Tag Archives: manga review

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 15

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 15! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Severely overestimating the villagers’ wealth, Handa-sensei finds himself quite short on students for his calligraphy school upon announcing his exorbitant tuition rate. But as his hopes begin to fade, a savior appears!?

The Review

Handa has settled into the island community for a while now, but the calligraphy school arc has a similar vibe to Barakamon’s early chapters where he was struggling to adjust. This time, however, instead of being the clueless city boy learning how to live in the country, he’s the sheltered artist figuring out how to make a living. Yoshino-sensei makes clear just how sheltered Handa’s been when he discovers his father’s been paying rent for him all this time. When village chief informs Handa that his father now expects him to pay his own rent, the young calligrapher’s stunned speechless. What’s more, Handa doesn’t have even a basic grasp of how a calligraphy school functions as he’s only ever trained at home.

Handa’s definitely not the type of protagonist to figure these kinds of things by his own strength. Unfortunately, the islanders can’t offer much help in his latest endeavor, and he takes on an almost predatory view of his friends as prospective students. (Naru’s comparison of Handa to a sea anemone is quite funny). As such, it’s up to the friend who’s always handled the business aspects of Handa’s calligraphy—namely Kawafuji—to help with the business aspects of starting Handa’s school.

As a result, there are a lot of parallels with earlier chapters as Handa fails to plan ahead, gets overwhelmed to the point of paralysis, and exhibits no practical ability whatsoever to Kawafuji’s frustration. If you enjoy watching Handa’s occasional moments of brilliance amid mostly incompetent behavior, you’ll have a lot to like.

The remaining two chapters are brief holiday-themed stories. The first is Setsubun—Gotou style! As part of this Japanese holiday, children pelt a “demon” with beans, and you can easily guess whom the kids choose as their demon. Then we shift to the middle school for Valentine’s Day. There’s little romance to be had, but quite a few delusional girls.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

In the early chapters of Barakamon, Handa struggled as a clueless city boy unused to country life. Now he’s struggling again—as a clueless person unused to basic adult responsibilities. And once more it’s up to Kawafuji to do the practical thinking for his sheltered artist friend. If you were hoping for more Kawafuji-style tough love, you’ll get it in this volume.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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Manga Review: Oresama Teacher Vol. #23

Mafuyu is a high school delinquent who wants to turn over a new leaf. So when she transfers schools, she thinks she’ll finally be able to live the life of a normal girl. There’s just one problem: her teacher  Mr. Saeki is a bigger delinquent than she is!

Oresama Teacher is a shojo manga that offers humor of the silly variety. Volume 23 has  been released, and you can read on for the review. (For those who are interested, you can click here for my reviews of earlier volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

It’s Mafuyu’s last year of high school! With Miyabi and most of the delinquents safely graduated, Mafuyu and her friends are looking forward to a peaceful final year. But a mysterious new first-year is up to something sinister, and her schemes quickly take Mr. Saeki out of the picture. Now the fate of the whole school rests on the shoulders of the suddenly advisorless Public Morals Club!

The Review

The lengthy arc between the Public Morals Club and Student Council has ended. However, Mafuyu still has a year remaining in high school, and the outcome of the bet between the Director and Takaomi has yet to be determined. And so, new challenges arise just as the majority of delinquents and former PMC adversaries graduate from Midorigaoka.

The first of the Public Morals Club’s new enemies is Toko Hanabusa, Miyabi’s younger sister. She looks like Miyabi with long hair, and like her brother, she seems to have a secret agenda no one knows about. Oddly enough, Miyabi comes to the PMC’s assistance, providing them with background information about Toko. Those who enjoyed the peculiar dynamics of Hayasaka’s family will likely enjoy the glimpse into the Hanabusa siblings’ upbringing.

While it is a hackneyed move to replace one adversary with his younger sibling, the introduction of Toko does lead to an astonishing development: Takaomi’s resignation. His disappearance results in unexpected laughs as Mafuyu attempts to locate him, but it’s really the first in an avalanche of new circumstances for the PMC. Even as they try to figure out why Takaomi left and whether Toko’s up to anything, they wind up stuck with a new advisor, confronting rumors of Midorigaoka gang activity, and drawing the ire of the Kiyama High students.

It’s a lot to take at once. While you’re getting to know newly hired teacher Mr. Maki, you’re having to recall Kiyama’s contentious history with Midorigaoka from several volumes back. In addition, there are a bunch of rumors and brawls to keep track of. While it’s great that Tsubuki-sensei is launching into the PMC’s next round of adventures, processing all these details is like trying to drink through a fire hose.

