Tag Archives: Book review

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!

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 17 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 17   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: October 6, 2020

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shinobu and Tanjiro battle Doma, Upper Demon  #2, still reeling from the death of their kind-hearted master. Meanwhile, Zenitsu faces one who was once his senior, but now is a demon. And the new head of the Ubuyashiki family carries on as best he can, with the assistance of his younger sisters, even though he is only 8 years old!

Kaigaku taunts Zenitsu for his perceived weakness, despite not having seen him in some time. Zenitsu admits he can only do the first form, and that Kaigaku can do everything but that. Surprisingly, Zenitus doesn’t seem upset by anything this demon says or does. Perhaps he has changed in the course of his training? When Zenitsu uses a technique that Kaigaku doesn’t know, the demon is dismayed that he wasn’t taught this move, then shocked to learn it’s one that Zenitsu came up with himself! Urokodaki watches over Nezuko, waiting and hoping that she will be able to become human once again, both for her sake and to foil Muzan’s plans.

Tanjiro and Tomioka encounter Upper 3, Akaza, who is surprised to find Tanjiro still alive after their last encounter on the Mugen train. He and Tomioka are both impressed with Tanjiro’s technique development. But Akaza makes the mistake of denigrating Rengoku to Tanjiro, who remembers something that Inosuke taught him.

Tanjiro has come quite a long way since he first began his journey as a Demon Slayer! Where before he could barely face the lower demons, now he battles with the upper ones, well on his way to confront Muzan himself. Interesting back story in this volume, and I have to admit to being more impressed by Zenitsu than I was before (still like him asleep the best lol). How long before they come face to face with Muzan? Good volume, looking forward to the next one!

Book Review: Alice in Borderland, Vol 1 by Haro Aso

Alice in Borderland, Vol 1   

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

Ryohei Arisu dreams of living a different life and doing it somewhere else. He feels as if he is an NPC in his own life, and his parents always hold him up for comparison to his accomplished brother. Ryo’s friend Chota has much the same attitude, his only concern being his obsession with girls – not that he’s ever had a girlfriend. Chota laughs almost constantly and has no serious goals in life, never taking things seriously.  Their friend Karube manages a bar, and lets Ryo and Chota have free drinks. He has ambitions. Someday he wants to own a ranch in Australia and chase sheep.

One night, Ryo wishes for a huge earthquake to happen or some event where people turn into zombies. Just something. Anything that isn’t what they have now. Feeling restless, he decides they should go somewhere else. Since the trains have stopped running, they’ll have to walk. After a while, too tired to take another step, they decide to rest in a train station. From somewhere nearby they spy fireworks someone is shooting off. At four in the morning? Why? But then there is a blinding flash of light…

When they wake, they find themselves covered in dust! Heading outside, they discover everything is not only deserted, but overgrown, abandoned even, and much of the food they can find is rotten. What is going on here? There is no sign of anyone anywhere. But rather than feeling alarmed, Ryo and Chota are elated! Perhaps this is the paradise they’ve dreamed of? No one to tell them what to do or when to do it. If they look carefully, they can find some edible food. That’s not too bad, right? But suddenly they hear something. Are there other people after all? Drawn to the sound, as they are standing there, looking confused, a girl walks out from the restroom, grumbling.  When she sees them, she sighs and says they are better than nothing, and she doesn’t have a lot of choice. What does that even mean? Pegging them as newcomers, she says something about an arena. Ryo and Chota decides this sounds dangerous and want to leave, but Karube has moved in the other direction. The girl warns him not to cross over the line, but it’s too late. She tells them they’re in the game now.

Apparently the guys have managed to land in a futuristic time when survival depends on playing certain games, which are strictly structured and timed, with varying degrees of difficulty as well as rewards. The first game they find themselves in has to do with drawing fortunes. How hard can that be? They are about to find out.

This is an interesting start to what I assume will be some kind of play on Alice in Wonderland. But here, the stakes are high, as in life or death high. Sometimes you have to cooperate to win, but sometimes it’s every man for himself. Ryo is definitely an anti-hero, not your usual protagonist. I have to believe that he and Chota and Kyube will undergo some life-altering situations that will make or break them. These games are not for fun. Perhaps they will awake at some point, as Alice did, to find it was all a dream. That remains to be seen. Look forward to volume two.

