The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent Vol. 1 by Yuka Tachibana {Manga Review}

The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent Vol. 1 by Yuka Tachibana, Fujiazuki (artist), and Yasuyuki Syuri (character design)

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: December 8, 2020

Pages: 180

Available: The Book Depository & Bookshop

Summary: Unlimited Power and Infinite Mercy

Living the workaholic life in her mid-20s, Sei never expected she’d be summoned to another world, let alone obtain the power of a living Saint. And she especially didn’t expect to be totally ignored by the locals! While the kingdom desperately needs a hero, it turns out Sei was just the backup option.

Left alone, she explores her newfound powers at the royal Research Institute, unraveling the mysteries of magic potions. As she helps the sick and the dying, her talents reveal themselves. Might Sei be the Saint this world needs after all?

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent is an isekai series that follows Sei Nakanashi, a workaholic in her 20’s who gets transported to a fantasy kingdom during a saint summoning ritual, only to be left as the back-up option! She decides to make use of her time crafting potions and improving her talents along the way. Propelled by a charming cast of characters, this is a quiet fantasy manga worth reading!

From the moment I’d read the summary, I knew this isekai would captivate me!! I’m starting to fall in love with these kinds of stories where the mc’s are transported to other worlds, so the fact that this follows someone who possibly gains the abilities of a saint?? How could I not read this!

Sei is very much upset when she is one of two people summoned, only to be completely ignored by the prince with Aria (the other girl) being accepted as the saint. However why was the ritual performed to begin with? Well it turns out that Saints have special abilities to defeat monsters created by miasma, an almost odor or air that makes them form. So, it seems the kingdom is in desperate need of help.

However instead of letting time pass her by, Sei meets Jude in the royal gardens and with her fascination of medicinal herbs, he teaches her more about plants within the kingdom of Salutania and invites her to the Medicinal Flora Research Institute! She decides to stay there for the time being, learning to make potions and even practice magic! As the months pass also she realizes her unique abilities in crafting potions makes them 50x’s more powerful!

Throughout the manga she uses the knowledge gains in potion-making, applying it other areas of her life from cooking to creating beauty products, and even gets a chance to showcase how powerful they are when the kingdom’s knights are attacked. When her special potion even miraculously saves the commander, Albert Hawke, she finds purpose in seeing her work help other people.

The cast of characters truly make this story shine, the dynamics are exactly what you would expect, but its just done in a way where there’s an unexplainable charm. Jude is the supportive best friend teaching Sei everything about potions and Institute, then there’s Director Johan who is there to help when necessary, but also has a *somewhat of a secrecy to him as he’s asked to report anything regarding Sei’s powerful magic to the prime minister. Jude, Johan, the knights, Commander Albert, and her new library friend Liz all recognize her unique talents. There’s just such a nice camaraderie between everyone and it’s wonderful getting to follow Sei’s journey in carving out a space for herself in this new place.

Despite being set in a high-stakes fantasy world, its a very quiet slice of life type of fantasy, which I really appreciate. There’s something about these kinds of stories that just captivate me every time.

Sei is a wonderful protagonist! Although she doesn’t have much experience when it comes to romance and was always focused on work back in Japan, she uses that drive to pursue a new hobby and make friends! By the end however, she realizes she’s still focused on working, so it’s nice to see lots of reflection on why focusing on yourself is so important. Overall it’s fantastic seeing an isekai heroine in her 20’s, with the spotlight on learning more about her own interests. She really is such a relatable main character!

This manga strikes a splendid balance between the great pacing, focus on the magical research, sincerity to the characters, briefly hinting at larger themes many can relate to (putting work or business obligations over oneself), and presenting a delightful story / world you just want to stay immersed in. Such a great escapist fantasy!

There’s also little hints sprinkled in throughout the story that never explicitly state whether she is the true hero or not, however once you reach the end you begin to wonder: Could she be the real saint after all?

I’m so interested in seeing what Sei’s adventure is next and especially as her abilities continue to improve, also the subtle romance with Commander Hawke…the cutest!! Although I love the friendship dynamic with Jude too??

The art style presented such a distinct choice of paneling that highlighted the characters, pacing, and backgrounds really well. Also the FASHION? Seriously Sei’s dress is so pretty. There’s such a unique presentation of the outfits the characters wear, I just want their fancy jackets and dresses in my wardrobe now! But overall, the art’s strength was definitely shown through the character dynamics and expressions.

Overall, there’s nothing I particularly disliked, I guess this just sits at a 4-star rating for me. If anything, perhaps just more details about the world because it’s quite brief in the beginning, although I love the inclusion of research and apothecary in this fantasy setting. Maybe there could have also been a bit more background on the elements of potion-making and potions in general because it was just a lot of fun to learn about!

There’s also an anime adaptation coming later this year and I am just so excited!! 2021 is really the year I’m trying to get back into anime and the wait is getting tough for me…This story is so full of mystery, charm, magic, and that quiet slice-of-life atmosphere that is a very specific niche love of mine, so its no surprise I’m eagerly awaiting the adaptation, add in the magical cooking, potion making, and subtle hints at romance?? The excitement is real

The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent is fantastic introduction to a new isekai series! Featuring a slice of life atmosphere, potions, and great character dynamics, the story hints at more magical adventures to come!

The Fox & Little Tanuki Vol. 1 by Mi Tagawa {Manga Review}

The Fox And The Little Tanuki Vol. 1 by Mi Tagawa (Fox & Tanuki #1)

Publisher: Tokyo Pop

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Pages: 158

Summary: Long ago, the gods granted a few special animals great powers… but not all those animals used their magical abilities for good! Senzou the Fox Spirit in particular grew too brash and arrogant, abusing his strength until the gods imprisoned him for his bad behavior. Three hundred years later, he’s finally been released, but only on one condition– he can’t have his any of his abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become an assistant to the gods.

Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: The Fox & The Little Tanuki is an entertaining manga debut filled with so much heart, following an evil fox spirit whose been awakened and given a second chance with one very important task, raising a tanuki cub to be a servant to the gods! From its fast pace, animated artwork, and compelling story steeped in Japanese mythology, this is a fantastic manga series worth checking out!

Within the space of this of this roughly 150-page manga, Tagawa delivers a clever narrative about redemption, identity, and family in a way all through the lens of a Japanese mythology and folklore.

Senzou is a black fox spirit whose been asleep for 300 years only to be awakened once more by the sun goddess and with wickedness still driving him, he plans on getting vengeance. However, he quickly learns that his current form as a regular fox has practically diminished all his powers and has been given a vital task: He must now take care of a little tanuki and raise it to be a servant of the gods.

To ensure he’s on track, a pearl necklace has been placed on him to inflict pain he caused in his past life whenever he neglects his duties (both emotionally or in a literal sense). Whether he’s too far from the tanuki, tries to avoid the goddess’s orders, or attempts to harm others, the pearls will bring pain.

With nature as a backdrop, the art presents lots of sprawling forests, plants, building a unique world where these creatures live. The series is set in a place between our world and the underworld too. Animals inhabit this world either as servants of the gods, free to roam where the choose, or even in the form of bakemono, those born with special powers.

While Senzou is adamant about caring for the tanuki, which he names Manpachi, he offers him the stark reality of loneliness, duty, and family with creatures like them. As it turns out Manpachi was originally from our world, but because of his abilities as a bakemono he could never create a real attachment to his family and was exiled. With his innocence, Senzou attempts to open his eyes at various moments in this volume, but it’s in Manpachi’s infectious joy that contradicts the possible accuracy of this advice … which also shows the reader, in some ways, they may be more alike than we first realize.

Once they are introduced to their new home, they learn that two wolves (Mikumo and Tachibana) are in charge of keeping an eye on them and giving them different tasks or problems to solve among the gods. The first involves a Zashiki-warishi, a spirit that’s in the form of a child protecting a house, who’s trying to reclaim his home from another god that took over.

Over the course of this first volume Senzou and Manpachi use their opposing natures to find a way to work together and teach each other more about the world. Senzou especially learns a bit more about what it means to care for someone other than himself, letting those sharp, jagged edges slowly diminish through what I hope will be the entirety of the series. That becomes abundantly clear when a mysterious badger known for causing trouble, confronts Senzou and even learns about Manpachi!

I’m loving the origins of the sort of found family that’s presented here! Not only is there Senzou and Manpachi, but there’s also the white fox spirit Koyuki, the bubbly one of the group who also gives them a place to stay. Despite the wolf Mikumo feeling uneasy and overly suspicious of Senzou’s motives, he and Tachibana act as his guide and I’m sure we’ll be seeing them all interact more throughout the various books. I loved the chaotic dynamic this squad has and I’m eager to read the next volume!

Steeped in Japanese folklore and myth, there’s lots of bakemono and spirits we’re introduced to and it’s interesting getting to see the hierarchy of spirits, animals and how they all interact within this world.

Senzou and Manpachi are the LITERAL definition of the grumpy x sunshine dynamic that is so much fun to read! Although there’s lots of mystery surrounding their pasts still, I can see lots of similarities and parallels, which makes their characters even more fascinating while seeing their companionship unfold slowly throughout the volume.

For this manga the artwork is very animated and reads like anime adaptation. It’s very immersive, fast-paced which makes for fun action scenes and presents a very expressive style when it comes to personifying the animal characters, especially in Koykui and Senzou. Also, the covers are done in such a beautiful watercolor style, which first drew me to this series.

There’s lots of messages and themes woven throughout such as family, attempting to learn from past mistakes, allowing the opportunity trust yourself while making room for redemption and second chances. Both Manpachi and Senzou are both getting used to their new roles and have much to learn about each other, but you can see the importance of these themes through their trials and triumphs!

While the pacing and story are fantastic, it can feel like there’s a lot of lore were introduced to a bit quickly because of how fast it is and at times it can feel overwhelming. However, there’s also moments where I just wanted to know more about this world and the hierarchy among the animals. But once you get reading, the story is an absolute delight start to finish!

The Fox & Tanuki Vol. 1 is fun manga series filled with mythology that features a grumpy fox spirit training a cheerful, curious tanuki and turning him into a servant for the gods! An absolute page-turner filled with adventure, humor, mystery, and meaningful messages. Great for those seeking the grumpy-sunshine pairing and looking for a story that’s equal parts fun and heartfelt, with a plot sure to leave you wanting to know more!

Nicola Traveling Around The Demons’ World Vol. 1 by Asaya Miyanaga {Manga Review}

Nicola Traveling Around The Demons’ World Volume 1 by Asaya Miyanaga (Nicola Traveling #1)

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Pages: 176

Available Through Book Depository & Bookshop: Nicola Traveling Around The Demons World Vol. 1

Summary: A World of Magic and Mischief!

Nicola never really felt like she fit in around other humans…so she came to the demons’ world instead! Together with her demon friend Simon, Nicola travels far and wide, meeting many monsters along the way. With Nicola, every day on the road is a new adventure!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Nicola Traveling Around The Demons’ World is a charming, whimsical manga series that evokes the feeling of delightful fairytale. Nicola is a young girl who’s embarking on adventures throughout a strange magical world alongside her demon friend and guide. Miyanaga’s series delivers fun adventures, a magical world with so much heart, clever humor, and is entertaining start to finish!

With an expanse of cities and locations across the Demon World, little Nicola travels with her demon friend Simon where they meet new creatures, find adventure wherever they go, and try to avoid trouble if they can help it!

From it’s opening pages, I knew Nicola would be a fantastic start to my reading year of 2021! Told through a series of episodic chapters, each one takes the reader across various locales of the Demon world. From the threads of humor, varying cast of characters, fairytale-esque art style, and underlying yearn for adventure, this title pitched as one for all ages, is a manga that not only younger readers, but also adults will find absolute whimsy in.