Extras include Characters and The Story Thus Far, 4-panel comics, and closing notes.

In Summary

Mafuyu begins her senior year with lots of changes and brand new challenges. Tsubaki-sensei maintains humor throughout the volume, but events stack up quickly one after the other. Between new characters stepping in, the reappearance of ones we haven’t seen in a while, and a complicated mystery for the PMC, it is a fast—and almost overwhelmingly so—start to the series’ next major arc.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Everyone’s Getting Married Vol. 8

Most romances in Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line are targeted toward a high school audience, but Everyone’s Getting Married is actually aimed toward older readers. It’s twenty-something angst instead of teen angst, and you can read on for the review of Volume 8. (For the reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife, but popular TV newscaster Ryu Nanami would rather die than ever get married. Asuka and Ryu start their long-distance relationship, but the difficulties of being apart grow day by day. Will their feelings for each other still be the same when they meet again?

The Review

Ryu’s transfer to America appears to be the ultimate challenge for our lead couple as Miyazono-sensei starts stacking difficulties hard and fast once he’s abroad. Not surprisingly, the trip Asuka’s anticipating at the end of Volume 7 gets canceled due to Ryu’s hectic work schedule, but Asuka also suffers a surprising blow to her career. A higher-up overhears her telling Hiroki she still wants to be a full-time homemaker. The next thing she knows, that higher-up removes her from the management strategy team with well-wishes that she’ll be married soon.

For all intents and purposes, it is a demotion. What makes it worse is that everyone’s congratulating her on the marriage she desperately wants but remains beyond her grasp. In addition, the distance is hard on Asuka, and you can feel her loneliness overflowing from the pages.

Ryu, on the other hand, is doing extremely well in America. Even though he misses Asuka, he has a lot to distract him, and he clearly prioritizes his work over their time together. At one point, Asuka travels to Washington expressly to visit Ryu, and despite the fact that they haven’t seen each other in six months, he ditches her to go to New York on assignment.

It’s clear the situation is hurting Asuka while Ryu isn’t nearly as affected. In fact, you might argue that he has everything the way he wants, considering he refused to let Asuka move to America with him. As such, I’m hardly inclined to cheer their relationship on; rather I want Asuka to dump Ryu and hook up with Kamiya already.

Kamiya, by the way, looks really good in this volume. He is Asuka’s shoulder to cry on when Ryu fails to understand why losing her management team position hurts so much. He’s too much of a gentleman to take advantage of Asuka’s neediness when she turns to him for company. And he’s the one person to call Ryu out on the strain he’s placing on Asuka. While every good romance can use a love triangle for tension, at this point I’m thinking Asuka’s stupid not to snatch Kamiya up.

Extras include the story thus far, two bonus manga, and author’s afterword.

In Summary

Ryu wasn’t looking too good as a boyfriend in Volume 7, and he looks even worse in this volume. While his career is going great, Asuka suffers a setback due to a casual remark about marriage, and the emotional toll of separation makes things worse. It’s the perfect setup for Kamiya to come in and entice Asuka away from his rival. However, because Ryu’s treatment of Asuka is so dismal in comparison, it feels less like a love triangle and more like Kamiya’s stealing the show.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: Sword Art Online: Progressive Vol. 006

Sword Art Online was undoubtedly one of the most popular anime of 2012. Based upon a series of light novels by Reki Kawahara, SAO’s near-future characters, gorgeous fantasy setting, and life-or-death stakes drew an enthusiastic fan following. Yen Press has released Volume 6 of the Sword Art Online: Progressive manga adaption, and you can read on for the review. (For my review of  other Sword Art Online manga, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The war between elves rages on, with Kirito and Asuna caught in the middle! The forest elves seek the dark elves’ Secret Key, but to what end? Though Kirito tries to stay detached, Asuna can’t help being swept along for the ride. Kizmel is supposed to be just an NPC, right? But then why does she seem so very human?

The Review

Now that Kirito and Asuna have had their chance to introduce the third floor and interact with the NPCs of the Elf War quest, the other humans return to the stage. Here, the narrative gets complicated. As Kirito explained in the previous volume, players experience the Elf Quest differently depending on their choices, but they still share the same space. Thus, Kirito and Asuna see the reappearance of the forest elf they killed when Lind’s group triggers the quest.

