This section is dedicated to the discussion of Japanese Anime and Manga — as long as it's not Pokémon related! Want to geek out about a long time classic? Or maybe you keep up with currently airing anime, and you want to join in on the excitement and discussion? You've come to the right place!
It's a blessing and a curse that I'm doing this because I read a lot of manga last year and will probably repeat that this year. I mainly read manga from the library at this point, so last year I tracked all my manga on Goodreads. But when I add a volume to my read list, I basically never take the time to leave any sort of review. It's made me a bit sad because I like being able to go back and see my thoughts on a given piece of media after I'm done, but also... I read almost 500 volumes of manga last year. I don't have time to leave that many reviews. So I'm definitely going to have to find a balance when I talk about what I'm up to here.
I don't tend to watch a lot of anime these days, but if/when I do, I'll make a little section for that, maybe.
Much like my gaming journal, I'll be using several symbols to show the status of what I'm reading in my updates. Here's what they mean in a little more detail:
New this update
This is a series I just started or recently started. Or a one-shot I read. Caught Up
This is a series that I have caught up with - usually to the English tankobon publications. I'll generally just wait for the next volume rather than seek out simulpublish chapters or the Japanese version if I've already been reading in English. Completed
This is a series that has finished publication and I've read each volume available. Dropped
For series that for some reason or other, I have no intention of continuing with. [Chapters]
I usually read by volume, but in some cases I am tracking by chapter, such as anything I'm reading as it releases or where new omnibus publications blur the lines for how many volumes I've read. For example, the Sailor Moon Eternal editions have more chapters in them than the original tankobon releases, so it's easier to track my progress accurately by chapter. [JP]
This is just for anything I'm reading in Japanese.
2023 A&M Challenge
This year I have challenged myself to read 200 volumes of manga. Here is my progress so far:
Series Completed This Year
Takane & Hana
That Blue Sky Feeling
1122: For a Happy Marriage - 2/7
After the Rain - 2/10
Ajin: Demi-Human - 1/17
Alice in Borderland - 4/18
Angelic Layer - 13/28 [Chapters]
The Apothecary Diaries - 6/?
Arisa - 2/12
Ashonde yo!: Uchi no Inu Log - 5/10 [JP]
Beastars - 2/22
Beauty and the Feast - 2/11
Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist's Journey - 3/5
Bloom Into You - 3/8
Blue Lock - 1/?
By the Grace of the Gods - 4/?
Call of the Night - 1/?
Chainsaw Man - 2/?
Chi's Sweet Home - 1/12
Cocoon Entwined - 4/?
Crazy Food Truck - 1/3
Crossplay Love: Otaku x Punk - 1/?
Daily lives of high school boys - 3/7
Delicious in Dungeon - 2/?
The Demon Prince of Momochi House - 8/16
Dr. Stone - 6/26
Dreamin' Sun - 3/10
Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma - 1/36
Forget Me Not - 5/7
Frieren: Beyond Journey's End - 1/?
The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses - 1/?
Golden Kamuy - 1/31
Goodnight Punpun - 10/13
Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku - 2/13
How Do We Relationship? - 5/?
Hunter x Hunter - 14/?
I Belong To The Baddest Girl At School - 1/7
I Cannot Reach You - 1/?
I Think Our Son Is Gay - 4/?
If I Could Reach You - 3/7
Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love - 1/?
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood - 1/5
Kaiju No. 8 - 3/?
Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits - 2/?
Kingdom Hearts III - 27/? [Chapters][JP]
Komi Can't Communicate - 8/?
Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible - 2/?
Love Me, Love Me Not - 9/12
Mao - 5/?
Mashle: Magic and Muscles - 4/?
Mob Psycho 100 - 3/16
Monster and the Beast - 3/?
Moriarty the Patriot - 1/?
My Dress-Up Darling - 4/?
My Happy Marriage - 1/?
My Hero Academia - 16/?
My Isekai Life: I Gained a Second Character Class and Became the Strongest Sage in the World! - 4/?
This is my first update and I have to figure out what to talk about, how much to say, and so on. As you can see... I've already been pretty busy! I'm at 46/200 for my goal and I am obviously going to have to bump it. I think for now I'm going to focus on talking about series/one-shots I complete and anything new I pick up.
