Lenni Reviews: "Komi Can’t Communicate" Vol. 1 by Tomohito Oda

Hitohito Tadano has started at an elite high school and just wants to blend in until he can graduate. That's until he ends up seated next to the prettiest girl in the school, Shoko Komi. After a while, he can't help but notice Shoko never speaks and asks her if she has trouble talking to people. While Shoko may appear to be the perfect aloof princess, turns out she gets so terrified to say the wrong thing, she ends up saying nothing. Having opened up to him by writing on the chalkboard, Hitohito decides to help Shoko with her dream: to make 100 friends.

I kinda love this manga. I adore how Shoko doesn't have any sort of disorder or anything, she's just SUPER awkward. Watching the kids around her fumble to figure out what the heck she's doing is funny and it's genuinely sweet that Hitohito wants to help her out. I'm betting there will be some really interesting personalities Shoko will encounter on her quest for 100 friends and the story makes it really easy to root for her. So unless this takes some sort of horrible dark turn, I'm on board with this series and look forward to more! 4 out of 5!

Lenni Reviews: "Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato" by Scarlet Beriko

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Tatsuyuki Oyamato may be 4th generation heir to a yakuza family but all he cares about is partying and getting girls. Until he finds himself attracted to a man. After a drunken hookup, he wakes up with someone who proves to be more than just a random dude as he knows Oyamato and his infamous family.

Hooooo boy, this is a dark one. The guy Oyamato sleeps with - mild spoilers - turns out to be Nozomi Koga; the son of a man who once owed money to the yakuza. When Koga was a kid, the yakuza came to collect and found his father had been sexually abusing him. Oyamato was also a child and thought Koga was a girl because of his long hair and the creepy way his dad dressed him.

This book is rife with sexual assault; which is offputting (of course) when it attempts to combine it with the romance forming between Koga and Oyamato. I don't want to spoil too much but yeah, major rape trigger warnings here. It feels almost wrong to say I like it. The art is well done and I adore the main pair. They make the hardest parts of this book worth it for me. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Saint Young Men" by Hikaru Nakamura

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this answer to the question "What if Jesus and Buddha went on vacation" we have a thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious set of stories about these two powerhouses of the heavens living a normal(ish) life in Japan. If you're not into 'slice of life' stories, this will bore you but I found it endearing and fun! Both religions are treated with respect and the translation notes are exceedingly helpful for some of the side humor. It wanders a little but that comes with slice of life stories. I had a lot of fun reading this volume but it's hard to see where this would keep going for multiple volumes without getting repetitive. 4.8 out of 5. 


Lenni Reviews: "Abara: Complete Deluxe Edition" by Tsutomu Nihei

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

In a dystopian landscape, creatures known as White Gauna have awakened, threatening to devour the city's populace and destroy everything. The Observation Bureau enlists the help of Denji Kudou, a Black Gauna. But as more and more White Guana appear, Kudo may not be enough to save the city from destruction.

While the story is interesting and the art amazing - brutally awesome and detailed - you are tossed into this story without much guidance. How are these creatures bonded to people? What's the technology level of a world full of all these cybernetics and how did they learn to use them on these beings? What's the deal with the talking skeleton bird? You will not get much in the way of clear answers here.

That being said, Nihei tells a great story here. It reminds me of Battle Angel Alita with the impressive creature design and ultra-violence. This edition also includes some full-color art, pull out pages with larger art, and a side story "Digimortal." This would make a great gift or a worthy addition for a collector. 3.9 out of 5. 

This book will be released December 18th, 2018.

Lenni Reviews: "That Blue Sky Feeling" Vol. 1 by Okura and Coma Hashii

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

High school student, Noshiro, is the outgoing type determined to get along with everyone. When he notices his classmate, Sanada, all by himself, Noshiro immediately tries to fix that; much to the stoic Sanada's dismay. But rumors of Sanada being gay have Noshiro's classmates telling him to stay away from Sanada. Undaunted, Noshiro makes it his mission to befriend Sanada, get their classmates to come around, understand his sexual preference, and possibly learn a little more about himself.