The story begins in the bustling city of Klimburg, where human girl Nicola is accompanied by her demon friend / traveling merchant named Simon. While evading guards for discovering Nicola’s “other-worldly”-ness as a human, they race towards another part of town, leading them to the welcoming Black Bazaar (an underground shopping district) to wait out the guards. During their stay, we learn more about the banter and comedic dynamic the two have, which makes this series a true comedic gem!

From the situational humor, fast-paced jokes, and just underlying threads of comedy that reminds me very much of Spy X Family in a way, the wacky situations Simon and Nicola get into make for an utterly entertaining read.

The episodic nature of this series, especially as a fantasy, allows for the expansive world to build in chunks that the reader can connect to previous chapters and yet also not feel bogged down by a longer running plot. The result is a harmonious blend of magic, whimsy, and humor that transports you. Along the way, this first volumes complies messages of friendship, facing the unknown with a laugh or two, and allowing yourself to find whimsy in the world!

In regards to worldbuilding, there’s various cities and locales that show how expansive the Demon world really is. There’s a tavern, a Count’s mansion, whimsical mushroom forest, mysterious hotel, and a bustling district! A sense of wonder follows you through each chapter as Nicola and Simon encounter magic, new creatures, and get lost in whatever adventure they embark on next.

The demon world upon first hearing can sound like a scary place, but Nicola creates a heartfelt, cozy atmosphere where our young protagonist is making herself more at home with each new chapter.

We also get glimpses into Nicola’s past, her grandmother, and the magic her family had as witches in our world. Although I’m very interested in knowing more, the author gives you just enough to see how it plays an important part in this first volume to establish Nicola’s own magical abilities.

One of my favorite chapters because of how it delved into worldbuilding while not feeling too info-dumpy was chapter two: “Hanging Out At The Tavern.” The Poisson Tavern, an oasis for travelers, becomes the setting for a fun competition between Simon and Nicola when he tells her more about the different species of demons. It not only gave a lot of detail about the different kinds of demons, offering more background, but it also served as another comedic look into their dynamic.

Another chapter that presented more of the particular folklore of the setting was chapter four when the duo treks to a quiet forest in search of a rare mushroom. There’s also “After The Visit” chapters giving nice insight into the characters that Nicola and Simon meet once they’ve moved on to a new place.

What also makes this series a stand-out in the fantasy space are the creative monsters and species it’s established, I loved that attention to detail making the world feel much more unique. There’s the gaboorian, fluff monster, and popay species, they each have their own distinct looks as some of the humanoid creatures of the demon world.

As for artwork, to start the use of brown ink instead of the traditional black just further elevates the whimsical and magical quality of this series. Paying more attention to the paneling, the compact and tight use of the panels gives a personal feel to the setting and cast. There’s a rough inky, scratched line detail to the art allowing it to evoke the idea of having that beloved fairytale quality.

Although very brief, the only reason I’m giving this 4 stars is that I personally felt there could have been just a tiny bit more detail for the setting. There’s lots of information introduced here and although that’s mainly due to it’s episodic nature, I would have loved to get more insight into the surrounding areas or particular section of the demon world to get a better scope of how expansive it is. However despite that, this was a such a great start to a new series.

With the variety of mangas out there, I believe this one is pretty underrated. It’s the kind of series that leaves you with a sense of wonder the moment your thrust into the very page! The clever blend of humor and fantasy makes this a series worth checking out, I’m eager to continue and see where our comedic duo heads to next.

Nicola Traveling Around The Demon’s World Vol. 1 spins a delightful comedic, fantasy adventure following the adventures of girl and a demon merchant, who happens to be her friend and guide! An utterly immersive start to magical series. For those who enjoy magical adventures packed with humor and whimsy, don’t miss this series!

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow by Matoko Hagino (Tropical Fish #2)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2

Summary: From the moment they met at the Aquarium Club’s open house, Konatsu has admired Koyuki and treated her like she wasn’t a distant figure on a pedestal. In turn, Koyuki has been open and welcoming to the new girl who stirs her heart.

When the time comes to pick a club, Konatsu chooses the Aquarium Club with Koyuki. And even though it’s just the two of them, they manage to host a successful open house. What’s next for Koyuki and Konatsu, now that the shared experience has deepened the bond between them?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 2 follows Konatsu and Koyuki as the story builds on their wholesome friendship and navigates their introspective feelings as they continue to deepen their bond! This character-driven, page-turning story is propelled by the girls start to summer vacation with much on their minds. A quiet, slice-of-life manga sure to captivate!

Without a doubt after falling completely in love with Tropical Fish Vol. 1 I had to continue this series! There’s a poetic beauty to it as new girl in town Konatsu and aquarium club leader Koyuki find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other, like a wave upon a shore. They both are navigating this underlying loneliness, their feelings for one another and in this volume, keep each other in their thoughts.

As the aquarium open house comes to a close, Konatsu worries about her well-being as Koyuki, in reality, is trying to keep her feelings hidden. Konatsu, in her pursuit to help during the open house, is told from Koyuki’s father that the best she can do is just be there for her (the frog/salamander bread scene was too wholesome).

Unsure of how to communicate her complex feelings about Konatsu, Koyuki seems to struggle to further strengthen their friendship in the beginning, which leads to some moments of miscommunication between them. However, Koyuki takes the chance to invite Konatsu during their summer break to Aoshima (aka Nekojima / Cat Island) for a club trip, with much anxiety about asking for her number too! That led to this very funny line that I just have to share from Konatsu: “I’d call her anytime…but I don’t actually know her number!!!” (52).

During the trip, they go fishing, get caught in the rain, have some longing glances, and run into lots of cats! It was a very sweet chapter seeing them together and it just warmed my heart. I was very much just along for the ride in this volume and loved how every moment they have together (or apart), carries so much depth to each scene.

As the Summer Festival approaches, Koyuki struggles with the guilt of trying to ask Konatsu while not wanting to be unfair to those she turned down before. This leads to her assuming that because Konatsu and Kaede hung out, she’s no longer available. Although this volume leaned towards some miscommunication, this series adds more to it by navigating their girls reflections or inner dialogue as their feelings drive a particular scene.

