Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, vol. 1

Satomi Mizusawa is a first-year high school student, and normally on the bashful side. But when a mystery boy saves her from a handsy stranger on the subway, she throws shyness out the window in her quest to meet her rescuer properly. She still regrets failing to act on a past crush and is determined not to make the same mistake again. So when she discovers that the boy, Yagyu, attends her school, Mizusawa makes a point of telling him that she wants to get to know him better. He agrees, and suddenly, they’re dating!

Unlike the common “will they or won’t they” romantic storyline, this manga settles the question immediately, following it with “and now what?” Mizusawa has never dated before, and she isn’t sure what the norms and expectations are. Can you ask for attention without seeming needy? What do you do when one of his friends seems not to like you? How do you tell your boyfriend that your birthday is coming up without sounding like you’re fishing for presents? Fortunately, Mizusawa has her supportive friend Nimo to help her figure it all out.

The central romance of this story is sweet, with Mizusawa and Yagyu each standing up for and taking care of the other. They’re clearly both still figuring out how to date, and each seems willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, Nimo’s tell-it-like-it-is attitude adds some humor, as does the shock that Mizusawa’s older brother, Saichi, feels about his sister starting to date.

While the two main characters start dating abruptly, the relationship moves slowly in other ways. By the end of this volume, they have confessed to liking each other and have shared a couple of brief kisses. There is no more sexual content than this, aside from the stranger on the bus groping Mizusawa in one panel early on. There are a few moments of very mild danger, as when Mizusawa yells at a stranger for being rude to Yagyu and the stranger seems like he might possibly hit her before Yagyu intervenes. No one is hurt at any point in this gentle story.

The art of this manga is mostly straightforward and down-to-earth, with few visual exaggerations. Occasionally, a character appears in a chibi or stylized form for a single panel, and there are a couple of instances of floating hearts or fanciful screentones, but mostly, the art is consistent and realistic, by manga standards. Backgrounds are often minimal, composed mostly of screentones, keeping the focus on the characters and their emotions. When settings are illustrated, they are everyday places like school, Mizusawa’s home, or the mall.

This sweet, earnest romance will appeal to readers of romantic shojo manga, especially those who like a realistic contemporary setting. Unlike many series, it does not have a flashy hook—no sports stars, teen singing sensations, or characters hiding dramatic secrets (as far as we know). The most unusual part of the premise is the fact that Mizusawa and Yagyu start dating early on, eliminating the question of whether and how they will get together. Some readers may find this comforting, and might be intrigued by the new questions of how two high schoolers new to romance can build a relationship together.

Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love, vol. 1
By Ayuko Hatta
VIZ, 2022
ISBN: 9781974728954
Publisher Age Rating: Teen (13+)

NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese


This uncanny story begins at the base of Mount Sengoku, where a woman named Kyoko Byakuya, whether by fate or chance, stumbles upon a secluded village covered by gold-colored “angel hair.” These fine threads of hair—known as divine Amagami—somehow possess a mystical ability that enables the villagers to commune with each other through the power of clairvoyance. But why do they believe this woman to be their messianic savior, and what unearthly forces have been unleashed by her sudden arrival?

Thus launches horror master Junji Ito’s Sensor, a cosmological tale of apocalyptic proportions. Whereas Ito usually spins tales of the macabre in short, self-contained stories with morbid shock endings, this graphic novel unfolds through episodic chapters, each one ratcheting up the suspense as side characters and incidents enter the plot. Among the intriguing elements are Wataru Tsuchiyado, a “no name” reporter who investigates the mysterious appearance of a woman with long, flowing golden hair, allegedly the sole survivor of a volcanic eruption from Mount Sengoku. During his investigation, an underground group of cult believers begin mobilizing their forces, seeking to summon forth their lord of destruction known as “The Black Hair.” Amidst these warring factions of good and evil, Ito injects his signature brand of horror including a hypnotherapy session that nearly spirals out of control; an onslaught of “suicide bugs” shaped like spiders with bulging sacs as they deliberately place themselves in harm’s way to be stomped upon; and a sinister woman in black who materializes in mirrors and stalks unsuspecting victims around the streets of Tokyo, causing traffic mayhem.

