Recently, I’ve been on the vtuber train and saw the release of a new Hololive vtuber named Pavolia Reine. Something in her 2D anime-inspired design was exceedingly familiar but I didn’t quite remember until she revealed the artist who made her look was IIDA Pochi. This particular mangaka has a specific style that I knew well from her manga series Ara Naru Mono or The Demon Who Became My Sister, and it reminded me that I hadn’t talked about this series before on here. So why not now?
While Ara Naru Mono is a slice of life, it definitely has an undercurrent that makes it feel much darker. The series follows Yuu, a 14-year-old boy who grows up orphaned from his parents who passed away while he was young, and being constantly tossed from one relative to the next, as his family despises him as an outsider. Yuu finally finds himself being taken care of by his unsociable but generally amiable uncle before said uncle mysteriously falls into a coma and is hospitalized. Upon checking his uncle’s things, Yuu finds a summoning circle and accidentally releases an eldritch demon who grants him a wish in return. Never knowing a loving family, Yuu wishes for the demon to be his older sister and thus begins their life together.
Forewarning for some, this is going to be a bit heavier discussion that deals with death, but it is uplifting in the end.
Many of my generation joke about how old we feel when there’s new Internet lingo we don’t know or some younger generation doesn’t know one of our favorite artists we listened to when we were in high school. It’s fun to joke about and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. However, the feeling of growing old is a very real thing. Visiting my own grandparents, my grandmother would discuss at length the struggles she faces as she grows more frail and watches those she was closest with pass on. It’s hard to accept the inevitability of growing old, let alone make the best of it.
Sanju Mariko is a story about this, dealing with the loss of your own ability as well as the loss of those around you, yet still finding a way to go on and enjoy life.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea behind a childhood friendship that turns into something more. I’ve felt I could relate to the idea of being friends but then feeling the boundaries and limits of that relationship lengthen into something else. It’s scary, too, which I think is part of the fun of reading them. There’s a fear that something changing may cause that something to break or be hurt, or the people involved equally hurt. It can be annoying when two characters play this constant pull back and forth and the reader is basically screaming at them to just finally make that last step. However, even when I’m pulling my hair out, I still feel a sense of empathy for that fear.
She is the Rokurokubi is definitely one of those stories. Set in a world where Youkai live in an unfortunate “separate but equal” place from humans, a human boy, Itsuki, and a Youkai girl, Natsuki, have been friends since childhood and go to school together on the Youkai side. A Rokurokubi is a type of Youkai that can stretch its neck indefinitely. And while that could make the boy and girl very different from each other, they couldn’t possibly be closer. Both of them love a lot of the same things, they hang out and do the same things, and constantly fight with each other like siblings. However, both of them are starting to realize their feelings are changing. As the series goes on, Natsuki’s friends try to help, but inevitably, it’s Natsuki and Itsuki who have to take that final step.
A little over a month ago, the vtuber Mano Aloe quit her job after only a couple of weeks since her debut on YouTube. While the timing seems surprisingly quick, the reason behind it was unfortunately not quite a surprise. After weeks of harassment directed towards her and her family, not only online, but at her own home as well, Aloe terminated her contract with the company Hololive and left before she ever really was able to start.
Doxing, the act of intentionally searching for and exposing a person’s personal info, and harassment aren’t new to the Internet. Historically, whether it was AOL creepers in the 90s, swatters of the mid 2010s, or stalkers now, people online have been subject to terrible and dangerous situations. We usually think of these as outlier incidents. However, every community has their stories. One of the storyboard artists on Steven Universe was harassed into attempting suicide over hate from fans of the show. Famous YouTuber Philip Defranco had an extreme fan bypass security and walk onto set during a recording of his show. We as fans of various media and people get excited by the things we love but this can always go too far. Vtubers are, unfortunately, the new crew that are dealing with this, in their own unique way, and they need help in a way that we can supply.
