I Am A Cat
I have been known to enjoy quite a number of manga and anime about cats, so a title as straightforward as I Am A Cat seemed like a good pick to me. It follows the life of an unnamed cat living with an eccentric family in early 20th century Japan and is intended to be an adaptation of the similarly-titled novel by author Natsume Soseki, in which a common housecat provides commentary about how strange human society is.
However, it doesn’t come close to matching the tone and prose of the original novel and instead comes of as a strange little story that doesn’t go anywhere much. The cat mostly just witnesses and comments about its master and the curious people who visit him, all of which are eccentric weirdos. None of the characters I found to be likable or in any way relatable, they are all dense, simpleminded, and always seem smugly proud of themselves despite having nothing to be particularly proud of. Throw in a bunch of animal abuse and it isn’t exactly an endearing manga.
The story is also very unpleasant because it keeps throwing in pointlessly cruel plot twists. Despite its cute exterior, it really is misery porn and seems to get a kick out of taking away everything from the main character it can, including an incredibly sad (and unlikely) ending that suddenly concludes the otherwise dull manga. Go watch Chi’s Sweet Home instead.
I Am Here!
Hikage Sumino is such an unremarkable, quiet girl that she may as well be invisible. Her classmates have all but forgotten about her and she has accepted that her school life will be one without any friends or romance. Her only communication with other people is through her blog, where two friendly strangers encourage her to stay positive and change her outlook on life.
Sumino’s life then does actually change when the most popular boy in class begins to take notice of her and makes an effort to include her in class activities. While this begins to improve Sumino’s life, it also causes new problems altogether. I Am Here is a shoujo manga through-and-through, a very classic, by-the-books romance story with cute boys and an adorable protagonist. Sumino’s reclusive nature is almost frustrating to see in action, to see her almost willingly ensure that nothing will change, making the arc towards self-improvement very satisfying.
I Am Here doesn’t bring many surprises and will feel a little too basic in places. It also has to be said that the art is lackluster, with backgrounds being a rare treat and characters suffering from designs that are too generic. However, it tells its story well and especially the blogging is a cute detail, though I may be slightly biased in that regard.
I Married My Best Friend To Shut My Parents Up
Morimoto is a young software engineer, but ever since she was a child, she struggled under the oppressive regime of her parents, who sought to direct every little detail of her life. Even now that she is an adult and lives on her own, her parents are working behind the scenes to arrange a marriage for her against her will. That is when her junior decides to intervene and suggests the two of them register as partners.
Morimoto insists that she is not actually a lesbian and the marriage is a temporary arrangement, but as the two begin living together she finds herself growing doubtful. Perhaps she could get used to this. Perhaps, she really could fall in love with this girl.
While it’s a tad shorter than I would have liked, the cute art and well-written conflicts between the characters did make it a memorable little story. If you need some SFW yuri to warm your heart, give this one a chance.
I Don’t Like You At All
This is a title I could have easily spun into a snide remark, but I Don’t Like You At All is actually quite alright. It’s the story of 17-year-old Shuusuke Takanashi. He is a pervert, an absolute moron with poor grades, and no personality to speak of. However, his adopted sister is incredibly fond of him and she competes with various other girls to seduce him, all while Takanashi continuously misinterprets their advances or fucks up his every opportunity.
As far as harem-y romcoms go, I Don’t Like You At All is quite good and I did get a few laughs out of it. However, the 85 chapters alongside bonus materials does leave the story severely overextended. A 12-episode anime adaptation does exist, but I didn’t know that ahead of time and am a bit too worn out to see if it’s a worthy alternative right now.
The manga’s artstyle I found to be pleasant and the competition between the girls is compelling. However, Shuusuke could have been a more interesting character and you really have to ask yourself how often you can tolerate the same panty shot gags.
I Love You Yori Aishiteru
A short romance manga about a friendship between a studious honor roll student and an ass-kicking delinquent that rapidly develops into something more.
Risa Takaoka is a recent transfer student who has quickly drawn the admiration of her classmates and the envy of those who the spotlight once belonged to. She is a quiet, intelligent girl with a lot of confidence, but she is also hard to read and comes of as aloof. When she is one day confronted by angry girls from her class, they end up getting beaten up by the class’s resident troublemaker Kazumi Shinjou. In return for the rescue, Takaoka begins to help Kazumi study so she isn’t held back for a year.
This is a fun yuri story to read, which scores points for the interesting character dynamics. Rather than being a shy nerd, Risa is actually very bold and forward about her romantic interests, which draws out funny (and cute) reactions from the otherwise unshakeable delinquent Kazumi. I couldn’t help but smile at some of the cute interactions between the two. Again, it would have been nice if there was more of it, but what we did get is sublime stuff that I can recommend to any yuri fans out there.
I’m In Love and It’s the End of the World
Having a twin might seem fun, but what if one of you hogged all the luck while the other only suffered the misfortune. This is the sad fate of Mahiru, who was always the less pretty, less popular, less successful counterpart to her sister Mayo. So much so that she now believes fortune isn’t meant for her and that anything good that happens will be shortly punished by something twice as bad happening.
Her views are challenged when she starts going to a different high school than her sister and meets a boy who is immediately interested in her. She herself finds herself falling for him, but remains apprehensive because she fears accepting his love will trigger world-ending amounts of misfortune.
I’m In Love and It’s the End of the World is an interesting romance manga that shines thanks to its characters. Mahiru, Mayo, and even the boys they meet are all flawed characters that have major hurdles to overcome. Mahiru is constantly afraid that her new boyfriend will fall for her sister instead if they ever meet and constantly fails to further her romance out of a bizarre sense of “not deserving it”. It and I Am Here! form a nice pair as two manga both about protagonists who have to overcome their own self-defeating attitudes to get the romance they desire. In that regard, I feel this manga does it slightly better because the side-characters have more fascinating stories of their own and the art is much better.
