Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” vol 2 by Paru Itagaki

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

When the onstage conflict during the school play becomes too real, Legoshi struggles with his carnivore instincts as Bill, a tiger, tempts him to slip.

This volume goes back and forth as to how serious it is, which I actually like! Given the set up of predator and prey trying to coexist in peace could be all about the angst and pain but it’s just dark enough to be intriguing and provide consequences for actions but enough levity to keep it enjoyable. I give this series a lot of credit for succeeding in this balancing act so far. Highly creative and compelling even though some of the sketchy art can be a little confusing sometimes. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” : Vol. 2 by Tomohito Oda

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Hitohito Tadano continues to help Shoko Komi with her awkwardness and inadvertently, this earns Komi a rival, Makeru Yadano; who wants to defeat Komi in the health exams. Komi also manages to pick up another friend, Ren Yamai, who has an obvious crush on her. Well, obvious to everyone but Komi.

Remember in the first review when I talked about the horrible dark turn? Well, I thought Yamai was going to be it but although she comes off as a fucking creepy-ass stalker, the manga does keep things light and folds her into the growing group of Komi’s friends. Tadano still seems to be the one who knows her best out of the bunch though. Still loving this series. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: Whenever Our Eyes Meet…: A Women’s Love Anthology” by ASCII Media Works

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This is a collection of fourteen short stories about women in live in different types of relationships from an artist with a crush on her subject to a high school puppy love getting a second chance when they’re grown up.

While well done overall with pretty art, all the stories are SUPER short. But that’s to be expected when you get 180 pages to tell fourteen different stories. Gotta make you point quick then move on to the next one.

My favorite of them would be “Everyone’s Missing Out.” by Irua. Not many romance stories – much less LGBT ones – have characters over 30-40 years old. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of those.

Not a bad collection if you’re looking for some relatively clean, short, yuri to read. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” Vol. 1 by Tomohito Oda

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

Hitohito Tadano has started at an elite high school and just wants to blend in until he can graduate. That’s until he ends up seated next to the prettiest girl in the school, Shoko Komi. After a while, he can’t help but notice Shoko never speaks and asks her if she has trouble talking to people. While Shoko may appear to be the perfect aloof princess, turns out she gets so terrified to say the wrong thing, she ends up saying nothing. Having opened up to him by writing on the chalkboard, Hitohito decides to help Shoko with her dream: to make 100 friends.

I kinda love this manga. I adore how Shoko doesn’t have any sort of disorder or anything, she’s just SUPER awkward. Watching the kids around her fumble to figure out what the heck she’s doing is funny and it’s genuinely sweet that Hitohito wants to help her out. I’m betting there will be some really interesting personalities Shoko will encounter on her quest for 100 friends and the story makes it really easy to root for her. So unless this takes some sort of horrible dark turn, I’m on board with this series and look forward to more! 4 out of 5!

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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 and 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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