In addition to multiple versions of the quest running simultaneously, we get a glimpse of Heathcliff and other nefarious elements that have nothing to do with the SAO programmed monsters. Also, the first official guilds form, bringing along the beginnings of rivalries. While there is still the urgency to escape SAO, it feels less like a “death game” with players trash-talking each other and getting jealous of Kirito’s partnership with Asuna. One really interesting scene is when the guilds express their desire to recruit Kirito (after all, who wouldn’t want him on their team?). Indeed, Kirito is popular enough to form his own group but chooses to remain solo. This is a significant departure from the anime where Kirito was ostracized and hid his beater status, and in my opinion, Progressive’s version makes much more sense.

However, this volume does have its nonsensical points, usually when it’s trying to lighten the mood. As in previous volume, much is made of Asuna’s smarts, and she even berates Kirito at one point for being dense. However, when they reach the third floor’s main town, she completely forgets the social implications of sharing a room with a guy and blithely checks the two of them into an inn in front of everyone. As for Kirito, there’s fanservice aplenty when he confides a secret plan to Kizmel—while they’re naked in the bathhouse.

Extras include a special bonus manga and illustrations.

In Summary

There’s a lot to keep track of in this volume between the differing versions of the multi-stage Elf Quest and friction between the newly formed guilds. While there’s no boss battle, the simultaneous quest storylines lead to a different kind of clash. The setup for it, however, is complicated because of the various elements being manipulated, and understanding it requires an attentive read.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Saga of Tanya the Evil Vol. #01

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 01 of the manga adaption, and you can read on for the review.

Back Cover Blurb

When the average Japanese salaryman is suddenly thrown into in a world wracked with warfare and hardship by a supernatural power, they might first think to hide or run away. But not Tanya Degurechaff. A calculating and utilitarian man has been reborn as a child soldier. This young girl will do anything to rise in rank and find a way to live a life of comfort, and woe to any king, country, or god who stands in her way.

The Review

Tanya the Evil is difficult to categorize. It’s got magic, World War I style wargames, and politics as well as reincarnation, dark humor, and a kind of existential brawl with divine elements. That sounds like a real mishmash, but amazingly, it works to create a compelling story.

The setting is an alternate World War I Germany, but the main character actually originates from our modern Japan. He’s a highly intelligent, ultra-rational salaryman who knows how to work the system to get what he wants. Unfortunately, he fails to account for the irrationality of emotion, which results in an untimely death. However, despite meeting God upon his demise, he refuses to acknowledge Him as such. So the Creator decides to instill faith in the faithless man by reincarnating him—memories intact—as a female in a war-torn world where everything he’s relied on doesn’t exist.

As such, this first volume of Tanya winds up being a dense read. For those familiar with the anime, the manga provides more details on the strife brewing between the Empire and its neighbors, as well as the rationale for Tanya’s various military assignments. Because Tanya retains her Japanese salaryman memories, she often makes comparisons between her situations and similar examples from our world. For those unversed in world history, explanations of her references are inserted into the narrative, which is very handy for clarification but does slow down the pace.

Interweaving in the midst of the complex setting are two storylines. The first is Tanya’s refusal to acknowledge God—or Being X, as she calls Him. Unlike the anime, where God creepily communicates to Tanya by possessing others, this representation is the Michaelangelo type, albeit one characterized by the worst stereotypes of the Creator. Also, God doesn’t act alone; in this version, there’s a consortium of divine beings at work to change the faithlessness of mankind.

The second storyline is Tanya’s efforts to survive in her new world and attain her goal: a cushy desk job far from the front lines. Considering she’s essentially a conniving adult in a child’s body, she’s got a significant advantage, especially when it comes to combat and military strategy. However, just as when she was a salaryman, she often misreads emotions, and much of the humor comes from the contrast between Tanya’s thoughts and those of the people she’s trying to manipulate.

Regarding illustrations, Tojo-sensei skillfully uses a range of styles to convey the narrative. Crisp maps and diagrams convey a broad view of the military theater. Political interactions between nations are depicted using cartoonish animal mascots. Combat scenes are gory, and Tanya’s crazed looks certainly convey the insanity and desperation of war. However, her frustrated expressions when her efforts to attain a cushy job get stymied are quite funny.

Extras include first four pages in color.

