realism

Doubt, vol. 2

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Warning: this review contains spoilers. A good mystery has to end on a high note. Ideally, all the clues scattered throughout the narrative should come together to form a plausible finale. Unfortunately, Doubt leaves a great deal to be desired as its chaotic and…

Doubt, vol. 1

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Doubt, vol. 1 is a lengthy whodunit that pits six teenagers against each other in a life-or-death situation modeled after a popular cell phone game. The manga calls to mind character-driven thrillers like Saw, building an intricate mystery and connecting the victims beyond…

The Heart of Thomas

Heart of Thomas

Moto Hagio helped define the Boys’ Love genre back in the 1970s as one of the “Showa 24,” female mangaka who told the kinds of stories they wanted to read and, in doing so, jump-started shojo publishing. This epic tale,…

A Bride’s Story, vol. 5

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The series A Bride’s Story represents “life on the nineteenth-century Silk Road,” according to the publisher’s blurb. The reader travels with an English researcher, Henry Smith, a bespectacled nice guy who asks awkward questions and takes copious notes in his journals. This allows…

Sunny, vol. 1

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In the yard of the Star Kids group home sits a broken-down yellow car. The rusting Sunny 1200 may no longer function in any traditional sense, but it “runs on telepathy,” as one boy appreciatively puts it, serving the home’s…

Cross Game, vols. 6-8

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Creator Mitsuru Adachi pitches a perfect game as he wraps up this heartwarming tale of loss, love, laughter, and baseball. If you haven’t read the first five omnibus volumes in this excellent shonen romantic sports dramedy, treat yourself and do…

No Longer Human, vols. 1-3

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“I’ve lived a life full of shame.” “Human beings terrify me…” While surfing the Internet for inspiration, manga-ka Furuya is drawn to the voice behind an enigmatic online diary titled No Longer Human. In it, a broken young man named…

What a Wonderful World!, vols. 1-2

“This world that we live in is gentle yet sad, fun yet sorrowful, strong yet ephemeral…but as long as you’re alive, something good is bound to happen. I’m sure of it.” This philosophical two-volume slice-of-life tale lets its focus pass…

Durarara!!, vols. 1-2

Durarara 1

Fifteen-year-old Mikado Ryuugamine has grown tired of his quiet, uneventful life in his hometown. So, when his childhood friend Masaomi Kida suggests he transfer to the latter’s high school in Tokyo’s vibrant Ikebukuro district, Mikado jumps at the chance to…

Starry Sky, vol. 1

Nostalgia can be a powerful feeling. Sometimes it’s the little things that cause each of us to stop what we’re doing and reflect upon the memories of our younger years, a time when we saw the world as a big…

Tesoro

Themes of food and family link these collected early works of Natsume Ono. The first thing anyone notices when reading Ono (Ristorante Paradiso, Gente, not simple, House of Five Leaves) is her unique, big-headed, hollow-eyed, scrawny-legged figure art and her…

I Am Here!, vol. 1

I was scared of I Am Here!, vol. 1. Looking at the cover, flipping through the pages, it looked like I was sentenced to the most banal shojo standards had to offer me. Even the description didn’t bolster confidence. I…

Dengeki Daisy, vols. 2-6

As high-schooler Teru wrestles with whether or not to acknowledge what she does and doesn’t know about her mysterious friend and protector Daisy, whom she’s never “officially” met in person, and the cranky young school janitor Kurosaki who has drafted…

Cafe Latte Rhapsody

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Confession Time: I was about halfway through Café Latte Rhapsody before I realized I was holding a yaoi manga. Shocking, I know! I’m usually much swifter on the uptake. Whether it is because I was reading this book during a…

K-On!, vol. 1

The high school’s pop music club is about to be disbanded due to a lack of members, but 10th grader Ritsu jumps at the chance to both be a club president and fulfill her dream of being a drummer in…

Cross Game, vols. 1-5

Cross Game 1

Fifth-grader Ko Kitamura’s family runs a sporting goods store down the street from the Tsukishima’s batting center and coffee shop. The two families and businesses have long been linked by Ko and the Tsukishima’s forthright second daughter (of four), Wakaba,…