That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, vol. 1: The Ways of the Monster Nation

Fans of the light novel series That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and its anime and manga adaptations will likely enjoy this sequel series that incorporates some familiar characters but focuses on a new protagonist. New readers, though, will feel a little lost among the inhabitants of the magical kingdom of Tempest. Framea is the daughter of the Chief of Rabbitfolk, and unlike most beasts, she was given a name. One day, while perusing a takoyaki stall in her village, she impresses the salesman with her keen sense for obscure ingredients. She is invited by the demon lord Rimuru, the founder and ruler of Tempest, to craft a travel guide to the food, shops, and other attractions Tempest has to offer.

Tempest is a diverse nation, full of humans, hobgoblins, demons, and beasts like Framea, all of whom commingle without the levels of social stratification to which Framea is accustomed. Her catch phrase is “three stars!!” which she exclaims whenever she meets an experience she greatly enjoys—and she enjoys basically every experience she has in Tempest. In the final two chapters of this volume, Framea is joined by three adventurers on a mission to investigate Tempest’s monster-infested dungeon. These chapters read like screenshots from a Legend of Zelda game; though I would rather have been playing the dungeon crawl video game myself, I still found this part fun. The cliffhanger ending ensures readers will want to pick up volume 2.

The illustrations are consistent with the original That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime manga and anime. Beasts are depicted as almost identical to humans, with only slight differences: a rabbit tail and ears in Framea’s case, or horns in many other cases. Most characters are depicted in  manga style, with lanky bodies and big eyes. Sound effects and other exclamations remain in their original Japanese characters, with transliteration into English letters as well as translation written in small text nearby. This is a fun way to learn Japanese onomatopoeic expressions, like kachi for click or pishi for pssh.

Though the perky character of Framea and the dungeon scenes are likeliest to appeal to middle grades and tweens, I agree with the publisher’s target age range of teen. The opening scene with Framea’s recently-showered body covered in water and a towel barely covering her ample bosom is fairly sexualized. Additionally, Framea is seen getting drunk on ale and wine (which, of course, she gives “three stars!!”). I found Framea annoying, and I have two lingering questions. If Framea enjoys everything so greatly that she gives everything in Tempest three stars, how is she an effective travel guide writer? Visitors to Tempest will want to know the best things to do, and they will probably find it frustrating if everything in the travel guide has the same rating. Also, why would a travel guide writer be assigned to sweeping a dungeon of monsters? Is the opportunity to slay monsters in Tempest’s dungeon one of its tourist attractions? I recommend this series for teen collections where the original That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was popular, or for libraries with extensive manga collections. For smaller collections, I would pass on this title.


That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, vol. 1: The Ways of the Monster Nation
By Sho Okagiri
Art by Mitz Vah
Yen Press, 2020
ISBN: 9781975313500
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Japanese
Creator Highlights: Japanese

Nori

Rumi Hara has dedicated Nori to her two grandmothers, and it is obvious why; this dreamy graphic novel is a loving portrait of a grandmother and four-year-old granddaughter navigating life’s adventures.

We get to know Nori and Grandmother through vignettes from their everyday life in 1980s Kyoto as they run errands, go to local festivals, and adjust to the rules and routines of nursery school. Nori is a wanderer, always taking advantage of a brief lapse in her grandmother’s attention to follow a cat or some other enticing distraction. Nori welcomes the jarring good luck omen of bats in the house, races after a band of rabbits headed to the moon, and befriends a gang of boys playing in a muddy ditch. Everywhere she goes, Nori encounters magic, from the grinning bats to a playful tadpole who offers to trade his tiny sneakers for Nori’s new sandals. 