In Summary

If you like simple stories, Tanya the Evil is probably not the best choice. The main character has a complicated backstory, and the World War I-esque setting involves military strategy and politics. However, if you enjoy multifaceted stories and defiant personalities and you can tolerate some graphic violence, Tanya is worth a look.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Everyone’s Getting Married Vol. 7

Most romances in Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line are targeted toward a high school audience, but Everyone’s Getting Married is actually aimed toward older readers. It’s twenty-something angst instead of teen angst, and you can read on for the review of Volume 7. (For the reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Successful career woman Asuka Takanashi has an old-fashioned dream of getting married and becoming a housewife, but popular TV newscaster Ryu Nanami would rather die than ever get married. Asuka and Ryu just moved in together, but at work Ryu is being considered for a transfer to Washington, D.C. Will Ryu accept the offer?

The Review

Ryu and Asuka’s new living situation has Kamiya practically on their doorstep, which might lead to anticipation of fiercer competition between the two rivals. However, the plot takes a different turn. Instead of facing off against Kamiya, Ryu leaves the fight when a promotion sends him to America.

The assignment is supposedly for several years. Asuka immediately offers to quit her job to go with him, and indeed it seems the obvious thing to do considering her dream is to be a full-time homemaker. However, even though Ryu tells her “being with you is my life now,” he insists that she stay in Japan. And Asuka… acquiesces without argument.

Thus we have three chapters of Ryu and Asuka making the most of the time that they have left before Ryu moves. Asuka shoves aside doubt to offer absolute support for Ryu’s decision, which is somewhat unbelievable. Her relationship with Ryu is getting further and further from the marriage she dreams of. She’s already in her mid-20s, and her previous relationship lasted five years and ultimately went nowhere. With a separation of several years looming, it seems improbable that she wouldn’t consider the consequences if she invests all that time into Ryu and things do not work out.

As for Ryu, he’s not so dense to think that Asuka doesn’t need assurance, but the way he goes about it falls flat. The nuances of Japanese engagements went over my head when Ryu takes Asuka to his parents’ home, but when he offhandedly says, “It should be fine if it’s just in spirit,” it sounds like he’s just tossing Asuka a bone. Add to that the cocky way he informs Kamiya about the transfer and declares,” I won’t make her cry,” and I’m really thinking Asuka should dump him.

Thus, career demands once more separate our couple. But not only is Ryu physically away, Asuka’s work promotion causes her to seek advice from Kamiya. Then little brother Kaneda comes over for winter break and starts voicing his disapproval at the situation. Everything’s getting set up for Kamiya to make a grab for Asuka, and unless Ryu drastically changes his time, I’m rooting for Team Kamiya.

Extras include author’s afterword.

In Summary

Work once again separates Ryu and Asuka, this time in the form of a long term assignment in Washington DC. The obvious solution is for Asuka to go with Ryu, but he vetoes that option in favor of a long-distance relationship neither wants. We have the usual date/bedroom moments to illustrate how badly they want to stay together, but Ryu’s minimal concessions to assure Asuka of his commitment paint him as a selfish jerk.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: Spice and Wolf Vol. #14

Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has  a unique bent to it. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.

Yen Press has released Volume 14 of the Spice and Wolf manga, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Previously, Lawrence and Holo traveled to the town of Svernel in order to meet with the Myuri Mercenary Company and find out more about Holo’s past companions and her home. But now Lawrence has gotten completely caught up in the political strife of the Debau Trading Company.

It all surrounds the Debau Company’s desire to issue a new currency, with which they have apparent plans to unite the surrounding northern region. For their aim, the Debau Company needs to acquire raw ore and materials but this has caused their opponents to increase their own efforts to foil this plan. In the middle of all this, Lawrence is trusted with delivering a forbidden text detailing the necessary mining techniques to the trading company’s executive, Hilde Schnau but will it really go so smoothly?

The Review

At the end of Volume 13, merchant and wolf looked bound for a happy ending, and as Volume 14 opens, that tidy conclusion seems a done deal when Lawrence figures out the motivation behind the Debau Company’s actions. The company’s plans to create an empire in the Northlands through the power of trade are far and beyond anything a small-time merchant like Lawrence imagined possible. However, he recognizes the opportunity approaching and positions himself to have the store of his dreams and live happily ever after with Holo.

But just when everything seems perfect, a new character arrives to throw Lawrence’s plans into disarray. Hilde Schnau, the Treasurer of the Debau Company, makes his first appearance, but just as Lawrence and Holo have been observing the Debau Company’s activities, Hilde has been observing theirs. And he knows more about them than most because he is a being similar to Holo. Similar… but not alike. Watching Hilde interact with Holo and Lawrence keeps bringing to mind a certain scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Because despite his cute appearance, he wields considerable power.