This manga is too damn cute. Despite the fact if you've read any manga ever you can see what's coming in the plot a mile away, Noshiro is so lovable and Sanada is so relatable, it's not so bad traveling down this road again and I can't wait for more. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Ten Count" volume 1 by Rihito Takarai

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tadaomi Shirotani works as a secretary for a CEO while suffering from germophobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. One day, his boss is nearly hit by a truck and a young man named Riku Kurose; who is a therapist, saves the man from being killed. Kurose notices Shirotani's condition and offers to help him work through it. Kurose has Shirotani make a list of 10 things to get over in order of discomfort from least to most. Shirotani is only able to come up with 9. They make a deal to meet regularly to work through the list then Shirotani will come up with that 10th item, but he finds he develops more than just a friendly attraction to Kurose.

Unlike a lot of yaoi manga with an M rating, this first volume is very innocent. Our two main characters meet, get to know each other, and slowly build what will likely be a deeper relationship. There's an author's note in the back expressing concern that readers will be disappointed with the leisurely pace but I like it. The art is beautiful, the writing on point, and I think I would like to see Shirotani and Kurose take their time so I can enjoy their story. 4.5 out of 5.

For more of Lenni's writing and reviews, head over to Haunting Hypatia.

Lenni Reviews: Kiss of the Rose Princes vol 2 by Aya Shouoto

(Image Source)

If you recall my last review, I mentioned this manga is pretty standard shojo fare unless there's a curve ball thrown in later volumes. Boy, were my words ever prophetic...

This volume begins with Anise still searching for her lost choker. She orders her knights to locate it but can only let them look for so long as their magic is powered by her blood. But things get interesting when a new transfer student, Haruto Kisugi, is added to the mix, Anise's father sends her a message that he's coming home, and a seal holding in a demon is cracking, which will require a sacrifice to repair.

By the end of this volume, I was shocked and had a new respect for Anise. Most shojo heroines are plucky by design and want to change the sad fate presented in the plot. But (as a mild spoiler) when Anise says "Bring on my punishment" (referencing the punishment for losing the choker) I found that pretty ballsy. Things went so bad so quickly and Anise really showed her bravery. She went right on without hesitation. And she's brave and strong without being overbearing or too cliche. And I have read a LOT of shojo manga. Of course that could change but we shall see in volume three!

I can't give much more detail without spoiling all of the plot twists in this volume but to sum up, things get real and it was awesome.

Lenni Reviews: Vampire Knight vol 19 by Matsuri Hino

Lenni Reviews: Vampire Knight vol 19 by Matsuri Hino

I started reading this series when Shojo Beat was still a subscription magazine. Unfortunately, when the magazine stopped, I also stopped reading it; due entirely to my allotted money to spend on hard copy volumes of comics or manga.

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Lenni Reviews: Naruto vol 67 by Nasashi Kishimoto

Lenni Reviews: Naruto vol 67 by Nasashi Kishimoto

I have a horrible confession to make. I, Lenni, being of unsound mind and otaku body, have never read Naruto. Ever. So, it is while dodging thrown Pocky and rice balls (because who throws rotten tomatoes anymore?) that I dive in and attempt to review this manga.

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Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 2 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 2 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Continuing from volume one, my favorite big guy with a big heart, Takeo Goda is still misunderstood due to his giant appearance and gruff looks. But he doesn't care as long as Rinko Yamato looks at him with a great big smile and his best friend Makoto Sunakawa is by his side. But life is as life does and events conspire to make Takeo have to chose who he will spend his time with when both of the most important people in his life need him the most.

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Lenni Reviews: Black Rose Alice vol 1 by Setona Mizushiro

Lenni Reviews: Black Rose Alice vol 1 by Setona Mizushiro

In 1900's Vienna, famous tenor Dimitri Lewandoski gets trampled by a horse and wakes up with a strange rose shaped mark on the back of his neck. Suddenly, whenever he sings, people die. Suffering the loss of his beloved, he goes underground. The story really begins in 2008 Tokyo where Azusa Kikukawa is involved in a fatal car accident and Dimitri offers to save her lover in exchange for becoming a breeder for the same vampire seeds which infect Dimitri.

