Romance Read: Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1 by Mizuho Kusanagi

*This Review is Spoiler Free* 

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This story, wow, I was genuinely surprised at the twists and turns within the first couple chapters. I did NOT at all expect for this story to turn out the way it did. This was intended to be a novel reviee but… I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, and haven’t been able to finish/pick up most of the books I’ve set out to read. So have totally been coping out of doing intended book reviews with tons of manga and graphic novels! It still counts right? Yes? Well let’s pretend it does even if it doesn’t! Hahaha! Anywho, as someone who isn’t a big fan of shojo (manga for young/teen girls) in general I never really thought I would not only pick-up the manga Yona of the Dawn, but begin collecting it. Despite my continuing overall apprehension towards most romance this is now one of my very few shojo favorites. 

Synopsis: Yona of the Dawn is a fantasy set in a kingdom called Kohka. The story centers around main character princess Yona as she prepares for her 16th birthday. Yona, the only child of widow King Il, is a pampered young lady, but things quickly change. Very quickly. As most know nothing good happens for royalty on their coming-of-age birthdays. On the night of her birthday Yona ends up witnessing the assaiassassination and usurpation of her father, and with the help of close childhood friend General Son Hak, the two manage to escape Hiryuu Palace with their lives. 

Rating: 8.5/10 Unicorn Horns.

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To be honest, I was considering dropping this after the first couple pages as even though I was enjoying the comedy, the whole love struck pampered princess scene really wasn’t doing anything for me. But then came the plot twist and suddenly I’m 4 volumes deep and searching up the next release date. I honestly loved this story and the unexpected action. The fight scenes were really well done and nothing I’ve ever come across in shojo (the art in general was really good). And the characters! I loved even the antagonist as a character, the character dynamics, and the often hilarious bantering and interactions. So far the major players are complex, and each had a side to him/her that was mysterious and at times unpredictable. For some what most caught my attention was the revelation of past or hidden thoughts/motives, for others it was major character development, and for the main protagonist Yona it was both in leaps and bounds.

As the 1st volume mainly dishes out the events that lead to her transformation so you won’t get to see the real results till the second volume. But I can promise watching this fiery spirited princess transition into a determined warrior with open eyes to the reality of her kingdom is every bit worth it. I can’t get too into it without spoiling something, but I loved the deeper fantasy aspect that arises once the mystery behind Yona’s red hair is revealed, as well as love how this story plays with the idea of right and wrong (Vol. 2-3). Safe to say I’ll be checking out the 24 episode anime adaptation available on both Crunchyroll and Funimation asap.

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As for the romance…well, there are some tantalizing scenes here and there, but overall I’d say this actually doesn’t have a strong enough romantic theme to actually be considered a straight up “Romance Read“. It plays an important role, but Yona’s adventures with new/existing comrades and impending fight to regain all that she’s lost soon take center stage most of the time. Yet…once again- cop out. That’s in later installments, and since I’m technically only reviewing the first volume I’m going to conveniently pretend it still counts! Yay me! 

I Hate Fairyland Vol. 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

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LMAOOO!!! I’m still slightly new to the American comic book world -as much as I love the stories I’m admittedly a little afraid of all those Marvel volumes- but had started picking up and collecting some Image Comics to start with. I don’t have much to compare it to, but as a fan of comedic TV shows and movies I have to say that this is a good pick that caters to my type of comedy- sarcastic, a bit witty, crude and unapologetic. I’d recommend this to any fan of satirical comedy shows like Futurama, Family Guy, or Robot Chicken. I look forward to the 2nd installment and give it 8/10 Unicorn Horns

The story, pretty self-explanatory considering the title, cover page, and opening quote:

It was a nightmare. Nothing but the green of her hair…and the blood of my people.

– Thaddeus J. Star, R.I.P.

