Tag Archives: Book review

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 4       

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: January 18, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Tsubasa uploads an apology video before disappearing from YouTube. Opinions are divided regarding the video, but life goes on. Although Ryo is out at school, he isn’t out to his family, although his older brother suspects something because of the way Ryo has been acting lately. While out one day Ryo and the others run into the shop owner who originally rejected their line. They ask his opinion, and he tells them what he really thinks, which they find harsh. To make matters worse, Jin returns to his apartment and finds his father there, with nothing kind to say to his son.

Ryo goes to the video store and runs into a guy who is wearing their brand! Ryo is excited until he discovers the guy doesn’t really like it, he happens to have his own brand, which he’s been living off of for twenty years. He invites Ryo and the others to visit his place. They take him up on his offer and are impressed with his set-up. He tells them they have to decide on what their theme is and come up with a concept. Then he tells them he has an exhibition coming up… and they can have room there for a display of their own! That’s an offer they can’t possibly refuse! Such an opportunity!

As the day of the exhibition approaches, Jin and Ryo have to decide if they are going to say anything to their families. If so, what are they going to say? How long can they keep their secrets safe rather than being who they are openly?

In the final volume of Boys Run the Riot, we watch the boys grow along with their brand. They may not be setting the world on fire right now, but they are building a solid foundation from which to build their future. One important lesson they learn is to listen to what others say yet ultimately follow their own path, create their own destiny. It’s important to be who you are… to everyone. I feel optimistic about Boys on the Riot and think they will do well. A fitting ending to a good series. Well done! Look forward to seeing more from this author.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 74 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 74     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 2, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/232 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

This is it. The last volume. The big battle. And so it begins…

Hard to believe the journey is over. Ichigo vs Yhwach. I don’t believe there was ever any doubt as to the outcome. Even so, there are obstacles to be overcome. Like Yhwach knowing the future, and planning for it. Such as the way he breaks Ichigo’s sword. That’s a hard one to overcome. But now the ghosts of the past rematerialize and all things are possible.

This last volume is filled with a lot. Old faces, new losses… and happy endings. We learn the truth about Uryu (which I said was coming), as well as the shocking truth about Yachiru. Will we ever see her again? We have lost close friends, such as Ukitake, while others have changed who they are.

I do have one question, though, if anyone can answer that. What happened to Aizen, after the battle? Where did he go? Is there room for another round of Bleach? Or will it become one of Bleach’s little mysteries?  I don’t know about that, but I do know the ending is very cute and heartwarming, and I am so glad I took this journey, even if I will miss all my companions on this wonderful voyage. Looking forward to seeing the new anime that is coming next month.

Bleach is awesome! Gotta read it all!

Book Review: Alice in Borderland, Vol 2 by Haro Aso

Alice in Borderland, Vol 2   

Author: Haro Aso

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 15, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Dystopian/344 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ryo, Karube, and Chota have teamed with Saori to defeat the land of Borderland and make their escape by playing their stupid games. It’s Karube who figures out they needed to head to the Beach, wherever that is. But then they find themselves playing a game from which only one operson will emerge alive and everything changes.

Afterward, Ryo stops caring about what will happen, unable to stop thinking about his friends and what has happened to them. He is found by a girl named Usagi, who brings him back to a semblance of himself after telling him her story. He decides that they need to fight on together. They decide to carry on the search for the Beach, asking players they run across. But eventually they realize they are talking to the wrong crowd so they decide on a strategy, waiting for the games to be over and talking to the survivors. Through trial and error, and clever deductions, they eventually reach their goal, although it isn’t quite what they expected.

The Beach isn’t an actual beach, it’s a hotel where a number of the players have gathered. On arrival, they are each ranked according to the cards they possess. The goal is to collectively gather all the cards necessary to leave the island, which appears to be the entire deck. But no one knows if more than one person will be able to escape. And some cards are more difficult to acquire than others, while no one has even seen the face cards yet.

But are the players at the top manipulating the others for their own agenda? Can Ryo and Usagi survive this place, and is there any actual chance of escape?

This is certainly a dangerous place to be for all involved, but somehow there is a question that really hasn’t been addressed. Probably because they’re all too busy trying to survive. But I have to wonder who is behind this, and what purpose does this serve? This manga is certainly a dark version of Alice in Wonderland, full of twists and turns. I will have to wait for the next volume because it is just now coming out, so the library won’t have it right away. Looking forward to it.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 72 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 72     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 6, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Nanao picks up the sword her captain has kept hidden from her, but she is momentarily unable to move, too frightened. But Shunsui has her back, as always. The defeated Quincy, Lille, falls into the Soul Society, to the amazement of the Soul Reapers, vowing to take revenge on Kyoraku. But Kira is not about to let that happen!