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Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 1 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 1 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Takeo Goda and Makoto Sunagawa are best friends and couldn't me more opposite. Takeo is tall and super strong where Makoto is a classic pretty boy. Since they were children, Takeo has watched Makoto reject every girl to confess their love to him and has always been ignored by girls homself. But when Takeo saves a girl named Yamamoto from being harassed on a train; he sees his chance to finally get his best friend to accept the young lady's very obvious crush.

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Lenni Reviews: Food Wars vol 1 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Lenni Reviews: Food Wars vol 1 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

In this volume, we meet Soma Yukihira; a budding young cook whose man ambition is to out cook his father, who is famous for his culinary talents. Soma's father challenges his son to graduate from the most elite cooking school in the country; the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute; which boasts a 10 percent graduation rate.

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Lenni Reviews: Another by Yukito Ayatsuki

I picked up this manga from the bookstore randomly and in yet another sweet twist of fate, it was a freaking awesome idea. Another is a creepy, beautiful read.

The story is set in 1998, when Koichi Sakakibara transfers to a new school and as all we manga fans know, is cause for shenanigans. The legend of this class is there was once a student named Misaki who died in an accident. The class was so devastated, they pretended she was still there. A nice coping mechanism if you can keep it up but at the end of the year, the dead student appeared in the class photo. From then on, there always seemed to be an "extra" in the class a student who didn't exist before and cease to exist after. Horrible tragedies would befall the class til this "extra was found." If they don't know who the extra is, the students and the teacher create one, selecting one student in the class to completely ignore as if he or she was not there. This year's selection is Mei Misaki.

Not properly warned, Koichi is determined to make friends with Mei despite the vague mentions from his classmates. When accidents start happening, Koichi is determined to find whoever may be the "extra" causing the deaths around him before he falls victim himself.

At first I was a little annoyed the kids around Koichi didn't just flat out tell him what the deal was but when you think about it, you really just can out and out tell the new kid "Hey there! Nice to meet you! By the way, our class is cursed." so we can let that slide. The manga has a slow, creepy build I can appreciate rather than the in-your-face sort of scares from more gory horror. It is genuinely sad and scary to watch the kids and adults crack and break under the stress of finding the "extra" person and ending the disasters. 

The art may seem initially like standard manga fair but Kiyohara does a masterful job of integrating both cuteness, drama, and fear into what you're seeing on the page. The story is just complex enough to keep you interested with very few side tracks to distract you. By the end, you are left with a very satisfying ending and a wonderful example of how complete Japanese horror manga can be. Now, I picked up the omnibus edition from Yen Press for $29.99, which was a bit of an ouchie for my wallet but I can see myself reading this more than once. I enjoyed this manga and I recommend it to any fan of a good slice of creepy/cute goodness from Japan. If you give this one a chance, friends, you won't be disappointed.

Lenni Reviews: In These Words Chapter 6

***This book has adult content! You have been warned!***

After many hours of swagbucks, I finally got enough gift cards to get the next chapter of In These Words by Guiltpleasure from Kobo. I'm a little annoyed I can't get it in print but I'm not willing to wait for more chapters to come out to make another print volume and the digital copies look effing fantastic in my iPad so it's all worth it.

Mild spoilers ahead here. Nothing too big because you need to go read this.

After the EPIC cliffhanger from volume one, Keiji is loose in the house with Katsuya and the only cop guarding them incapacitated - possibly dead - giving Keiji all the time in the word to do whatever he wants with the doctor he claims to love. And thanks to the cop's handy dandy taser, Katsuya is at the mercy of whatever this psycho murderer has in mind.

Once again, I cannot stress the amount of smut in this book. It is beautifully unflinching. The chapter is short, so there isn't much time for Keiji and Katsuya to have that intriguing interplay they had in volume one, but it takes no time at all for Keiji to meet Lecter levels of creepy. I am dying to find out what happens next but I also kinda don't because it just won't seem to end well for Katsuya.

Despite not having paper to hold in my hands, I am so glad I can nab these chapters as they come out. They're a little pricey ($6.99-$7.99) but hey, they got me to buy the first 6 chapters. I think you should, too.

Like Lenni's writing? See more here.