While it is a bit strange to watch a rabbit manipulate a wolf to do his bidding, it effectively drags the two travelers into an internal battle within the Debau Company. Thus the story zooms out from Holo and Lawrence’s intimate plans to the factions struggling within an economic giant. As it turns out, the forbidden book of mining techniques is key, but not in the way Holo and Lawrence thought. Once more, our heroes get swept into an affair much larger than themselves, and Holo especially must consider the future ramifications of the choices before her. And while mercenaries take arms and Holo makes use of her true form, Hilde does a wonderful job showing how well-placed words and pieces of paper can shape the outcome of a regional conflict.

Extras include title illustration in color and afterword.

In Summary

Just when the series looks about to conclude happily for Lawrence and Holo, a new character appears to throw everything into chaos. Wolf and merchant once more wind up entangled in a scheme—one that not only involves trade but armies of mercenaries and the fate of the entire Northlands. While the plots and counterplots within the Debau Company are a bit complicated, the interplay of economics, military, and supernatural might makes for a gripping narrative.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Spice and Wolf Vol. #13

Spice and Wolf is a wildly popular light novel series that has spawned off an anime, an Internet radio show, and a manga series. While its European medieval setting is typical of high fantasy, this series has  a unique bent to it. Rather than swordfights and magic, the plot focuses on economics, trade, and peddling in a way that skillfully blends adventure and romance.

Yen Press has released Volume 13 of the Spice and Wolf manga, and you can read on for the review. (For my reviews of previous Spice and Wolf releases, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Lawrence and Holo continue to head for the Wise Wolf’s homeland of Yoitsu. Even their long, long journey begins to approach its end. On their way, they hear of a mercenary band that carries the name of Holo’s old friend, Myuri. As they investigate the group’s whereabouts in Lesko, they’re astonished by the town’s prosperity they find. But what could be the secret hidden beneath the veneer of success?

The Review

Two major themes have followed our merchant and wisewolf throughout their journey together. One is Holo’s desire to return home. The other is Lawrence’s ambition to succeed in business that he might open his own shop. In this volume, our travelers realize only one of these wishes will be fulfilled, with interesting results.

Having heard of a mercenary company bearing the name of Holo’s packmate Myuri, Holo and Lawrence travel to the Northlands town of Lesko. What they find is not her old companion but a young mercenary leader and a message passed down his family for generations. It’s a major turning point for Holo when she realizes she can never return to the world she once knew, and the creators do a terrific job of portraying her grief and the astonishment of the mercenary captain, who never thought anyone would actually show up to receive Myuri’s message.

Holo rarely displays such emotion and vulnerability, and Lawrence does his best to give her a shoulder to cry on. However, in his efforts to cheer her up, he quickly gets distracted by how unusual Lesko is. They came to the place expecting a city on the brink of war, but the mood of Lesko is relaxed and peaceful, and the Myuri mercenaries assure Lawrence that there’s no chance of conflict. In addition, Lesko, unlike the other cities they’ve traveled through, has no walls, no guilds, and no tariffs. So when Lawrence sees a certain piece of property for sale, Lesko looks like the perfect place to set up shop. There just one troublesome thing: the Debau Company, which controls the town, is offering an outrageous exchange rate for gold coin, and until Lawrence can figure out what they’re up to, he doesn’t dare make a move.

Thus, we have the economics arc to the story. But interspersed with Lawrence’s efforts to unravel the company’s machinations are deeply personal, intimate moments as he imagines the business he’s dreamed of with the person he longs to share it with. For those who’ve been hankering for more sweetness in Spice and Wolf, you’ll get it as Holo lets go of the past and sets her sights on the future Lawrence holds out to her.

Extras include the title illustration in color and afterword.

In Summary

As the cover illustration insinuates, the bond of affection is growing between wisewolf and merchant. Holo’s mood has generally alternated between amused and annoyed, but in this installment, she goes through the emotional wringer in a way we haven’t seen before. At the same time, Lawrence discovers in Lesko the chance to realize a long-cherished dream. But instead of these experiences pulling them apart, the pair winds up closer, and amid a mystery of gathering mercenaries and cheap gold, romance blooms between merchant and wisewolf.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 5

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 5. (For my reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Prince Licht’s fascination with coffee should come as no surprise given his affinity for his part-time job at the cafe, but when Leonhard suggests the bitter drink should be banned from the kingdom, can Lichie help him develop an appreciation?

