Assassination Classroom

Yusei Matsui

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A surprisingly non-threatening-looking alien appears one day on Earth after having destroyed the moon and is ready to do the same to Earth; after negotiations, he agrees to teach the worst-performing class at Kunugigaoka Junior High and will delay destroying the planet for one year to give the students time to try and kill him. Then over that year, he actually nurtures these students, teaching them to be killers but also how to be kind and true to themselves, embrace their talents, and stand up to bullies. The last few volumes have even more surprises in store, so there's never time to get complacent in this story.

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Assassination Classroom has a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, tragedy, action, and even a little horror, so it's got a wide range of appeal depending on the reader. Those who like a comic with a fairly simple/cute style that gets dark like HunterxHunter will appreciate that same dichotomy here, and the silly/serious mix could also pull in readers of SpyxFamily. This particular blend could even be a pull for fans of Five Nights at Freddy's, for the story that keeps going way past what might be expected for what seems like a simple jump scare game.

Content Notes

Violence and use of weapons, discussions of abuse/bullying

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Clean Room

Gail Simone

John Davis-Hunt

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Chloe is determined to find answers after her husband's death about the person and organization he was devoted to: Astrid Miller's Honest World Foundation. So she does what any sensible reporter does and infiltrates this possible cult. What she finds on the inside, what lies in the Clean Room, is far worse and stranger than she could ever have expected or ever prepared for. Also, this group just might be doing what it can to save the world.

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This complex horror is not for the faint of heart, but it's perfect for fans of series like The Department of Truth or The Beauty, with difficult topics being discussed through fantastic, unflinching art and writing. Truly, reading Clean Room was gripping and doesn't hand the answers to the story to the reader; even at the end of volume three there are so many unanswered questions. Part of this is because the series was canceled, but the cliffhanger it leaves the story on could almost be just a very unresolved ending. It's absolutely worth adding to a library collection looking to expand its adult horror options.

Content Notes

Suicide, gore/disturbing imagery, nudity, body horror

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Delicious in Dungeon

Ryoko Kui

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We meet our intrepid heroes (?) at a moment of crisis, fighting and losing against a dragon. From there, they head back to the surface to regroup and plan. Laios plans to go back in because his sister was part of what they lost and he's going to get her back. He also plans to cut costs by cooking and eating monsters, which is a very unpopular decision with the remaining party members. But they meet Senshi on their way back in, who seems very familiar with the concept, and so Chilchuck and Marcille are dragged into trying out the various monstrous inhabitants of this dungeon. The story starts out pretty silly and light but by volume four or five it starts to turn much darker and more intense. Don't be fooled by the layers at the top of the dungeon: darkness lies at its heart.

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Of course, the easy comparison here is to tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, which has been experiencing a surge in popularity over the last few years. But in the comics world, it's a great pick for fans of less typical fantasy stories, like Frieren or The Ancient Magus' Bride that take unusual perspectives on the expected stories of heroes and fairy tales. It also has an anime adaptation coming out next year, so it's a good idea to get it on the shelves before the rush of requests comes in.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Die

Keiron Gillen

Stephanie Hans

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We've heard the story of a group of young people who set out on an adventure in hopes of excitement and glory. That is just the prelude to this story. This group gets trapped for 2 years in the TTRGP their friend Solomon made when they were teenagers. Solomon never made it out. Now 2 decades later this group is all brought back together when they receive a message in the real world that can only be from Solomon. They are sucked back into this grimdark fantasy world, this time with the whole lives they had all built for themselves to lose in the real world. They are all older and wiser, which means they are all that more aware of how cruel the fantasy world their friend created really is.

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Those who like their D&D games dark and gritty or who are fans of horror TTRPGs like Call of Cthulhu will love the vibe of this story.

Content Notes

Violence, Body Horror, Depictions of War, Emotional manipulation as a magical abilities.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Magic Knight Rayearth

CLAMP

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During a trip to Tokyo Tower, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu are suddenly whisked away to Cephiro, a magical world that has been thrown into chaos! The girls learn that Cephiro's Pillar, Princess Emeraude, has been captured by the evil Zagato, and the girls begin their quest to become the Magic Knights and save Princess Emeraude. Yet, why does a world full of mages and warriors need people from another world to rescue their Pillar?
A note to libraries: Beginning in September 2023, Kodansha will be re-releasing the series with a new translation!

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With gorgeous artwork and superb worldbuilding and story, this classic manga will appeal to fans of fantasy stories with strong female heroes such as She-Ra and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Content Notes

There is some fantasy violence and blood; some of the girls' adventures get pretty emotionally intense, which might upset younger readers.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

My Love Mix-Up!

Wataru Hinekure

Aruko

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It's that classic story of boy likes girl, girl drops eraser, there's an eraser-based miscommunication...boy decides to pretend to like said other boy...and other boy agrees to date? Aoki's crush on Hashimoto fades as he gets to know Ida, and the two quickly become close. Hashimoto on the other hand pursues her crush, a boy unrelated to this initial confusion, and the story settles into being about Aoki and Ida, with Hashimoto's story as a secondary. You'll laugh, you'll cry, but hopefully, you won't get mixed up about this funny and sweet story.

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So clearly My Love Mix-Up is a twist on the usual shojo; by inserting a boys' love story into the world of shojo it's simultaneously using the tropes of both genres and then occasionally turning them on their heads. Readers of Sasaki and Miyano might want to pick this one up for playing with the standards of boys' love, and fans of series like Skip and Loafer will enjoy the funny and tender romance that builds throughout the series.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Project Nought

Chelsey Furedi

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Ren wakes up in the future in the year 2122 and soon finds himself a reluctant participant in a time travel exchange program where students can learn history from those who lived it. Despite Ren’s reluctance, his guide Mars grows on him, but a chance encounter throws everything Chronotech is doing into question. Can Ren figure out how to save himself and his fellow subjects and find a way back to his time?

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy twisty mysteries and thrillers; readers who want queer sci-fi stories

Content Notes

One instance of a character getting misgendered

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Gay |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Witch Hat Atelier

Kamome Shirahama

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In a world where only certain people may practice magic, Coco desperately wants to be a witch. When she sees a witch practice his magic, she attempts the same spell with disastrous consequences. Determined to undo her mistake, Coco begins training as a witch. However, others want to use her to shake up witch society.

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Witch Hat Atelier is perfect for fantasy fans who like stories with fantastic worldbuilding and nuanced characters and story. The story reveals more about witch society and its impact on the greater world at every turn, and that, alongside Coco's personal arc, makes for a compelling series that will leave readers eager for the next volume!

Content Notes

The last few volumes have been a lot more grim, with a character dealing with a loved one's death and his own injuries. While Kodansha still recommends Witch Hat Atelier for ten years and older, I would recommend these later volumes for teens and older.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

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