April 2015 Books Completed

April books! I read 9 titles this month, but I’m a little bit behind. (Just by two.)

Cress by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles series (young adult speculative fiction) is an easy read — not challenging or thought-provoking, but a fun ride. 3 out of 5 stars

Rin-ne Vol. 1-5. The first three volumes of this one were a re-read, but Vol. 4 & 5 were new to me and also good developments for the series. It’s still not as good as Inuyasha, but it’s an enjoyable series with the same art style from Rumiko Takahashi I’ve really come to love. There’s a full review available here. 3 out of 5 stars

Food Wars! Vol. 5. Next volume in the Food Wars! manga continues the training camp from hell for the first-year students. There wasn’t enough Erina in this one for me. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Lola Levine is Not Mean! by Monica Brown. Another book for my internship – a chapter book about a girl who loves soccer, but sometimes can be too aggressive. 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Princess Who Had No Kingdom by Ursula Jones. Another picture book, this time about a princess without a kingdom who goes around on a bit of an adventure as she seeks her kingdom. 5 out of 5 stars

What were your favorite books this April?

Spring Anime 2015: The Launchboard

It’s been over a week since the spring anime season started, but my schedule’s been so loaded I haven’t had the chance to write about the anime I’ll be starting this spring!  The list is pretty long, so check it out and see if there are any series you’re watching as well.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Souma. There wasn’t a way I wouldn’t watch this – it’s been on my list since I picked up the first volume of manga! You can find more of what I have to say about Food Wars here.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. I picked up the light novel version of this series back in December just based on how ridiculous that title is. As it turns out, it’s a fun read, filled with great action scenes and good world-building. I’m just hoping the show won’t disappoint.

My Love Story! (Ore Monogatari!). This series may seem like a total 180 from the types of series I normally enjoy: it’s about a tall and scary-looking guy who just wants to have a sweet love story with a nice girl. I’ve got the first volume of the manga, which is published as My Love Story! by Viz, and I’m looking forward to seeing it as a show because I think it’s absolutely hilarious.

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. This is another series I’ve been looking forward to since reading the manga – it was available on Crunchyroll Manga for quite some time, and I think it’s still available for premium users. A shonen comedy – but I’ll let you check it out on your own.

Rinne. Confession: I freaking love Rumiko Takahashi. So much. Inuyasha was my first anime, and Rinne – which features a boy who’s part Shinigami – so far handles a lot of themes I love seeing in Takahashi’s work, especially the experiences of someone who’s biracial. But more on that later.

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 3000%. Yeah. That title. This series is about a boy idol group whose members are all in love with the same girl. Yeah… but the music is fun, and it’s a series you’ll just have fun with. This is the third season.

With my time at graduate school coming to an end, I’m looking forward to checking out tons of anime with all the free time I’m expecting to have. (Ha!) What anime are you watching this spring?

Cover for the American English edition of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Read or Drop? Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma Vol. 1-4

Typically, I’m not the biggest shounen series reader.  I didn’t really enjoy Bleach when I tried it, and neither Naruto nor Death Note have really ever been my speed.  I’ve enjoyed Inuyasha, sure, and just about everything else by Rumiko Takahashi — but usually shounen’s not my bag.

Cover for the American English edition of Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA © 2012 by Yuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki /SHUEISHA Inc.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma is a series that defies my normal categorization.  Though ostensibly centered on Soma, the titular character, this series — set in a hyper-competitive Japanese cooking academy — contains a rounded-out cast, interesting (though weird) subplots, and so much cooking knowledge and so many recipes that you can practically teach yourself to cook just by reading it.

I’ve read the first four volumes of the series — purchased all four of them, actually — and I’ve been so vocal about how much I like it that my local indie automatically orders the next volume for me after I’ve purchased the most recent one.

One of the things I truly enjoy about long-running manga with ensemble casts is that normally I enjoy the other characters much more than the protagonist.  Food Wars!  is no different: my favorite characters are Erina Nakiri, an arrogant high school first-year with a prodigious sense of taste, and Nikumi, another first-year with a special talent for selecting and working with meat.  Each of the characters are interesting on their own, and seeing the different ways each character deals with individual challenges is incredibly entertaining.

The art style of Food Wars! is, admittedly, a little bit weird.  Whenever Soma wins a shokugeki, or a cooking challenge, the shokugeki judge is usually depicted as… uh… naked.  And covered in food.  Which you can take as you will.

It’s definitely the sort of manga that’s a bit on the fluffy side, and some of the plots are a little hyperbolic — any time there’s a shokugeki involved, it gets really hyperbolic.  But it’s definitely a shounen-style manga, and shounen readers will probably really enjoy the storytelling style, the weirdly battle-like illustrations when anyone’s cooking something, and of course the vaguely pervy humor.

This one is 100% a read, not a drop.  I would recommend this manga to manga readers who also like to watch cooking shows.  (Master Chef and The Taste both come to mind.)  It’s definitely a manga I’d recommend buying at least a couple volumes of to really get a sense of the story, since the first volume’s plot arc stands almost completely alone, and it would be a great series to pick up soon: the anime will premiere in April.

Story: 3.5 out of 5

Art: 4 out of 5

Overall: 4 out of 5