Manga Challenge – June Update

Welcome to another update on the Manga Challenge. We have crossed into the second half of the year now and maintain a comfortable lead on the challenge. Hentai has once again aided in expanding this lead, which… wasn’t intentional this time. Last month’s foray into Plus-Sized Elf got me looking into the author’s other work, which in turn led me to a bunch of monster girl & fantasy manga. Every new one I read came with solid recommendations for more, so I’d read those and the cycle continued.

It took considerable willpower, but eventually I snapped out of it.

One of the first serious manga I read was Dream Hunter Rem Alternative. I am a big fan of the original OVA series, so it was exciting to find out that a translation for this manga tie-in was available. It chronicles an all-new adventure for Rem and her allies, which is now expanded with some all-new cast members. It’s fresh! It’s exciting! And it’s very okayish.

The series’ biggest flaw is that there is no 1 definitive chronicle of Rem’s story. It’s all small, isolated projects across different media that vaguely follow the same general premise. Alternative feels more like a reinterpretation of the series rather a continuation of it. It’s fine for what it is, but with just 2 volumes and nothing else to follow it up, it feels somewhat lackluster.

Characters don’t feel quite themselves, while others are outright missing. The new cast members somewhat fill the voids left behind, but don’t get enough development. 3 people are introduced to the team right from the start, of which only 1 plays an actual role in the story. Another appears in the background of like 2 panels and that’s it for her. Just have 1 cool character then.

I also feel divided on the manga’s sexual content. Eroticism is literally part of the series’ DNA, but Alternative made me wish it would make up its mind already on whether or not to commit. Rem is here depicted as a borderline nudist, who casually has sexual interactions with just about anybody. The fanservice comes off as so forced it’s not even funny in an indulgent way.

A manga that proves that titles are important is Lady Ayane is a Sanova B**chi. Not going to lie, I had very low expectations of this one. That title is just so awkward and doesn’t really match the tone that the story actually goes for. Since I ended up having a good time with it, though, I wanted to give it some spotlight here.

This story follows the ultra-wealthy Ayane Sonava. She is a teenager now attending university, which has her dear, old father mortified. What if Ayane is hanging out with the wrong crowd? What if she were to become a common slut? Unable to stand his paranoia, he orders the butler Shinobayashi to keep an eye on her and eliminate anything that could corrupt his daughter. Except, when Shinobayashi looks into it, he discovers that Ayane is actually a devoted loner.

Everything she does, she does alone. She avoids other people almost as if by instinct. No matter how much they try to get between her and whatever she wants to do. The comedy has a feel comparable to Sakamoto desu ga? You get stories like a playboy trying to flirt with Ayane at the pool, only for her to defy all physical limitations to dodge him at every turn. She swims like a mermaid, launches herself off the slides, and dives into the water without so much as a sound.

It is goofy stuff, but very cute. Ayane is an endearing character and, at 2 volumes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome either.

This month’s winner has to be Message To Adolf though. It was recommended to me by RisefromAshes, who runs Phoenix Talks Pop Culture Japan. Honestly, it blew me away. So much so that I am going to give it a full review later.

It’s a mystery thriller set during World War 2, where a Japanese reporter becomes involved in a conspiracy that could destroy the Third Reich. At the same time, it’s also a story about 2 young boys both called Adolf. One of them the son of a German consul, the other a Jewish refugee. Their respective circumstances and parents drive a wedge between their friendship, which is repeatedly tested as the war escalates and both boys set out on their respective paths. These two stories then begin to intertwine, as the two Adolfs both become gradually more involved in the conspiracy that the reporter is investigating.

Message To Adolf is a gripping tale about the horrors of war, persecution, and the depressing effectiveness with which propaganda can warp your beliefs. It does a great job of conveying its anti-war sentiments to the reader, while also ruthlessly criticizing the actions of Japan and its people during this period of history. For a nation notoriously skittish about engaging with its past, this was very refreshing.