Kaede is another character who gets a little more development too which I loved! In fact, I adore this main girl squad and can’t wait to see their friendship continue to grow. She’s very bubbly, outgoing, a bit blunt at times, however she’s always there to lend an ear. When Konatsu can’t stop thinking about Koyuki during their afternoon together, Kaede steps in to offer advice as Konatsu expresses she feels like she’s annoying Koyuki with her texts. Kaede is incredibly supportive, taking her right to Koykui’s house to solve it.

Once everything is cleared up, Koykui and Konatsu agree to go together (with both their dads joining too). But one scene that further presented the loneliness the girls are navigating throughout the series was when Koyuki shares that she admires Konatsu’s strength. However, Konatsu begins to sink back into that quiet, empty space thinking their isn’t anything particularly special about herself. As the two of them get split up because of an upcoming fireworks display, Konatsu can’t get a certain question off her mind: Why did Koyuki speak to Konatsu randomly at the open house the day they met? [More context is given early on in this volume, but seeing that come full circle finally in the end was nice and I’m hoping Koyuki will finally say (or even hint) at how she feels].

Hagino’s quiet, slice of life atmosphere really gives a calm, simplicity to the series that’s also very thought-provoking too. It’s seen especially in the personal moments that Koyuki or Konatsu reflect on their feelings or internal loneliness.

As with the first volume, I just love the artwork and how it really allows those quiet moments to stay with the reader through every page. The frog/salamander symbolism makes a return, but it’s definitely a little more in the background as the metaphorical elements are more hinted at throughout this volume. Honestly, every close scene they have together is very emotional, moving, and I just can’t wait to see their relationship develop throughout the series (though I’ve seen that it is *very slowburn).

There’s nothing I didn’t like about this volume honestly, it’s more about the plot and it just feels like a 4.5 rating! Although, this series has truly captured my heart and made a mess of my life only two volumes in, Koyuki and Konatsu are just very much in need of some hugs!! ❤

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a fantastic, but also underrated manga series with lots of depth, two very complex protagonists, and a slow-burn romance that will keep you reading! As Koyuki and Konatsu spend more time together, they continue to navigate their feelings for each other! An absolute gem of a manga series!

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino {Manga Review}

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Vol. 1 by Makoto Hagino

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: November 12, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow Volume 1

Summary: When her dad gets a job overseas, Konatsu Amano has to leave the Tokyo life she’s always known and relocate to a small seaside town to stay with her aunt. The move also means starting a new school surrounded by complete strangers, and it’s a lot to handle for a girl who has trouble with change. But on her first day in her new town, Konatsu is instantly drawn to Koyuki, an older girl who is the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Konatsu’s introverted tendencies are hard for her to overcome, but maybe she’s found something worth coming out of her shell for?

Konatsu is doing her best to adapt to her new school, but being required to join a club has introduced additional pressures. Her friendly classmate Kaede invites her to join the Home Ec Club, but Konatsu hasn’t even had time to consider which club she’s interested in. Meanwhile, Koyuki is like a ray of sunshine in Konatsu’s cloudy world. Will Konatsu join the Aquarium Club?

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a charming, slice-of-life manga debut that follows the bond between two girls who go to the same school in a seaside town! Their instant connection makes for a wholesome, sweet story as the relationship grows with each page! Featuring much SLOWBURN and YEARNING, this is a fantastic start to a new series!

A quiet, seaside town, a chance encounter at a school aquarium, and two girls who are in their own ways…lonely. This is the beginning of A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow, easily one of my new favorite manga series!!

Konatsu Amano moves to Nagahama to live with her aunt after her father gets a job overseas. However, Konatsu can’t let go of this loneliness that’s buried within her. But, when she sees her new high school with an open house for its aquarium, she finds herself instantly drawn to Koyuki Honatsu, the club’s leader and only member.

There’s a comforting, almost delicate, gentle bond that forms between these two girls and that exact feeling unfurls throughout the various layers of this story from its art style, character dynamics, themes, and underlying romance. It’s beautiful & although it seems like a very simple story, Hagino’s masterful execution is anything but that.

As Konatsu tries to drift among the current of her new life at school, she can’t help but feel those tides shift whenever she sees or hears about Koyuki! There’s such intense emotion that’s woven throughout the entirety of this first volume and it’s in a way, poetic?

The reader is left with a sense of melancholy, but also bountiful feeling of joy seeing these two girls continue to bond and navigate the emotions they feel for each other.

As each student is required to join a club, Konatsu wonders whether joining Koyuki’s Aquarium Club is a good idea (with her feelings for Koyuki only continuing to build) as her other classmate Hirose, recommends the Home Ec. club. The author brilliantly delves into the inner complexities of our heroines, the complicated emotions they have for one another, and the underlying sense of loneliness.

Konatsu instantly finds a friend in Hirose, the bubbly, extroverted classmate who gets her to see the aquarium in the first place! She’s just a really fun character and seeing Konatsu’s inner conflict with wondering whether to accept or decline her offer to join Hirose in the Home Ec club turned out to be very funny. I can’t wait to see all 3 of these girls bond even more over the next volumes!

Hagino builds such a fascinating, unique slice-of-life school atmosphere through Nanahama High School, not only through its minimal details, but also by emphasizing the importance of clubs! The inclusion of having club involvement be mandatory for students just added to the distinct atmosphere of Nanahama.

Now the ROMANCE is very slowburn, but also achingly soft and sweet. The tiniest moments really capture an entire scene whether its small hand holds, sharing food, or just the longing gazes. This SAPPHIC romance has really gone under the radar and hopefully my review inspires you to pick up this series!

There’s such wonderful imagery and metaphors woven throughout Vol. 1, especially when it comes to salamanders, which becomes the foundation for the girls’ dynamic! Masuji Ibuse’s “Salamander” to a salamander in the aquarium club from the very first pages, even to Konatsu calling it by Koyuki’s name, represents the desire for these two to escape the cold, loneliness they feel.

