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Manga Review: Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi Vol. 2

Alternate names: The Leftover Princess and the Knight of the Round Table, The Leftover Princess and the Round Table Knight
Year: 2013
Author / Artist: Kaori Katsuki and Rinne Ishida
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Reverse Harem

Reviewer’s Note: Volume one consists of chapters 6 – 10 of this 17-part series. This review reflects the Aqua Scans English fan translation.

In volume 2, Leticia ventures to the nearby kingdom of Illstra to attend her airheaded cousin’s wedding to Third Prince Severio. On the way, her father has arranged to have her servants poisoned in order to “test her nature”. She requests her father’s estranged former knight, Craig, to accompany her and Duke Barchet on the visit. However, when she arrives, she learns that her idiot cousin has run off with a scam artist and that Severio has left in search of her. She sends Duke Barchet to deal with the search whilst she runs interference at the castle. In the process, she moves ever closer to becoming the “heartbreaker queen” that was mentioned in earlier installments.

After the introduction of the major arc in volume one, this series mixes things up a bit with a short story arc set in another country. We see Leticia and her associates bring to bear the various tools at their disposal to deal with the current political situation. It plays out nicely and shows that they are more than capable of solving problems away from home.
There is also less of a supernatural element this time around, focusing more on politics. Whilst we don’t get to see everything that is happening in the background, we do, however, get to see the results in spectacular fashion. We got a taste of this in volume one but it is even more prominent in volume two of the series. It works well, making me like this series even more.

HAREM Observations: I find it curious that this series isn’t categorized as a “reverse harem” for many manga searches even though all of the necessary elements are there. As such, I’ve decided to change the genre section for the series to reflect this. Feel free to offer rebuttals if you disagree with the reasoning I offer below.
On numerous occasions during the first two volumes, Leticia shows her poker-face during various moments with Duke Barchet, the leading man of the series. However, there are numerous other suitors vying for her affections as well, ranging from knights to noblemen. On top of that, Queeny keeps pretending that her round table knights are her lovers to give herself wiggle room to deal with her own investigations. Each of these scenes moves the story forward as well, giving them a point in the overall plot rather than simply being used as fan service. Whilst fan service elements are quite common in harem and reverse harem series, a good writer makes good use of scenes to fit multiple purposes.

Verdict: This is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. I knew that I liked it after the first volume, but it somehow managed to get even better. Alas, there are only two volumes to go before the series is completed. I was predicting that I would grow attached to the series… I am really glad I have a bunch of other titles lined up after I am done because I will need a rebound manga. *sniff-sniff*

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Manga Review: Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi Vol. 1

Alternate names: The Leftover Princess and the Knight of the Round Table, The Leftover Princess and the Round Table Knight
Year: 2013
Author / Artist: Kaori Katsuki and Rinne Ishida
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance

Reviewer’s Note: Volume one consists of chapters 1 – 5 of this 17-part series. This review reflects the Aqua Scans English fan translation.

Okobore Hime to Entaku no Kishi is a series following Princess Leticia, the newly-appointed heir to her kingdom. She has been chosen by her father due to the various issues that picking either of her half-siblings, the first and second sons of her father would likely cause. Armed with knowledge gained through conversations with the monarchs that came before and after her, she attempts to gain twelve knights to act as her round table as per tradition. However, her pick as the first knight, Duke Barchet, is resistant to the idea of becoming her flunky. As the machinations of an ancient enemy seek to destroy her and the kingdom, she will need to draw upon the knowledge of the past, present and future. The future Heartbreaker Queen will need to be on her toes.

Firstly, the first volume provided plenty of background for the female protagonist. The worldbuilding and lore were delivered in a timely fashion rather than suffering from the dreaded infodump. We also see Leticia’s curious conversations with the other rulers of the country initially providing their own share of questions. This aspect was a little confusing at first but it became clear what was happening by the third chapter. This time travel aspect was a little weird but I can now appreciate it. The MC and the other rulers have to keep verifying which part of the timeline they are experiencing, showing that there are limitations to using these discussions to gather information.
To the characters, Princess Leticia and Duke Barchet have some nice chemistry in the first five chapters. Her three brothers and Duke’s protege also provide a lot of interesting moments. However, we don’t see many interactions with other characters. This makes the world feel a little lacking in population. Sure, there are some main characters, but the story would be slightly more interesting if it included more cast members that they interacted with. I suspect that we will see more characters being introduced in the remaining chapters of this series.
As for the art, the character and world design was pretty much standard. However, the linework is clean and it easily conveys action and emotion. Whilst it is your standard European-inspired fantasy world, it is still sufficient.