Takane & Hana 10/10
This is the story of Hana, a high school student who ends up impersonating her sister for an arranged marriage meeting and hitting it off in a bizarre "we find each other sooo annoying" with the super rich and high-class Takane ten years her senior. The first half of the manga is largely just them trying to one-up each other during outings together, but there was a point in the manga where it had to transition from "silly age gap fake dating" to "oh no we caught feelings but the age gap is still there" where it was a bit awkward because they really had to sell us on the drama of it, but honestly? On the whole it handled it pretty well. I was always going to be suspending disbelief as a reader over the age gap with a high schooler because like... yuck in real life, for sure, but this manga managed to make it work in an appealing way to read. The inherent imbalance between the characters was constantly turned on its head and the transparency of the characters and their families sold it a lot better than I expected once the tone turned a little more serious. (But only a little more serious.) In the end it was a really sweet manga with very appealing art and one of the few series that has ever made me laugh out loud extremely regularly.
I really loved this manga a lot. If I ever get rich, this is absolutely one I want on my shelf instead of reading from the library, but at 18 volumes for the set... I think I'll be waiting a while, lol.
That Blue-Sky Feeling 6/10
This was a pretty cute high school gay romance that, hypocritically enough given the previous review, lost some points for me because of the damn reliance on a 20-something adult who keeps interacting with high schoolers. Noshiro is a new transfer student who notices loner Sanada and tries to befriend him. Even when he finds out about the rumour that Sanada is gay, it doesn't deter him and it's basically the story of Sanada learning to trust and open up while Noshiro learns about other sexualities, including his own. However, I just could not get past the fact that one of Noshiro's exes was like a 26 year old guy and never does the series question this or be like "maybe this is kind of yikes". The focus is always on the characters being like "whoa, you're gay??" instead of "whoa, why did this adult in the work force invite 3 teenage high school boys to his house for dinner and a sleepover?" I think it would have been fine if he'd just been like a gay mentor or crush to some of the characters, helping them learn about themselves and stuff, but the fact that he was the one guy's ex and it was repeatedly brought up just bugged me so much. Even in Takane & Hana, once things got more serious, the age gap was appropriately called out and touched upon by the surrounding characters and her family was very involved and stood up for her when she was out of her league. But in this, it was just never ever discussed. It's not the first coming of age gay manga I've read with something like this in it, and it's not like that sort of story is unheard of even in real life, but I just did not enjoy the way it was presented here at all and it's what I ended up taking away from the series moreso than the rest of the messages within. Aside from that, though, I did like how the manga handled the idea of trying to keep a secret for yourself, for a friend, dealing with queer sexuality in a largely straight world, and so on. I just wish the one guy had a different role, lol.
I'm gonna be honest, the only reason I stuck with this manga was because it was just so bizarre. The art really isn't my thing, the violence in it was far too gratuitous and it felt like porn more than trying to make a statement. I ended up just knocking out the whole series in a day after a certain point because it was pretty quick to read when I was just kind of skimming over all the fight sequences. I didn't mind it in the end, or at least I liked the way it resolved, but especially some of the earlier bits, like the whole chapters with the yakuza, were just... too much. I don't think they added anything to the story at all and it was just so depressing.
I Belong to the Baddest Girl at School Volume #1
I read one volume of this recently. It's about a rebellious girl who falls in love with a guy who's been bullied a lot. She doesn't know how to be chill about things so she always looks really fierce and overbearing and he interprets it as she's claimed him as a lackey and keeps doing nice things for her because he thinks she'll beat him up otherwise. The misunderstanding is funny enough that I'll keep going for now, but I suspect the concept will get old pretty quick.
Ima Koi: Now I'm in Love Volume #1
Another romance. This one... I think will also get pretty boring since the hook isn't anything special, but it was cute enough I'll give volume 2 a go. Basically it's about this girl who's rescued from harassment on the subway by another boy at her school and falls in love. He agrees to date her to see what happens and seems to be falling for her too, but that's like... the whole thing.
Rent-A-(Really-Shy!)-Girlfriend Volume #1
I really think I will drop this after the next volume. I can't remember what made me reserve the next volume instead of just giving up this time, but I really just don't find the premise compelling and the manga it's spun off from is already questionable for my tastes. But at least the original has a lot of drama to make up for very obviously not being made with my demographic in mind, lol.
Blue Lock Volume #1
I am mad that I'm not dropping this one, hahaha. I don't like sports manga and this is a soccer manga, but it's so off the rails weird that I'm going to give it a bit longer. I love the bizarre nature of "oh no, Japan will never be great at soccer because they're too collectivist in culture" leading to "well, we barely even want to monetarily support the team but sure, let's build a big secret facility where we basically kidnap 300 high school students to find the best striker in the world". Like what in the hell? Let's see where this goes.