Hara strikes a natural balance between the magical realism of Nori’s world and the realistic tensions of her family. On one page, we’ll see rabbits take to the sky, and on another, her mother and grandmother will argue about how best to raise her. Nori’s Grandmother takes care of her because Nori’s mother works, and the tension this creates in the family will be familiar to many. Nori is awakened every morning by the slam of the door as her mother departs for work, and the day begins with Nori’s yell of “MOMMY!” Things calm down from there, but Nori wants to be carried and Grandmother’s back hurts too much to carry her far. When she’s put down, Nori runs after a cat and disappears. Grandmother scolds Nori’s mother for picking her up at the drop of the hat, but scolds her again when Nori cries at being put down. Nori’s parents are late for her nursery school play and miss her performance. These tensions, so common in busy, multi-generational families, run through each chapter without detracting from the playful tone.

Although Hara’s people and settings are rendered lovingly in ink with a monochrome wash, her drawings are never romanticized or overly pretty. Nori‘s end papers are decorated with illustrations of the commonly overlooked objects of a child’s life: a plastic watering can, a snow globe, a favorite jacket, a rubber duck. Hara depicts Nori’s life the way some people remember their childhoods: in tiny vivid details that add up to something larger. The visual style sometimes floats into manga tropes, as when Nori’s new classmate insults her lunch bento and Nori punches him in the mouth, causing a tooth to shoot out.

Nori will appeal to readers who enjoy nostalgic childhood stories, those interested in Japanese culture and history, and even manga fans looking to branch out. Retailing for over $20 US, Nori is a better purchase for medium or large graphic novel collections. Smaller collections might consider it where dreamy childhood tales or manga are popular. Nori will be shelved with adult collections, but should also be recommended for young readers with an interest in imaginative stories or Japanese culture.


Nori
By Rumi Hara
ISBN: 9781770463974
Drawn and Quarterly, 2020

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Character Traits: Japanese
Creator Highlights: Japanese

Moriarty the Patriot, Vol. 2

In volume two of Ryoksuke Takeuchi and Hikaru Miyoshi’s Sherlock Holmes-inspired manga, Moriarty the Patriot, the famous consulting detective doesn’t appear until the second act. And when he does, he’s not a match for the brilliant professor Moriarty—at least not yet.

The manga’s second book continues its elaborate choreography as William James Moriarty, aided by his two brothers, work on setting the stage for their ultimate goal of taking down the British aristocracy. The manga has switched Professor Moriarty from villain to anti-hero as he and his associates pursue untouchable, well-connected (and aristocratic) criminals, from former East India Company opium dealers to kidnappers, and murderous members of the Peerage.

While it may seem very disconnected from the classic Holmes’ stories, Moriarty the Patriot is well-researched and is respectful of Doyle’s canon. Moriarty’s brothers either appear directly or are mentioned in Doyle’s books, as are his cohorts, Sebastian Moran and Fred Pollack (who have assisted in all of the manga’s capers so far.) Although writer Takeushi may take liberties with the some character details, there is much to be admired in the way the original material is interpreted and the way it gives credence to Moriarty’s motivation. 

Moriarty plans with mathematical precision. He realizes that to bring the crimes of the nobility to light, he will need to stage the exposure on a grand scale. And it appears as if Sherlock Holmes will be one of the most valuable players in this set piece. Acts two and three take place on a titanic (small T) ocean liner called the Noahtic, where Moriarty manipulates a villainous lord into committing murder in front of hundreds of passengers, thus proving to Moriarty that he needs vast public exposure to get commoners to see the true evil in the aristocracy.

The final act in the manga is called “A Study in S.” But it doesn’t play out exactly like A Study in Scarlet. This case (where we are also introduced to Dr. John Watson) is really just Sherlock Holmes’ audition as the detective Moriarty needs to set up his grand plan.

This is a well-written manga with a lot of moving plot points that are being woven together, giving the reader just enough information to anticipate what’s coming, but not to see the entire picture–which is what a good mystery should do. There should be plenty of twists down the road in the series.

The artwork is typical bishonen (pretty boys). All the characters are attractive and the action flows easily within and outside of the panels. 