Verdict: The first volume of this series has enough going for it that I will continue reading it. I liked the worldbuilding, characters, and plot. I am, however, concerned that I will get attached to it and then go through the peculiar mourning stage that many readers suffer from when a series that they like comes to an end. Why the heck am I thinking so negatively when I still have three more volumes left? Lame! Super-lame!


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Anime Review: ReZero

Alternate Names: Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World (English name), Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Japanese name), Re: Life in a different world from zero (English synonym)
Year: 2016
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Psychological

Warning: Spoilers below.

Back when this series was first being released, I decided to wait for an English dub of the series to be released. Then, I somehow forgot about it. Well, hubby and I have been going over old shows and learned that ReZero did indeed get an English dub at some point. So, we jumped in headfirst.

When otaku Subaru Natsuki gets sent to another world whilst grabbing snacks from a local quickie mart, he meets a monarchy candidate named Amelia. The stigma of looking like the Witch of Envy creates numerous problems for the kind-hearted young woman, including gaining the attention of the witch’s cult who are trying to bring back the object of their worship. Suburu has fallen head over heels for her and quickly learns that he has the ability to come back to “save points” if he dies. How will he rise above his own fears to help her fulfill her dream of becoming the Queen?

The unusual nature of this Isekai series was a big factor in drawing people’s attention to the series in the beginning. That weird mechanic of coming back to a save point after death sounds appealing in theory. However, in practice… Natsuki’s desire to help Amela is easier said than done. He will need to die over and over again to gather information on numerous threats, but like any sane person, he is afraid of dying. As put forward in at least one of the episodes, he isn’t sure of the parameters of the return from death power. This uncertainty is an understandable concern. Also, his deaths tend to be quite horrific. Most people prefer to die in their sleep rather than disembowelment or torture by people you believed to be allies.
Natsuki is a relatable protagonist. He isn’t good at everything. Instead, he has to learn things over time. He makes mistakes along the way, but at his core is that love of Amelia. Folks will likely ask, “What about Rem?” Yes, Rem is the best girl of ReZero but Subaru was in love with Amelia from the start. Rem is played beautifully throughout this series, her own love of Natsuki reflecting how he feels for Amelia. They understand each other on this fundamental level even if Natsuki’s own affections are directed elsewhere. He never pretends otherwise even if he does talk of running away with Rem in order to reduce the chance of causing more harm to those around him. At this moment, we see one of the best pep-talks in anime and manga by Rem. It shows the strength of her character and how much she wants him to be genuinely happy.
“But Keiko, what about all of the violence?” Yes, there are some really violent sequences in this series. It can be confronting at times, but this gives Natsuki incentive to fight even more to avoid such fates for himself and the various people that he cares for. Some of these scenes also give us insight into the inner world of other characters as well. A great example of this is his relationship with the demon twins Rem and Rom. On several occasions, he is attacked by them resulting in at least one death. Multiple perspectives of situations often play a huge part in some of the conflicts. The stakes are even higher given that a lot of the series relates to the political situation of a kingdom.
The voice acting and characterization for this series was excellent. Sean Chiplock knocks it out of the park with his voicing of Natsuki. Given how he rocks this character, I am wondering why the hell he doesn’t do a lot more voice acting. The oddly named Brianna Knickerbocker is perfectly placed as Rem, with another unfamiliar voice actress, Kayli Mills doing a great job as Amelia. Of all of the cast members, the standout for me is Sarah Williams’ voicing of Felix Argyle. She does an awesome job of his vocal mannerisms and injects an ample amount of mischief into this odd character.

In conclusion, this is one of the better Isekai series out there. It also easily fits into the romance category because of how it approaches the love triangle of Natsuki, Rem, and Amelia. That approach to character and worldbuilding makes for a genuinely enjoyable experience. I absolutely adore this series.


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Manga Review: Isekai Houtei Rebuttal Barrister Chapters 1-5

Year: 2016-2018
Author and Artist: Homura Kawamoto (story) and Kamon Ohba (art)
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, Isekai

Reviewers Note: I am reviewing the Waterflame Scanlations English translation version of this series.

