realism

Whispered Words, vol. 1

Whispered Words Volume 1 Cover

Ushio Kazama is girl-crazy and everybody knows it. She has a different crush every week, and they all have three things in common: they are feminine, demure, and cute. In other words, they are the complete opposite of her best…

D-Frag! vols. 1-2

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Reading D-Frag! is like listening to an excited four-year-old talk about their first trip to Disneyland: their elementary grasp of language makes it difficult to give you a full, coherent recap, leaving you to smile and nod. The problem with D-Frag! is…

K-On! High School

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K-On! High School succeeds K-On!, continuing the story of the high school pop music club after most of its members have graduated, leaving third-year student Azusa as the club’s captain, guitarist, and lone member. The story of Afterschool Tea Time’s…

Girls Und Panzer, vols. 1 & 2

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    Most high school girls spend their time studying, making friends, or carousing with cute boys. The girls of Ooarai Academy, however, have chosen to enlist in the school’s revitalized tankery club to practice World War II-style tank combat with…

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1

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Assassination Classroom is exquisitely bizarre. One day, an alien being who looks like Pac-Man with tentacles destroys the Moon and threatens to do the same to Earth. Thanks to mysterious circumstances and an agreement with the Japanese government, the alien postpones his…

Sorako

Sorako

Ten quiet slice-of-life vignettes comprise Sorako, a thin yet evocative volume published by GEN Manga. Each story features a young woman struggling through the ennui typical of the transition between teenage life and adulthood. While each story is independent of the others, the titular character…

JUDGE, vols. 1-4

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Yoshiki Tonogai has returned to torture teens once more in this judicial follow-up to Doubt. Previously, Tonogai’s victims were united by their interest in a mobile phone game called Rabbit Doubt. Their love of the game inevitably doomed them to participate in a real life version, created by a…

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

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  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…

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

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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…