It’s a solid second outing for the series and it should certainly keep readers coming back for more. Recommended for detective mystery fans, especially those of Sherlock Holmes (although he doesn’t always come through as well as some fans may wish). This is a good series for any YA or adult manga collection, with some darker plot points and some bloodshed but nothing that might be inappropriate for teens. 

The series has an anime adaptation, the second part of which will air in April of 2021, which may continue to increase its popularity with manga readers.


Moriatry the Patriot, Vol. 2
By Ryosuke Takeushi
Art by Hikaru Miyoshi
ISBN: 9781974719358
Viz Media, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teens
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)
Character Traits: British
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Book to Comic

Transformers: The Manga Vol. 1

Here we have a 1980s classic Transformers manga collection of three stories available for the first time in English. All written by the original author for the G1 series Transformer comic in Japan. The three stories, “Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers”, “The Story of the Super Robot Life-Forms: The Star Transformers”, and “The Great Transformers War” tell us all about the origins of the autobots, decepticons, and how they face off with each other, on planet Earth. Despite these stories being written in the 1980s they do not feel dated, and could easily be enjoyed by children nowadays. 

Each story is quite short and often features full page images, or battle scenes that involve a lot of action words and not a lot of genuine dialogue. The plot of each of these tales is very shallow and unfortunately, don’t expect to see the unique personalities that you may be familiar with from more recent Transformers television shows, or movies. Bumblebee isn’t driving around making joke after joke. Instead the robots are all serious about fighting each other. These stories take place in and around Japan, instead of America, and feature the human character, Kenji. A Japanese boy who is made into an honorary autobot as he helps fight the bad guys too. A lot of silly sounding “curse you’s” are thrown in, making it a fairly repetitive line throughout. Overall, the stories would be better enjoyed by younger audiences who aren’t looking for as much depth, and instead can enjoy the artwork and action. 

Illustrator Magami, also known as the dynamic artist, did a wonderful job of creating action filled and exciting panels. These read from right to left, in typical manga fashion. Characters have expressive faces with typical manga style of large eyes and loud emotions. Action verbs explode out of panels. The book’s artwork starts off with a few glossy color pages explaining the basic background of who the transformers are, and ends with a large section of glossy pages featuring a mix of color and black and white images called Illustration Works. This features all kinds of magazine artwork from the mid to late 1980s. The three stories found in between this, are all in matte black and white. There are many scenes of the robots fighting each other, so do expect to see the transformer’s guns out, shooting bullets, airplanes getting shot down, etc. However it isn’t excessive, it is not gruesome, and it doesn’t contain anything more than what you would see on the animated television show or anime movie. 

This is a well-done translation of the original Transformers manga produced in 1986 by Japan. The stories are silly, and shallow with beautifully done detailed artwork. This series is recommended for readers aged 12-17 but I would recommend it for the youngest of that age range only. The entire series is already out, so if you purchase this one I would recommend completing this Transformers: The Manga series by buying volumes two and three.


Transformers: The Manga Vol. 1
By Masumi Kaneda
Art by Ban Magami
ISBN: 9781974710560
VIZ Media LLC, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 12-17
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Classic to Comic

Ride Your Wave

In Ride Your Wave, a surfer girl in a seaside town falls in love with a young firefighter. Having chosen to attend college near the ocean to indulge in her favorite pastime, Hinako is a carefree soul. She meets Minato when he rescues her from a fire in her apartment building. Minato is less carefree. He chose his career because of his strong convictions about helping others.

Sparks fly between these two different personalities and Hinako convinces a very reluctant Minato (who nearly drowned as a child) to try surfing. While attempting to surf a strong winter storm, Minato ends up trying to save a drowning jet skier and loses his own life.

Distraught over her guilt and loss, Hinako moves away from the ocean and falls into a depression until one day, while singing the couple’s favorite song, Minato appears in her water glass. From then on, she discovers that she can conjure Minato in any amount of water by singing that song.

