. This time, however, Talas accompanies him on his expedition to take pictures of the Persian interior. Not the most romantic start to their life together, but with Smith intending to visit all the towns he’d passed through, it looks like we’ll see the happily-ever-afters of all the brides in this series.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 12

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 12. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

When Leonhard receives an invitation to the Kingdom of Fosein from Prince Claude, the princes set off on their first big trip together. Will this trip give Leonhard the opportunity to put his new language skills to some good use, or will he sink to his usual aggression?

The Review

Volume 11 closed with a tense moment between Bruno and Count Rosenberg. However, as Akai-sensei’s done previously, rather than escalate matters with the princelings’ most formidable antagonist, the mood quickly reverts to lighter fare. First with a conversation between Kai and Bruno about their experiences away from home, then an absolute deep dive into silliness in a single chapter story about the king’s facial hair.

Next, cute Prince Claude returns to the story in a three-chapter arc that takes place in Fosein. Yes, the Granzreich princes leave the palace again, but this time three of them go together and for leisure rather than work/training. This means there are no lessons, although the trip expands the horizons of the mostly sheltered princelings. Basically, we get lots of fun illustrations of the princes in civilian clothes playing tourist in Fleur, a city styled after Paris.

Although three the Granzreich princes are on this trip, the focus is mainly on Leonhard. In contrast to most Leonhard-centric chapters, this arc demonstrates that the study-averse prince can excel at a subject if sufficiently motivated. It also shows that the honesty of an adorable child can demolish the hotheaded prince’s pride.

Then the trip ends, and the story shifts to Licht out among the commoners. His job has kept him busy, especially with the opening of the second Café Mitter Meyer. It’s an occasion for celebration, but the mood plummets when vandals plague the business. This arc is less about Licht himself and more about the challenges faced by his employer, who turns out to be part of an ethnic minority. The unknown hooligans and their motives have my interest piqued for this arc, and the second café’s newly hired manager Herman offers readers new eye candy.

Extras include bonus manga, afterword, and first page printed in color.

In Summary

Kai and Bruno return from their journeys of self-betterment–just to leave with Leonhard on another trip outside the palace. This time, though, the three are traveling as tourists, and adorable Prince Claude acts as their guide to beautiful Fosein. However, this installment’s not all fluff and fun. Although Licht is enjoying the commoner life, his eyes also open to its rougher side when his place of employment becomes the target of vandals.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: Cats of the Louvre Vol. #1

Cats and cat-people are often used to bring an element of cuteness or fun to a manga. In Cats of the Louvre, Taiyo Matsumoto features felines with a rather different vibe. Read on for the review.

Back Cover Blurb

The world-renowned Louvre museum in Paris contains more than just the most famous works of art in history. At night, within its darkened galleries, an unseen and surreal world comes alive—a world witnessed only by the small family of cats that lives in the attic. Until now…

The Review

From the title, I thought this would be a collection of stories taken from the perspective of different Parisian cats. Turns out it’s just one story focused on one cat, but while the setting involves the actual building and artwork of the Louvre Museum, the tone is decidedly fantastical.

Old Marcel is a long time watchman at the Louvre. Having walked its halls for decades, he knows everything about it, including the secret community of cats in the museum attic. Most of them are ordinary animals who know to hide from the crowds below. However, little Snowbebe is so drawn by the artwork he can’t help from venturing downstairs.

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be artsy. Partly because it’s set in the Louvre, and the mangaka has gone through tremendous effort to incorporate numerous aspects of the museum into the story. Partly because the plot centers on those who can hear “the voice of the paintings” and escape into the artwork.

And by escaping, I mean literally that. The souls with that talent have delicate temperaments. Unable to thrive and connect in the real world, they step through the picture frame into the scenes depicted within… and that’s about it.

Because the ones going into the paintings have no greater purpose than to enjoy the worlds they enter, the main tension stems from the trouble their behavior causes those around them. Oh, and the ability isn’t limited to humans. Thus we have Snowbebe’s trips to the museum’s display areas causing problems and arguments within the attic cat community. Unfortunately, Snowbebe’s spacey, self-absorbed personality makes it difficult to sympathize with him.

On the human side, we have Marcel trying to locate a sister who disappeared decades ago. However, he’s kind of gloomy and weird (who harbors eight cats in an unventilated attic?!) and Cecile, the tour guide who lends him assistance, is depressing too. The story’s not dark, but the cast’s personalities aren’t the most uplifting.

Speaking of cast, much of the cast are cats. When they interact with humans, they meow and look like cats. When they are alone, they take on anthropomorphic forms and exchange dialogue. Their behavior, however, is decidedly catlike. They spout random things, and when a spider that Snowbebe knows dies, Snowbebe mourns, then he eats the spider.

Regarding illustrations, they have a rough, cartoonish feel. Character designs are neither cute nor elegant. Expressions often have a level of distortion. The anthropomorphized animals especially have a psychedelic quality. Rather than using screentones, the mangaka uses hatching, and lines are squiggly and uneven. Overall, the artwork has the look of a draft, not a final product.

Extras include eight pages printed in color.

In Summary

The Louvre provides a grand setting for characters who transcend into artwork. However, it’s less of an exciting adventure into other dimensions and more of a gloomy investigation by the ordinary folk left behind. The art style is also lacking, and despite the fact that the story features famous art and architecture, the overall visual effect is underwhelming.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Way of the House Husband Vol. #1

As a manga trope, yakuza tend to be terrifying thugs or comical characters. Tatsu of The Way of the Husband definitely falls in the funny category. Read on for my review of Volume 1.