Book Review: Boys Run the Riot, Vol 1 by Keito Gaku

Boys Run the Riot, Vol 1     

Author: Keito Gaku

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

American release date: May 25, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/LGBTQ+/240 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ryo feels as if he is living a lie, just because he appears to be a girl when he knows, inside, that he is a boy. But it’s not as easy as telling everyone the truth, because that just isn’t going to happen, and he knows no one will accept him if he does. So he does what he can. Each morning when he leaves the house, he stops in the train station bathroom to change into more comfortable boys’ clothing and put on a binder. Chika is his good friend, but he hasn’t even told her how he feels.

A new student arrives in Ryo’s class. His name is Jin and he should be a third year but was gone for a while and is repeating second year. The teacher directs him to the seat behind Ryo, who wonders how this guy can want to draw attention to himself the way he does. Ryo is seen by most people as weird, but how can he help that when he isn’t even allowed to be the person he is inside? And when he is with Chika, he can’t help but wish he was born a boy.

After school, Ryo goes to a new pop-up clothing store for a brand he really likes, but just as he reaches for a T-shirt, another hand reaches for it at the same time. Turns out the hand belongs to Jin! Jin thinks it’s great that they have the same taste, and he wants Ryo to make a brand with him, sell T-shirts online. But Ryo runs away.

Later, Ryo and Jin begin to talk, and Ryo starts to think maybe they should do the brand thing. But he is more afraid of what people think than Jin is. Jin thinks Ryo is more creative, so he can design the shirts, while Jin will take care of the business aspect. They make their first shirt and go to the Photography Club to see if they can borrow a camera to take pictures for promotion. That is where they meet Itsuka, the sole member of the club. He loves taking photos and uses a vintage camera his father gave him before giving up on his own photography career. But Itsuka is himself suffering from peer pressure and isn’t sure what to make of Ryo and Jin at first.

Just started reading this today and I already love this series! You don’t see a lot of transgender main characters in manga, especially not trans boys. You have to feel for Ryo, having to hide who he is because of society’s assumptions about him. I like both him and Jin and think they have the makings of good friends. Ryo’s revelation regarding how he feels didn’t bother Jin one bit. He tends to embrace the truth and isn’t afraid to show it. I look forward to reading more about them in the future.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 69 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 69   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 7, 2017

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kurotsuchi explains to some of the horrified Captains why Aizen can’t do what he threatens, namely shoot down Reiokyu.  Unfortunately, some of the Quincies choose that moment to arrive. While Shunsui hopes they have come to help, the truth is quite the opposite. Looks like a fight is going to happen. But that is interrupted by the arrival of Bazz-B and two girls. Seems that the Bazz is willing to help the Soul Reapers, being rather angry at Yhwach for abandoning them. Besides the desire to kill Yhwach, Bazz has a beef with Ichigo as well.

Ichigo et al need to figure out how to get to Reiokyu again, but help arrives from an unexpected source – Grimmjow! Whodathunkit?  And right behind him is the adult Nel! Apparently Uruhara has made something for her that allows her to switch between her child and adult forms whenever she wants.  A box unexpectedly appears, heralding the arrival of Yukio and Riruka. When Ichigo questions Grimmjow on his motives for helping, he claims that if Hueco Mundo were to disappear, he’d have nowhere to kill Ichigo. Sounds legit.

Yhwach has taken down Reio and now he’s ready to reinvent his nation, rebuilding the Royal Palace to resemble his own. The Court Guard Captains are confused, but Shunsui realizes that this is a testament to the strength of their foe. Yhwach tells his followers that the castle will be the foundation for the new world, Wahr Welt (castle of true world). The Captains move to attack, but Kurotsuchi isn’t with them. As always, he marches to the beat of his own drummer. But he is surprised to find Kenpachi has anticipated his move and followed him.

Once Yhwach gives his orders, Haschwalth gives one of his own – that Uryu be followed, to make sure he does nothing that goes against His Majesty’s plans. Apparently there is a lack of trust there. Haschwalth is surprised to see Bazz B, having assumed he was with the ones who didn’t survive. Bazz doesn’t hesitate to tell Jugo just how angry he is, despite their long history together.

Some interesting things going on here, including the backstory of Bazz and Jugo, and how Jugo came to be Yhwach’s second-in-command. We can see a certain dissension in the Quincy ranks. Will this become advantageous to our heroes at some point? Clearly someone doesn’t trust Uryu, but is that suspicion justified? I thought I caught a glimpse of something like dismay with Uryu, and I am still of the opinion that he will do right in the end, regardless of appearances right now.

Everyone is getting into position. What purpose will Aizen serve? He is doing his best to escape. I’d say good luck to that, but we all know from experience that this man is dangerous, even as hamstrung as he currently is. Don’t underestimate him.  I feel the ultimate battle will be between Ichigo and Yhwach, but everyone has a part to play. Good volume, only five more left!