Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Everyday Misadventures!, Volume 1

Book Info

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Everyday Misadventures!, Volume 1
  • Format: manga
  • Story: FUNA and Itsuki Akata
  • Art: Yuki Moritaka
  • Translator: Diana Taylor
  • Adaptation: Julia Kinsman
  • Letterer: Simone Harrison
  • Publisher: Seven Seas

Review

The title for the original light novel series Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! obviously wasn’t unwieldy enough, as here is its spinoff manga, subtitled Everyday Misadventures!

In format, the book is mostly a fairly standard 4-koma in both content and panel design (though there are times it breaks out into a more traditional panel format too).

Where the original novels focus on the bigger events in the adventuring party’s lives, we get to see here a number of fun, smaller adventures. These range from finding a lost cat, to selling vases, to fishing. Each chapter is a standalone story; there’s no overarching story going through the volume, nor are there any firm ties to specific events from the novels. (Unlike, say, the Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid spinoffs.)

The book assumes the reader is already familiar with the characters; it doesn’t make any effort to introduce them, and to a certain extent they’re reduced to well-known quirks readers would be familiar with. Some of these work well, like Pauline’s love of money; others, not so much. (Namely, the heavy play given to Mile’s interest in beast girls comes across as creepy, if you’re not already familiar with her and know she’s a more well-rounded character.)

Summary

If you’re not already reading the Abilities Average novels, start there instead. But for fans of the novels, Everyday Misadventures is a fun set of side stories. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

How Do We Relationship?, Volume 2

Book Info

How Do We Relationship?, Vol. 2
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Tamifull
  • Translator: Abby Lehrke
  • Letterer: Joanna Estep
  • Publisher: Viz Media

Review

Volume 2 of How Do We Relationship? picks up right from where the first volume left off, with the protagonists Saeko and Miwa in bed together for the first time. As you probably expect if you’ve read the first volume, it’s not an instant success; Miwa’s inexperience makes her hesitant. But they’re able to talk and work things out like partners.

Now that Saeko and Miwa are in a good place with each other, though, they now need to figure out how to interact with others. Unfortunately, while they’ve come out to their band, they still hesitate with their fellow students. They feel that society as a whole won’t be as accepting of their lesbian relationship as they should be. So while Saeko and Miwa have figured out how to relationship in private, now they’re trying to figure out how to relationship in public.

Unfortunately, the couple’s efforts to hide in public end up putting strain on their private relationship as well. “Lack of communication” is becoming something of a recurring problem for Saeko and Miwa. Which… is realistic.

(The two characters have a fourth-wall breaking “Commentary Track” comic at the end. It makes some salient points about Saeko’s approach to relationship troubles – I hope we see that come to roost in the main story in the future.)

The characters’ beliefs about how society at large will handle their lesbian relationship are unfortunate but believable. The copyright page indicates that this came out in Japan in 2019, so this is a relatively recent story. I’d like to think the characters’ fears aren’t as applicable to Western society – but I can’t speak through experience either way.

Once again, Viz rates the book as “Teen Plus”. That seems fair, if not slightly low. The first chapter is where most of the goods are, so if you’re uncertain about suitability, finding an online preview should give a good idea.

Summary

This time the ending isn’t a point of any particular note for the relationship itself – more a pause than anything else. But that’s fitting for what the manga is about. I’d like to see Saeko and Miwa get better about proactively communicating, to try to head off their worst problems at the pass; but they’re still learning how to relationship, so I can forgive them. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

How Do We Relationship, Vol. 1

Book Info

How Do We Relationship?, Vol. 1
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Tamifull
  • Translator: Abby Lehrke
  • Letterer: Joanna Estep
  • Publisher: Viz Media

Review

How Do We Relationship? is unusual for romantic manga: by the end of the first chapter, one of the two main characters (Saeko) has confessed to the other one (Miwa). Normally the relationship is the end goal of the story. Here instead the relationship is the story: we get to see the two main characters figure out what a romantic relationship, especially a lesbian one, looks like.

(You’d be forgive if this reminds you of Fly Me to the Moon. However, Relationship is a much more serious take. And also lacks a fantastical backstory for the characters.)

As might be expected from her having confessed first, Saeko is the more outgoing of the pair. Her first time meeting Miwa, she blurted out the rather base “Whoaa… that’s some mad cleavage!” Fortunately, they still ended up becoming friends. Eventually they end up admitting to the other that they’re lesbians, leading to Saeko asking Miwa out.

This is Miwa’s first real relationship – and Saeko isn’t terribly experienced either, despite both being in college – so the two of them are figuring out together just what a relationship looks like. The rest of the book sees the pair slowly growing closer together. They go on dates, they learn more about the other. They even hit some speed bumps, mostly due to inexperience, but they get through them.

