Tag Archives: highly recommended

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Manga)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Format: Manga
Volumes 1-7

I’m not going to bother recapping the story review since I just posted the first three novel reviews, and the manga so far only touches those three volumes.

In terms of story, it’s impressively similar. There are certainly bits dropped, but it’s mostly Rimuru’s technical explanations of various matters (which I enjoy, but I realize not everyone might), and there’s some slight reordering of events to make the trimmed version cohesive. So if this is the only version you care about, you’re still getting pretty much everything. And the visual gags can add some additional humor.

The art is fantastic. This story was going to be a challenge to draw purely due to the number of monster characters, but the visuals are for the most part very good. I think the lizardmen are the weakest, but even they have recognizable differences in design so characters are visually distinctive. Of course Benimaru and Souei were my favorites (the panel showcasing Souei’s smiles made me laugh so hard . . . He really does look super irritated when he’s grinning).

Rimuru’s human form is also spectacular. I like how androgynous he is—he still thinks in somewhat male ways due to his past life, but the body he mimics was originally female, and in any case is genderless when he mimics it since slimes have no gender. So the scenes where he’s being dressed up by the girls, or where he’s pulling on a suit and tie for treaty talks both look natural.

Kodansha’s not skimping on the release, either. Not all of the volumes have color pages up front, but the ones that do are presented in color, which I appreciate because not all publishers will.

My absolute favorite thing about the manga, though, and the one item that absolutely makes them worth buying if you already have and like the light novels, is Veldora’s diary entry at the end of each volume. Did you ever wonder what happened to Veldora after Rimuru swallowed him with the promise of both of them working on the seal? The novels leave you to assume Veldora is diligently throwing his all into breaking free . . . and his diary quickly dispels that notion. The incredibly bored dragon has found a number of new sources of entertainment—Rimuru’s memories (especially his human ones), whatever Rimuru is up to at the moment, and, eventually, Ifrit. (Poor Ifrit.) Add in a bit of meddling from the Great Sage (or Veldora trying to use the Great Sage for his own ends) and it was impossible for me to get through more than a few sentences without laughing. And oh, is Rimuru in for a surprise whenever he finally gets Veldora out . . .

Overall, I would consider this a solid investment, whether you’re only intending to follow the manga or whether you want it as a companion to the anime or light novel. I rate this series Highly Recommended.

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #2 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #2

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Rimuru and his allies are busy laying the groundwork for the city that will become their new home. But something is stirring in the Forest of Jura. An army is on the move, displacing monsters and devouring anything that they can catch. It’s Rimuru’s first real taste of war . . . and can his small group of followers conquer such a vast number of enemies?

It’s just one thing after another for Rimuru ever since he left the caves where he was reborn. This time around, a massive army of orcs is advancing into the forest, which is upsetting the local monsters. And these are no ordinary orcs. They’re being held together by an all-consuming power that has turned them into a single-minded swarm bent on only one thing: devouring everything in an attempt to fill their insatiable hunger.

I really like this arc for a number of reasons. The orcs, lizardmen, and ogres show a broader view of the Forest of Jura—and in the case of the lizardmen, a bit of civil unrest as the war creates divisive opinions on how to fight.

It also shows how names, something Rimuru takes for granted because of his memories as a human, can totally change the course of a monster’s life. Perhaps in keeping with the game-like mechanics behind skills, a named monster is more powerful than its unnamed kind. And something Rimuru totally fails to notice is that a named monster is ALSO loyal to the one who named it. So in handing out names because he can’t otherwise figure out how to talk to specific monsters, he’s single-handedly evolving pretty much every monster he meets . . . and creating an ever-growing group of allies willing to help him with his dreams of civilization. Titles also work to boost skill—the monsters Rimuru calls “king” and “lord” grow right into that.

There’s a lot of work that’s going into the town Rimuru is creating, but I like that for now much of it is still so preliminary that they haven’t constructed much. He’s determined to do things right from the ground up.

I’m also hugely amused that Rimuru, who naturally has no sense of taste in slime form (nor, if the magic concentration is high enough, even a need to eat at all) is a real foodie. Now that he has human form, he wants to enjoy all the dishes he liked before he was killed. Figuring out how to recreate them here is problematic from a number of angles, and I like seeing how he starts to work through them.

Then there are the orcs. This large-scale war and its accompanying complications provide for a lot of great fights, not only by Rimuru but also by his allies. I’m particularly fond of the first battle in the book as well as the final battle. Rimuru’s solutions shows he’s growing and adapting–and also that at his heart he’s just someone who wants real peace.

Overall this is a fun read, and a good continuation of the story. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Trash of the Count’s Family

Title: Trash of the Count’s Family

Translator: miraclerifle

Chapters: 28 (ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/trash-of-the-counts-family

One day a young man fell asleep reading a series of books, and woke up as one of the characters. Unfortunately, the identity he was given was that of the wastrel son of a Count, and his destiny is to be beaten up by the main character in the first book and then never be heard from again. Cale hates pain, and decides to use his knowledge of the events to come to position himself in a better spot . . .

