Monday, August 24, 2015

Manga Monday: Devil King for Student Council!

The crowd's all here - from Maou and Emi to Mayumi Kisaki and Lucifer in The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! Volume 1.

Once again, Maou-sama has to find his place in this strange new world, and now there's even more drama than in the backroom of the fast food joint. He is, arguably, in a better position to take over all of Japan, and then the world now.

Every great leader needs a great education, you see, and what better place to start than in high school?

A high school has plenty of room for our favorite faces. Alicel is working as custodian so that he and Maou get free room and board. Emi and her friend Rika Suzuki transfer in shortly thereafter, and poor Chi-chan was here to begin with. Maou's boss from MgRonalds is now their teacher, and other characters wander in over time.

The story roughly follows that of the light novel and manga, with Maou planning to take over the world using Student Council President as just the first stepping-stone. There's a challenge to sell the most curry puddings, and Emi becomes injured on a class field trip. Even though we've heard the song before, the remix still entertains.

The whole 'high school' versions of popular manga is becoming more and more common. While it's kind-of fun to see favorite characters in a completely different setting, the whole idea is just a bit bizarre. The gaps in ages are scaled down, so that Chi-chan is the same age as Maou and Emi, which changes the dynamic of their relationship a bit. And figuring out how to wedge in side characters stretches the bounds of credibility. Even so, The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! Volume 1 is a fun alternate story for big fans of the existing series.

Highs: It's cute that even her, Alciel ends up cleaning up after everyone.

Lows: How many students can transfer into the same class in just two days?

Verdict: Only meant for real fans of the original series, The Devil is a Part-Timer! High School! Volume 1 reads like a high school fantasy of a fanfic - in all the best ways.

Further Reading: The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Light Novel) Volume 1, The Devil is a Part-Timer! (manga) Volume 1, Rin-ne

Monday, August 10, 2015

Manga Monday: That's a stylish young man...with a grade school backpack...

It's hard being a high school kid who looks 10...but it's just as hard being an elementary school kid who looks 20 in Recorder and Randsell Volume 1.

Miyagawa Atsumi is a pretty average high school girl. She worries about exams, she has a best friend to hang out with, and she helps to take care of her little brother Atsushi. Atsushi's pretty normal himself too. He's got friends that love to get him in trouble, and a teacher who does her best to watch over him.

Unfortunately, neither of them look as normal as they are. Atsumi is an absolutely tiny 4'5”, while her fifth grade brother is a rather mature-looking 5'10". Atsumi has to shop in the children's department, Atsushi gets hand-me-downs from their 32-year-old neighbor. No one wants to take Atsumi seriously when she's out and about, and everyone mistakes Atsumi hanging out with his normal-looking girl classmate as a weirdo. It just isn't easy being a Miyagawa kid.

Atsumi, at least, is mature enough to use her childish appearance to her advantage, while poor Atsushi hasn't quite gotten it down yet. Volume 1 covers just about a year in their lives, including the popularity problems of Valentine's Day and White day, and the problem of Atsushi being introduced to a new teacher who isn't accustomed to his...appearance. The other folks in town, like the slacker neighbor who keeps giving Atsushi clothes picked out by his ex-girlfriends and the little boys Atsushi hangs out with who think it's super cool to be able to get away with not having an actual adult supervise them, just add to the fun.

Recorder and Randsell Volume 1 is a 4-koma comedy manga that easily captures the silliness of the assumptions that we all make upon seeing someone. It has some absolutely laugh-out-loud scenes, and doesn't rely on just its premise to bring the laughs.

Highs: 'Say something an adult would say!' '...BOOBS!'

Lows: You'd think that the police in the area would eventually recognize Atsushi and stop trying to arret him for being a creep.

Verdict: Recorder and Randsell Volume 1 is in equal parts hilarious and adorable, and a fun change of pace from other more serious manga.

Further Reading: Shiba Inuko-SanCrayon Shin-Chan, Neko Ramen

Monday, August 3, 2015

Manga Monday: How cute can the cute girl in class be?

It might not be polite to point out a classmate's differences, but perhaps some things might need to be cleared up in Shiba Inuko-san Volume 1.

It's actually refreshing to see someone in Japan who is accepted for all of her eccentricities. Students everywhere can be very unforgiving of classmates, and in as cohesive a society as Japan, standing out too much can sometimes be frowned upon.

Chako Ishibashi is just a normal 8th grader at a normal school. She has a few friends in her new class, and a little brother Yuuto who she walks to school with in the morning. She's in a different class this year in school, which is exciting, because it's the same class her friend Naho was in last year, and they seened like suh a close, friendly bunch.

But as Naho is making introductions, Chako meets the most popular girl in class. She's cute, and short, and…


She's Shiba Inuko-san. Everyone agrees that she's short, and adorable, and brown-haired,and has a small tail, and irresistibly cuddly, but for some reason only Chako seems to have put all the pieces together that she's actually a Shiba Inu dog.

But what does that matter, really? Inuko-san is still adorable, and a good friend to her classmates, and participates in whatever they're doing. She might not be the best person to share notes with if you're absent with a cold, but she's sure mastered chopsticks at lunch.

A standard 4-koma manga, Shiba Inuko-san Volume 1 never tries for more plot than it's able to actually pull off. Each story is basically a middle-school slice of life, with some sort of dog-related twist. Surprisingly, it stays fresh much longer than one might expect. The author uzu has somehow hit upon the perfect combination of absurdity and normalcy, and it blends very well.

Highs: Any time Shiba Inuko-san runs up against a problem based on her form, and the rest of the class - minus Chako - takes it in stride, the reader can't help but smile.

Lows: Fans who have become bored with the abundance of slice-of-life manga recently may find some of the tropes repetitive.

Verdict: Shiba Inuko-san Volume 1 is exactly what it sets out to be, and does it well.

Further Reading: Azumanga Daioh, Cromartie High School

Saturday, August 1, 2015

How far can a friendly dragon get in the world?

The nicest dragon in the universe slowly wins people over with his sincerity in Rachel Bach's One Good Dragon Deserves Another.

Note: One Good Dragon Deserves Another is the second book in the Heartstrikers series. For the first book, Nice Dragon Finish Last, click here. Otherwise, read on!