I’m Still Alive… / Mada, ikiteru…
For some manga I have to put aside some of my personal beliefs in order to better enjoy it and I’m Still Alive was certainly one of those. Okado Kenzo is an aging, technophobic accountant struggling to survive the digital age. Since he won’t work with computers he is soon out of a job and his family disappears with all his savings. After failing to commit suicide, he decides to adopt a new lifestyle by becoming a hermit who lives in the wild.
The manga has some anti-society messages that I found particularly hard to swallow and forced, but once it builds up some steam and begins to focus on Kenzo’s transformation to a survivalist it becomes an interesting read. Kenzo makes for a unique protagonist and I was intrigued with seeing how well this former office worker could adapt to living off the bare essentials and how that changed his personality. You feel like you really get to know the man.
It has a few NSFW moments relating to a woman Kenzo ends up meeting, but if you can handle that and are up for a unique story, then I’m Still Alive is worth checking out.
Japan has a unique sense of horror and Ibitsu is a manga determined to celebrate its tropes and qualities. It is the story of a normal teenager who one day meets a mysterious, ghastly woman that begins to haunt his apartment and stalk his family & friends.
A lot of effort was put into making the girl a frightening appearance. A lolita dress, colorless skin, wounds and bruises, it’s very unclear whether she is actually alive, dead, or something in-between. Every scene with her is intense and offputting, you’re never sure what she might be thinking and whether or not she is about to do something extreme. Regrettably, the violence is very hit & miss. Some of it is gruesome and presented in full view, while at other times it’s underwhelming or happens off-screen.
It’s not too long or too short and delivers the pure horror experience that can liven up a creepy weekend night when you’re home alone.
Icaro is a young man who has been stuck in a research facility ever since he was a child. The scientists perform tests on him because he has the curious ability to fly and Icaro is happy to comply with this, or at least, he used to be.
As he reaches adulthood, Icaro begins to grow weary of his imprisonment and becomes suspicious that the friendly staff may not actually be looking out for his best interests. It’s a fascinating story, but too short for how much it wants to do. A whole lot of time is spent on world-building that amounts to nothing and hyping up a sexy villainess that doesn’t actually get to do anything. The ending isn’t bad, but makes you feel like a whole bunch of ambition was left unfulfilled, like the author was banking on getting a long-running series out of this.
It has some great art and some ideas I found intriguing enough, but much more could and should have been done with it.
Despite being the best fighter in his dojo, high school student Shiroishi is a meek and cowardly guy that won’t even dodge or defend himself when getting into a real fight or threatening situation. This has made him an easy target for bullying, even as the top delinquent of the school cautions people not to mess with him. As the bullying intensifies to abusive and deadly levels, something seems to finally snap within Shiroishi.
Ichi‘s primary strength is its beautiful art and the gruesome violence depicted with it. Fights between delinquents will see teeth being smashed out, faces being curb-stomped, and piercings torn out; it’s absolute madness to read through knowing that these characters are supposed to be teenagers. The story is intense and watching Shiroishi try to stay out of trouble by just accepting his fate left me very frustrated with the guy. However, this also makes for a kick-ass finale where the stakes are suddenly raised and lives are put on the line.
Frustratingly, Ichi is only a prequel to Hideo Yamamoto’s much-longer and more-renowned work Ichi the Killer, which started several years later and was adapted into a 1-episode OVA of the same name. Ichi itself comes with an epilogue that sets up this continuation and which steers the story into an edgier and more sexualized direction, which in my experience really cheapened the drama of the original story. I tend to enjoy edgy 90s violence in anime and manga, but felt Ichi had something original going on before going down the same path as so many others.
Idol na Kanojo to Wotaku na Boku to
Were it not such an insignificant piece of literature, I could have done a full 5 Reasons to Skip on this manga. Hell, I could probably do 10 reasons. Some decent visuals and memorable character designs are all that save this manga from being one of my lowest-rated series to date.
The story is about a nerd so forgettable that I haven’t even registered his name. He is an incompetent office clerk and wastes away his life attending underage idol concerts and fantasizing about having a relationship with the 17-year-old singer Tirol. During a meet-and-greet, he is dragged away by security after screaming about wanting to have sex with her and then decides to track down her parents’ business. Through a bizarre sequence of events, he ends up naked at Tirol’s house and she walks in on him, whereupon she forces him into slavery to repay her for the harassment.
Tirol puts up a cute idol facade on stage, but is actually quite devious and cunning. Our hapless nerd becomes her willing slave, but the manga soon turns into wish-fulfillment trash. After just a few chores, his “slavery” just means the two of them hanging out to exchange sexual favors. It may sound like hentai, but the story wants to be a drama and actually starts off establishing that Tirol is traumatized about sex after being raped, but that doesn’t stop her from having a whole bunch of sex anyway. At least until the final chapters when that trauma is suddenly relevant again.
Idol na Kanojo to Wotaku na Boku to is complete trash and its story has 0 redeeming qualities. Every character involved is morally reprehensible and completely hateable, mostly because everybody is raping everybody. Even Tirol seems perfectly fine with briefly overcoming her trauma to rape a fellow idol and then force her to have sex with a middle-aged man on top of that, and that was just to get her back for being complicit in causing a minor nuisance for her and slave-kun. Sometimes rape is treated as a mean-spirited prank that is easily forgiven and forgotten, yet it also has to be the dramatic event that shaped Tirol’s life forever.
I hated every character in this incompetently told story and even as a hentai it’s underwhelming and too slow-paced. Those looking to use it for that purpose will find erotic scenes few and far apart, with many being short and unexciting.