A lot of manga creators have been trying their hands at Isekai over the last couple of years. We’ve seen cooking Isekai, farming Isekai, and a host of other twists on the idea of a character taken to another world. Whilst a lot fall flat because the creators don’t quite pull it off, Kawamoto and Ohba’s series about a wannabe lawyer bringing Tokyo law to a fantasy world managed to provide an unexpected level of charm.

Twenty-nine year-old Yuuto Shiba has been trying to become a barrister for years but continues to fail the exam. In lieu of mockery from some of his peers, he gets drunk and manages to get killed. A loli goddess from another world takes advantage of his passing to bring the Japanese legal system to a kingdom full of corruption, racism, and classism. It won’t be easy for Shiba. He soon has to deal with uppity nobles and a conspiracy involving a member of the royal family.

Isekai Houtei: Rebuttal Barrister has your standard setup of a character being brought to another world forcibly. In this case, the excuse is an interesting one and I got the sense that there is more to the Goddess’ choice than simple convenience. Shiba has, after all, been studying for years, showing tenacity and passion for the Japanese legal system. I have at least one theory but I will see how that pans out in further reading of this series.
Anyhoo, our male protagonist’s first job is to defend a female elf after she injures a noble to stop his carriage from riding over a child. This opening “case” gives us a good sense of what the average person in the other world has to deal with. It also sets up several other relevant plotlines.
Whilst the series does a good job of showing worldbuilding elements in a timely fashion, we also see the inclusion of references to Japanese legal jargon. Whilst I am not entirely sure how much of the material covered reflects actual Japanese law, it does appear to be similar to how a lot of state laws are worded. Somewhere in my household, my husband and I have numerous large legal tomes from around a decade ago. I won’t go over why we have them in the first place but I will say that those suckers are damned heavy.
I really like the characters that we’ve been introduced to in the first five chapters. Yuuto is such a good protagonist as well, one that was easy to like. He was kind, hard-working and had a sense of justice. He was also appropriately flawed. We also get a sense of intelligence even though his confidence is a little on the low side. Donatella Bastianelli is such an awesome assistant as well. She’s perceptive, has some magic and has a strong sense of right and wrong that makes her admirable. She comes off as thankful but not an obsessed “fangirl”, which is a refreshing change from a lot of series I’ve read and watched recently.
To art, it is nothing out of the ordinary but it is solid. The characters are easy to differentiate between, the backgrounds are attractive, and scenes do a decent job of conveying action, emotion and get you excited to see what happens next. The art style also doesn’t make me want to gouge my own eyes out from weirdly drawn facial features like a few other series I’ve looked at recently. I will not name names!

In conclusion, this series was a pleasant excursion that merges several interesting ideas to good effect. I really like the balance of a courtroom procedural with several other elements. I like the characters and the world so far and have high hopes for the plot based on the groundwork laid in the first five chapters. I really look forward to reading more of this series.


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Manga Review: Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon Chapters 1-20

Year: 2017 (Ongoing)
Author/Artist: Sosori???
Genre: Seinen, Dark Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Gaming, Webtoons

When I came across Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon, I was fascinated by the premise but was initially skeptical in lieu of how many webtoons I’ve been let down by in the past. I took a chance and started reading. I was happy that I did because the first twenty chapters of this series were a breath of fresh air. This series can be best categorized as dark fantasy.

A loyal skeleton warrior loses his succubus mistress when adventurers enter their dungeon. He awakes years before, to the moment of his creation by a young female necromancer. His intention is to become stronger in order to protect his succubus mistress in the not-so-distant future but things begin to get significantly complicated when his creator is tortured and killed by a secret criminal organisation.

How this series dealt with the gaming element set it apart from a lot of the stuff that I’ve been reading of late. It isn’t another Isekai but about an undead minion that gains that ability to come back to “save” points in the event of a death. He also learns from what he’s experienced before dying, helping him to negotiate it in future attempts. The ability to see available quests also gives him a clue as to how to progress further but he also has the added baggage of loss.
The plot moved along in an appropriately chaotic fashion. The introduction of new characters and other elements felt organic. We are also left with a host of questions which aren’t immediately answered. This is a pretty good move if you want people to continue reading your work as you have material to work with later.
The characters that we are introduced in the first twenty chapters are not what you’d call heroes in the classical sense. However, we get a clear sense of what their motivations are in the moments that see them go about their business. I found myself really rooting for such an unusual protagonist in the form of an intelligent undead minion. He may not be a dashing hero but he has a purpose and you can see definitive changes in how he views the world around him the more he interacts with it. The connections that Skelly makes with the two women that he meets inform a lot of his worldview but we keep seeing how they merge with the image of the Succubus from the beginning.
The artwork for this series is pretty solid even if it isn’t unique. The character and world designs easily conveyed action, emotion, and locale. Having a series that was completely colored was a change as well, which is one of the big differences between the average webtoon and standard manga.