At its heart, its such a beautiful message about the two allowing each other to escape when they feel trapped and isolated. Though Koyuki feels more of a weight from expectations from those around her and in turn, she never really feels understood. All the details about marine life are beautifully woven in as well, very much looking forward to see how the author develops it!

One of my favorite moments between them was on page 36 when the aquatic background takes over the scene as they hold hands at the beach! We see how much Konatsu and Koyuki mean to each other with every moment their on page together (or even just thinking about one another), its very cute!! ❤

The budding relationship between Konatsu and Koyuki is not only delicate and gentle, but also brilliantly captivating in how it navigates emotion, yearning, just…all those layered feelings!

Story-wise although its definitely slower-paced, its very character-driven, which in turn draws you into all these other captivating elements of the story because of how wonderfully developed they are. The writing is also very good and I can count many beautiful lines that show the deep, inner feelings the girls had for each other.

The artwork is wonderful, allowing for a slow, introspective view of the story. Its in the detail of the characters, expressions, alongside the backgrounds, that bring so much to each scene. The inclusion of the aquatic elements like the ocean, marine animals, etc., all add to that special world that these two have carved for themselves and its really beautiful. I’d even say through moments where the animals around them seem more animated or a salamander appears on their shoulders/near by, uses an element of magical realism/fabulism to convey the importance of their inner voices.

If you take anything away from this review, its that you should definitely pick up this series and get carried away by its remarkable story! Tropical Fish has easily become one of my new favorite manga series, Konatsu and Koyuki have captured my heart!!

Despite the 4.5 star rating, this is a 5-star series ABSOLUTELY!! I think its just wanting a bit more to our characters in this first volume, but despite that I adored it so much!

A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow is a fantastic yuri manga series filled with a slow-burn, heartwarming romance, wonderful main heroines, unique school setting, gorgeous symbolism, and an immersive story you won’t be able to put down!

Like This YA Book? Read This Manga! {Blog Discussion}

After making this tweet about manga and Young Adult Books, even a recent thread involving a certain manga in the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2020, I felt it was finally time to share a highly anticipated post:

If you like this Young Adult Book, read this Manga!

Manga is a very well-known medium, but it can seem like it sometimes isn’t widely discussed as it could be on our side of the book internet. Also, as mentioned above, with a particular *newly released manga being the only GR selection among many that’ve exploded in the world of manga publishing, well I just had to create this list! While I’m very much not an expert on all the fantastic manga series out there, my goal is to inspire you to check out some of these truly extraordinary titles!

If you like SIX OF CROWS, read Spy X Family by Tatsua Endo

Why: Six Of Crows is well known for its group of misfits banding together and slowly growing into a tight-knight family. While at the same time it features a complex cast of characters that are continuing to grow amid the trauma they’ve carried with them, because of that you would love Spy X Family!

With its very unique concept, this series follows a genius spy who needs to create a fake family in order to complete his mission of keeping peace between two rival countries. Now a spy, telepath, and assassin are living together, and each carries their own secrets. There’s brilliant comedy, a phenomenal cast of characters, and an entertaining plot you won’t be able to put down!

For those who also appreciate the clever, ruthless, mastermind who will do whatever he needs to in order to get the job done, while simultaneously unleashing a monstrous side if those he loves are in peril, then Kaz Brekker stans you need to meet Loid Forger from Spy X Family.

Similar to Six Of Crows, if you enjoy the dark, corrupt intrigue of the world, dysfunctional found family dynamics, and a page-turning story, well then Spy X Family should definitely be on your to-read list.

Some of the genius tropes you can expect in this series include literal FOUND FAMILY, marriage of convenience, and more! Two volumes in and this manga truly gets better with each one.

If you like I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, read Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi

Why: When I reflect on I’ll Give You The Sun, something that will always stick with me was the intense focus on art. Similarly with Blue Period, the main character Yatora becomes consumed by the passion of painting.

The metaphorical imagery, whether its in Nelson’s writing or Yamaguchi’s artwork reminded me of the other, so that’s why I’d recommend reading Blue Period if you remember the realistic intensity to the twins Jude and Noah.

I haven’t read Blue Period yet, but the artwork is incredibly stunning and based on the summary the character journeys are very much reminiscent of each other, so I recommend checking it out!

If you like CRIER’S WAR, read A Tropical Fish Yearns For Snow by Makoto Hagino

Why: Having just finished Tropical Fish, it gave me major Crier’s War vibes because at its heart, it has a SAPPHIC romance that’s filled with lots of slow-burn and yearning! Without spoiling too much, both of these series showcase the intense emotion that our main protagonists feel because in reality, Crier x Ayla and Konatsu x Koyuki, are the only ones that truly understand each other on a deeper level.

In both series, the worldbuilding plays a major role in how our protagonists are able to interact! In Crier’s War, the element of the Automae has created a divide which leads Ayla to immersing herself in Crier’s world. Where in the contemporary setting of Tropical, the school’s mandatory rule for students to join a club leads new student Konatsu to connect more with aquarium club member Koyuki as both girls are instantly drawn to each other!

There’s a poetic beauty to each of these books through the writing, the yearning, and metaphorical way of looking at the stories! Each couple navigates their own loneliness and weight of responsibility, but deep down, its about the way love can allow them to grow!

If you like Every Heart A Doorway, read Restaurant To Another World by Junpei Inuzuka

Why: Despite the major differences between these books, I think the “portal fantasy” idea is what makes Restaurant a perfect read-alike if you enjoy the Wayward Children Series!

Haven’t finished this one yet either, but where you learn about the different worlds across McGuire’s books, Restaurant takes you to multiple within a single novel as it follows a restaurant in Tokyo that connects to many different places, as the reader meets all the unique guests that make their way to “Western Cuisine Nekoya.”

Where both books are also very similar is the focus on characters apart from their own world and what brings them to another magical place! An additional fun comparison: they both have magical doors!! (*Note: Every Heart A Doorway is the only SFF title on this list, however the rest of it has been YA).

