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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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.)

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro, Volume 4

Book Info

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro, Volume 4
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Nanashi
  • Translator: Kumar Sivasubramanian
  • Letterer: uncredited
  • Publisher: Kodansha

Review

I’ll admit that the first few volumes of Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro haven’t shown the most wholesome of relationships. But outside of Nagatoro bullying her senpai, we’ve gotten hints of her actual interest in him – the asides in the omakes, and how she tries to protect Senpai from her friends’ bullying.

Nagatoro protecting Senpai is almost a running theme in this volume. It starts off with Senpai going to a festival alone, and getting captured by two of Nagatoro’s gang. She ends up rescuing Senpai, after which they almost act like a normal couple: going around the festival, enjoying the fireworks, and even making plans to come back together the next year.

Several of the remaining chapters of the main story also feature Nagatoro stepping in-between Senpai and her friends, protecting him in various scenarios. It’s good to see more signs of her interest in him – that he’s not just a target for bullying.

The final chapter of the main story doesn’t adhere to that theme, but it’s so lighthearted that I almost thought I was reading Teasing Master Takagi-san instead.

In the end, neither character is still willing to admit interest in the other out loud. But both characters seem to be willing to admit it to themselves, finally. It’s good to see their relationship slowly progress from the early bullying into something more recognizable as romantic.

Summary

If you’re uncomfortable with the bullying, volume 4 won’t change your mind. But if you find it amusing, then this volume manages to provide in both the comedy and the romance. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 1

Book Info

Fly Me to the Moon, Vol. 1
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Kenjiro Hata
  • Translator: John Werry
  • Letter: Evan Waldinger
  • Publisher: Viz Media

Review

Where many romance stories end with the confession, Fly Me to the Moon makes an different choice: it starts there. We only get a brief introduction to the main characters, Nasa Yuzaki and Tsukasa Tsukuyomi.

First few chapters show us the first meeting of these two characters – Nasa tries to get himself inducted into an isekai is run over by a box truck trying to cross the street to introduce himself to Tsukasa. Even after his injuries, Nasa still tries to ask Tsukasa out. She says that she can only do that if she marries him. Rather than scaring Nasa away, he proposes. And Tsukasa accepts.

The book dives right into their life together. We get to see these two characters get to know each other and figure out how romance works, at the same time as they’re trying to figure out the specifics of living together an marriage. Only a few pages separate holding hands for the first time, from trying to buy bedding, to discovering that Tsukasa is a restless sleeper.

So far this isn’t a plot heavy manga; the focus is on Nasa and Tsukasa’s interactions. The afterward indicates that there’s more behind Tsukasa’s backstory that we haven’t seen, though, so I expect future volumes to mix some reveals in with the fun relationship moments.

Summary

Fly me to the Moon is a fantastic romantic comedy. Nasa and Tsukasa’s relationship is gold, and I’m fervently looking forward to future volumes in this series. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Our Teachers are Dating! Volume 1

Book Info

Our Teachers are Dating! Volume 1
Our Teachers are Dating! Volume 1
  • Format: manga
  • Author: Pikachi Ohi
  • Translator: Jennifer Ward
  • Adaptation: Rebecca Scoble
  • Letterer: Erika Terriquez
  • Publisher: Seven Seas

Review

Our Teachers Are Dating! is exactly what it says on the cover: a yuri manga featuring two high school teachers – gym teacher Hayama Asuka and biology teacher Terano Saki.

The book stands out on its own for having adult protagonists. My instinct is to try to pin them down with stereotypes, but that’s hard. It’s not like one of them is the shy one and one as the easygoing one, for example; they both take turns leading things and following the other. The characters are well-rounded but distinct.

While the two teachers did know each other and work together before the book started, they were just coworkers. We don’t see much of the pair in the classroom, but the school setting is important and helps to drive both the plot and the character elements along. Their relationship progresses quickly over the six main chapters of the book, from asking each other out, to their first official date, through to sleeping together for the first time. There’s even a hot springs trip.

In addition to the two protagonists, two other teachers at the school have minor recurring roles. So far they seem to be there mostly for exposition, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see either of them end up in a relationship of their own in future volumes.

Summary

I was actually surprised to see the “To Be Continued” at the end – I’d missed that this was volume 1, and the volume concluded so perfectly that if it was a one-shot I would have been satisfied. I look forward to reading more as these characters’ romance evolves. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Who Says Warriors Can’t Be Babes? Volume 1

Book Info

Who Says Warriors Can't Be Babes? Volume 1
Who Says Warriors Can’t Be Babes? Volume 1

Review

The premise for Who Says Warriors Can’t Be Babes is remarkably simple: the main character, an incredibly strong warrior (known simply as “Warrior Woman”), joins the party of a hero who rescued her as a child. That led to her crushing on him, and doing everything she can to get strong, join his party, and win his hand. Unfortunately, she’s too good of a warrior, and the hero isn’t able to see past that and to her feminine side.

This isn’t the first manga with a similar premise – Tomo-chan is a Girl! immediately springs to mind. But where Tomo-chan was a relationship story masquerading as a four-panel gag comedy, Warriors seems to want to be a four-panel gag comedy using a more normal page layout. There’s not a lot of depth to these characters – we don’t even know any of their names, just their character classes.

Unfortunately, Warriors probably works better in its original magazine incarnation than in volume form. By the end of the tenth chapter in the volume, the repetition was starting to wear. Warrior Woman tries to attract the Hero’s eye; things go overboard; she fails in her goal. There’s no added depth to the relationship as things go on, nor do we see anything from the other character’s points of view to know how they see her.

But while I didn’t think the story lived up to its potential, the art is fantastic. We get a wide variety of facial expressions and reaction shots, giving us variety in the art even when the plot doesn’t. I also liked the lettering; I’m a sucker for a good pixel-based font, even if it’s not actually a game-like setting.

One additional note, the first chapter is significantly lewder than the rest of the volume. While some sexualized outfits show up later in the book, nothing approaches that chapter plot-wise; even the bonus chapter is tamer.

Summary

Who Says Warriors Can’t Be Babes? is an interesting idea but the execution didn’t pique my interest enough to keep me reading the series. ⭐⭐⭐

Heroine for Hire, Volume 1

Book Info

Heroine for Hire, Volume 1
Heroine for Hire, Volume 1

Review

Heroine for Hire has an interesting premise – Shuko Kodakamine, after accidentally injuring her fellow student Masaki Serizawa by reflex, is asked by him to be come his bodyguard. He wants Shuko to protect him from himself, and his tendency to get himself in trouble when flirting with other girls at school.

Shuko is reluctant to take him up on the job offer, but after spending some more time with Masaki, is convinced to do so. Unfortunately, after setting up that premise, the remainder of the first volume doesn’t live up to its promise. The next two chapters comprising the rest of the book are a more straight-forward romance between the two main characters. The bodyguard job is more of a setup than something we see carried through the events of the book.

Summary

I enjoyed the book, but I would have liked to see less romance and more of their school life and Shuko’s bodyguarding efforts. But I like the relationship between the characters, so I’ll give it at least one more volume. ⭐⭐⭐⭐, Recommended for romance fans.