This is hilarious. Cale is unabashedly self-centered (although maybe not as much as he wants to credit for himself), and very much interested in staying completely out of the events described in the books he’d been reading. Unfortunately, there’s only so much he can do to stop the plot from rolling along—but he’s determined to influence what he can, where he needs to, in order to live his dream of being a couch potato unaffected by the catastrophes to come.

Naturally, Choi Han would be doing the battling. Why would Cale even try to fight when such a strong person was next to him? Cale thought paper-cuts hurt a lot, so he didn’t want to even think about getting cut by a sword.

But his little machinations are already having bigger ripple effects. Take the dragon. Cale’s main goal is to stop it from rampaging, as well as get a little revenge on the noble who’s torturing it. And everything goes more-or-less as planned, except for one major thing: the dragon isn’t interested in following Cale’s version of the script.

It’s likely Cale’s attempts to keep himself out of the spotlight will only put him into it. And he might start having problems holding on to his bad reputation now that he’s proving he’s far more competent than anyone gives him credit for.

It feels kind of short right now because of the low chapter count, but this is already a very promising series, and one I’m looking forward to immensely. The updates should be pretty frequent for now, which will help. Highly Recommended.

In/Spectre (Manga)

Title: In/Spectre

Format: Manga

Volumes: 1-8

Kuro is a regular visitor at the hospital Kotoko goes to for checkups, but as he’s usually accompanied by his girlfriend, Kotoko has kept her crush a secret. After she learns they broke up, however, she’s determined to make her move. After all, they both have secret ties to the world of yokai, monsters, and spirits. But both of them will be stretched to their limits by a ghost that’s started appearing. Steel Lady Nanase, whose face is smashed in and who wields the I-beam that killed her, is starting to rampage . . .

This was a lot of fun. Kuro is so laid-back about everything, including having his arm chomped off by a giant monster. Turns out he’s basically immortal (and has one other fun ability that can only be activated when he dies). So he spends the story facing incredible danger with a really bored expression. He’s not good at fighting, but he doesn’t really need to be, because nothing can kill him so that he stays dead.

Kotoko is also interesting, although I don’t like her as Kuro’s girlfriend because she’s incredibly pushy. I suppose she does listen when he tells her no, even if that doesn’t stop her from continually trying. She’s missing one eye and one leg as part of a bargain she made with the yokai when she was a kid to be their goddess of wisdom. Which basically means she troubleshoots their issues, which is how both she and Kuro get involved in the Steel Lady Nanase case.

Steel Lady Nanase herself is a really weird little upside-down mystery. Kotoko’s relationship with the local spirits means that discovering the truth is actually pretty easy—but the truth is the problem. Steel Lady Nanase is an urban legend, empowered by belief, and allowing other people to believe that she’s responsible for the things she’s actually doing will only empower her to do worse. So now the question becomes how to put down a ghost that isn’t a ghost, and it will take everything Kotoko and Kuro can do to stop her.

Although I do find it hilarious Kuro’s role in books 5-6 particularly boils down to “get killed repeatedly to keep the ghost distracted from killing people who can’t survive the experience.”

The first six volumes cover the plot of the novel (which doesn’t appear to have an English version), and it was pretty obvious to me it was based on a book. The way the plot stays tight despite hundreds of pages, the flashbacks, the focus on the mystery, and the way a lot of the action is everyone sitting in a room trying to discuss what they know and what they need to do feels like a novel. Which isn’t a bad thing, as volumes 7 and 8 are definitely less compelling simply because their stories are too short to build up the same stakes.

These stories are also hilarious, even if you don’t have my sometimes macabre sense of humor. Kotoko quoting various pacifists and Kuro responding “He got shot, too,” in volume 7 is one of my favorite moments. Or the myriad of ways Kuro shuts down Kotoko’s attempts to get him to sleep with her. I was rooting the whole time for him to get back together with Saki. The one time he looks genuinely happy talking to Kotoko about their relationship is when he tells her if he can have anything he wished for, he’d wish to break up with her. I think they work well as friends and partners, but Kuro clearly isn’t on the same page as Kotoko when it comes to a romantic relationship.

Overall, this is a fun series that’s enough sideways to your typical modern supernatural story to stay surprising. Books 1-6 do comprise a complete arc, with 7 and 8 feeling more like bonuses. I rate this series Highly Recommended.

The Detective & The Unicorn

Title: The Detective & The Unicorn

Author: Michael Angel

Derek Ridder never had much interest in the fantastical creatures from the Morning Land that contacted Earth. He was more invested in doing his job as a cop and trying to get over the loss of his wife. But that was before a call brought him face-to-face with a warlock. Now he’s somehow ended up with the unicorn Tavia as his partner as they hunt down the madman who wants to open Earth to demons . . .

I received this book for free as a gift.

If you’ve seen the author’s other series (Fantasy & Forensics), this has no relationship, despite a rather similar premise.