Is basically a parody of fairy tales in general, so on occasion you’ll recognize themes/elements from scenes of well known fairy tales. All within the first 6 or so pages you get a bit of an Alice in Wonderland parody where a young 6 year old named Gert is whisked away, yelling and screaming, into a fairlyland. After a brutal and very bloody landing, the Queen of Fairyland sends her on an epic journey with an optimistic looking fly named Larry as a guide to find the magic key that will open a door to her way back home. On the 7th page, 27 years later, we have a now alcoholic looking Larry and an angry and psychotic looking Gert floating on a magic boat, flipping off and threatening the moon (in creative curse words I have to say) for insulting her. After she successfully…and very, umm, violently expresses her feeling for the moon the story goes on to follow the hilarious and always eventually violent adventures of the certifiable 47 year old woman trapped in a 6-year-old girl’s body.

I enjoyed this comic quite a bit. Gert is an incredibly insane and violent character that was a lot of fun to watch, and Larry, the straight man and unwilling side-kick, well…there’s not much to say about him to be honest, but his stoic ways do compliment Gert’s expressive homicidal ways quite nicely. The story line is nicely creative in some places and predictable in other ways, Gert will always do something crazy/stupid, but even then I was often surprised with the “how”. You may be able to tell she’s about to demolish a town, but really anything goes when it comes to how she’ll do it. I enjoyed meeting the host of other random and often hilariously creative characters and creatures, but more than that I loved the art. I’m a big fan of the style and have to say I really loved all the vivid colours used as well. 

Toradora! Vol. 1 by Yuyuko Takemiya (Story) & Zekkyo (Art)

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8/10 unicorn horns so far!

I initially meant to write a Holiday themed book review but have been really strapped for time this past month- things have been pretty hectic and work and busy at home- so that didn’t work out. I figured I’d just go with something new, something outside of my usual reading preferences, after seeing that I have actually never written a manga review on any shojo (manga intended for young girls). Though I’ve come across a few great series in the shojo genre, I have to admit it’s been more miss than hit so I unfortunately tend to avoid it altogether. Only after reading and pre-posting this review did I notice my mistake. Turns out this is yet another shonen (intended for young males) manga. But since I truly enjoyed this series so much I decided to do write a review anyway (I swear I’ll write at least 1 shojo review next month). 

Toradora!, a fairly popular romantic comedy based on a light novel series, is narrated by a 17-year-old high school student named Takasu Ryuuji who struggles to fit in and make friends with his classmates due to a series of hilarious, over dramatic misunderstandings. These misunderstandings actually have nothing to do with his personality or even his actions, but simply because of his natural expression. No matter what he does, he almost always appears to be glaring at others. This doesn’t make it easy for him to get to know others, especially his long-term crush Kushieda, but the new school year gives him a better opportunity when his crush ends up in the same class as him. Well, should have been, except for an unexpected encounter with fellow classmate Aiska Taiga (a.k.a. The Palmtop Tiger). As the name suggests, Aiska is a tiny girl with a wild temperament and terrible personality- rude, demanding, ungrateful, very talented at all things klutz, and the best friend of Kushieda. After things take an unexpected and hilariously embarrassing turn, Ryuuji uncovers Aisaka’s secret: she’s in love with his (only) best friend. And so, these two end up working together in an attempt to confess their feelings to their respective love interests. 

This, as you can probably tell, is all very generic: boy meets girl + host of hilarious events= love. But that’s not quite the case. I considered dropping this series after seeing that this would likely take an incredibly predictable path, and also because I wasn’t too interested in sticking it out when I didn’t really like the other main character Aiska; but since I’d already taken the first two volumes from the library, was going to to a review on it (my main reason) and was really loving the humour I figured I’d at least finish them both. Now? I’m definitely collecting it. Not so much because I love over done story-lines, but because, incredibly, the main characters’ personalities and uniqueness are turning this story into an amazing experience so far. I expected both to follow common archetype but they surprised me. Ryuuji, generally the clueless, slow to action, and/or initially inconsiderate male lead, was considerate, kind to a fault, and emotionally mature (for protagonists of this genre that is). Aisaka, though at first got on my nerves despite all the jokes and making me laugh, really does have a bad personality but quickly comes to own up to her faults and later expresses complex, all too human emotions. Safe to say she grew on me (especially in the 2nd volume). The two love interests, Kushieda and Kitamura, haven’t been given much time to shine, but so far (by the 2nd volume at least) have made some insightful choices and judgement calls uncommon for side characters with their personality. I’m looking forward to getting to know them more. 