Meanwhile, Byakuya cuts the head off another Quincy, but as they prepare to go, something untoward happens. Turns out this guy is Stern Ritter M – for Miracle – and he is Gerard Valkyrie! The miracle is that not only did he not die, but he has become massive!

Ichigo seems to be down for the count, supposedly poisoned by Nakk le Vaar, but appearances can be deceiving.  And in comes Yoruichi, who is determined to take le Vaar down a peg or two. And her little brother is right behind her. The Quincy tells Yoruichi that she can’t hurt him because he acquires immunity to everything. Hmm, what’s the solution to that?

Uryu returns to the Palace. Yhwach is sleeping, so Haschwalth has his powers. He confronts Uryu, proclaiming him a traitor, but Uryu says he has no evidence, so Haschwalth dares Ishida to prove he is no traitor. He has to kill Ichigo… in front of his friends. Has the moment of truth finally arrived?

So much happening, and only two volumes left! Everything needs to be resolved, but will it end well for our hero and his friends? One can only hope! Things can still go horribly wrong. I was worried about Shunsui but I think he’s okay, and Nanao was awesome! Watching Yoruichi in action was amazing, and the interaction between her and Kiskue was so cute! But most importantly, what I’ve been saying all along is about to be proven to be accurate, so huzzah! Anxious to see how this ends!

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 3 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 3     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: October 5, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/208 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The unthinkable has happened to Ryo – he has been outed in a video by the Youtuber Wing! Apprehensive about going to school, he finds that people are interested in his brand. But some of the boys think it’s funny to be vulgar, so he walks away from them. After school, Ryo and Jin approach Tsubasa and request she delete the video, but she refuses because she says it’s against her policy as a content creator. Tsubasa and her cousin think the guys should be happy, because didn’t they get sales from the video? Now what are they going to do?

Ryo begins to skip school to avoid his fellow classmates. He is surprised when Tsubasa shows up outside of his house. As Ryo explains why he is upset, Tsubasa tries to comfort him and tell him he isn’t weird. When Ryo finally faces Chika, he is upset, not because she accepts him as he is, but because she makes him feel odd, like an “other”.  Then Chika tells Ryo he should lean on Tsubasa, because she gets him, which only frustrates him, unable to tell her how he feels about her.

At school, Chihiro accuses Jin of only becoming friends with Ryo in order to get next to Wing, but Jin refuses to accept the blame. The teacher is concerned about Ryo and wonders what she can do to help. Ryo shows up in class unexpectedly and asks to address his fellow students, explaining how he feels as transgender. He is wearing a male uniform and has a surprise underneath it.

Business at Boys Run the Riot is booming, with orders pouring in, but there are also a lot of requests for more collaboration, including clothing design, with Tsubasa. They examine their motives for what they are doing and  debate the matter between the three of them and decide to make a fresh start, without Tsubasa. Tsubasa has her own problems, including the fact that although she is out as a woman, people don’t realize she is a lesbian. She is warned that could be a career killer. She envies Ryo his strength. But a moment of drunkenness that ends up on the Internet threatens her sense of self, revealing how very perilous that is.

This volume is primarily concerned with both Ryo and Tsubasa and how they deal with their gender identities, especially as they relate to the people around them. Other people have made it difficult for them to be who they really are, but Ryo is stronger, and has better support. Tsubasa is surrounded by people who don’t understand her, other than her cousin. But that’s not surprising as she is still struggling to understand herself. But Yutaka says it beautifully, that Tsubasa is Tsubasa to him, not her gender. He wonders if maybe she is genderfluid, and gives her much to think about.

The point is that people are too obsessed with placing other people in pigeonholes and the answer to gender identity is not easy and it isn’t relevant when compared to what kind of person someone is inside. It’s more important that people love, it doesn’t matter who they love. I believe there is one volume left, looking forward to it.

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 8 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 8   

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 16, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/168 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Sales at Torajiro’s crepe truck have plummeted, and the reason is Koharu, his sister.  She’s opened a rival truck called Lovely Donuts, which is taking Torajiro’s customers. What’s a guy to do but call on the only man who can save him…Tatsu?

Tatsu and Miku awake to find a winter wonderland just outside their door. But it’s the condensation that has Tatsu’s knickers in a twist! While Miku goes to work, Tatsu heads to the store to stock up in case things get worse. He runs across some men who are under orders from their boss to clear the area outside of his office, but they are having a tough time of it. Tatsu berates them for having the wrong equipment and sets them straight.

Tatsu, Miku, and Masa get together for movie night. The only question is what to watch. Seems that everyone has different ideas and tastes.