In conclusion, the first twenty chapters of Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon was an enjoyable read. This was a darker story than I usually read but it had a lot of depth due to how well it made good use of the various elements.


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Anime Review: How Not to Summon a Demon Lord Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, NSFW

When I first saw the manga version of this series listed online, my first thought was that it would be an Overlord. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. DEAD WRONG!!! After watching it, I do believe that it should be renamed, “How to Summon a Hot Dude with Horns” or perhaps, “How to be Summoned to Another World and Suffer from Blue Balls until the end of Time.” It all depends on your sexual preferences, I suppose.
After waking up one morning, I discovered that my husband had watched four episodes of the series and seemed to really like it. He managed to convince me to watch it and I was initially amused. By episode three, I was totally hooked. Hubby, of course, spent most of the time debating whether he preferred catgirls over elfy boobs. Important questions… The answer is 42.

Anyhoo, beware of some spoilers below.

A certain player named Takuma Sakomoto chose to solo as a “Demon Lord” called Diablo in the MMORPG Cross Reverie for years. When he is summoned to a world suspiciously similar to the game as his avatar, our sexy male protagonist learns that his magic reflection ring affected the two women that managed to summon him. Staying in character as much as he can, our socially awkward and sexually inexperienced protagonist travels with Rem and Shera in search of a way to free them from the chains of summoning and hopefully also manage to find a way to return to his own world. The player now known as Diablo quickly learns that he is one of the most powerful beings in the world.

So, where to start? Well, this series is an Isekai fantasy. The standard setup for the first few episodes is for our protagonist to learn about the world. Whilst this is true, we did manage to see the best villain in anime history beginning in the first episode. Yes, he dies a few episodes later, but our resident mage shows a gift for intimidating dialogue and evil planning that shall go down in the annals of history. May he rest in pieces…
A lot of the humor in this series is at the expense of our budding protagonist he is bombarded by attractive women. Yep, most of it is boob and butt related, with a large sprinkling of innuendo and obvious lewdness. And you know what? I do not care because I freaking loved this series.
Whilst the arc relating to Rem having the demon lord Glebsklem bound inside of her felt like it was going to be the central arc of the series altogether, we are quickly introduced to a bunch of other characters that make life difficult for our main character and his female companions. The rivalry between Rem and Shera is adorable but they quickly learn to work together now that they are both technically Diablo’s slaves.
There was also a short arc involving Shera’s brother which is pretty f’ed up. This was, however, strongly hinted at around the fourth episode. The continuation of this side arc towards the end of the season also helped form a stronger bond between Diablo and his summoners whilst also helping him deal with his trust issues.
The harem elements of this series are a little odd because Diablo doesn’t really have a romantic interest in the first season. Whilst Rem and Shera might be seen as front-runners, he is constantly restraining himself for various reasons. We don’t really see the jealousy commonly seen in harem series either. It is one of the strangest harem series I have come across so far because some of the common elements of a harem are completely absent in the first season.
I liked the art design in this series. Whilst there are slight differences from the manga, these are quite small overall. The character designs are solid even if they do reflect some common archetypes in anime.
As far as Diablo’s design was concerned, he reminded me of Gintoki from Gintama but with horns, a few markings, and fantasy garb. You also get idealized physique, a trait of many MMORPGs. This is a slight contrast from a lot of harem series where the protagonist has an average or close to an average physique. Three thumbs up for attending to the bishounen enthusiasts in the audience. I don’t know where I will get the extra thumbs but I will find one somewhere. Maybe a dumpster or something…  

My only issue with this series is in the last episode where most of the females in the cast attempt to give him magical energy. Sure, this is an ecchi series but it seemed out of character. There is no feeling of gratification in this sequence, just a weird sexless orgy thing. It was a real head-scratcher.