Ito serves up a flurry of horrific treats interspersed throughout an extensive storyline. From a pair of forlorn women with flowing, wispy hair to a dark, shadowy entity lurking in the hidden reaches of outer space, Ito infuses suspense with chilling effect. Swift action scenes punctuated by gradual close-upshots accentuate the mounting tension across his meticulously orchestrated panels.

Although fans accustomed to Ito’s self-contained tales of the macabre may prefer his concise narrative style, Sensor packs a unique dose of horror into an epic story that unfurls through episodic chapters, similar to the intense momentum of Remina. Furthermore, he conjures forth a cosmic tale that blends mystery, horror, fantasy, and even mythic elements that will diversify library collections in this obscure corner of the science fiction universe.

By Junji Ito
VIZ, 2021
ISBN: 9781974718900
Publisher Age Rating: 16+

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese

Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection

For those seeking to indulge in the spooky imagination of Junji Ito, the renowned “Stephen King” of Japan, his collection Lovesickness serves up an extra delectable treat that will whet voracious appetites for past and present fans. Marketed as a collection of ten stories, two of them are actually segmented into multiple chapters and drawn out as mini-novellas that occupy more than half the book.

The titular “Lovesickness” centers on a young boy named Ryusuke who returns to his hometown of Nazumi to discover a series of suicides among girls. What could possibly drive them to take their own lives? They wander through an ancient folkway in hopes of receiving an auspicious “crossroads fortune” from a mysterious handsome young man. Those who receive an ill-fated pronouncement on their love life kill themselves. This rash series of incidents propels Ryusuke to investigate these mysterious deaths. Combining the allurement of mystery, folklore, superstition, and urban legends, Ito unpacks a tale that crosses the realms of unrequited love and relentless passion, ultimately unleashing the deadly effects of human obsession.

In another twisted story, dark humor runs rampant in the dysfunctional family of orphaned brothers and sisters in “The Strange Hikizuri Siblings.” The grotesquely drawn siblings include an overweight, gluttonous brother, a fiendish, pigtailed young daughter, and a morbid young boy who may harbor a deadly secret behind his diffident facade. Their activities are equally outlandish: Their elder sister Narumi is driven to emotional distress when her siblings accuse her of indulging in a secret love affair; a dinner of conversations revolves around inventive methods to punish Narumi’s secret lover; and the family conducts a séance to conjure up their deceased parents with riotous effects.

Rounding out these protracted stories are shorter self-contained one-shots. “The Mansion of Phantom Pain” features a sickly, incapacitated boy confined to a mansion, whose pains are strangely connected to remote areas of the house. A woman considers undergoing surgery to remove her ribs in exchange for a beautiful physique in “The Rib Woman,” but at what cost?  The one story that doesn’t quite hit the mark is “Memories of Real Poop,” though some readers may still enjoy this lighter slice of edgy humor. Human obsessions with love, beauty, vanity, and greed permeate these gruesome stories—their plots often rising to a hyperbolic and feverish pitch.

From fog sketched panels and haunting sound effects to characters driven mad with desperation, Ito’s visual narrative images produce an eerie atmospheric mood and tone in “Lovesickness,” signifying the intoxicating spell under which the young girls have been bewitched. The abnormally drawn Hikizuri siblings wearing exaggerated facial expressions in the second story present a bizarre spectacle akin to the Addams Family.

Although not as prolific as previous collections, Lovesickness compensates by offering two extensive stories that afford more time for character development and will complement manga collections for readers with a penchant for the macabre tinged with black comedy.