If you missed it a couple years back, there was an anime that came out called Golden Kamuy, adapted from a historical fiction manga by the same name. I ended up missing out when it came around the anime circuit but at the behest of a friend, I decided to give the manga a shot. Boy howdy, am I glad I did. This series is a really interesting story set in a unique backdrop filled with history and intrigue.
Set after the Russo-Japanese War at the beginning of the 20th century, Golden Kamuy is about a Japanese veteran of the war, Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto, meagerly getting by through gold panning when he stumbles across a secret story about a lost treasure. After finding a native Ainu girl, Asirpa, whose family was killed for the very same treasure, the two team up to find it, facing off against escaped convicts, soldiers, and many more to find the reward. The trouble is, the only “map” to their reward was split into multiple pieces, each one tattooed onto escaped convicts that need to be tracked down in order to solve the puzzle.
I’ve never gotten into Super Sentai style shows and manga outside of Power Rangers as a kid, and Gatchaman Crowds’ wonderful story and absolutely brilliant theme song. However, of the ones I’ve happened to catch, this is one of my personal favorites. A twist on the Super Sentai-style genre, Hero-San and Former General-San is a story about two unlikely women falling in love. After defeating the hero, Rapid Rabbit, and forcing Rabbit to transform back into her regular self, Honjou Hayate, the evil Antinoid general sent to destroy humanity immediately gets the hots for her nemesis. Unwilling to kill Hayate, the general, Honey Trap, runs away back to base, upon which the evil leader X fires Honey for not doing her job and sends an assassin to finish her off. By happenstance, Hayate finds Honey and nurses her back to health. Falling deeper in love and pissed at being fired, the ex-general joins forces with the hero and fights against her old employer.
I’m a bit of a newcomer to the scarier elements in Japanese culture, only recently seeing both adaptations of The Ring as well as getting started on the collected works of Junji Ito. However, I think because of my initial hesitation into scarier media, I found myself in a perfect spot for something horror-light – a series that can give you chills without endless nightmares if read right before bed. And so, in a strange mix of genre, I stumbled across an indie manga from Pixiv called Mieruko-chan or, its English title, The Girl Who Can See It.
I’ve been reading online comics since they were probably a thing. I loved catching up on Penny Arcade, Mega Tokyo, and XKCD, and have kept up the habit into award-winning series like Sunstone, Always Human, and Lore Olympus. Obviously, the art and writing are why I continue to read, but the reason I’m able to pick these comics up in the first place is their accessibility. While it was a little harder back in the day, free or low-cost access to a ton of comics online is an incredible achievement for independent artists and only doubly so in recent years with the start of various sites/apps like Webtoon, Tapas, etc., which not only host these comics and allow for more traffic, but also enable creators to get paid for their comics and make a living off of their art. I’d never be able to find and keep track of all of these incredible international comics, whether from Korea, Australia, Europe or anywhere else, if it wasn’t for platforms like these.
So it’s odd to me that even with these platforms, I don’t see any indie Japanese comics internationally.
We all know the trope. A character wakes up in a hospital bed and doesn’t remember anything. Next to them is someone claiming to be their lover. However, instead of lamenting the loss of a relationship with this person, what if this amnesiac is so stoked to be in a relationship that they dive headfirst into loving this new person?
That’s the premise for Cheerful Amnesia, in which a character not only finds that in the three years they’ve lost they were able to find love, but that they’re gay and hella into it. Arisa wakes up to find a slightly older Mari by her bedside, who explains the situation. Arisa is overjoyed and immediately falls back in love with her. They then begin a journey together helping Arisa regain her old life and romance, with plenty of hijinks from the lack of memory. For instance, like when Arisa who only remembers being a kid in high school who seemingly never dated, finds herself sleeping in the same bed as another woman.
Before I begin, I need to warn our dear readers that this topic is not just Not Safe For Work, but delves into a depravity that is shocking. Were it not for the need for people to know of this, I wouldn’t even whisper a word of this degeneracy to the community. However, this needs to be known so as to prevent any further falling of humanity. Read on with caution.
Hand to Hand is very much what it seems and is unashamed of its filth, shoving it in our faces on even just the very first page.