Miku’s coworker persuades her to adopt his hamster, but since they have Gin, that doesn’t seem practical, so they try to present him to Masa as a gift. But Masa barely has enough for him to subsist on, let alone a pet. Tatsu’s old boss is also a no-go because of Pinky. While Tatsu tries to figure out what to do, the cops think they’ve finally caught him doing something illegal.

Miku is supposed to go golfing with a client, but she’s never golfed before. Tatsu tells her she’s in good hands with him and he’ll show her the ropes! He takes her golfing, but she finds the rules as he explains them to her probably don’t apply to her.

Tatsu and Miku run into Tora and Koharu. The crepe man claims to have a very hot product to show them, but he can’t do it there. So they arrange to meet on the mountain over the weekend. The product turns out to be a riverside tent sauna! Sounds like fun, right?

Tatsu and Masa and some of the guys head to the mountain to search for bamboo shoots. Tatsu reminds them that since it’s the boss’ mountain, he will need a cut of their haul too.  But when circumstances deal them a blow, and they’re left with almost nothing, how do they explain that to the boss?

Tatsu takes Miku and Masa to his favorite Chinese restaurant, which he says has a secret menu. The chef proudly shows them his newest dish, a Sichuan super spicy hot pot. Anyone who can finish it will get the dish for free. Of course the three of them are game! But can they do it?

Tatsu attends a crime prevention class, and he is most eager to assist the officer in charge with her demonstrations.

Tatsu is back and he’s in fine form with another round of hilarious hijinx! These stories never get old, and I love Tatsu so much! I hope this series runs for a long time to come. Look for bonus stories, one about zombies and the other an episode of Policure! If you don’t know what Policure is, you need to go back and start reading the series again lol

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 71 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 71     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 7, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

In a surprise move, Nemu has not only acted on her own, not waiting for instructions from her Master Mayuri, but she has openly defended him. But at what price? Captain Kyoraku attacks the Quincy Lille Barro, utilizing his ability to turn a child’s game into reality. He isn’t really surprised that Nano has kept up with him. She says she won’t leave, but he sends her to deliver a message to the others. She vows to return afterward. Hinamori is confused when Shinji doesn’t immediately offer to assist Shunsui, but he says he knows that the help is not wanted or needed, that Shunsui will be fine, and there are other fires to be put out.

Kisuke and the others run into another Quincy, one with a winged helmet. He claims they will never get past him, and he wants to take all of them on, all at once!  Ichigo runs into the Quincy who battled Grimmjow. His name is Naak le Var. Meanwhile a wounded Shunsui is adrift in his past until he is yanked awake by Nanao, who reminds him of the promise he made her mother!

And still the fight continues. Only three volumes left, barreling toward the conclusion, whatever that might be. I have to believe that all will end well, and yet I am biting my nails, fearful for Shunsui. This volume ends on a cliffhanger, of course, ala Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid involving Shunsui and Nano. Let’s hope it has a better outcome! Can’t wait for the next one!

Book Review: Pluto, Vol 6 by Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Pluto, Vol 6

Author: Naoki Urasawa & Osamu Tezuka

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 17, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Sci-Fi Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Gesicht is ordered to go back and let others handle the case of Darius XIV’s attempted suicide, but Gesicht says he is too close to quit. Apparently he has a hunch…who even knew robots could have hunches? On the streets of Samarkand, he helps up a poor orphan robot child who was callously knocked over.  Gesicht goes to meet with Professor Abullah, head of the Ministry of Science. Gesicht is momentarily confused by Abullah, who says many feel that way upon meeting him. He says that he lost most of his human body during the war. Gesicht questions him about Darius, a man called Goji, and something called the Tenma chip. Abullah says supposedly the chip belonged to the world’s most advanced robot, but because the AI was so advanced, the robot could never gain consciousness. Allegedly, he’s still sleeping beneath the Persian ruler’s former palace. When Gesicht shows him a photo of a man standing in a field of flowers, Abullah says he doesn’t recognize him.

After Abullah leaves, Gesicht buys a good luck charm from a street vendor who tells him it is a charm of the great sage Goji! And then the little robot child, whose name is Muhammad Ali, tries to sell Gesicht a flower, and he tells the inspector he recognizes the man in the photo! He tells Gesicht he wants to get to be a great man, just like Sahad. Apparently, Sahad left Persia for the Netherlands in order to learn how to make the desert bloom with flowers.

Gesicht follows this new lead to New Amsterdam, where he discovers the boarding house where Sahad once lived. He speaks to one of Sahad’s professors, who has nothing but good things to say about the robot. Plus he has a tulip in a glass case that Sahad left with him with instructions not to plant it until after his return. He also speaks with a woman who owns a flower shop, who knew Sahad well. He spoke to her of his dreams, and of the flowers he cultivated, which he gave individual names. But something changed and he said he had to go home, in order to enlist to fight in the war. One day he went to his field and all the flowers were dead…all except for one…the one he had named Pluto.