Lovesickness: Junji Ito Story Collection
By Junji Ito
VIZ, 2021
ISBN: 9781974719846

Publisher Age Rating: 16+

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Creator Representation:  Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese

Boys Run the Riot, vols. 1-2

Boys Run the Riot is unique for a slice-of-live manga. It tells the story of a transgender high schooler named Ryo Watari. When we first see him, he’s switching out of his school uniform and into his gym clothes in a train station bathroom. He hates his uniform for more than the usual reasons—his uniform is a girl’s uniform and reminds him daily that he was born female.

Ryo navigates the pitfalls of high school with the added stress and complications that come with being transgender. Besides the uniforms, the social situations are fraught. The guys tell him he’s a girl and needs to hang out with girls, and the girls call him a slut for hanging out with boys all the time. He doesn’t fit in. And in Japan, “the nail that sticks out, gets hammered down.”

The only time Ryo feels like himself is in his street clothes. He’s fascinated by fashion and he can indulge himself by dressing as masculine as he likes with no judgement (besides his mother’s). Suffering from body dysphoria, lonely, and unsure of himself—how to act, whether to come out at school, at work, not to mention what changing room to use—he feels alone. 

Enter transfer student Jin. He presents himself with an air of confidence that makes Ryo jealous, with unconventional hair and piercings (a big no-no in Japanese high schools). But these two outsiders find each other in a clothing boutique seeking out the newest fashion label.

It’s an unsurprising plot that these two form an unlikely partnership and decide to make their own fashion brand in the first volume of the series. Writer and artist Keito Gaku has created charming, honest characters in a tightly paced, well plotted manga that will hook its readers. 

Rather than instant success and smooth sailing, these young entrepreneurs will face adversity. But they will not do it alone. They add to their ranks with a photographer, as well as a social media influencer. They will meet dubious adults who scoff at the idea of teens running a fashion brand, and deal with their own doubts and insecurities as well. They meet those challenges with a plan, some guts, and a little bit of luck.

Gaku is transgender himself and his heartfelt insight is all over the page. Ryo’s story is dramatic, yes, but punctuated with humor and humanity. The amazing part of the production of this manga is that the entire English translation and localization team at Kodansha Comics are transgender as well, a dream team that is creating work that will resonate with any reader.

I was blown away by the first two volumes in this series and can’t wait to see how far Ryo goes. The publisher rates this series for older teens (16+), which makes perfect sense for the age of the characters. The translation notes provide information not only on Japanese culture, but on transgender issues like binding, as well. 

This series needs to be on high school and public library shelves everywhere.

Boys Run the Riot, Vols. 1-2
By Keito Gaku
Kodansha, 2021
Vol 1 ISBN: 9781646512485
Vol 2 ISBN: 9781646511198

NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)Publisher Age Rating: 16+

Creator Representation:  Japanese,  Gender Nonconforming
Character Representation: Japanese, Gender Nonconforming,

Yakuza Lover

Yakuza Lover, a new series by Nozomi Mino, follows the romance between a college girl, Yuri, who gets swept off her feet by the young underboss of the Oya crime syndicate, Toshioma Oya.

In the first volume, Yuri, feisty and beautiful, attends a party in search of a boyfriend. After being hit on by rude guys, she and her friend decide to leave, only to walk in on some illegal drug use—and that is where the trouble starts. Although Yuri is prepared to defend herself (through violence if necessary), they are interrupted by a suave, sexy yakuza named Toshioma Oya, who takes care of the problem, wraps Yuri in his coat, and gives her his business card. Oya is immediately smitten by the headstrong, gorgeous woman and Yuri is undeniably drawn to the handsome, gallant gangster. 

Name your romantic trope and Yakuza Lover has it. In spite of that, this shallow-sounding romantic plot works. Oya is not your typical yakuza. He’s slim, stylish and romantic, rather hulking and thuggish. Yuri is brave and capable and smart enough to not immediately fall into bed with him. The romance proceeds apace and the reader isn’t kept waiting for the good stuff. The only refreshing original plot point in Yakuza Lover is that Yuri exercises her sexual agency without being manipulated or forced. Oya, in a dangerous line of work, seeks to live his life to the fullest—he sees what he wants and goes for it, but it’s left up to Yuri to make the last step and cross the line into a sexual relationship with Oya, even though it may put her in danger.