I was far less thrilled with Koji Rokunishi’s Hating Girl. Ostensibly a goofy story about a boy trying to figure out why a classmate has an arrow pierced through her head, it develops into a drab romcom that didn’t get a single laugh throughout its 86 chapters.

Much of the story and many of its jokes are weirdly confusing. Hating Girl manages to be needlessly wordy, while still communicating very little. Dialogue is consistently awkward and unnatural, while most of the actual jokes come off as forced. The overall plot is also largely directionless. Drifting from childish comedy bits to obscene ecchi to shounen action. Characters also change up their personality constantly or just vanish from the plot.

This manga is also very ugly. It would be a poor showing for a webcomic that was half-assed on purpose. Character designs are especially unappealing and frequently go so far off-model that they don’t even abide by basic anatomy anymore.

Hating Girl has nothing going for it besides a slightly interesting premise.

Finally, I wanted to talk about Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no HahaoyDemon Mother for short. As its title implies, this story follows a demoness who has just recently given birth to a little baby boy. Lorem may have survived countless battles in her past, yet motherhood presents all-new challenges for her to overcome. Fortunately, a growing cast of friends stands ready to help her whenever necessary.

Lorem’s baby Gospel is heckin’ cute and it’s wonderful to watch him grow—literally—over the course of the manga’s 200+ chapters. His first steps, his horns growing out, learning to talk, and all the other wonders of raising a child. This joy is amplified by Lorem herself, who is an endearing character that wears her heart on her sleeve.

However, not all is well in the world. Demon Mother is set in a universe where demons and humans have a long history of constant conflict. Humanity would emerge victoriously from this, beginning a new age where once-mortal enemies must now be integrated into human society. This includes Lorem, who, over the course of the story, must reconcile with her violent past. Not just for herself, but also to secure a future for Gospel in this new, civilized world.

Demon Mother touches on a lot of surprisingly mature themes, especially as the story threatens to once-again plunge into open conflict. It is genuinely fascinating, in a way that I did not anticipate from a goofy comedy story. Still, a lot of your enjoyment will hinge on how much you can appreciate Zyugoya’s usual inclinations. The artstyle is very unique and characters extremely sexualized. I didn’t mind and had a great time, but it’s certain to turn quite a few people off.

  1. Sirene-chan
  2. Toushin Devilman
  3. Akuma Kishi
  4. How to Conquer Monster Girls
  5. Usagi-moku Shachiku-ka
  6. Kemonokko Tsuushin: Risou no Kemomusume, Anata ni Otodoke
  7. Monster Romance
  8. Idol Monster Girls
  9. Different World Girl
  10. Interspecies Reviewers Comic Anthology: Darkness
  11. Dream Hunter Rem alternative
  12. Lady Ayane is a Sanova B**chi
  13. Mist Story
  14. A Priest Journey in an RPG World
  15. I Am a Cat Barista
  16. Armitage III
  17. Jashin Senki
  18. Choushoujo UFO
  19. 5001-nen Yakuza Wars
  20. Message to Adolf
  21. Waga Tousou
  22. The Hating Girl
  23. Choco Parfait
  24. Sweet and Hot
  25. Shoujo Satellite
  26. Shikotama
  27. Kagome Kagome
  28. If I Were a Dictator
  29. Musuko ga Kawaikute Shikataganai Mazoku no Hahaoya
  30. Ms. Mayple’s Afternoon Tea Time
  31. Yukinya

2 thoughts on “Manga Challenge – June Update

  1. Honestly, I’m super flattered that you got a lot out of “Message to Adolf”. It’s always a hard series to recommend to people given it’s setting and concept but when I manage to get it to the right person… it’s very satisfactory to know. Also I always look forward to reading this monthly – a lot of titles I don’t know and wouldn’t pick myself, and I’ve never heard of!

    1. I added a bunch of your recommendations to my to-do list, but Message To Adolf stood out to me the most. Thanks again for your suggestions. I am also glad to hear that you’re enjoying these monthly updates! That gives me motivation to make next month’s batch even more interesting 🙂

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