By the end of the volume, they’ve gotten more comfortable talking about each other with what they want, and have been able to work through their problems so far. But, like any real relationship, there’s no happily ever after – the pair’s relationship will be an ongoing process, not an end. I look forward to reading more in future volumes.

I should note that Viz rates the book as “Teen Plus”, which sounds right to me. While the art is perfectly tame, there is some frank discussion of sex. As such, this book probably isn’t suitable for younger readers. (But then, I doubt anybody not ready for the book would be interested in a romance-focused title like this anyways!)

Summary

How Do We Relationship? is a good exception to the typical romantic manga fare. It’s great to see a romance that’s about the romance, and not just a prelude to it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kokoro Connect, Volume 11: Precious Time

Book Info

Kokoro Connect, Volume 11: Precious Time
  • Format: novel
  • Author: Sadanatsu Anda
  • Cover Artist: Shiromizakana
  • Translator: Molly Lee
  • Publisher: J-Novel Club

Review

While Kokoro Connect‘s ongoing story was brought to a close with the two-part Asu Random, there’s still one more volume to go in the series. Precious Time serves as an epilogue to the entire series, showing us snapshots from the CRC’s senior members’ third year

“The Rina Report” – The first story focuses on Rina, Taichi’s younger sister who had a part to play in the events of Asu Random. She finally gets to meet the rest of the CRC – including Taichi’s girlfriend, Inaba. As with the first story in Step Time, it’s a good reminder of our characters, but not much of consequence happens.

“Couples’ Battle Royale” – Fujishima, up to her usual hijinks as the Love Guru, creates a new school event nominally as a celebration of two teachers’ upcoming wedding (following up on the CRC getting them together back in Clip Time). The idea is to get couples from the school to compete, in events of their choosing.

Once again I think that Fujishima’s story was the highlight of the volume. It brings her arc from Step Time to a close, and gives the junior CRC members some good moments together too.

“Fly High, New Kid” – It’s time for the junior CRC members to become senpai themselves, as the now third years take a back seat and the second years need to recruit new club members from among the incoming students, lest the club be disbanded for lack of membership. While the club started as a place for misfits, Chihiro and Shino need to figure out what its purpose is going forward if they’re going to be able to recruit new members. I think they came to a good answer – while it may have not been codified until now, they realize what the club has been doing all along.

“The Rest of Our Lives” – This story is not a look ahead like the title implies. Instead, Iori gets to take the spotlight for the last story – only fair, since she’s the one senior CRC member who doesn’t have a romantic partner – as she tries to figure out what she’s going to do with her life after high school. Her plan had been to be a teacher, but both the CRC’s club advisor and Fujishima give her opportunities to make sure that’s really what she wants to do with the rest of her life.

Summary

The stories in Perfect Time let Anda bring closure to some of the character arcs still left hanging at the end of Asu Random. The only real disappointment is that I would have liked to see more of the CRC going forward without its founding members; “Fly High, New Kid” could have been great setup that we don’t really get the payoff for. But that doesn’t detract from what we got: a coda tying off loose ends and giving Kokoro Connect to a well-deserved conclusion. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 2

Book Info

Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 2
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Kenjiro Hata
  • Translator: John Werry
  • Letter: Evan Waldinger
  • Publisher: Viz Media

Review

The first volume of Fly Me to the Moon was a fun comedy, watching Nasa Yuzaki and Tsukasa Tsukuyomi quickly confess and get married, and then need to figure out romance almost after the fact. While the first half of the volume doesn’t feel as fresh due to its indulgence in tropes, the second half hits the same tone as the first book.

The first two chapters are that manga and anime staple, the public bath episode. Its main saving grace is that it manages to keep the art as chaste as possible given the events (even calling out the reader in the process).

From there we get to meet Tsukasa’s… unusual… family, and get some more insight into her background. The clash with her sister, thinking Nasa isn’t good enough for Tsukasa, feels somewhat rote; but it was well-executed.

The back third of the book takes more advantage of the story’s unique premise, and is the better for it. We learn that Tsukasa’s a major pop culture geek, and Nasa… isn’t… to obvious results. We also see Nasa learn about wedding rings at this late date, and try to figure out what they mean (and what not having them means to their relationship).

Summary

Volume 2 of Fly me to the Moon doesn’t quite hit the same heights as the first book. When it focuses on what makes the relationship unique, it’s great; and the rest of it is still solid. Hopefully future volumes will continue to focus on the pair, their differences, and their lack of experience in relationships, as that’s where the best parts of the series lie. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Tempted to dock another point because they overlooked Roland Emmerich’s best movie, but I’ve refrained.)