What fun would it be if she played it safe? 

It’s not a love story for the ages but the manga is well drawn and enjoyable enough. The characters are gorgeous and volume 1 ends in a cliffhanger that will be enough to keep me interested in the second installment. Only time will tell if the plot is sustainable over the long run.

Yakuza Lover is for mature readers (18+), featuring violence and on-the-page sex (although not full-on nudity). It’s a great, modern romance for fans of titles like Midnight Secretary, An Incurable Case of Love, or Happy Marriage?.

Yakuza Lover is published by Viz Media and a second volume will be released in September.

Yakuza Lover, vol. 1
By Nozomi Mino
VIZ, 2021
ISBN: 9781974720552
Publisher Age Rating: 18+

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese

Farming Life in Another World, vol. 1

Farming Life in Another World, vol. 1 documents how Hiraku Machio dies from working to death in Japan and is reincarnated, or relocated, to a fantasy world. This is how most isekai stories start; however, this story diverts from the usual trope of the main character wanting to become a hero in his/her new life. Hiraku has the opportunity for “god” to grant a few wishes before he is reincarnated, and so he chooses to request a healthy body that never falls ill, to not be dropped in a big city with lots of people, and to become a farmer. The god character grants these wishes in addition to mentioning the “complimentary beginner pack” and presents Hiraku with the Almighty Farming Tool. With a very simple explanation of how to make the tool work, “god” teleports Hiraku to a forest and dresses him in villagers clothing. 

The first half of this volume features the main character attempting to learn how to use the Almighty Farming Tool while also finding food and building a shelter. This does lead to the occasional hilarious moments as he freaks out about something new that he’s discovered. Once Hiraku has the basics down, his farm begins to grow as he plants more food and starts to build a family, starting with a pair of horned wolf beasts that act like guard dogs once fed. Towards the end of volume one, Hiraku’s family has grown to include a giant spider, who makes textiles, a female vampire and angel, who start calling him husband, and a tribe of female elves. 

As a fan of isekai stories, I really liked that this one broke some of the tropes by focusing on agriculture and farm planning. I don’t believe it to be an accurate portrayal of what to do in real life, but it was a nice break from the usual video game training and fighting aspects of other isekai. The black and white illustrations do a good job showing the farming aspects with schematics and diagrams. I did find it interesting that there were blurred illustrations when Hiraku beheads some rabbit monsters with the hoe and just the heads are left behind while the body is instantly turned into fertilizer.  

Overall, I think this would be a good addition to a teen graphic novel/manga collection if you want to add some variety to the isekai titles. I will caution that there is a page where sex comes up. The female elves want to procreate with the main character. It reads, “I fight back, but it is no good. Though I don’t mind when they curse at me and call me weak-willed.” This feels like both a description of rape and a plug for kink, and it really comes across as mixed messaging at best. Luckily, there is no sex on the page and this isn’t really referred to again later in the story. The final chapter in this volume introduces the concept of a demon king in the area and how Hiraku might encounter him in the future, which sounds promising. 

Farming Life in Another World, vol. 1
By Kinosuke Naito
Art by Yasuyuki Tsurugi
One Peace Books, 2020
ISBN: 9781642730852

NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18)
Character Representation: Japanese

Bounce Back

Thirteen-year-old Lilico has a picture-perfect life in Japan. She’s captain of the girls’ basketball team, which is headed to win their final competition, and she and her teammates are best friends. Then her parents break the news: They’re moving to New York! After a whirlwind of travel, Lilico lands in an American school, completely out of place, and somehow offending Emma, the most popular girl and leader of the basketball team, on her first day.

Lilico’s misery slowly abates. Her parents, also struggling with culture shock, never really support her, but she manages to work things out with the help of her guardian spirit, who manifests in her cat, Nicco. Even more, she’s helped by the cheerful friendship of Nala and Henry, the nerdy kids who befriend her first. But when she becomes the school’s star basketball player, she feels like she must be there for her teammates, even if that means leaving Nala behind. When Lilico’s choices hurt Nala, she will need all the help of her old and new friends to bring everyone together and finish the year successfully, in basketball and in a new home.