As of now there are 7 volumes available in English with the 8th volume scheduled to be released late November 2017 (the wait is going to kill me!). I can’t tell how faithful the novel adaptation is since it’s not available in English, but since the story is credited to the same author as the novels I’ll assume it doesn’t branch too far from the original work. There is also a 25 episode anime adaptation of the series available on Crunchyroll that, at least so far, follows the manga incredibly well. I’d recommend this series to any fan of comedy or romance. 

On a separate note:

Happy Holidays everyone!! 😁🎉🎁

Aoharu X Machinegun by NAOE

*This Review is Spoiler Free*

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I, Tachibana will not allow such acts of evil to come to pass. I will bring judgement down upon that host! Prepare yourself fiend!

Sorry for the late post. I didn’t expect the recent time change to effect the time for pre-scheduled posts but here it is:

It’s a really good thing no one was around to witness all the fangirling I did once I realized this was available for pre-order in North America. This is by far one of my favorite contemporary (with all those impossible martial arts moves not even sure if it really fits in this genre lol) comedic fiction series so far. To be honest this had me bursting out in unexpected laughter (which turned many heads in public) in a much more satisfying way than One Punch, which I actually liked, ever did. Over dramatized drama and action, sexual innuendos, and a dash of farcical humour is what made this comedy something that is right up my alley. This was in addition to a primarily unique story-line. Hands down 8.5 out of 10 unicorn horns

 Aoharu X Machinegun begins with the main character, 16 year old high schooler Hotaru Tachibana, excitedly moving in by herself into a new apartment complex only to come across a suspicious man openly flirting over the phone, and not being shy about who overhears, right in front of Tachibana’s apartment. Tachibana nervously struggles about what to do before ultimately deciding to take action…by punching a hole in the wall as a warning. Much to both my and the main characters surprise this act only endears Tachibana to this stranger, introduced as Masamune Matsuoka, who’s first excited words are, “Hey. Let’s you and me have some fun!!”. This meeting leads to a string of unexpected events; A coincidental misunderstanding, a fight with B.B. guns at a Host Club, thousands of dollars owned in repair fees, and a reluctant Tachibana joining Masamune (a Host at the aforementioned Host Club), and Tooru Yukimura (a published hentai manga artist) in a series of intense (to the point of being both hilarious and really thrilling) survival games using B.B. guns with the goal of becoming the best team in Japan. All, at least at first, in order to pay off the debt and while Tachibana is, as usual, being mistaken for a boy (sound familiar anyone?). 

Though only the 1st volume is available in softcover as of today, as someone who was really impatient and read the ebooks (something I dislike doing) up to volume 4 (though there are currently 6 available) I can promise that the story does get progressively better as new characters are introduced, the past of current characters are reveled, and some surprisingly serious and emotionally charged scenes make an appearance.

As for the anime adaptation which is what made this great series known to me, it was really well done and stays pretty faithful to the manga. Only thing is I believe the anime only adapts up to the end of volume 4 (end of chapter 16) so the story ends leaving you hanging. Naoe’s Aoharu X Machinegun is something that, rated as 16+, struck me as something fans of Ouran Host Club and Mayo Chiki! would really enjoy. That being said this title may share some similarities with both, but is definitely a work of it’s own so even if you didn’t like those two titles or have no clue what either are-I enjoyed them but can’t say either was a favorite- this is something those who enjoy comedy, or like the sound of the premise should check out.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

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So, I recently read my first John Scalzi novel, which was Lock In, and did a review of the novel on here a view weeks ago. I liked that book so much that I went to the library soon after that and picked up Old Man’s War, as well as the next two books in the series. About half-way through Old Man’s War I returned to the library and grabbed the rest of the books in the series. If that is any indication at all that I enjoyed this novel as much…and more than I enjoyed Lock In…I don’t know what is lol. 