Lenni Reviews: Ayako by Osamu Tezuka

Any otaku worth their salt knows Osamu Tezuka. He’s the godfather of manga, a master storyteller, and is known for some of the most influential manga and anime ever created. When presented with “Ayako”, I was very excited to read something of Tezuka’s I’d never read before.

In terms of sheer scope and power, “Ayako” does not disappoint. Ayako, the product of an incesuous relationship between the head of the Tenge clan and his son’s wife, sees too much of the family’s dark side and ends up imprisoned in a basement to keep the family sins quiet. Tezuka’s telling of this poor woman’s life from childhood to adulthood is unmercifully dark and cruel, almost beyond belief.

The backdrop is post war Japan when an occupied Japanese government is dividing up the properties of wealthy landowners like the Tenge family to give to tenant farmers. In the fight to keep what they can, the family is willing to do anything to save face, including kill, blackmail, and keep a little girl a prisoner for her entire life.

There are times where the machinations you see are just unreal. It difficult to believe anyone could be so cruel but there are rays of hope and snippets of humor that keep the book from being completely depressing. Tezuka’s art is in rare form, providing an eerily cartoonish display for such a dark story.

While it is a great book, Lenni advises reading it in spurts with a more upbeat book in the wings to break up the sadness. “Ayako” is a fantastically rendered trip through the darkest parts of humanity so I advise a literary flashlight, so to speak. You won’t regret reading it, though.

Lenni Reviews: Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

Towards the tail end of WWII, the US made the decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As you can imagine, it changed the course of history for the entire world. Any history class will teach you the political and military implications of such an event but what about the day to day lives of the survivors? There are many tales, including the groundbreaking Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa. Unlike the gritty realism in Nakazawa’s work, Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms takes us ten years later to the lives of ordinary citizens and how the end of the war affected them.

First we meet a young woman named Minami Hirano, a young woman living in Hiroshima. She goes about her everyday life not wanting to think about the bomb, why she survived, and how it has changed her. Then we meet Nanami Ishikawa and follow her has she visits her friends in the hospital as a young girl, then go back to visit Hiroshima when she’s grown to deal with not only her father's memories, but her own.

I did enjoy this book. The dichotomy between the light and breezy art style and the very serious subject matter (warning: you may tear up) tugs at your heartstrings. Despite the melancholy, the book ends with a feeling of hope that will make you smile. The book is a poignant sigh you can hold in your hands; calm, painful, but beautiful and I highly recommend picking this book up.

Lenni Reviews: Flutter

Flutter (Yaoi Manga) by Momoko Tenzen

**This title contains adult content**
Aren’t you glad Lenni has brought you some more man-lovin? Yeah, you know you are.
Unlike the last yaoi manga I reviewed for you guys, Flutter is a light hearted boy meets boy story. The couple Masahiro Asada and Ryosuke Mizuki end up working on the same project together after Asada has been watching the enigmatic Mizuki from a far for a long time. Asada can’t hide his feelings forth a damn so of course there’s attraction between them.
As yaoi goes, the plot is pretty standard; boy meets boy, boy has attraction to boy, one boy has a secret past to work through while the other is so woefully earnest, you just wanna smush him. This is not to say it isn’t a fun or enjoyable read. Flutter is a very sweet story; drawn and written beautifully. The art isn’t as explicit as some other yaoi I’ve read but if you know your male anatomy – and I know you do – you get the picture. The intimate scenes are handled with a certain amount of elegance and digression while still being sensual, so if you like your smut implied rather than very explicit, you’ll be happy here.
I am such a sucker for a cute love story that doesn’t get overly sappy. And I’m always happy to see some more yaoi being published in the US. If you pick up Flutter for a light, fun read that will tug gently at your heart strings, you won’t be disappointed. 