The poignancy of the romance—the pair can longer physically touch, and nobody else can see him, has consequences for the other people Minato left behind; especially his coworker and friend, Wasabi and his little sister, Yoko.

The film’s themes of loss, grief, and moving on are told in a polished, beautifully detailed anime style by experienced and award-winning director, Makaaski Yuasa (Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Keep Your Hands of Eizuouken!, Devilman Crybaby). Although the themes are sad, and the emotional effect of this story is high, it is broken up by some sweetly written comedic scenes which lighten the mood.

Animation studio Science SARU deftly handles the gorgeous setting and characters. Movement is fluid and natural with extraordinary detail. The musical score matches the mood, including the theme song, “Brand New Story.”

Ride Your Wave is on a shortlist of possible Oscar nominations for 2021, along with two other high quality theatrical anime releases, A Whisker Away and Demon Slayer Mugen Train. Ride Your Wave was another theatrical victim of COVID-19 and has only been released on DVD in the US.

This film is for fans of Your Name and Fireworks and definitely belongs in any teen anime collection. It has wide appeal for adult anime fans as well. The DVD is unrated, but I would give it a solid PG rating, mostly for some kissing, mild profanity and alcohol use.

The film is getting a light novel and manga adaptation from Seven Seas Entertainment later this year.


Ride Your Wave
By Masaaki Yuasa
GKID Films, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Not Rated
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Japanese
Creator Highlights: Japanese

Super Mario Manga Mania

This book is filled with silliness from page one and features Mario characters from all different Nintendo versions of the globally famous game. Author and illustrator Yukio Sawada selected some of his favorite stories from his Japanese Super Mario-kun series and put them together in this newly translated English collection, Super Mario: Manga Mania. Sawada has been creating manga since 1980, and has recently been recognized by the well-known Japanese 65th Shogakukan manga award in 2020. Manga Mania is a black and white, space travel filled graphic novel, which is read from right to left, as you would expect from manga. 

This compilation is organized just as the games are, by stages instead of chapters. This is a fitting way to title them as these stories certainly do not need to be read in order. Each stage is a short story based off of a different Mario game, such as: “Paper Mario,” “Super Mario Galaxy,” “Super Mario Sunshine,” “Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time,” “Super Paper Mario,” and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii”. This collection is full of zany fantasy scenarios with every range of humor from cheesy to absolutely gross. Sawada stays true to the basic storyline given in the games themselves, and has a short description of this at the beginning of every stage so that the reader knows what the inspiration is for that particular tale. Little side notes given by Old Yukio provide some interesting background and bonus information.

Sawada does an excellent job of drawing exactly what you’d expect from a manga comic book. When characters are happy, their entire faces shine, and when they’re sad they pour tears. No dull expressions can be found anywhere. This book has jam packed pages filled with busy manga style artwork and tons of action words popping out of the page, often followed by excessive exclamation points. Many of the action words are in a made up, silly English, like “sparkl, wggl, smak,  slrrp, hrrngh”, so don’t expect this to be a great title to choose to develop spelling skills. Backgrounds have little detail, instead the panels are filled with zoomed in characters so that the focus is on the dramatic facial expressions. 

Don’t take any of the stories in this book seriously, instead prepare yourself for a lot of gag humor, ridiculous situations, and overdramatic characters. I think the translator, Caleb Cook has done an excellent job of navigating the differences in not only the Japanese and English languages, but cultural differences, and different styles of humor. Younger readers who enjoy reading manga and like Mario would likely enjoy this compilation. However, older readers or those who aren’t a fan of video games might find it a bit too illogical and overly silly. There are conversations in which characters are calling each other losers or dumb, and being excessively rude to each other, but I believe it’s meant to be in good fun for the reader. The author does include a parental advisory for the last chapter, which deals with the loss of a parent. However, this section is well-done and quite sentimental, it’s not inappropriate for young readers, just could be skipped if that’s a sensitive topic. Overall, if you’re looking to add a humorous manga title to your elementary library collection this one will surely get checked out.