Ajin: Demi-Human Volume #1
If it's not obvious by now, I basically just take out any manga my library has digitally and give it a shot for a volume or two. I think this one isn't for me, but it was at least interesting enough that I'll keep going with it for now. I think it'll end up too violent for my tastes though and I learnt my lesson with Tokyo Ghoul to just drop stuff when I'm not enjoying it enough. This has similar vibes for me, but I do want the main character to meet his fellow... demi-humans, I guess? And then I'll see if it's caught my interest for good.
Chi's Sweet Home Volume #1
I've been putting off reading this largely just because I'm lazy and I couldn't imagine I'd get much out of it. It's unfortunately flipped because it's for very young kids who I guess they just don't want to bother teaching right-to-left reading to (probably the correct choice), but it's very cute. It's basically exactly the original Chi's Sweet Home anime but in manga form but I can't be mad about it because it's so dang cute and especially now that I actually have a cat, so much of it is relatable. I never want a kitten again but I'll happily read about them.
Monster and the Beast Volume #3
I could have sworn when I was looking this volume up that it was the final volume in the series, so I was very confused as I was reading it and it didn't seem to be wrapping things up. I guess there's more of it and the next volume isn't due out till February, so I'm caught up! Also my library covered up the "explicit content" symbol with one of their sorting stickers so I was also like "oH" as I was reading through it and it suddenly turned... explicit. I just casually had the volume sitting out on the table for a week, sorry mom for bringing smut into ur house.
A Sign of Affection - Volume #2
I mostly just want to say I REALLY love the title "A Sign of Affection". The Japanese is ゆびさきと恋々, which is roughly "affectionately attached by the fingertips". It's about a deaf girl who falls in love with a hearing man and begins teaching him Japanese Sign Language, so the title is a pun on that and the localized title is sooo good. The original is of course a reference to sign language by using fingers/fingertips along with affectionate attachment/longing and I love that there was such a clear way to translate that into English with "sign" doing double duty for sign language but also the phrase "a sign of affection" being such a cute way to refer to the romance. Aaaaa I love when the stars align for localization like this! The manga itself is beautiful, too, with very pretty art and you can tell a lot of care went into how to portray the deaf girl. The typesetting changes depending on how she's interacting with the world - words are a light grey if she's lip reading and sometimes she doesn't quite catch the meaning if someone is mumbling or saying a word she doesn't recognize. When she or others are signing, the author has said in an interview that she consults with deaf friends and chooses specific words from the sequence of signs to convey in the panels. It's also clear when the protagonist is just using her phone to respond to people. It's just a very well done manga and I'm excited to keep reading it.
Dr. Stone - Volumes #4-6
I really don't often binge manga at all. Because of the way I'm reading it (primarily borrowing digitally on my iPad from my local library), I usually just take out one volume at a time and kinda sit on it until I feel like reading manga and then I'll just read a few volumes of different things based on what's due soonest. But volume #4 of this ended on a cliffhanger and I just had to see more and so I borrowed a few more volumes and kept going until the plot thread was resolved. I'm kind of glad I did because I realized it's sooo much quicker to read manga when you're reading several volumes of the same thing in a row instead of switching series/styles/genres with each book you read. I'm still quite restricted by how many copies the library has of something and whether others are waiting with holds, but I might try to do this more in the future. I do hope a new hook shows up for this, though, because before the aforementioned plot point I wasn't terribly invested in this and I already feel myself slipping back to that point ahaha.
Frieren: Beyond Journey's End Volume #1
I really enjoyed this! It follows an elf who was part of a party that took down a demon lord in the past coming to terms with her long lifespan compared to that of her mostly human companions. The art is really pretty and the concept is really poignant and I'm excited to read the next volume.
Call of the Night Volume #1
This is just kind of weird. I like the characters well enough that I'll keep going but the premise doesn't do much for me as I'm not really interested in vampires.
The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses Volume #1
There really isn't much to this and I was admittedly a bit baffled to look this series up after this volume to find out it has 10 volumes and an anime on the way, but I can only hope the series broadens into something more? It's cute enough, though, and the art is pretty, so I'll keep up with it as it publishes, assuming my library sticks with it.