The main character of this novel is 75 year-old John Perry, who after visiting his wife’s grave on his 75th birthday joins the Colonial Defense Forces. The CDF is an army of the Colonial Union that is situated in space, which is where the bulk of this novel is set. The novel follows John as he enlists in the CDF and follows him through his journey to become a soldier. Once again you shall only be getting the bare bones of the synopsis (…sorry, not sorry!)  because a great part of my reading experience was discovering the world and the intricacies of the CDF as Perry got his understanding of life in space. There are no real spoilers if you do read a full synopsis of the novel on Goodreads, or elsewhere, but when I went back and read the synopsis after reading the novel I was glad that I went into reading it with as little knowledge of the story as possible.

The novel is very interesting and the world building is amazing. The pacing of the story is well done and it’s fitting to have a MC that doesn’t know everything that’s going on around them and get to figure it out with him. This added to my overall enjoyment of the novel because it aids on giving the novel an aire of suspense and an added level of intrigue. This book was very well thought out and the more scientific aspects of the story were not just simply glossed over. You can very easily tell that Scalzi put in the effort to make the novel’s more otherworldly aspects, as well as, the connections between what John Perry experiences interesting, inventive, but at the same time believable. Let me not forget to mention that John Scalzi’s humorous writing is superb! I laughed out loud, in public, at least a dozen times while commuting to and from work. Now, this may embarrass some other unicorns, but as a seasoned transit reader it doesn’t even phase me anymore. Okay, admittedly the few times I snorted in public while reading this book were not my finest moments and I *may* have sported some good ole anime/manga style diagonal line blushes.

I enjoyed this novel and HIGHLY recommend it. There was not much that I can recall disliking. I’m making my way through the rest of the series and hope to be able to provide an overall review of the series when I complete it. I give this novel 9 out of 10 unicorn horns! Any fans of Science Fiction should definitely check this novel out. Readers who don’t tend to generally read Sci-Fi, but would like to venture into the sub-genre should give this novel a try…especially if you like combat scenarios, political intrigue, good world-bulding, stories that bring into question what defines our humanity, and/or humorous writing.

One Punch Man by ONE

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One-Punch Man by ONE is a comedic young adult supernatural action series that uses satire to poke fun at a lot of over done themes and tropes in superhero and action fiction. Formerly a popular self-published webtoon, ONE’s comic has been adapted into an on-going manga series as well as adapted into a 12 episode anime. It’s centered around a young adult named Saito who, after failing to become a successful working adult and coming across a villainous crab-man-thing targeting a child for revenge, decides to become a superhero. The humour in this series comes from it’s over-exaggeration of overused tropes and in the main character’s predicament. Saito, despite being a normal average looking human, is much too powerful. Much to his dismay he often defeats all his opponents with a single ‘normal’ punch, and leaves most battles unscathed, unchallenged, strangely unrecognized by the general public, and feeling bored to the point of near apathy. 

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I can’t say too much about it without spoiling anything, but this has been a very enjoyable series so far and is filled with tons of hilarious scenes, interesting characters, great battle scenes and a very well paced story-line that snowballs into a good amount of suspense. At first I figured this isn’t a story filled with anything thought provoking as it’s primarily just a comedic action series, but the lighthearted tone at times took a surprising turn into something a bit darker and more meaningful. That is something that has made this really stand out for me. Comedy like art is subjective, but I think this is one of the better of it’s kind. Speaking of art… Yusuke Murata did, in my subjective opinion, BEAUTIFUL work. The artwork is very clean. I often worry about how well I’ll be able to understand an action packed scene with a lot of fighting going on, but everything was always clear and very detailed. 

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I’ve only read the first volume, but watched the anime adaptation. As far as I can tell it was well done, and follows the general story-line closely only making minor changes in dialect and adding events to details that don’t interfere with the original story. 

Verdict? Story 8/10. Characters 8/10. Art 9.5/10. Overall 8/10 Unicorn Horns.  

I’d recommend this series to anyone looking for a good laugh and great action. I will defiantly keep collecting and reading this series, as well as check out his other series Mob Psycho once it’s released in English. I may up-date this review once I’ve read more.