Luna’s Manga Reviews #17

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Thank you to the Publishers, Netgalley and Edelweiss for the review copies.

 

Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy by Ken Niimura

57860919Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy is a collection of three stories from Ken Niimura that are rooted in well-known Japanese folk tales, such as Urashima Taro and The Crane Wife. Each story delves into the concept of the taboo, asking questions such as “Why are these rules meant to be followed?” and “Who and why sets these rules?” Taking inspiration from the Japanese folk tales told to Ken Niimura as a child and combining them with his unique and captivating art style, Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy is a must read graphic novel for fans of beautiful literary comics.

Review: I flew through Never Open It in one sitting and enjoyed myself throughout. Never Open It is a collection of three Japanese folk tales, I was familiar with the first story and the third, which is The Crane Wife.

Each story has the “never open it” moment, be it a box, a jar or door and the repercussions if you do. I liked the third story the best. Using red as the only colour and only in a few panels was very effective, especially in the last story of this collection.

Thank you, Edelweiss for the review copy.

 

Emma Dreams of Stars: Inside the Gourmet Guide by Julia Pavlowitch, Kan Takahama, Emmanuelle Maisonneuve

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BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF A FORMER MICHELIN GUIDE INSPECTOR

Get a rare glimpse into the inner workings of The Michelin Guide, and the grueling yet rewarding life of an undercover professional foodie! Originally published in France, this inspiring story brings us behind the scenes as we follow Emma, the first woman to be hired as a Michelin Guide Inspector, on her adventures across France and abroad. This full-color manga will not only make your mouth water, but also encourage you to not give up on your dreams…

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It is interesting and has a detailed story with a passionate Emma at the helm. I don’t really know much about the Michelin guide beyond it exists, so this book gave me a lot of new information and it was done well.

Emma is the only female on the Michelin Guide’s all-male team of inspectors, she is also one of the youngest and at the beginning she is faced with opposition about her commitment and drive to the job. Although the way it is portrayed in the book it’s more of a calling. Being a Michelin inspector is not as glamorous as you would assume. Long days, days scheduled full and barely any time for yourself.

This book covers the first year as an inspector. I’m hoping there is more as I do really want to know what happened.

Thank you, Kodansha for the review copy.

 

Vampire Dormitory, Vol. 1 by Ema Tōyama

58395854“I’ll do it! I’ll become your thrall!” A crossdressing girl and an otaku vampire find themselves entangled in a dangerous relationship. Don’t miss this heart-pounding romance from the award-winning Ema Toyama, perfect for fans of Crimson Spell, Black Bird, and He’s My Only Vampire!

BLOOD OVER FLOWERS

Mito has no family to rely on. She lives on the streets, disguised as a boy. Ruka is an otaku vampire interested only in 2D girls. After Ruka saves Mito from a perilous situation, he makes her an offer: “Become my subservient thrall and let me drink your blood whenever I wish! In return, you can live with me—in the boys’ dorm!” But to stay with him, Mito must hide the fact that she’s a girl. Every day is a new danger—to say nothing of that bloodthirsty vampire!

Review: Vampire Dormitory falls into the category of “potential” but doesn’t succeed so much with the first volume. As a rule, I tend to at least read two books in a series before I decide to proceed or stop, sometimes three (unless something in book one is a ‘no way’ for me). I’ve found that the first book is rarely the best at setting plot and characters up.

Mito has no family. The story starts with her losing her current employment because she’s too beautiful. Also, it is worth noting that if you don’t read the synopsis, it’s easy to assume Mito is a boy. She uses this disguise to be left alone when she’s sleeping on the streets. Anyway, she tumbles into a fancy café, meets vampires, plot goes from there.

I think the second book will give a better idea of Vampire Dormitory so I’ll make up my mind after I read that.

Thank you, Kodansha for the review copy.

 

With You and the Rain, Vol. 1 by Kou Nikaidou

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If it looks like a dog and acts like a dog and insists it’s a dog, it’s…a dog? Probably? She adopted it anyway, and her life with this “dog” will never be boring!

Review: There isn’t a lot to say about this as Manga. Nothing much happens beyond the main character rescuing a Tanuki from the rain thinking it’s a dog. The Tanuki writes on a notepad to communicate, and she just accepts this.

It’s a short manga and pleasant to pass the time with. I also like the art. This is volume 1, I’m not sure how there is more given the little story there is in the first volume.

Thank you, Kodansha for the review copy.

 

My Master Has No Tail, Volume 1 by TNSK

59771086Mameda is a tanuki who was born in the wrong era – all she wants is to trick humans, but that age of tanuki shenanigans is over. But one woman, a rakugo master named Bunko, shows Mameda it’s still possible to cast magic on humans…only with words, not illusions. Mameda is determined to become Bunko’s apprentice, but can she convince the stoic master to take her on…?

Review: I was not familiar with Rakugo before this manga and in case you are like me, this is what google tells us: “Rakugo is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment of yose. The lone storyteller sits on a raised platform, a kōza. Using only a paper fan and a small cloth as props, and without standing up from the seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical story.”

Now I read another review that talks about the struggle of translating this art to a manga and I can see what they mean. Without little experience or understanding of a rakugo performance I felt a somewhat outside of the story.

I am thrilled to have learned something new and the art and characters are nice, but I feel like I could have enjoyed this even more if I had a better understanding of Rakugo. I do want to read the second volume to see how this progresses.

Thank you, Kodansha for the review copy.

 

Anyway, I’m Falling in Love with You., Vol. 1 by Haruka Mitsui

59524511Mizuha’s 17th birthday is the pits. Her parents totally forgot, and the sempai she likes isn’t interested in her. But when her longtime childhood friend asks her out, Mizuha has to sort out what this change in relationship could mean. And her feelings may not be the only ones changing…! A brand-new school love story from the author of I Fell in Love After School!

Review: I finished this, the art is fine…. I didn’t really take to this. The opening is strong, it’s 2030 and our main character flashes back to 2020 in her memories to understand what happened to her. There is a “virus” going around which is causing sports competitions at the school to be cancelled. I thought this would be good, thinking it was a reflection of our times with Covid and seeing how this would be incorporated in the story. Beyond the virus being used a plot device for sports activities to be cancelled there isn’t more to it. I’m not sure if this gets elaborated in the next volume but I don’t plan on reading it to find out.

While I don’t mind tropes in these types of stories I am so fed up with the “guy keeps going and going until girl is forced to fall in love” approach. There was a lot of potential here to make a familiar story interesting but my main takeaway from reading it is Mizuha’s friend overstepping boundaries until she goes ok then.

Thank you, Kodansha for the review copy.

 

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