Whisper Me a Love Song - Volume #5
This continues to be just a fantastic series. I'm so glad it's getting an anime version. In this volume, Himari learns about the drama between Yori's band and its previous member, having befriended all involved. I really liked that this volume took some time to build out the side characters instead of focussing so heavily on Himari and Yori's relationship. Shiho's backstory and the reason she's so driven is very interesting and the tension in her flashback chapter was so well done, my heart was racing as I realized how it was going to turn out. I was spoilt yesterday on how the next volume (which is the last one currently in English) turns out which sucks but I'm still interested to see it play out when my library gets a copy.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Chapters #50-55
I'm in the final stretch with this! It's been a very slow read because the art is so dense with detail. That's not a bad thing, but rather than zooming right through it like I find I can with a lot of simpler art styles, I have to stop and take everything in for much longer per page with Sailor Moon. Plus, I'm reading the eternal editions which, instead of the typical 3-4 chapters that the original tankobon volumes had, have 5+ chapters per volume. It's just a lot to get through! But I think I have one more volume to go after this. It's very good of course, but it does make me appreciate the pacing of the original anime run. Turns out the filler was really great for developing the characters and its the characters that I love because I can't really follow the plot to save my life, if I'm being honest.
Yu-Gi-Oh! - Volume #2
I forgot how quickly the manga gets into the Ancient Egyptian stuff since it's... actually been about 20 years since I first read it (wtf I'm old). I mean, I guess the original anime might have too, but I can't recall finding many episodes of it back in the day and the longer running anime didn't do much at all until later because it was so focussed on the card game. We finally saw the card game in this volume but I'm enjoying that it's still not a huge thing yet, since I think I might lose interest at that point. I really like the way Takahashi draws this. It's always really easy to follow the action and there's something about his older, rougher art that's just so charming that sort of gets lost as the series went on and the characters got much more angular and "on model" all the time.
Writing this update from the airport! I just spent a week in Arizona avoiding the snow from home. I read a bit of manga while I was here and also bought some! We went to some used book stores while we were here and man I wish we had Half-Price Books in Canada. I found almost the entirety of Angelic Layer as well as a volume of Satoko and Nada for like... $25? Considering the former is out of print, I'm ecstatic about it. I can finish reading it! (And Satoko and Nada is one of the greatest, funniest series out there and I'd love to collect the whole thing to reread.)
No Longer Human
I didn’t know this was based on something so I was somewhat surprised by the end when a real author I recognized cameoed in it, realizing later that it was based on that author’s loose autobiography, iirc? It was not really… what I tend to expect from Junji Ito. I’m not sure if he does better with original ideas or if this adaptation just wasn’t really suited to his talents but I didn’t super enjoy it. The content matter wasn’t really my thing in the sense that it was quite depressing—moreso upon realizing it was biographical to an extent—but even beyond that, it kind of felt like Ito really needed to add more horror elements to make it his own and I never really felt like they fit. The shock value wasn’t needed for this sort of story so it kind of felt out of place, especially by the end when I didn’t feel like it added anything to the natural horror of the situation. I’m also being vague because I read this all in one night when I could not sleep before a flight and have since had a whole sunny vacation to forget about it LOL but my impression more or less remains. Wouldn’t really recommend but a tiny of part of me wants to go read the original novel.
I read a different manga by this author and did not care for it at all (one of the very few manga I have dropped after only one volume), but I gave this one a try since it’s only a oneshot. It’s about a girl who travels to her estranged mother in Italy who abandoned her with her grandparents to marry another man. Her mother vehemently does not want her new husband or anyone in their life to know the protagonist is her daughter and her daughter has every intention of ruining her mother’s life by revealing that, but ends up falling in love with a much older divorced man who is a waiter at the restaurant her mother and her husband run. It’s kind of a weird story (why do I end up reading so much age gap stuff??) but also pretty sweet. I liked the way it resolved with everyone having known from the start that she was her mother’s daughter and supporting the both of them anyway as well as the way the tenuous relationship with her mother panned out. Nothing resolved in a happy ending wrapped in a neat bow, but everyone’s lives were messy and the characters all grew together in a way that was believable and leaves you thinking they’re all gonna be all right, and I liked that.
My Love Story Volume #1
I don’t know what to say about this beyond the fact that it was pretty sickeningly cute. A kind of unattractive guy who’s used to his attractive best friend always ending up as the object of his crushes’ affections saves a girl on the train from a groper and she falls in love with him for once, which he takes most of the volume to realize. It’s extremely sweet, including learning the reason why his friend always turns down the girls who confess to him. There’s a bit of drama in that the friend’s older sister was sort of saving the protagonist as a romantic option for once he was an adult that I don’t really care much for (seriously? age gaps in everything I read? I don’t mind it but I’m not even looking for it!) but it’s also largely resolving so!!! I’m not really sure where this is going. It’s cute though, so I’ll keep at it!