I loved this. The characters all have a lot of depth, especially those like Coombes, the unidentified-agency agent, who would have been easy to write as stereotypical given his relatively minor role. I loved that Coombes kept showing his humanity. I also appreciated that Derek seems to work at a hard but mostly functional police department with a boss and co-workers who look out for him. And Thunderbolt (the Wonder-Colt) was hilarious. Kids will be kids, no matter the species . . .

Tavia and Derek play well off each other. They’re both guardians of the peace, with serious personalities and a lot of smarts. Derek doesn’t take long to adjust to her as a partner, and while he doesn’t have her knowledge of magic, he also doesn’t have her blind spots. It’s interesting to see how their histories have so many common points, even though they’re from vastly different backgrounds. And I liked that Tavia points out that it’s possible to lose the one you love without death necessarily being the cause—that just because one loves deeply, truly, and well doesn’t mean everything will work out.

I also really like the exploration of various fantasy races. Unicorns, pegasii, dryads, the werewolf-like yena . . . they have their familiar points, but they’re also drawn up in new and interesting ways. Like unicorns as predators as much as herbivores. Or like a pegasus diplomat, and how things work out for him. Or certain creatures being able to run faster than a speeding car. Or, my favorite, a MALE sphinx (who is just as cat-like as one might expect. Which is to say arrogant, ruthless, a bit cruel, and not interested in much outside of himself). There’s a surprise in each chapter, but overall it all hangs together very well.

If I have one small criticism, it’s that it feels Tavia should have picked up on the reason for her own immunity to William Teach’s mind control a while back, and only been confused at how Derek was also able to resist. After all, she knows a good amount about magic, and it doesn’t seem that the ultimate cause was that obscure to someone of her education.

Overall, this is a fast-paced and fun ride, especially for those who wanted a “first contact” type story to be with a fantasy world instead of an alien race. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Door to the Lost

Title: The Door to the Lost

Author: Jaleigh Johnson

Two years ago, the magical gate that led to the world of Vora blew up, scattering magic everywhere. And now magic itself is broken, unreliable, distrusted. Rook and Drift have been scrounging for a living since then, bartering Rook’s ability to open magical doors to anywhere for cash. But when she opens a door she never intended, and a gigantic fox slips through, her life will change drastically . . .

I adored this. In a weird way, it’s an anti-dystopia: the harsh, desperate, oppressive times we start out in gradually come to light as not actually as bad as Rook always assumed. That not everyone outside of the band of magical children is a horrible person just waiting to turn them in. The world’s broken magic makes an interesting backdrop. All sorts of things went sideways thanks to that.

The characters are so much fun. Rook and Drift are two of the last people who had come through the gate before it exploded, along with a host of other children. Unfortunately, since the explosion wiped out their memories, they have no more idea than anyone else why everything went down. I love the tight friendship between the two of them. Both of them struggle with mistaken assumptions, both fear that their commitment isn’t mutual, and both of them realize that their friendship means more to them than anything else.

Fox is amazing. He’s a gigantic fox that Rook initially mistakes for a monster, and he certainly has several interesting abilities (shadow foxes!). Even though he doesn’t say much, I love how he worms his way into Rook’s heart.

Overall this is a complete story, but I do hope for more in this world because it was such a charming stay. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

The Isolator: The Trancer (Isolator #3)

Title: The Isolator: The Trancer

Author: Reki Kawahara

Series: Isolator #3

Minoru never thought his protective shell abilities could be so useful. But its incredible impenetrability combined with his newly-discovered ability to cover more than just himself would make it the perfect weapon . . . if he could actually recreate the part where he can protect another person. The Ruby Eyes won’t wait for him to figure it out, though. This time, their enemies are a few steps ahead.

I have to admit I really enjoyed Yumiko’s abrasive personality coming back to bite her, as Minoru can’t figure out how to include her within his shell again. Instead, as his interactions with Suu shows, he’s more comfortable (and “comfortable” is really stretching it) with someone who’s equally afraid of him. And he can work with Suu because she doesn’t make it personal, and goes out of her way to minimize the friction between the two of them.

I also love what happens with Minoru’s developing powers. He’s figured out more about it than someone with a literal power of super-intelligence. The revelation at the climax was especially good. And now that he knows, now that he has more flexibility with how he can use his power, there are so many places the story can go.

We don’t get as much on the Ruby Eyes this time around, but we do get an interesting new set of powers, and some very intelligent ways to use them. I particularly liked how Liquidizer got around Minoru’s invincibility. He’s starting to trip up more and more on the fact that he’s basically a regular kid thrown into a high-stakes arena he has no idea how to navigate. Just because nothing can get THROUGH his shield doesn’t mean he’s actually safe if he doesn’t use his head.

Overall, this one kicks up another gear. Although I’m still not fond of the more typical “we’re totally not in love” hijinks, I liked that this volume pushes forward so much more for the characters and the overarching plot. I rate this book Highly Recommended.