That concludes my Part 1 of my “Like this? Read That!” Series! Very much looking forward to creating a Part 2 of this sometime in the future because although this list took quite a bit of work (and I’m just remembering tons of books I completely forgot), there’s honestly such a variety of manga series out there that deserve recognition too! ☄✨

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to pick up some of these titles and lets chat about them in the comments! Have you read any of these manga titles or will you be adding them to your TBR? 📚🎉

Spy X Family Vol. 2 by Tatsuya Endo {Manga Review}

Spy X Family Vol. 2 by Tatsuya Endo (Spy X Family #2)

Publisher: Viz Media

Release Date: September 1, 2020

Available Through The Book Depository: Spy X Family Volume 2

Summary: Master spy Twilight is unparalleled when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions for the betterment of the world. But when he receives the ultimate assignment—to get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!

Twilight must infiltrate the prestigious Eden Academy to get close to his target Donovan Desmond, but has he ruined his daughter Anya’s chances with his outburst during the admissions interview? Perhaps the truly impossible mission this time is making sure Anya both becomes an exemplary student and befriends Donovan’s arrogant son Damian! 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Spy X Family is one of the most brilliant manga debuts of 2020! This dark, comedic, entertaining series follows a FAKE FAMILY consisting of a spy, telepath, and assassin that each have their own secrets! The mission continues as the Forger family gets a coveted spot in a prestigious academy! This dynamic, action-packed series is propelled by clever humor, phenomenal storytelling, and a stellar cast of characters!

Twilight has been tasked with creating a fake family as part of an elaborate mission to keep the unsteady truce between neighboring countries Westalis and Ostania! Now, his family includes himself (a master spy), but also a telepath daughter and assassin wife! However, each has continued to keep their identities a secret from each other.

This volume follows Anya’s entrance into Eden Academy as the Forgers continue to adjust in their roles as a found family. However, as Loid (Twilight) does his best to carry on the mission in the background he quickly realizes his next step to get closer to his target means Anya will have to befriend his spoiled son Damian!

The plot allows for introductions to some new characters (Damian, Handler, + Yuri) and hilarious hijinks for the Forger family! The comedy brilliantly woven throughout this series makes for so many unexpected plot points you never see coming. There’s mystery, action, high stakes and tons of humor, you won’t be able to put this book down.

While Anya tries adjust to school, she not only wants to do her best for her family, but also continues to use her telepathy (and fighting skills she learned from Yor) to survive the first few days. Its so wonderful seeing Anya make a new friend, Becky and one of the funniest side plots was seeing Loid go undercover to get Anya to apologize to Damian once it was clear they didn’t get along in the beginning, for the sake of the mission. Very interested in seeing the Anya, Becky and Damian dynamic in future volumes too!

While Yor wasn’t given as much page-time this volume, I utterly adored every moment she was in. Seeing her unwavering support to Anya and Loid was so beautiful to read, in fact here was one of my favorite lines between them in Volume 2: “You’re being a wonderful father to that girl…But again, what do I know? It’s not exactly my place”…(Loid): “No Yor. It’s exactly your place…I rely on you to be everything I am not…” (120-121).

Also, seeing Yor beat up a group of people trying to hurt Anya, then teaching her how to fight was a highlight of this volume tbh, especially since early on in the volume Yor talks about wanting to continue being a good mother to mind-reader Anya.

The stakes heighten in different ways, which mixed together with the perfectly-timed comedic moments, make this manga not only entertaining but leave you on the edge of your seat as you continue to immerse yourself in the Forger’s chaotic lives!

Twilight, Anya, and Yor have captured my heart just 2 volumes in, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! 💕

As with the first volume, the espionage motifs and references continue to build such a distinct atmosphere and world throughout this series. From the telephone booth transport, Twilight’s disguises, and a hilarious moment about overspending the operations budget, its so easy to immerse yourself in this intriguing, captivating world!

The artwork continues to be detailed, making each character and their motives distinct. From the action to the setting, characters, etc., it really builds on the exaggeration, humor, and tone perfectly crafted to match each panel.

There’s just something that’s keeping this series at a 4 for me, but rating aside this series is utterly BRILLIANT and you should read it while it still only has a couple volumes. As I’m sure many other Spy X Family readers can predict, this series will continue to get better and better, I just know it!

Spy X Family Vol. 2 is a stellar sequel that reunites readers with the hilarious hijinks of the Forger family! The dynamic cast of characters, fantastic artwork, witty humor, and page-turning story are just some of the many reasons you should hop on the bandwagon while its still in its first volumes! This series succeeds in so many ways and you don’t want to miss it!

I’m also planning some manga recommendation lists, so keep an eye out for those during the next few months! 😌💞

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 by Kamome Shirahama {Manga Review}

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 by Kamome Shirahama (Witch Hat Atelier #6)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Pages: 176

Available Through The Book Depository: Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6

Summary: Coco and her peers follow Olruggio and Luluci as they deftly ferry a wounded Qifrey to the underwater Great Hall where witches gather. To their surprise, Beldaruit of the Three Wise Ones awaits the young apprentices at the bottom of the ocean… And he’s willing to offer another trial after Agott’s and Richeh’s was cut short. But the spells and tests of Beldaruit are as much a mystery to unfold as his past, and Coco may be the only one who can put the pieces together and close in on the startling truth…

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Witch Hat Atelier Volume 6 takes the witches to a new location and gives them the opportunity to work together! The plot is fast-paced, the underlying mystery, and intriguing cast of characters make this series an absolute delight with each volume!

I’ve reviewed every volume of this series on my blog, except for Volume 5! I think that one was more of a quicker paced volume wrapping up the witches trial through Serpentback Cave and honestly I just couldn’t really put my thoughts together for that particular one. However Volume 6 leads the crew to a community hub for witches, located in the depths of the ocean. As with every volume in this series, I’m always left wanting to know what happens to the characters next!

Qifrey is badly injured and the witches take a much needed break as their summoned to The Great Hall by one of “The Three Wise Ones” (powerful witches of their time), Coco, Agott, Tetia, and Richeh realize they’ve been given a chance to retake their second test!