Super Mario Manga Mania
By Yukio Sawada
Art by Yukio Sawada
ISBN: 9781974718481
Viz Media, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 7-10
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Middle Grade (7-11)
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Game to Comic

I Love You So Much, I Hate You

I Love You So Much, I Hate You is about the emotional and sexual relationship between Saori Fujimura and her supervisor, Ayako Asano. Saori is a single, lighthearted, twenty-something who has always been attracted to women and is desperate for the love and attention of her supervisor, Ayako. Ayako is a married woman who would much rather focus on her work than acknowledge her attraction to Ayako. The pair must overcome workplace gossip, heteronormativity, and Ayako’s hesitancy to share her true feelings for Saori if they wish to be happy together. 

I Love You So Much, I Hate You is pretty standard fare for the genre. The themes of coming out and accepting one’s own sexual orientation tend to be omnipresent across many, LGBTQ+ manga. In this way, I Love You So Much, I Hate You is not particularly notable. Though Saori and Ayako do make a charismatic pair, they do not tread any new water. 

As writer and illustrator Yuni explains in the postscript of I Love You So Much, I Hate You, the story began as a short manga, eventually adapted into a full volume. Unfortunately, this method does negatively reflect on the work as a whole. Namely, I Love You So Much, I Hate You feels rushed. The brevity of the text takes away from the emotional impact of the story. The resolution is reached far too quickly, and the reader may feel a bit wanting on completion of the story. However, Yuni’s clearly personal relationship to the story and the characters is inspiring and does add some amount of depth to the manga. 

With that said, the artwork is competent and Yuni is clearly a skilled artist. Yuni is able to capture a range of emotions across the pages of the story, which is no easy feat in the traditional black-and-white manga style. Additionally, there are many sex scenes throughout the manga and, miraculously, none of them feel exploitative of the subjects. Yuni has a talent for capturing intimate, sexual moments without objectifying them. This may alone be enough to pique the interest of readers. 

I Love You So Much, I Hate You, is by no means a “bad” manga. It has nice illustrations, likeable characters, and an uncomplicated premise. Yet, ultimately, I Love You So Much, I Hate You will most likely not fill a void in your library’s manga collection. If your library is lacking LGBTQ+ manga, more established titles, such as Saburouta’s Citrus or Nakatani Nio’s Bloom Into You, may be a better place to start. 


I Love You So Much, I Hate You
By Yuni
ISBN: 9781975314248
Yen Press, 2020
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Character Traits: Japanese Lesbian
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Book to Comic

Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean

It kills me to spoil the first-chapter reveal of this series, but if the series will continue and grow past its roots, then so be it. Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know The Ocean starts out as a story of four classmates who transfer from their demolished local school to a larger, farther one. This introductory story is revealed to be the first chapter of protagonist Tohno Naruhiko’s new manga project, “Wakkamon.” That’s right – the whole thing kicks off with a story within a story, with the “real” story taking over afterward.

Volume two also starts with a glimpse of this manga and its coming-of-age tale.Tohno considers himself a fantasy manga creator, but his editor urges him to try something new and pull from personal experience growing up in the boonies. This approach could also be read as a metanarrative of sorts, given the author/illustrator Satsuki Yoshino started this series after the 18-volume Barakamon series about a calligrapher starting over professionally in the boonies. What is it about life in the country that makes the creative struggle so compelling?

As in Yoshino’s previous works, humor is mined from social interactions and well-intentioned accidents. For example, Tohno finds that his personal connection to his new slice-of-life story gets his creative juices flowing in a quick, satisfying manner. All he needs to do is commit the time and effort to getting it down on paper. However, that knowledge causes him to procrastinate and follow every distraction that crosses his path. Luckily, his helpful assistant, a fellow named Toshi-bou, knows of a nearby house Tohno can use as an isolation studio of sorts. He gets some work done, but a storm rolls in and the doors of the house are locked from the outside. Without the assistant to let him out, Tohno gets creeped out, especially once the sun goes down and he sees funeral portraits of the house’s previous owners.