The Review

After Bruno’s internal angst regarding his chances for the throne, Akai-sensei opens Volume 5 with lighter fare, a coffee-themed interlude between Heine, Licht, and Leonhard. Leonhard, as usual, plays the part of the immature prince, but this time his childish tastes pose a challenge for Licht, not Heine. Their confrontation has the feel of a comedy duo, and with Heine mostly observing rather than getting directly involved, it’s a nice change of pace from Heine’s usual schooling.

Comedy also comes in the cute variety in the standalone chapter “Adele’s Friend.” The little princess returns to demand a visit to the zoo, and of course, her brothers (plus Heine) accompany her. It has a very similar feel to the group art class of Volume 4, except this time the unique points of the princes’ personalities get highlighted in the context of animals, which range from cute to ferocious to troublesome.

The rest of the volume is devoted to a past incident involving Bruno and Kai with the focus mainly on Kai. While the story has a 19th-century setting, our characters often display modern sensitivities, and the princes’ normal garb look a lot like Japanese school uniforms. In keeping with this bridging of past and present, Akai-sensei delivers a situation at a military academy that looks a lot like modern high school bullying. Because this arc centers on Kai, much is made about the contrast between his scary looks and his actual gentle nature, but on top of that, we get to see the circumstances that actually would push Kai to violence.

Unfortunately, Heine gets turned into a deus ex machina for the arc’s resolution. While the conclusion is a bit too tidy for belief, it does increase the aura of mystery surrounding the diminutive tutor. It also drives Count Rosenberg, the steward of the eldest prince, to confront Heine, and I anticipate an increasing amount of court intrigue to come.

Extras include bonus manga printed on the inside of the cover; six-page bonus story; and first page printed in color.

In Summary

Kai fans will have a lot to enjoy in this installment. Not only do we get a glimpse into his brief stint in a military academy, we also see how Heine’s influence has shaped him and Kai’s particular take on conflict resolution. And though the eldest prince has yet to show his face, his meddling in his brothers’ affairs is becoming increasingly apparent, and I look forward to him finally making an appearance.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 4

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 4. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Heine’s efforts to shape the princelings into worthy successors to the throne continue, but it seems that Bruno in particular is struggling with a bit of a crisis of conscience when it comes to his future. Can he live up to Heine’s standards to remain his “apprentice”? More importantly, does he have the courage to carve out his own path?

The Review

As with Volume 3, half the material in Volume 4 was not incorporated into the TV series. Most of the non-animated chapters are at the beginning of the book and comprise, for the most part, humorous fluff that poke fun at the princes’ quirks. The volume opens with a group art lesson in which the princes must paint a portrait of little sister Adele. What results is a cute, light-hearted chapter that displays our cast’s idiosyncrasies on canvas.

The remainder of the book has Heine dealing with the princes in ones and twos as it often does. Chapter 20 “A Troubled Prince!?” is a brief Leonhard-centric arc which, like most chapters about the fourth prince, is a display of his dismal academics. Unfortunately, this iteration doesn’t vary much from previous ones so I found the gags stale. However, the next chapter, which features Licht, is much more intriguing. Cafe fans will get to enjoy the youngest prince in his waiter uniform while he attempts to pry into Heine’s private life.

As we enter the material included in the anime, the narrative takes a more serious tone. Heine’s job is to groom the princes as worthy candidates for the throne, but we’ve never seen the brothers treat each other as rivals. This changes with Chapter 22. Although the set up is somewhat different than the TV series, it similarly introduces Bruno’s hidden insecurities and sets the stage well for the two Bruno-centric chapters that follow. Thus far, Bruno has alternated between a rigid academic and a gushing Heine fanboy. In this arc, we see the circumstances that led to his strict lifestyle as well as a glimpse of his sense of self-worth. Of all the princes, Bruno is the one most firmly grounded in reality, and to watch him agonize over the options for his future goes a long way in fleshing out his character.

Extras include “Character Profiles” printed on the inside of the cover; one page “intermission” manga; first page printed in color; and translation notes.

In Summary

Volume 4 delivers a nice balance of comedy and drama. We first get three fun standalone chapters that feature the brothers’ affection toward their cute sister, Leonhard’s stupidity, and Licht’s acute sense of perception. The focus then shifts to the line of succession, and more specifically, the person Prince Bruno considers his chief rival for the throne. Not only do these chapters shape Bruno into a more well-rounded character, they also heighten the sense that someone is out to sabotage the four brothers’ chances to become king.

First published at The Fandom Post.