In conclusion, I found this series highly entertaining. Whilst it isn’t perfect, the comedic elements and drool-worthy appearance of Diablo more than made up for it. I highly recommend this series for anyone that enjoys an ample amount of comedic filth.


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Anime Review: Goblin Slayer Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12 episodes (English-dubbed version)
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

Going into Goblin Slayer, I had read and heard a bunch of chatter online. Some people were upset whilst others provided some good rebuttals for why tragedy and bad things should be allowed to stand in a darker fantasy story. Two anime commentators convinced me that I needed to watch this series: YouTuber Gigguk (his video on Goblin Slayer) and fellow blogger Karandi from 100WordAnime. I’m glad that I decided to watch the series because it turned out to be really good.

Onna Shinkan is a fifteen-year-old cleric with high hopes of helping others by doing contracts at the Adventurer’s Guild. On her first job, two of her party are killed and another is violently raped by Goblins. She is saved by a mysterious silver-ranked adventurer known only as Goblin Slayer. He is a loner that only takes work killing goblins. The two start working together leading to an epic battle to protect the town alongside numerous other adventurers.

To begin with, you quickly get a sense that the story is written by somebody that is familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper roleplaying game. This includes some of the systems used, such as Onna having a small number of prayers she can make each day. Another is a reference to alignment systems, as seen in how one of the adventurers is mentioned as being Chaotic Evil. The intro and outros also include dice, referencing not only everyday chance but as a continuation of that fantasy roleplaying feel.
Another interesting trait of the worldbuilding is how many of the characters are simply named after their either their class or race, sometimes even both. The elven archer is known as “Elf” and the Dwarven Shaman is known as exactly that. And yet, this frequently seen naming regime still manages to work. These characters are still allowed to have personalities beyond their race and skillset. This is in contradiction to modern identity politics wherein biological traits, rather than individual personality, as seen as the be-all and end-all of who a person is.
The plot did an awesome job of bringing numerous elements together and avoids the dreaded info-dump so prevalent in a lot of fantasy and science fiction settings. We become more and more familiar with the world over time. We also see some of the other events occurring in the world, such as periodic glimpses at a platinum-level party currently dealing with a demon lord causing issues with the kingdom. Whilst Goblin Slayer is dealing with the goblins with his companions, there are other problems that the world is dealing with. It helps establish a living, breathing world whilst also helping move the main story along. 
Goblin Slayer received a lot of flack in the beginning for depicting a rape scene in the first episode. However, this sequence shows the cost of adventurers and the government not dealing with the problem. And this is exactly what drives our main hero Goblin Slayer, a young man that is one of many within the series that has lost a lot to goblins. He shows no mercy as he understands the price of being merciful to goblins. Whilst he might lack in social skills, he has a noble purpose which drives him forward. Onna’s influence helps Goblin Slayer grow as a character whilst al
At his side is Onna, a young woman that manages to help him gain a glimpse of a world beyond goblin-slaying. She is a partner that quickly begins to learn more about our male protagonist than most other people in the series. The only two people that come even close to this is the Sword-Maiden Tsurugi no Otome and Goblin Slayer’s childhood friend Ushikai Musume.
The artwork for Goblin Slayer was pretty awesome. The character and world designs were spot on. Sometimes there is a deliberate divide between how a person is and how they want others to perceive them. Each character seems to fit into the world that they inhabit, both good and bad. The voice acting was also pretty good, with some familiar voice actors and actresses, which includes Brad Hawkins as Goblin Slayer from Black Clover and Mirai Nikki.
Lastly, I have to mention that I really love the choice of music for this series. Rightfully by Mili (intro) and Giri no Kisei by Soraru do such a great job of evoking the flicker of light in the darkness. These tracks also suggest drama and action within the parameters of a fantasy setting. Awesome stuff overall. Both seasons of KonoSuba also did quite well in this regard.

In conclusion, this series is one of the best-written Fantasy action series I have seen in recent years. (Please note that I still haven’t seen the likes of Guin Saga, a series that I have been meaning to watch for ages.) Whilst I haven’t read the light novels for Goblin Slayer as yet, I will likely dive into some fan translations to give me a Goblin Slayer fix whilst I am waiting for a second season to come out. Man, I really hope that a second season gets made because it is one of the rare anime series that hubby liked as well. Fingers crossed…