Vol 1: Next of Kin; Vol 2: Sonic Youth; Vol 3: We All Float On, illustrated by Jeff Lemire
Royal City is your average Americana working-class town where everyone is employed by a pollution-belching factory, and the standard of living is low. The story focuses on the Pike family and their different struggles. You have Patrick, who used his younger brother's journals to make a best-selling novel, but now finds himself without ideas for another, and in a failing marriage. Then there's Tara, a real estate agent with a plan to make Royal City a great vacation destination, but at the expense of her husband's job at the factory. Patti, the matriarch, deals with her relationship with her husband, who suffers a stroke. Lastly, there's Richie, a drug addict and gambler who burns every member of the family who tries to help him. The entire Pike family has to come to terms with their individual struggles, all while dealing with their version of events in the death of the youngest Pike.
Hachiken is a high school freshman who enrolled at Ezo (Ooezo) Agricultural high school simply because he wanted to live away from his family (for reasons, I'm sure, we'll find out later). Hachiken is convinced with all his academic skill that he will be number one at this new school, but quickly finds out that he is no match for his classmates, all of whom were born and raised in agricultural areas. Hachiken finds the hands on approach to be exhausting, and learns that he is woefully unequipped for the physical demand of learning at Ezo Ag.
Tanjiro is a hard working young man, forced into a surrogate father role for his younger siblings after their father passed away. After selling charcoal to villagers down the mountain, he arrives back at his home to find his entire family has been killed by demons, and his younger sister has been turned into one! Through the force of his will and the bond he has with his sister, Nezuko, she overpowers her primal urges to eat him. Tanjiro is determined to help heal Nezuko, and to that end he seeks out Master Urokadaki to become a great demon slayer.
Ao Haru Ride, or Youth Ride, follows Futaba, a high school freshman, who reconnects with her first crush. Futaba cannot get over how much Kou Tanaka has changed, and not for the better. He’s changed his name, for one, to Mabuchi, and the kind, shy, nice boy has become cold, aloof, and troubled. Kou is also very insightful and not altogether shy about sharing his hard truths with Futaba.
Takane & Hana is a fairly cute and humorous romance story. Hana is 16 and was talked into going to an arranged marriage meeting for her sister so that her family could save face with her father’s employee. Takane is 26 and heir to one of the largest conglomerates in Japan. Takane knows right away that Hana isn’t who she’s supposed to be, and makes it his mission to “get back” at Hana. His evil plan? Take her on adventures and have witty repartee. Hana is along for the ride, considering Takane has power over her father’s continued employment. The two go back and forth trading humiliations and trying to get back at the other, and their antics are quite funny. However, since this is a romance, you can bet that they will start to soften and care for each other over the course of the series.
Within the first few pages of this manga, the author discusses the perceptions other people have towards those who suffer from social anxieties, glossophobia (fear of speaking), to other communication disorders. Komi is one of many individuals at this school who cannot seem to form any words (which is interesting, considering the entrance exam for this private school is an interview). Enter Tadano, a boy who is determined to be mediocre and pass by unnoticed through his high school years. Tadano finds himself having some of his first high school conversations with Komi through writing on the chalkboard. He decides he wants to be Komi's friend and help her reach her goal: to have 100 friends. Tadano next introduces Komi to one of his long-time friends, Najimi, who is a super popular, super social gender-fluid character. Together, the trio look out for Komi and help her navigate social situations while getting her to reach her goal of 100 friends.
This story presents two very real ways that people fall in love: through destiny, with all the fairy-tale magic, or through getting to know a person and pursuing them if they are a match for you. Sakisaka has two female leads in this story, Yuna and Akira, who present both versions of falling in love so that the audience doesn't favor one style over another.
Illustrated by Akira Okubo
This is a universe where samurai are legends of science fiction. Samurai are cyborgs with spine-like keys that give them their powers. There are also key holders that can be controlled with bone handles of the samurai's sword. Then there are lock balls. Then there are video games, bad guys bent on stealing lock balls so they can become samurai and princesses. There's a talking cat from the order of the dog. There's a cybernetic dog who can only meow. And there's a person so isolated, they can't decide what gender they are.
Illustrated by Stephen Green, colored by Rico Renzi
Oh no, they did NOT end it like that!
Sea of Stars follows a dad, Gil, and his young son, Kaydn. Gil is a space trucker who has Kaydn on board for his latest mission, following the death of Kadyn's mother. The ship is attacked by a giant monster, and Kaydn gets a mystical set of powers after a chance encounter with a staff as the ship is breaking up. The two are separated, and Kadyn finds he can swim through space, he doesn't require oxygen, and he's super strong! Suddenly, the boring-ness of space is gone, and all he wants to do is play. Contrasting his story is that of Gil, who is set adrift, finds a derelict ship with a murder-y cop bot named Kyle, and crash lands on a planet infested with baddies. Volume one has a serious cliff hanger that will leave you really wishing that wasn't the last page.
Akira is a high schooler unfairly on probation for being a Good Samaritan at the wrong time. He attempted to rescue a woman, but was sued by her attacker. Now, he must attend a new school and try to keep his nose clean for a year. On his way to school on his first day, he and a classmate, Ryuji, get transported into another reality, the Metaverse, where the demented desires of adults can manifest into palaces of warped perceptions. Akira and Ryuji must battle their way back to their reality, and they uncover much about the wrongdoings of one of their teachers, Coach Kamoshida. Once what they’ve learned clashes with reality, they take it upon themselves to defeat the palace version of Kamoshida to effect change in their reality.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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