Monthly Manga – Ara Naru Mono

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.

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Monthly Manga – She is the Rokurokubi

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.

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Backlog Busting – Kamisama Kiss

I’m not entirely sure why on a blog called “The Backloggers” it’s taken us a good five years or so to get a post series going about chipping away at our backlogs. Well, now we can’t say that we haven’t done it – this post marks the beginning of a series I’m dubbing “Backlog Busting,” where we, obviously, write about stuff on our backlog that we’ve recently knocked off the list (whether that means we completed it and loved it, ended up dropping it because it was surprisingly bad, or anything else in-between). As hilarious as it could have been to start this series out by talking about some hot garbage from deep in the backlog, I can pretty happily say that this post is about an absolute banger – Kamisama Kiss.

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Monthly Manga – Hero-San and Former General-San

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.

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Monthly Manga – Cheerful Amnesia

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.

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Monthly Manga – I'm a Villainous Daughter, so I'm Going to Keep the Last Boss.

Ah, the classic love story.  A shy, quiet girl of common birth falls in love with a prince, far above her reach.  However, fate plays its part to bring these two together, though many troubles stand in their way.  For instance, the jealous noblewoman, betrothed to the prince finds herself at odds with this common child who opposes the nobility.  Spiteful and angry, she attempts to poison her nemesis’ love. However the nobleman and our common girl’s love for each other is too strong, and not only is the day saved but the heroine and prince are finally wed in happiness.  The nobleman woman gets her just desserts and ends up destitute and dead.

Or should she?  What was her deal, anyway?  Was she really a rich bitch or was there more to this that a new perspective would uncover?  That is where I’m a Villainous Daughter, so I’m Going to Keep the Last Boss comes in.  While a technical isekai, this manga likes to play uniquely and so twists a few things on their head, including certain isekai tropes.  Obviously, the story is about the jealous rival rather than the “protagonist” of the love story, who in finding out her fiance is actually in love with the protagonist and not her, finds herself suddenly remembering odd things she hadn’t before.  Like, for instance, how this is all a game and because she’s played it to death in a previous life, she knows exactly how this story will play out…

And also that she winds up dead at the end.

Right to left

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Monthly Manga – Yankee-kun and the White Cane Girl

Starting the year off right with two of my favorite types of stories:  Romance and Representation! I’m a sucker for a fun, no major bummers or big drama, kinda romance where two people can comfortably get to know each other.  This is also the perfect way to positively represent various issues and types of lives while being respectful to both, so it becomes a great way to experience another person’s perspective while also getting all those warm feelings about people in love.  Love and empathy! Great combo.

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Picks of the Month – Mousou Telepathy

Mousou Telepathy is a story that takes a look at what having a super power most consider cool would really be like of it came with no off button.  Ayako Nakano is a student in high school who ever since she could remember has been able to see other people’s thoughts. However, after being called creepy by her mother when she was very little, she’s always kept this to herself.  Unfortunately, this becomes harder to hide when a seemingly stoic popular boy in her class with a very overactive imagination falls madly in love with her, constantly thinking about her throughout the school day.

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3D Kanojo 5 + 6 – All Aboard the Misunderstandings Train

Given how it works within the romcom genre of anime, 3D Kanojo is an odd show to begin with. It eschews a number of tropes that make so many of the romantic plotlines in those series feel contrived and samey through how it approaches the awkwardness and insecurities of new romance, and in turn makes its characters feel surprisingly relatable. As we reach the midpoint of the season, however, things seem to have gotten a bit muddied in terms of some of the show’s strong track record out of the gate. While episodes 5 + 6 do have their fair share of heartfelt moments that get to the core of what makes this show so good (in my view), it definitely suffers in terms of a few pretty important story plotlines and character-building moments.

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Just Because! Episodes 11 + 12 – The Pitch and The Home Run

Quick note for any Just Because! viewers outside of America:  Lucky for you, HiDive got ahold of this one because still at the point of this writing, Amazon has not translated the signs and text for this show along with the official subs.  So if you’re watching this show, might want to head over to HiDive for those translated signs on the last episode given the incredibly important use of text messaging in this show.  Us Americans will just be over here crying and raising a defiant fist against our Amazon overlords who will still not turn over the full rights to HiDive.

Well here we are, the end is near, we face the final curtain, and my friends, I’ll say it clear.  I’ll state my case of which I’m certain…  This was such a good anime.  Since the first episode, I’ve been impressed with this show and I’m so happy that Just Because! never let me down.  Of the shows that we’ve written about thus far as a group on this site, this one was probably my favorite to watch.  And now we’re at the end.  I guess if the previous episodes were the wind up, this would be the pitch… and then the aftermath.  Though, to be less haughty for a sec, it’d probably be better just to call this the exam arc ‘cause hot damn is there a lot riding on these college entrance tests.

We initially pick up from where episode ten leaves off, with Komiya readmitting her feelings. However, we see that she tells Izumi not to give her an answer until he passes his test, stating it with the assurance that he will.  He promises her he will with the same earnest and serious face I’ve come to love on this deadpan boy.

[HorribleSubs] Just Because! - 11 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_00.56_[2018.01.18_03.31.12]

Hmm, yes, the “I’m very tired but I appreciate you as a person” look.  Vintage.

The next day, Izumi fills in Souma about what’s going on with him and his exams while Souma in turn explains his relationship with Morikawa and his plans for the future.  The standout moment here, however has to be when Izumi tells Souma to stay in touch with Morikawa, as it’ll get harder to message her if he waits too long.  It’s thrown out so nonchalant but the meaning is easily picked up by Souma as Izumi alluding to how they fell out of touch, bringing us back to the beginning of the series and the lost friendship they thankfully were able to rekindle.  It’s a nice touch to one of the last major bonding moments these two have with each other as we head towards the end.  With a promise to stay in touch with Morikawa that also seems to be an affirmation to be there for Izumi as well, Souma then throws it back to Izumi, telling him to stay in touch with Natsume to which Izumi promises Souma that he’ll tell her everything when he passes his test.  A lot riding on these exams, huh?

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