Lenni Reviews: "In These Words" Vol 1

In These Words by TogaQ and Kichiku Neko
**This title contains graphic adult content.**
I’ll be honest with you, my friends, I bought this manga for two reasons: The cover art and the yaoi. I love me some yaoi. And it’s one of the few genres of manga too explicit for libraries to keep (at least it’s why I don’t buy them where I work). I’ve been duped by fancy cover art and a smartly worded book jacket before but this time, I was pleasantly surprised! What I found was fantastic art throughout and a psychological thriller that’s hooked me for the next installment.
As the description says, Asano Katsuya is a psychiatrist recruited by the police to pull a confession out of a serial killer, Shinohara Keiji. The very moment Katsuya gets the case, he begins to have vivid and disturbing nightmares about being held prisoner by a man who abuses him for every filthy, twisted whim; all the while confessing his love. The connection between these dreams and the very real crimes Keiji gleefully describes is not told to us in this volume. Are they memories? Are they fantasies? Unfortunately we have to wait to find out.
Content note: When I say “vivid and disturbing nightmares” I am not freaking kidding here. This book is rated 18+ for a damn good reason. A man is held prisoner, sliced up, and taken with dubious consent or a flagrant lack of it. There is wang in this book. You are warned so don’t come crying “Omg, Lenni! I saw a naked man!” I’m telling you now, you will see wang and you will see butt sex. Don’t like? Don’t read.
That said, “In These Words” is not a fluffy story of two men who meet, fall in love, are hesitant to tell one another, but get together in a burst of song, sakura petals, and sweet man-love. It’s Law and Order with really hot men. You are treated to Keiji’s demented mind games and Katsuya’s conflict between wanting this confession and trying not to fall into Keiji’s mental trap. There’s the same feeling of wondering if the dreams are memories and if what we are reading is a flashback or happening right then I experienced when watching Perfect Blue. Reality starts to warp, words are bent and twisted, and you fear for Katsuya; who is way too drawn to Keiji right from the beginning.
My only disappointment is I got into this series right when the volume came out and I have to wait for the second one. The art is beautiful. I am a complete sucker for the sketchy quality, where you can see every pen and brush stroke as it forms the image. If you like a lot of story with your yaoi, you could do a lot worse than In These Words. All I can really say is hurry with volume 2!

Lenni Reviews: Blade of the Immortal Vol 25: Snowfall at Dawn

Warning: If you’re reading this and you haven’t read the first 24 volumes, there will be spoilers. This review operates on the assumption you have read every volume but this one.
            Are you ready? Then proceed:
            Have you ever been hip deep in a series - book, comic or television - and had a favorite villain? You almost look forward to their repeat appearances. You wonder what they will do to the hero next and if the hero will finally end their reign of terror for good. Shira is NOT such a villain. In fact, he is one of those villains who you wonder when the hell he will be finished off so you don’t have to deal with him anymore!
Volume 25 of this fantastic, award winning series by Hiroaki Samura promises such a showdown with Shira, who is known for his sick predilections with torturing and murdering women. So, I guess as a female manga fan, I am one of many psyched to see get Shira dead in a fantastic way. I don't enjoy seeing him and I almost regret him lasting so long over other villains I enjoyed seeing more. But therein lies Hiroaki Samura's genius; Shira is so fantastically created, I can't freaking stand him. I suppose you don't get rid of a villain so crazed and sick, he carves off his own flesh to make the bones of his forearm into a double blade dagger.
Rin and Manji have recovered from their adventures at Edo castle where Manji was the victim of some pretty heinous immortality experiments. But there is no real rest as they hurry on their quest to find and punish Anotsu. Anotsu is also on the move, with Magatsu in tow and the funniest pair so far in this series, Meguro and Tanpopo, get more screen time. It’s hard to really get into the meat of this volume without completely ruining all the surprises. I can say this; You will laugh, you will cringe, you will gasp, and you will scream when you get to the cliffhanger and can’t find an American release date for the next volume!
This series has never let me down. It’s one of the few I will still outright buy rather than read in the store or borrow from my library. My art idol, Hiroaki Samura, is fantastic as usual; remaining on my list of creators that I will purchase pretty much anything with their name on it. The detailed explanation on how the kessen-chu worms work lost me for a moment but not because it wasn’t interesting! I went back and read it on my second pass though the book. When your heroine is in peril and your hero embattled, you don’t want science; you want the fight. And my friends; do you ever get it. Stick with this series if for nothing more than the supreme hope Shira will FINALLY get his.