Manga Monday – New and Notable 09/04/18 – 15/04/18

This week on Manga Monday, I look into the first volumes of Boarding School Juliet, The Elder Sister-like One, and Monster Tamer Girls! It’s a surprisingly good release week and I’m only disappointed that I couldn’t get to everything that came out. Seriously, there were at least seven brand new series this week. Why would they do that to me?

Boarding School Juliet Volume 1 by Yousuke Kaneda

At Dahlia Academy, a prestigious boarding school attended by students of two feuding countries—the eastern Nation of Touwa, and the Principality of West—Romio Inuzuka, leader of the dorms’ Touwa first-years, wishes for a romance that can never be. For his ladylove is none other than his arch-enemy, Juliet Persia, leader of the dorms’ West first-years! Is Inuzuka ready to risk it all to confess his feelings? And even if Persia somehow agrees to go out with them, how long can they keep a forbidden relationship under wraps?! (description courtesy of the publisher)

Despite being a forbidden love story, Boarding School Juliet remains fun and upbeat – it’s unlikely you’ll find anybody poisoning themselves or stabbing themselves in the heart with a dagger here. The two are trying to develop their burgeoning relationship as best they can while their two factions constantly interrupt at the worst possible moment as they chase each other around all day getting into fights. Seriously, in the whole volume there was maybe one whole panel that suggested any of these kids might actually go to class. It’s a cliche story, but fairly enjoyable. The two leads are likeable and there are some fun jokes in the volume. My only real nitpick so far is the fact that Kaneda seems to be going out of his way to craft situations in which people walk in on Juliet while she’s only in her underwear. Somebody peeps her in her underwear once? Okay, in a story like this that’s inevitable. But three to four times? Now you’re just forcing it, my guy.

Inazuka is a fun lead; his rough exterior hides a complete softie at heart, and his attempts to look tough only work so well when we also see him doting on Persia at every possible opportunity and crying whenever he realises he can’t be with her. Persia is probably my favourite character so far. Far from being a damsel in distress, she is very intelligent and a formidable fighter. She trained herself to be the best due to the fact that she is her family’s only child, and as a woman she cannot inherit, so she wants to prove to everybody that she is capable and can change the world. Of the supporting cast that were introduced, my favourite is Princess Char. She knows about their secret relationship and decides to take out her frustrations on Inazuka because of her love for Persia, showing that she has her flaws, but still cares deeply for her and doesn’t want to get left behind.

The artwork is really pretty, although a lot of the men have noticeably more bland designs than the women and the characters do suffer from a bit of same-face syndrome. The fight scenes are drawn well, making it easy to tell what’s going on, and the characters are nice and expressive. Kaneda also doesn’t shy away from drawing detailed backgrounds, which is a nice touch that helps to establish their world that much more.

While it isn’t exactly a groundbreaking story, the first volume of Boarding School Juliet is great fun. For those who like romantic comedies and boarding school settings this will be a great one to check out, but if you prefer a deeper romance with deep, unique characters you may find something missing here.

Volume 1 of Boarding School Juliet was published by Kodansha Comics and received a digital only release last week.

The Good:

  • Pretty art with plenty of detail and nice character designs
  • The leads have decent chemistry despite the lack of build up to their relationship

The Not So Good:

  • Goes a bit overboard with some of the more male-gazey content, especially with regards to Persia

The Elder Sister-like One Volume 1 by Iida Pochi

When an orphan encounters the eldritch demon Shub-Niggurath, the ‘Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young’ offers him one wish. His request: “Become my big sister.” (description courtesy of the publisher)

I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this story. Although I really appreciated the more familial, tender scenes that the two main characters, Chiyo and Yuu, share, the older sister fetish content was not my cup of tea. This manga is based on a hentai doujinshi of the same name, but with the story reworked to tone down the overtly sexual content. If I could have the same story but with little to none of the sexual content between the two “siblings” then I’d really enjoy this series. As it stands, it’s clear that it isn’t made for me.

That being said, this manga does toy with some interesting ideas. I found Chiyo to be an intriguing character, with the way that she seems to wholeheartedly throw herself into granting Yuu’s wish and genuinely seems to enjoy spending time with him despite the fact that she is on a plane far above mere mortals. How she came to be in that basement where he found her is also an interesting question that will likely be answered in later volumes. These are all ideas I’m really interested in, which is why it’s a shame that half of the first volume is just these two maybe nearly almost getting into some sexual situations, except not because this is the clean version.

One of my favourite things about The Elder Sister-like One is definitely the artwork. Chiyo, in particular, is always drawn gorgeously no matter what form she’s in. Her expressions are surprisingly adorable for an eldritch demon, and you can tell that the artist absolutely loves drawing her. The background artwork is also gorgeous, and a real eye for framing is shown in a lot of the more dramatic panels. The volume ends with the two staring out at a storm from the front of their house, and the use of tone and scale to establish their surroundings is beautiful.