Although the art style has many manga trademarks, such as Lilico starting out the story as a stereotypical Japanese school girl in sailor suit uniform with perky pony tail and oversized eyes, she’s gradually toned down until she looks slightly more realistic in the final pictures. The new students she meets include a variety of characters with light brown skin tones and their hair varies from short and curly to long and wavy. Readers will see glimpses of Japanese food and culture in some parts of Lilico’s home, such as her father’s clothing and interest in katanas, but they are usually explained as her parents being embarrassing or passed off with stereotypical remarks from the Americans about how the Japanese are “so polite.” There are kawaii elements and lots of emotional drama is signaled with stars, tear drops, etc.

This OEL (original English language) manga is being published by an American/British publisher, Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan, and I think it is intended to be a combination of manga tropes with the U.S. style of graphic memoir, à la Raina Telgemeier, but I did not find it to be very successful in either arena. Lilico never really thinks deeply about her actions and when she manages to reconcile Nala and Emma in the end, it’s by exploiting Nala’s sewing abilities to create free costumes for the basketball team. Nala and Henry, in their turn, befriend Lilico in the beginning because of their obsession with Japanese culture and Nala seems more excited over getting a genuine sailor suit school uniform than learning about Lilico as a person. Lilico’s parents are almost completely absent, both emotionally and physically, and make no comments on Lilico popping out in New York for a date with an unknown boy. Most of the text is told in brief, exclamatory sentences with lots of dramatic declarations and, while it might pass for a school drama manga, it’s hard to see this as representative of a US-based school story. The students appear to be attending a privileged school, with plenty of access to technology, fashion, and entertainment, and no issues of race or economic status.

The author speaks very briefly about her own life, coming to the US from Japan and teaching students how to draw manga, and includes character sketches and some information on her art tools. I think this might have been stronger if it had been a series, following up a on number of things that are quickly passed over, like the initial disagreement between Emma and Nala, on Emma and her friends virtually bullying Nala, Lilico’s comment that her father thinks he’s the reincarnation of a samurai, and the school’s lack of a coach for the girls’ basketball team.

Although not an outstanding example of either realistic graphic memoirs or manga, this is notable in being appropriate for middle grade readers; there is no language stronger than the occasional “crap” and one or two brief kisses between Lilico and her new boyfriend. Kids may not learn much about either basketball or Japanese culture, but they will appreciate seeing that kids with many different interests can be friends, and Nala’s elaborate costumes will please cosplay fans. This might also convince some readers to explore the manga genre a little further, or to take a break from manga and try out some different graphic novels.

Bounce Back
By Misako Rocks!
Feiwel and Friends, 2021
ISBN: 9781250806291
Publisher Age Rating: Ages 9-13

NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese

Sasaki and Miyano, vol. 1

Sasaki and Miyano is a delightfully fluffy teen romance manga. It falls under the Boys Love or LGBTQ+ genre and is loaded with typical romantic tropes: the bad boy upper-classman matched with a cute, but oblivious younger boy, who happens to be a secret BL manga fan at an all-boys school. 

Older Sasaki is a tough older student who seems to fall hard for the innocent, awkward Miyano. The first volume is a sweet introduction to this slice-of-life, meta, romantic comedy. Sasaki starts borrowing manga from Miyano, calls him Miya-chan (a cute diminutive in Japanese), and visits the younger boy in his classroom.

This manga is a great introduction for manga readers interested in LGBTQ+ romance. It’s chaste enough for younger teens and artist-creator Shou Harusono touches all the bases for the genre. It’s a slim volume, and features the main plot with short pages following a secondary plot about the school cultural festival (a mainstay in Japanese high schools). Harusono’s artwork is very good, with well-drawn characters, solid background work, and the art backs up the slow, sweet burn of the burgeoning romance.