Back Cover Blurb

He was the fiercest member of the yakuza, a man who left countless underworld legends in his wake. They called him “the Immortal Dragon.” But one day he walked away from it all to travel another path — the path of the househusband! The curtain rises on this cozy yakuza comedy!

The Review

The cover blurb describes this title as a “cozy yakuza comedy,” but it’s more of a gag manga. As for the main running joke, the cover art for Volume 1 gives readers a pretty good sense of it.

Tatsu was the boss of the Shinzaki yakuza group. He had such a powerful reputation everyone feared him as the “Immortal Dragon.” But one day he left that life to devote himself to the way of the house husband. He’s completely turned over a new leaf! However, you can take a man out of the yakuza, but you cannot entirely take the yakuza out of the man…

The humor from the series stems not from the fact that Tatsu’s flubbing his new role as house husband. Rather he’s killing it. The problem is the ordinary folks around him think he’s killing other things/people as Tatsu strives to make a perfect home for his hard-working career-woman-and-otaku wife Miku and their cat Gin. Because even though his focus is on cooking, cleaning, and bargain-hunting, his look and manner of speaking remain that of a gangster.

As such, the laughs come partly from situations and partly from visuals. For instance, a neighbor asks him to babysit her son, so he does his best to entertain the kid… with gambling games. When he goes out, his garb consists of a flashy suit, sunglasses, and a housewife’s pet-themed apron on top. Oh, and he actually thinks he’s blending in as a normie throughout.

I should mention that the quality of Oono-sensei’s illustrations is excellent and consistent throughout. Everything from settings to clothes to food to the not infrequent brawls Tatsu winds up in is meticulously drawn and easy to follow. A lot of comedy arises from the juxtaposition of Tatsu’s true intentions and the reactions of those around him, and the character expressions do a wonderful job conveying the tension Tatsu causes wherever he goes.

One aspect the series feels lacking, however, is the plotting. The chapters are very short. In Volume 1’s 168 pages, we have nine chapters and three bonus manga. Each chapter is its own standalone story, and they end so quickly they’re more like sketches than stories. There’s no main arc driving the action, and thus far we’ve no backstory on why Tatsu chose to become a house husband or how he and his wife got together. (By the way, although his exit from the yakuza appears to be a relatively recent development, he and his wife are already past the honeymoon phase and give off the been-together-a-while vibe.)

This isn’t to say that the vignettes aren’t entertaining. They are, but if you’re hoping for a deep dive into Tatsu’s psyche or a strong plot, you won’t get it.

One more thing: the text includes no cultural notes. Unless you have an existing knowledge of yakuza and Japanese housewife stereotypes, you may have trouble getting the jokes. I understood most, but there were aspects of Miku’s birthday party that completely went over my head.

Extras include three bonus manga and the creator’s afterword.

In Summary

A yakuza house husband! The plot doesn’t dig too deep, but Oono-sensei’s excellent illustrations and wacky scenarios are quite funny. Although we get precious little about Tatsu’s backstory, it seems like it would be really interesting, and I hope we get some of that in future installments.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #6

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 6. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The Grand Consecration to celebrate the founding of the Kingdom of Ozmargo is nigh…but the king of beasts remains in his human form despite the dawn! Thanks to Sariphi’s quick thinking, disaster is averted and the ceremony goes off without a hitch, prompting Chancellor Anubis to declare an end to Sariphi’s trials. But having assumed the role of Acting Queen, Sariphi is faced with her first job…which just might turn out to be insurmountable!

The Review

Volume 6 begins with the conclusion of the consecration arc. Surprisingly, although the judge Set injected an insidious air right before the arc’s climax, he doesn’t appear at all during Leo’s consecration speech or the falling action. Even so, Set left enough of an impression that he’s likely to cause problems in the future. As for Leo and Sariphi, an unexpected outcome results from the incident: Anubis appoints Sari as acting queen consort.

It seems like a big win for Sari, but when Anubis lays out the conditions of the position, the concession merely sounds like a continuation of her queen trials only with higher stakes. So even though she now has a title, her newfound standing grants her no security. Thus, her fight for acceptance in the beast realm continues.

The narrative then takes a single-chapter detour to focus on another couple. Although Princess Amit’s feelings for the dashing Jormungand continues to be one-sided, her maidenly fluster is plenty entertaining as she waffles over whether to wish him well on his next military assignment. And as always, her toothy looks provide a humorous contrast to her blushing personality.

Then it’s back to Leo and Sari as they head to Ozmargo’s protectorate, the nation of Sarbul, for Sari’s first official duty as acting queen consort. The decision to instate her has not been a popular one, and Sari must confront the prejudices of the population at large. Leo’s authority keeps the behavior of adult beastfolk in check, but that restraint doesn’t extend to children.

Whereas Sari had to win over a battle-hardened geezer a couple volumes ago, now she must deal with a bratty kid. Princess Tetra abounds with smart remarks, which is to be expected. However, her threat to make a suicidal leap is not, and the parallels drawn between Queen Calra and Sari’s substitute mother feel forced.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Princess.”

In Summary

Sariphi’s trials come to an end! Well, not really. She attains the role of acting queen consort, but there’s no security in the position whatsoever. As such, even though her new title supposedly means that she and Leo can face the challenges of the crown together, the story still continues with the theme of Sariphi having to convince beastkind that humans aren’t awful.

First published at the Fandom Post.