By the first volume’s end, friends and relatives are seeking out his new comic and boosting sales any way they can. In volume two, Tohno meets a 10-year-old fangirl who swoons over one of his characters, goes to a book signing event in Tokyo, and speaks with his editor Hayashi, a woman. While the major plotline of the series involves a manga creator and the tasks required of him, it’s not generally about the actual-factual writing and drawing of his manga, at least not yet. The focus tends more toward Tohno’s insecurities and low self-esteem, such as the equally nerve-wracking possibilities that his book signing will draw a huge crowd or nobody. There are punchlines aplenty made from Tohno’s bewilderment at how to navigate train lines. The resulting effect is that of following an author around as their buddy and hearing their inner monologue for everything surrounding the making of a manga. Likewise, the art often zooms in on Tohno to emphasize his inner thoughts in contrast to his external interactions. Jagged speech bubbles convey his easily tilted personality, and thought bubbles follow him everywhere.

Yoshi no Zuikara is a great slice-of-life addition to any manga collection. Content-wise, a character says “shit,” there’s one drawing of a skimpily dressed character when someone mentions ecchi manga, and two adults enjoy beer during a dinner scene. In my opinion, none of these factors exclude teens from this recommendation, as they would probably latch onto the adventures of a timid but moderately successful artist as well as any adult. Tohno’s travails feel authentic and sincere while also never failing to lead to hilarity. Hand this manga to budding comics creators and fans of Barakamon, Handa-san, Bakuman, and Blank Canvas.


Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean
By Satsuki Yoshino

VolumeISBN
19781975316242
29781975317423

Yen Press, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: T
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Japanese
Creator Highlights: Japanese
Related to…: Book to Comic

Manga Yokai Stories: Ghostly Tales from Japan

Up front I must admit that I have been a long-time fan of Lafcadio Hearn’s writing on Japanese folklore especially Kwaidan(1904), the final short story collection published during his life time. Through his writing, based on research, oral tales from neighbors, and tales read to him by his wife, he became the first non-Japanese author to retell the folklore for readers of the English language.

Three of the retellings in this compilation are from Hearn’s final collection of “ghostly sketches”: “Nuki-kubi,”” Riki-Baka,” and “A Dead Secret”.  An earlier work, Shadowings (1900), is also represented by three tales: “Reconciliation,” “Corpse Rider,” and “Screen Maiden.” The seventh tale, “Before the Supreme Court”, is from A Japanese Miscellany (1901). Author Sean Michael Wilson states in his brief source note that he has attempted to retain Hearn’s original wording as much as possible while adapting them to the manga format and I am happy to report that he has done what he had set out to accomplish. The source notes are adequate offering basic background information about Hearn and the retellers as well as information for finding the original tales and discovering more on your own.

The illustrations are evocative and heart breaking, focusing on facial expressions and emotions of all the characters, spectral and human. The large format of the publication and the simplicity of the backgrounds and panel arrangement add to the accessibility of the tales. It also reads right to left in traditional manga format. All seven folktales are about the complex interactions between the living and dead and while they are indeed ghostly, they are not all inescapably terrifying. But rather, they are instructive in offering glimpses of the beliefs and practices of Japanese society at the time Hearn collected and retold the tales.

