Lenni Reviews: “Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection” by Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and us suggested for mature readers.

In another Junji Ito collection, I am once again impressed, frightened, and confused as to why I keep inflicting these nightmarish stories on myself. But Ito is true to his usual macabre, gory self in this series of short stories that will send shivers down your spine. I never get tired of this guy and love his work. I don’t want to go too deep into all the stories but my favorite was “Earthbound.” 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “I Married My Best Friend to Shut My Parents Up” by Naoko Kodama

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Morimoto Machi is not interested in marriage. All she wants is to succeed in her career and live on her own. But as the pressure from her parents to find a husband mounts, Morimoto’s friend, Agaya Hanna, offers to marry Morimoto to keep her parents from complaining. It also helps Agaya since she’s in the market for a new apartment. While the arrangement is inconvenient for Morimoto at first, she soon finds having Agaya around may not be so bad after all.

This is so cute! I love how Agaya stands up for herself against Morimoto’s parents and refuses to be labeled a freak. The pair make an adorable couple. I wouldn’t have minded if this was a little longer and went into some more detail in dealing with Morimoto’s parents. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” vol 1 by Paru Itagaki

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

In this comic, the high school is divided into predators and prey and one student among them is selected to be a ‘Beastar’ – essentially their version of valedictorian as they exemplify the best of both predator and prey. But when a prey student is found dead, tensions are high and loner wolf, Legoshi – a friend of the murdered student – is struggling with his control with so much fear around him.

As I was reading this very sketchy drawn book, I didn’t think I would like it. I was concerned it would be to “on the nose” with the predator/prey aspect only to find it more nuanced than I’d assumed. This is one of the more original manga outings I’ve read in a long time. While the art style may feel strange at first, the characters draw you in. An impressive first volume and I do hope to continue this series.

And yup, totally got the Bella Legosi reference.

4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato” by Scarlet Beriko

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Tatsuyuki Oyamato may be 4th generation heir to a yakuza family but all he cares about is partying and getting girls. Until he finds himself attracted to a man. After a drunken hookup, he wakes up with someone who proves to be more than just a random dude as he knows Oyamato andย his infamous family.

Hooooo boy, this is a dark one. The guy Oyamato sleeps with – mild spoilers – turns out to be Nozomi Koga; the son of a man who once owed money to the yakuza. When Koga was a kid, the yakuza came to collect and found his father had been sexually abusing him. Oyamato was also a child and thought Koga was a girl because of his long hair and the creepy way his dad dressed him.

This book is rife with sexual assault; which is offputting (of course) when it attempts to combine it with the romance forming between Koga and Oyamato. I don’t want to spoil too much but yeah, major rape trigger warnings here. It feels almost wrong to say I like it. The art is well done and I adore the main pair. They make the hardest parts of this book worth it for me. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare” vol. 1 by Yuhki Kamatan

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Tasuku Kaname ends up outed at school and the homophobia he faces makes him desperate enough to want to end it all. But a mysterious woman leaps from a window and in his search for her, Kaname discovers a Drop in Center; built for people to just come in and talk about their problems. Here, he meets people in similar situations.

Although this felt too short, it is genuinely heartwarming. In my experience, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by understanding people and it’s too easy to forget some people are still homophobic twats and kids are at a real risk. Kaname found his little tribe and it’s very sweet. I look forward to seeing how his story progresses from here. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “My Solo Exchange Diary Vol. 2” by Kabi Nagata

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Nagata is still struggling to live on her own and make the connections she desperately wants so she doesn’t feel like such a failure. I empathize so much with Nagata’s struggles; especially when dealing with the fact she really does have people who care about her. Depression and anxiety can and does lie to you about who is really there for you. It’s a struggle to remember you have people who love you no matter how broken you feel.

If I had a complaint, I’d say the art can be too simplistic at times. I felt more detail would give the story more impact. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Coyote” Vol. 2 by Ranmaru Zariya

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Though madly in love, both Coyote and Marleen’s secrets are forced to the surface and it is uncertain if not only with their feelings survive but if they will lose their lives as well.

I have to admire how the secrets came right out without dancing around and dragging it all our for several volumes. This story is tightly contained and highly dramatic with plenty of angst and smutty action to keep you entertained. What remains to see is how this will all shake out and if that conclusion will be satisfying. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Tale of Genji: Dreams at Dawn” Vol. 1 by Waki Yamato

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This is a manga adaptation of the original tale, giving us the story of the shining prince, Genji as he tries to escape the shadow of his forbidden love.

The original book is still on my To Be Read list so I can’t compare the story but I can say this book is pretty to look at but confusing. The art is pretty but I had difficulty telling people apart because of the style. It’s delightfully detailed in some aspects; like the flowers and the clothes. But I had trouble with the faces because they were all designed so similarly. And the dialogue didn’t help; leaving me baffled as to who was who in the hierarchy and why it was important. One day I’ll read the original book but as a taste of it, this manga isn’t so bad. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Shiver” By Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

In yet another collection, Junji Ito continues to simultaneously impress me all while wondering why I keep chomping at the bit to read his work. Some of these stories feel a tad clipped but when you’re trying to keep things short, it can’t be helped. Ito really is a master of what he does even if I have to read happy things for awhile whenever I pick up a book of his. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “That Blue Sky Feeling” Vol. 2 by Okura, Coma Hashii

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

Now that Noshiro and Sanada are closer friends, new wrinkles arise in the form of long time crushes and a new face who is jealous of Noshiro and Sanada’s friendship.

I simply cannot get over how sweet this book is. It’s just so damn genuine and innocent I find myself re-reading these volumes over and over. I hope it doesn’t devolve into something tawdry and dark because it’s the lighthearted nature of this series that keeps me coming back! I look forward to seeing where this book goes. 4.7 out of 5.

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