Sasaki and Miyano was originally serialized as an online comic on Pixiv—a Japanese-founded site for creators of anime and manga to upload and share their work. Picked up by Japanese publisher Kadakowa and released in Japan in 2016, it’s been licensed and translated in English by Yen Press for their growing LGBTQ series line. The English translator includes a very helpful explanation of terms common in manga and Japanese to clear up any misunderstandings about the forms of address, plot, or tropes used in the manga.

Sasaki and Miyano will continue in a short series of four volumes and I am already personally invested in their story. Miyano, as a fan of BL, doesn’t seem to realize he is actually IN one. Sasaki, with his growing regard, also seems determined to make their own BL plot line work out in real life. This is a great addition for a teen manga collection and it will be a hit with LGBTQ romance fans. All of the characters are male and none of them identify as LGBTQ. It’s recommended for ages 13+ by the publisher.

Sasaki and Miyano, vol. 1
By Shou Harusono
Yen Press, 2021
ISBN: 9781975320331
Publisher Age Rating:  Teen (13+)
Series ISBNS and Order

NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: Japanese
Character Representation: Japanese

Weathering with You

He left home to search for a life of meaning in Tokyo. She wanders the streets of Tokyo bringing warmth and sunshine wherever she goes. Amidst the backdrop of climate change, this unlikely duo of Hodaka and Hina somehow altered the course of history that resulted in a flooded, present-day Tokyo. Makoto Shinkai, writer-director of the phenomenal romantic hit Your Name, conjures up a story infused with kindling love, relentless rainstorms, and miraculous magic in Weathering with You.

Summer time has arrived, but a gloom-filled Tokyo remains drenched in rain for the past two months. This tale of cataclysmic proportions begins when Hodaka Morishima, a 16-year-old runaway gets swept into a vicious storm aboard a ferry headed to Tokyo. Rescued by Suga Keisuke, a scruffy editor of a magazine of bizarre stories, Hodaka hooks up with him to write articles and gets his big break one day. He encounters a teen orphan named Hina Amano who has the magical ability to stop rainstorms with a single prayer. He later learns that she is a “sunshine girl,” a figure from Japanese myth and legend possessing the extraordinary gift to quell storms, clear the skies, and summon forth sunshine, if only for a short while. However, with this gift comes a great price, for repeated use of these powers will weaken her and send her back to the heavens.

Makoto Shinkai plays around with the destructive forces of nature in Weathering with You. It’s another mystical piece worthy of Miyazaki’s brilliance. Shinkai captures scenic landscapes of Tokyo with panning aerial shots of cascading rainstorms that range from torrential downpours and rippling puddles to floating iridescent fish-shaped droplets. Hina works her magic to summon forth rays of sunlight that beam down with elegance, ushering in breathtaking ocean blue skies that resonate with exhilaration. The plot revolves around themes of belonging, sacrifice and loss, and embracing youthful yearning in a hostile world of grown-ups. The story shifts to a darker tone when the star-crossed lovers become separated, turning into fugitives from the law: Hodaka has run away from home, and Hina lives with her younger brother Nagi without parental support, thereby prompting the cops to track them down.

While the characters’ backstories remain shrouded in mystery, their mutual passion crescendos into an intense climax played out to the tearful yet uplifting tunes of the Japanese rock band Radwimps. Shinkai orchestrates an elaborate fusion of revolving arc shots rendered against a beautifully wrought background played to an upbeat theme song. Despite the environmental catastrophe closing in on Tokyo, Hodaka and Hina rise above the impending turmoil, buoyed by the power of their love and heartfelt longing to unite with each other. An expressionistic coming-of-age film forging the union of two distant souls and search for meaning mixed with magical realism, this animated romantic fantasy makes a fine addition to any library anime collection.

Weathering With You
GKids/Shout! Factory, 2020
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
112 minutes
Company Age Rating: PG-13

NFNT Title Details
NFNT Age Rating: Teen (13-16)

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