It’s been a pretty interesting week as far as English-language manga releases are concerned. Laid Back Camp’s first volume is here a mere week after the final episode of the anime aired, and New Game! has finally made it over here too! On top of that, there’s more romance manga coming out than you can shake a stick at and some big light novel releases. Who has the time to read it all?
New Game! Volume 1 by Shotaro Tokuno
Suzukaze Aoba may look like a middle schooler, but she’s actually fresh out of high school and starting a new job on the character team of a game company. Not only is she working for the company that put out one of her favourite games, she also gets to spend her days modelling and creating characters. Turns out learning the ropes of the industry and getting to know her co-workers is harder than she thought!
One thing that immediately drew me to this manga was the adorable artwork and the full colour introduction pages, which are beautifully drawn. The art style becomes more simplistic once you get to the main meat of the manga but the drawings are still crisp, clean and pleasing to the eye. However, when I was reading the first few 4-koma pages I got a bit mixed up. In recent 4-koma releases like Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun there is one comic per page, but in New Game! there are two and at first I got a bit confused about how I was supposed to be reading it, even though in my head I knew I was supposed to be reading down each column I still kept trying to go right to left which meant things didn’t make sense right away! Once you’re used to it it’s not a problem but I can see newer manga readers who don’t know how 4-koma manga work having a spot of difficulty.
I have to admit that I still haven’t actually watched the anime adaptation of New Game! despite the fact that it’s been out for a while now. Not out of a lack of interest, but because I haven’t gotten around to it yet. After finishing the first volume I think I’m going to have to move it up my to watch list! What first drew me in were the kooky, likeable characters. My personal favourite was Hifumi, the girl on the character team who seems really standoffish at first but is actually just horrendous at talking to people and prefers to interact via messenger programs rather than face to face. Honestly, I can kind of relate. Aoba is also a great protagonist – she works well as the straight man to everybody else’s eccentric personalities, but isn’t lacking in goofiness herself. We root for her to succeed at her new job, and seeing her growth as a character designer over the course of these chapters is really satisfying.
New Game! is a gem, especially if you’re a fan of 4-koma manga and workplace comedies. The jokes aren’t laugh out loud funny for the most part but they’ll get a smile out of you, and the fun cast of characters and the simple but enjoyable plot are more than enough to hold interest. Whether you’ve watched the anime or are just starting out with the series, you won’t be disappointed if you pick up this volume!
Volume 1 of New Game! was published by Seven Seas and received a digital and paperback release this week.
- Great ensemble cast
- Simplistic but pretty art
- Bear sleeping bag
The Not So Good:
- Newcomers may find the panel layout confusing at first
Laid-Back Camp Volume 1 by Afro
Rin, a girl camping by herself at the base of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko, a girl who came to see Mt. Fuji on her bicycle. The scenery the two witness over a supper of cup ramen marks the start of a new friendship and many adventures to come, camping in the great outdoors!
I don’t know if this is an issue in the print version of the book, but my digital version of Laid-Back Camp’s first volume has an error where they have included the table of contents for volume two rather than one. Once you scroll further in you can clearly see that you still have the correct chapters for volume one, but I can see people potentially being confused by the error. Hopefully this will get corrected soon.
The art in this volume is really good; I think the best example of this is the use of tone. Laid-Back Camp has a lot of night scenes and the manga does a great job of using the limited greyscale colour palette to convey the darkness surrounding the campers. However, the scenery spreads can’t quite live up to the anime’s beautiful background artwork, especially since the deliberate pacing of the anime forces you to take time to appreciate these moments.
What holds this volume back and stops me from truly recommending it is the fact that the anime just came out and the manga doesn’t have a whole lot of extra content for people who already know the series to sink their teeth into. There is a short bonus chapter but other than that everything that was covered in the manga also appeared in the anime. The good thing is the manga covers quite a lot of content in a short time: this volume covers the first four and a half episodes of the anime, so by the time volume four comes out anime viewers could pick up from there and still enjoy the experience.
Volume 1 of Laid-Back Camp was published by Yen Press and received a digital and paperback release this week.
- Beautiful art with lots of scenery detail
- An enjoyable story with fun characters for series newcomers
The Not So Good:
- Print error in digital version
- Not much here for those who have already watched the anime
Other Notable Releases:
Horimiya Volume 10 released this week, and if you’ve never read this before and like high school romance then it’s well worth checking out! I am admittedly behind in this series and haven’t read it for a while, but the two leads are great and their romance plays out very organically in a way that is refreshing for a series like this. Rather than focusing on will-they-won’t-they the pair get into a relationship fairly quickly and the manga is about dealing with their issues together and learning to communicate as a couple.
I didn’t have time (or the extra cash) to cover it this week because there were so many other brand new releases, but the first volume of Liar X Liar came out this week as well. A twenty year old woman dresses up in a high school uniform, runs into her younger stepbrother, and somehow he doesn’t recognise her just because she’s wearing a different outfit and starts trying to date her. From what I’ve heard he doesn’t realise who she is for at least sixty chapters which seems absolutely wild to me, but if you’re a massive romance fan you might still want to give this ago despite the fact that it sounds like none of the characters have any common sense.
In terms of light novel releases, Volume 3 of Magical Girl Raising Project also came out this week. The anime that released last year only covered the first volume of the light novel and I’ve heard that this series goes in some interesting directions after the first arc which was more of an introduction to the premise, so if you like a darker magical girl tale then pick up this and the last volume if you’ve not read it already!
I’ll leave you with one last question: When you decide to read the original manga for an anime you enjoy, do you start from the beginning or do you look up where the manga passes the anime and start reading from there? For me it depends how much extra content there is in the manga, whether it’s presented differently, or how long it’s been since I actually watched the anime.