Lord Beldaruit is a quirky kind of character and he gives the girls a task to use their magic to surprise him! With only a few days to do so, they make a couple attempts and then brainstorm other ideas on what can surprise this wise magician!

Olruggio on the other hand, is left to explain to the knights what happened, while also keeping some things a secret as Qifrey is recovering. His chapters (though short) were really great because some of the Knights are still a bit of a mystery and have secrets of their own. A Knight named Utowin warns Olruggio of keeping information, with the signs hinting at danger on the horizon!

Agott continues to be one of the more mysterious witches of the atelier and I loved that there was a bit of glimpse into her past too!! When young witches from her childhood try to spread rumors, it really brought out a more self-conscious side of her this section specifically. But, I just loved how confident Coco was in their friendship despite Agott’s ambitious nature and apprehensiveness towards her! You really see their friendship make strides in this volume, especially when they decide to team-up. There’s also some hints as to Qifrey’s past I did not see coming!

Overall, I love how this volume gave more page time to see the girls work together! Coco and Agott really were the stars of this volume, but I was kind of bummed that Richeh was kind of left in the background. However, I also loved that this volume took more of a quiet route while still developing the world and intrigue of the series so far!

The magic system and world as a whole, continues to build over each volume with every new detail. It paints an even more complex picture of how magic works (like in this volume there’s a bit of spell mixing), the unique creatures that live there, and just how unique each setting is. From the major to tiniest of details, they all add to the wonder and vastness of the setting like the frog-fish, the fact that the Hall is underwater, the palmdragon teacup, and even the merging of spells, they all really stood out to me in this volume. With how the world was explored in this one, it’s kind of made it a special volume in its own way!

However although there’s so much love I have for this series, I did rate it at a 4 which left me pretty surprised. But, I think its mainly because my writer brain was easily picking up on little hints as to certain plot points or details that were sprinkled throughout the volume. While this isn’t a filler volume in the slightest, it does have a more leisurely pace to it.

What really stood out to me when it comes to the artwork in this volume was the backgrounds, especially since we’re traveling to a new location and get more of a bustling atmosphere in this one. The little nooks of the Great Hall were a lot of fun to explore and hopefully the witches will be making a return! Overall, I’m SO excited to see where the story goes from here, because those last few pages…WOW!

Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 6 is character-driven, immersive, and hints at more secrets to be uncovered in future volumes! The setting and story really propel this volume forward and leave you wanting to know what happens next! Despite the slower pacing and self-contained feel to this volume, Shirahama continues to build such a compelling world with even more complex characters in this series with each installment!

My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom! Vol. 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka {Manga Review}

My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom! Volume 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: August 6, 2019

Pages: 230

Available Through The Book Depository: My Next Life As A Villainess Vol. 1

Summary: A high school girl is stunned to find herself reincarnated as the conniving villainess from her favorite dating sim game, Fortune Lover. Now, as Catarina Claes, the impossibly rich and spoiled daughter of a Duke, her new life seems to perfectly sync up with the world of the game. This means big trouble! No matter how the game turned out, there were only two fates for Catarina: exile or death!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: My Next Life As Villainess is an utterly brilliant manga series that follows Katarina whose reborn into the villain of an otome game and now, she’s trying to avoid her doom at all costs! The comedic, page-turning story is driven not only by humor, but also it’s refreshing plot that at its core, is about friendship!

What first drew me to this series was the concept!! A villainess whose trying to avoid her destruction at all costs? Little did I know it would end up being an Isekai (following a character who gets transported to another world/universe). I recently started watching the anime because its been on my to-watch list and its seriously been phenomenal (I’m obsessed), so I had to check out the manga.

Katarina Claes from page 1 has now realized she had a past-life as a modern-day 17-year-old and has now been transported into an otome called “Fortune Hunter,” where she’s currently the villain of the series at 8 yrs. old, but the problem is, all her storylines lead to destruction! When she regains some memory of her past life, she records everything she can about the story, characters, and its fantasy world of royals and nobility to start working on a plan (at only 8 yrs!!) to prevent any possibilities of her execution or death!

There’s dukes, princes, royalty of all kinds, and as Katarina not only builds up her strength through magic and combat, she finds that her main plan is to befriend her future enemies to change her fate! It wasn’t until I revisited the story as a manga that I ultimately realized, Katarina is not only befriending and helping the royals around her, but she’s even helping them overcome insecurities. Its just refreshing to see in a fantasy setting, not only the incredibly genius comedy, but also the underlying concept of friendship.

Yamaguchi and Hidaka tell a brilliant story where they understand their audience. Because of that, the reader becomes so self-aware of the tropes being introduced, and yet it’s almost effortlessly subverted or interwoven with a comedic moment of Katarina slipping up in her royal status, or using her knowledge of the “capture targets” to her advantage. In her efforts to evade all doom, it leaves the reader wanting to know more and immersed in her journey even more than when it began!

Also, just seeing Katarina act like a normal person in this world makes for so many hilarious moments!

She meets her adopted brother Keith, Mary (an introverted noblewoman whose ignored, or bullied by her older sisters), Prince Jerod (Katarina’s fiance), and his brother Prince Alan. There’s also Sophia and Nicol, who are children of the prime minister. Katarina not only befriends all of them, but also starts mysteriously taking over romance lines or moments from them before the game has officially even begun!

Friendship is such an important and underlying driving force of this series and its just refreshing to see this as a main focus (mixed with comedy) in a YA Fantasy setting! Katarina builds such deep bonds with royals and nobles she meets, despite all the hilarious situations. Although she understands she’s the villain, she works to evade it as much as she can to live a comfortable life, not only by taking up sword fighting, but also taking up gardening to improve her magic.

I truly believe a story of this caliber truly shines as an animated series. While the book is just as fun and revisiting it allowed me to remember some plot points I may have forgotten, the anime does make it more fast-paced and offers those little layers of intrigue and mystery into the story. The anime is a crafty amalgamation of inverting tropes, humor, and at its core, is something you would gladly invest hundreds of hours into to see what happens next!