My High School Debut Volume #1
This one is the story of a sporty tomboyish girl who decides that she wants to attract a boyfriend once she gets to high school, but realizes rather quickly that she is not at all successful at it, no matter how many how-to articles she reads in magazines. An aloof, attractive boy reluctantly takes her under his wing to help her figure out fashion and so on on the condition that she doesn’t fall in love with him. It’s pretty funny how much of a disaster she is even if it hits pretty close to home because I’m willing to bet if I’d ever had a “I really want a boyfriend” phase at any point of my life I’d be equally useless at putting myself out there in flattering cutesy things. It’s a pretty endearing manga so I’m gonna keep going.
Sensei’s Pious Lie Volumes #7-8
This was… an extremely uncomfortable series. It’s got age gaps, it’s got cheating, it’s got physical and sexual abuse. Yikes! I didn’t actually enjoy it much at all, if I’m being honest, but something kept me reading. It’s essentially the story of a high school teacher whose pregnant best friend’s partner has been sexually abusing her for years and eventually as a coping mechanism (?) she kind of enters into a strange romantic relationship with one of her reclusive male students. Among other things. In this final omnibus that collects the last two volumes (I didn’t even realize I was reading omnibus volumes—no wonder I’d come away so depressed every time if I was having two intense volumes for the price of one), everything sort of comes to a head and it’s very depressing, quite in appropriate, and… well, a little bit satisfying in the way most of the characters get what they deserve, for better or worse. I would not recommend this at all nor would I ever read it again, but in a strange way I’m glad I read it. Sometimes I guess it’s good to challenge yourself with harder subject matter. I guess that’s what all the cutesy romcoms I listed above are for! To wind down after something like this.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Chapters #56-61
It’s been a very long time coming, but I’ve finally finished reading the Sailor Moon manga! I’ve been reading the Eternal Editions which collect the chapters into slightly different volume counts than the original tankobons, so I think I’m going to count these as two or three volumes for my challenge, depending on how close to the original run they were. (I’m counting things as best I can by original Japanese tankobon runs for the sake of my challenge because it’s more satisfying for the count lol.) I really enjoy Sailor Moon, but I think the original 90s anime adaptation is my favourite version of it. The manga is absolutely gorgeous, but the filler in the anime goes a long way for helping the pacing, strangely enough. The manga is just kind of all the time all the time and I never really felt like anyone but Usagi or Chibiusa ever really got a chance to shine, unlike the anime which gives plot points more breathing room and gives characters their own episodes to highlight their characters.
One thing I noticed in the manga was that I kind of like… never really knew what was going on. I couldn’t follow the action very well, which might be a symptom of reading action scenes moreso in shounen manga where it’s more of a highlight than the characters, maybe? But the timeline and plot of Sailor Moon felt pretty wishy-washy at the best of times. It was an enjoyable read but I probably couldn’t explain back what happened. Like when you’re learning math or something and you understand the content well enough to do the problems but definitely not well enough to teach the concept to someone else, lol.
But anyway, it was nice to finally read it! I didn’t vibe with the art style when I was younger so I never bothered to read it and it felt nice to mark it complete this morning when I finished the final volume.
I just realized I basically wrote all of this in my last update but OH WELL. I’m leaving it here because I’m sitting in an airport writing this on my iPad and cannot be bothered to edit it to not be repetitive.
Whisper Me a Love Song Volume #6
Turns out I didn’t get a spoiler, I just kind of misinterpreted the line about Himari becoming the other band’s manager as “she’ll become our manager if we win” instead of “she’ll become our manager right now until the competition” lol. So that’s good! I really liked the drama in this volume, which was Yori not actually being okay with Himari being the other band’s manager and pulling away any time the topic came up, despite assuring Himari otherwise. I really liked the honesty between the girls by the end before they shared their first kiss. This is just so sweet. Anyway, I’m all caught up with this series now and it’s very sad because the next volume doesn’t come out in English until June, I think? I miiiiight look into picking up the volumes in Japanese from here on out but I think my musical vocab is pretty bad so I’m not sure how well it’d go. (But… I guess that’s one way to learn, huh?)
By the Grace of the Gods Volume #6
I think the next volume of this comes out in just over a week but! I have technically caught up and I wanted to try to write updates on anything I caught up to publication with so here we go.
Although, well, there’s not a lot to say. This is a pretty standard “isekai where the protagonist controls slimes and is super overpowered in the new fantasy world” manga and it’s extremely boring at times, but this is the only one where I actually think the protagonist and his setting/situation is cute, so even though I’ve been keeping up with most of them for some reason, this is the only one I kinda look forward to the new volumes for. Hopefully my library gets the next one pretty quickly, but it’ll be weird waiting too long after that one so maybe I won’t mind a delay this time.