Gesicht goes back to see Brau, asking about the sleeping robot, and was that even possible. Brau claims that the AI could wake if someone introduced an extreme emotion. Of course, there is no telling what sort of robot this awakened AI would be. Gesicht asks Brau where he thinks Pluto might have gone after his fight with Hercules, and he says home…his tulips home.  Meanwhile, even as an order goes out to arrest Gesicht, Professor Abullah goes to see Professor Hoffman. Gesicht receives a call that the professor has been kidnapped and he is to return immediately and he says he will but not right now…as he has just found Pluto!

Things are rapidly escalating here, as layers upon layers are being peeled back. But at what price? Has the unthinkable really occurred? Or is this just a red herring? Only three volumes to go. Real nail-biter this is. Afraid to look at what comes next, but can’t look away.

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 2     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: July 27, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Wing is an LGBTQ Youtuber whose videos are being talked about at Ryo’s school. Elated at their first sales of Boys Run the Riot merch, Jin treats Ryo and Itsuka to a celebratory feast of burgers! He tells them they need to reach out to stores to get them to carry their line in order to boost their appeal. He arranges for a meeting with a rep from a local store, but that doesn’t go very well.

The three decide they need to get part-time jobs so they have the cash to continue to produce their merchandise. Ryo applies to a karaoke bar, and is about to get the job, but when he requests that he be treated like a boy, at first the interviewer seems to understand. But then he laughs and says that can’t happen. So Ryo ends up getting a job at a restaurant, Izakaya. Luckily the uniform isn’t gender specific. But when Ryo unthinkingly starts to undress in front of the guys, they practically shove him into the girls’ change room, where a girl named Mizuki is changing, to Ryo’s chagrin.

Ryo fits in well with the others and he likes the job. But when Mizuki asks him if he is a boy, he is suddenly uncomfortable with admitting the truth. They go out for beer after work one day, and Ryo gets to know her better and begins to relax. Some of the guys at work announce they’re having a welcome to work party for Ryo, and Mizuki agrees to go. But it turns out two of the boys have ulterior motives.

Ryo calls off sick for a couple of days after that, and meets up with Jin and Itsuka. Jin has a surprise for them. He takes them to a house where they are greeted by a girl named Tsubasa, who just happens to be the Youtuber Wing! Seriously? She introduces them to her cousin Yutaka. Turns out he was their first customer! And now Boys Run the Riot is gonna do a collab with Wing! How awesome is that?

During the course of the photo shoot, Ryo gets to know Tsubasa, and she gives him some advice. But when the video comes out, there is a huge oops moment!

I am really enjoying this series. It’s not often you see transgender stories in manga, particularly with transgender males.  The author obviously has great insight into transgender people and helps us to understand what Ryo is going through in his desire to be who he is, not who he appears to be. Gender stereotypes and misperceptions have been around forever, but now it seems as though, thanks to a more open-minded younger generation and the power of the Internet, greater knowledge is forthcoming, along with greater acceptance and understanding.

Even as we get to know and understand Ryo, Ryo is learning more about himself. Perhaps the oops moment will turn into something wonderful. Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 70 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 70   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 4, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Bazz B has worked hard to get close to Yhwach in order to kill him. But he never expected Jugo to succeed where he himself failed. When Jugo tells Yhwach there must be a mistake, the Quincy tells him that he has seen Jugo’s power, which is the same as his own – the power to share power. And now, years later,  Jugo is trying to prevent Bazz from killing Yhwach, which was the goal all along. What’s up with that?

Grimmjow takes off after one of the Quincies, leaving Ichigo and the others behind, wondering where he went. But Grimmjow ends up poisoned for his troubles. Meanwhile, Kurotsuchi and Kenpachi find themselves face-to-face with an extremely weird Quincy (coming from Kurotsuchi, that’s saying something!). Kurotsuchi attempts to keep Kenpachi from being too impetuous, but that is easier said than done. While the two captains debate how to handle this fellow, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Nemu discuss just why they can’t interfere with their captains. Namely because they would be severely chewed out for doing so.  They seem uneasy at the idea that Kurotsuchi is about to release his rather poisonous bankai. The Quincy shows itself to be more than they realized… and so does Nemu.

Not a lot of Ichigo et al in this volume, but I suspect his time is coming soon. Only four more volumes to go! This one has more to do with Bazz B and Jugo, but mainly it’s the Kurotsuchi/Kenpachi show, which is well worth the price of admission! Watching the odd Captain of the 12th Squad is fascinating, as he hasn’t been seen as much in these books as some of the others. But he is really brilliant, in his own quirky way, and it’s a pleasure to watch him in action… albeit, from a distance.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger, naturally. Can’t wait to see how that turns out in the next one!