Hidaka’s art style makes each character stand out and they all have their own unique designs. There were some wonderful pages with details to the background, FOOD, setting, and so on that make the world come to life! While the magic is a common elemental-based system, there’s little details like dirt dolls, Katarina improving her magic through gardening, that gives it unique and comedic twists! However for the most part, there really hasn’t been too much magic showcased, but I’m eager to learn more about it through the other characters.

I’m very much invested to see where the story is headed (I’m actually already on Vol. 2 story-wise in the anime). Katarina is an incredibly funny, at times dense, but amazing protagonist, so I’m looking forward to what happens with all her new friends and the main heroine of “Fortune Hunter,” Maria!

My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead To Doom Vol. 1 is great introduction to a unique, entertaining series in the Isekai genre! There’s a dynamic cast of characters, meaningful exploration of friendship, some intrigue, but its above all a tale brimming with comedy you won’t be able to put down! This is genius series and I highly recommend it!

Satoko And Nada Vol. 3 by Yupechika {Manga Review}

Satoko And Nada Vol. 3 by Yupechika (Satoko & Nada #3)

Publisher: Seven Seas

Release Date: June 16, 2020

Pages: 128

Available Through The Book Depository: Satoko And Nada Vol. 3

Summary: Abdullah, the mysterious young man who might marry Nada one day, is suddenly in America?! Satoko and her friends (not to mention Nada’s broter are in a panic, unsure if they should tell Nada or just stall the guy until he leaves. When it comes to Nada’s future, the people who love her will do whatever it takes to make her happy!

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Satoko And Nada continues to be one of the best contemporary manga series out there! Following the adventures of 2 women who continue their university studies in the US, this series is told through 4-panel pages that delve into the daily lives of two best friends and as they learn more about each other’s cultures! Satoko And Nada is a must-read series!

I think Satoko And Nada is one of those manga’s that’s gone under the radar and more people should be reading it! Where this series absolutely excels is how it delves deep into the topic of friendship and balancing the character relationships/dynamics. If you have yet to read these fantastic books, my recent tweet sums up why its so great!

For those who haven’t had the chance to read this series it follows two university students (Satoko who’s Japanese and Nada who’s Saudi Arabian) as they study abroad in the US and after becoming roommates, they instantly click and become the best of friends. Every volume explores new adventures and features wholesome moments as they learn more about not only American culture, but each others!

As with previous volumes, this series continues its 4-panel style storytelling that presents tons of slice of life moments that happen in Satoko and Nada’s day to day schedules. The main plot for this volume follows Nada’s husband-to-be, Abdullah, who comes for a visit as Satoko attempts to stall and protect Nada, unsure of how to bring up the conversation while knowing how focused she is on her studies.

What made this story arc one of the best was seeing how it not only delves into discussing how Nada and Abdullah have their own busy schedules outside of their arrangement, getting both of their perspectives on it. Also how they are respectful of each other’s personal goals and despite being distant, still find ways to stay in touch. In addition, this really highlights the deep bond both ladies have for each other when Nada learns Satoko was only trying to protect her and respect her space before introducing her to her fiance Abdullah.

Another highlight of this series is that each volume continuously shows that each of them are still learning about each other’s cultures and having fun doing so. Focusing more on Nada’s culture we learn more about abaya care, hijabs, agals, henna, and much more!

I also enjoyed that this volume had a variety of different adventures that they get into: shopping together, being part of Miracle’s volunteer fair, having a snow day, however nearing the end Satoko has her own page time for solo adventures too.

Friendship is a core piece of this series that makes for such heartfelt and memorable moments in this volume specifically, especially as its leading up to the final volume (*sob 😭💞). I had tons of favorite pages from Volume 3: ‘Someone To Rely On’ was one the most impactful and wholesome pages, ‘Did I Pray?,’ ‘Snow,’ ‘Luck,’ and ‘Second Home.’ These were just some of the pages that showcased their lovely dynamic and the wonderful friendship that they share.

What definitely stood out to me was because its also prepping for the finale, I just found myself remembering more of these pages and appreciating the heartfelt moments where they specifically state how much their friendship means to each of them. Despite being from different countries, they’ve really made a new home for themselves in the US and cherish their relationship so much. Page 82 summed it up perfectly: “You know this is our second homeland. If you couldn’t go back to Japan for some reason, I would come here to get you…”

The 4-panel manga gives the story a unique opportunity to place our main characters in tons of different situations and moments that make for really well-timed humor. Because we get to know Satoko, Nada, Miracle, Kevin, Rahman, and Abdullah fairly quickly, it allows this novel to focus more on the plot and various 1-page acts. The dialogue is great and the distinct art-style really sets the series apart.

There’s definitely more cohesive story arcs that build over Volume 3 and its more impactful, which is why I rated this one a 4.5 compared to the last volume. However, I did want even more Satoko and Nada page time together, especially with their friends Kevin and Miracle (because these two did feel a bit distant).

This series could go on for 100 volumes and I wouldn’t mind. I’m still emotionally preparing myself for the last volume because, you know that feeling when a book just connects with you on a deep level and you can’t really explain why? That’s what reading this series is like! I’m right there with Satoko and Nada on all their adventures and every volume just leaves you smiling and full of joy!!

If I were to pitch this series and explain why it needs more attention, I’d say it follows the fantastic adventures of Japanese and Saudi Arabian hijabi Muslim exchange students who become the best of friends! It feels like the book community is also usually on the lookout for more college-set YA stories that focus on FRIENDSHIP and I definitely believe this series deserves so much love and support (PLEASE read it if you get the chance, its so wonderful) ❤❤

Satoko And Nada Vol. 3 focuses more on the slice-of-life moments as it balances humor, deeply interwoven theme of friendship, and features many vignette-style plot points that keep you reading! Delving into the beauty of deep friendship bonds and exploration of culture, Satoko And Nada is an utterly brilliant manga series that will capture your heart from page 1!