The over the top pseudo-incestuous sexual content will be enough to put plenty of readers off, but for those who either enjoy it or can get past it there is still an interesting story to be told here. Outside of the ecchi moments there are some elements for people who like horror or found families that may endear them to this series. I don’t know that I will be continuing with this story going forward, but I won’t entirely begrudge the people who do.

Volume 1 of The Elder Sister-like One was published by Yen Press and received a digital and paperback release last week.

The Good:

  • Really gorgeous artwork throughout the book
  • Some heart-warming moments to be found

The Not So Good:

  • Sexual content may be off-putting for some, especially due to the pseudo-incestuous nature of the relationship as well as the age of the main character

Monster Tamer Girls Volume 1 by Mujirushi Shimazaki

Two girls start attending a new school and find themselves responsible for the care and feeding of monsters! Twenty years ago monsters of unknown origin, also known as Kaiju, arrived on Earth. They destroyed countless cities until it was discovered that these monsters could be calmed down and controlled by the voices of young girls, and henceforth the humans tried to live peacefully alongside them. One school offers a chance to train in the profession of monster taming. Ion Hidaka, a sixth grader, joins the course and is given the task of looking after a gigantic monster that lives in the forest behind the school.

Do you like cute girls doing cute things? Do you like gigantic monsters that are still, in their own weird way, incredibly cute? Then this is the manga for you! Originally published in Manga Time Kirara Forward, the magazine that brings you all of the incredibly moe cute girls doing cute things manga, Monster Tamer Girls delivers a fun, unique experience despite a few artistic setbacks.

For those of you that don’t know, I like my cute girls doing slice of life activities manga to have a taste of the post-apocalyptic about them. I’m a big fan of School Live!, and although Monster Tamer Girls doesn’t go as hard as that series and its full blown zombie apocalypse, we get a sense that bad things have happened since monsters first arrived and humanity have only recently started to pick up the pieces. We see decimated cityscapes that remind us of the carnage that these monsters can wreak, and the general populace outside of the school that’s specifically dedicated to raising monster trainers still have a clear fear of monsters. Even though they don’t explore this dynamic in great detail in the first volume, it still raises some interesting questions about the world the characters inhabit.

Overall, the characters themselves aren’t that exciting and the monsters are the main draw. Their character designs are cute but they suffer quite a bit from same face, which isn’t helped by the fact that there are a couple of pairs of characters who have very similar haircuts and it can be hard to immediately tell who they actually are. So far they fit the typical archetypes that you would find in a cute girl manga, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t help them stand out. The monsters, on the other hand, each exhibit a wealth of personality just from their actions and expressions, and are by far the best thing about this series. The godzilla-style monster, Blue, is my favourite – he’s grumpy and adorable, doesn’t take well to strangers, and loves to carry around his favourite tamers on his nose.

If you enjoy weird slice of life or the rapidly expanding genre of cute girls doing cute things, you’re likely to get a kick out of this volume. It isn’t a perfect introduction by any means, but both the monsters and the setting have their own charm, even if the characters leave a bit to be desired so far. They have yet to introduce an overarching plot, but that isn’t a problem; it’s nice to just chill out with some big, not so scary monsters who just want to nap all day. They’re like 40 feet tall cats.

Volume 1 of Monster Tamer Girls was published by Yen Press and received a digital and paperback release last week.

The Good:

  • I never knew that kaiju could be this cute
  • It’s nice to see a cute girls doing cute things series that takes place in a weirder, more unique setting

The Not So Good

  • The characters don’t really stand out so far

Other Notable Releases

There were so many new releases this week that it was hard to narrow them down! I swear, actually trying to read all of this stuff would be a full time job. So to make it easier to pick, I’ve narrowed it down to three other releases that interested me but I didn’t get a chance to read.

If you want to see what A.I.C.O Incarnation could be like if there was actual character development, maybe the first volume will interest you? I don’t know. Apparently the manga was being made concurrently with the series, so whether it touches upon anything that the anime doesn’t remains to be seen, but we can hope! There could be potential for A.I.C.O yet.

For people who loved the Erased anime but were somewhat let down by the ending (yep, that’s me), the last volume of the manga might be what you’re looking for. The ending is actually different in the manga, the anime, and the live action show, so one of those is bound to work for you. From what I have been told, the Erased manga gives a more in depth look into the main antagonist’s psyche and deals with the final showdown in a more satisfying way. When I get time I’ll have to see whether this version can fix the problems I had with the final couple of episodes…

If you’re still thirsting for shoujo romance, Love at Fourteen is a great series. It’s already at Volume 7 so there’s a decent back catalogue to sink your teeth into. I was actually reading this series casually before it got an official release, so I’m pleased to see that it’s already so far along! The story is about a couple of teenagers in their last year of middle school getting into their first relationship, and it’s sweet and full of the usual misunderstandings that come with being awkward and inexperienced with love without being too melodramatic about it. If that’s your cup of tea, definitely give Love at Fourteen a go.

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