I am not sure which one of the retellings is my favorite. The first tale, “A Dead Secret” is primarily about the return of a mother as a ghost but the underlying layers uncover hidden truths, love stories, and preserved secrets. “The Screen Maiden” tells the passionate and alarming tale of a young man who is almost fatally obsessed with a woman in a painting. As for the painting, “The space that she had occupied upon it remained a blank.” It is followed by a much darker tale of a masterless samurai and his adventures with deadly headless goblins. The images and antics in “Nuke-kubi” of the exasperated severed heads remained vivid long after I finished reading the story. “The Corpse Rider” is equally as visual, horrific, and memorable as it tells the story of a wife’s revenge on her ex-husband. The following entry, “Riki-Babka,” while horrifying did not leave this reader with a heavy heart, a ghost story with a more satisfying outcome, so to speak, reminiscent of one of my favorite clay figures, the golem of Jewish folklore. Hearn indicated that this tale was a personal experience narrative written exactly as it happened with only the names changed. And, if you can assert a ghost story as cheerful and redeeming, the penultimate tale “Before the Supreme Court” is exactly that. The initial horror is massaged by the very sensible conclusion. The compilation is completed by the eerie story of “Reconciliation” which leaves the reader contemplating the juxtaposition of justice and remorse.

This compilation was a refreshing read and highly recommended for those who appreciate exploring folklore and the genres of horror and ghost stories.


Manga Yokai Stories: Ghostly Tales from Japan
By Lafcadio Hearn Sean Michael Wilson
Art by Inko Ai Takita
ISBN: 9784805315668
Tuttle, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 14+
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Character Traits: Japanese Buddhist
Creator Highlights: Irish, Japanese
Related to…: Book to Comic

Fly me to the moon Vol. 2

Nasa and Tsukasa have to get used to life as a newly married couple who also barely know each other. The first issue that comes up is that Nasa’s apartment doesn’t have a bathtub, which means they have to utilize one of the public baths in the neighborhood. The daughter of the owners, Kaname, can’t believe Nasa is married and warns him that her older sister, Aya, is going to be very unhappy to hear the news. Nasa has a pretty meta moment where he realizes his story has the “bathhouse chapter,” and bathhouse chapters are included in stories as a shameless plug and nod to traditional Japanese culture that helps sell stories. He starts looking out  for the miscommunication that often plagues bathhouse storylines and adds hilarity.

Unfortunately for him, the misunderstanding happens inside Tsukasa’s room, so he is vigilant for nothing.  Next, Nasa finally gets to meet Tsukasa’s family, but only because her younger sister, Chitose, kidnaps him and plots to destroy their marriage. Chitose is flabbergasted that Nasa doesn’t know who Tsukasa is, yet he still loves her. Lastly, Nasa wants to buy wedding rings for them, but Tsukasa doesn’t want them. He’s adamant, so she takes him to the most expensive diamond shop to dissuade him. It almost doesn’t work. 

This story is very silly, and super cute.  Most of the time, characters are drawn in a “chibi” form with very large eyes, small heads and bodies, and over-the-top expressions.  There are a few areas where the illustrations are extremely detailed, like the interior and exterior of the bathhouse, but oftentimes, the two main characters are interacting without a background behind them.  Rather than come off as an incomplete drawing, this increases the attention on the facial expressions of the characters. 

Neither Nasa nor Tsukasa know much about marriage, but both have decided to work towards making each other happy. Nevertheless, plenty of other characters have important lessons about what it means to be a good partner in a marriage, and much of the advice is really sound!  The wisest of them all in this volume is Kaname, who seems to be overly in-tune with other people’s emotions.  She knows of her sister’s feelings for Nasa, even though he’s completely oblivious, and she delivers some of the best advice about self-sacrifice and compromise to make a marriage work.  Mixed in are some infrequent jokes about Nasa wanting to see Tsukasa naked, and lamenting that they have to go to a bathhouse where the genders are separated.

There is still something Tsukasa is hiding from Nasa about her past, as she is determined to make sure her sister doesn’t tell him before she gets a chance. However this volume reveals very little about what secret she’s keeping.  The mystery continues, and is a slow-burn storyline simmering underneath the everyday slice-of-life adventures of our main couple.  Readers will be eager to learn more about her, but contented with the cuteness of Nasa and Tsukasa.  


Fly me to the moon vol 2 02
By Kenjiro Hata
Art by Kenjiro Hata
ISBN: 9781974717507
VIZ Media, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: Teen Plus
Series ISBNS and Order

Title Details and Representation
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Highlights: Japanese