My Week in Manga: April 21-April 27, 2014

My News and Reviews

Last week was another week with two reviews here at Experiments in Manga. The first review was of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Volume 1, one of the manga I was most looking forward to being released this year. I really enjoyed the debut of the series and look forward to reading more. The second review posted last week was of Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, Volume 2. The third volume in the series will be released soon, so I decided to revisit the previous volume in preparation. Off*Beat is a comic that simply makes me happy and I think I enjoy it more with each rereading.

And now for some interesting found online: Jason Stroman wraps up his manga advice series at Organization Anti-Social Geniuses with 20 Things I Learned from the Manga Advice Series. Joe McCulloch takes a close look at some of the pre-Tezuka manga available in English at The Comics Journal. No Flying No Tights has updated its list of must have manga for teens. A recent poll of Japanese parents asked “Which manga do you want your kids to read?” RocketNews24 lists the top ten, eight of which are currently available in English either digitally or in print.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 12Attack on Titan, Volume 12 by Hajime Isayama. The English-language release of Attack on Titan has now more or less caught up with the Japanese release of the series, which means the time between volumes has increased. Granted, those who are impatient have option of reading the most recent chapters on Crunchyroll, but I’ve personally been waiting since January to see what happens next. I am still impressed by just how many twists and turns Isayama is able to incorporate into the plot of Attack on Titan. Even though the twelfth volume is more about the action than it is about the story, there are still some surprises in store. Granted, each revelation in Attack on Titan only seems to raise more questions. In this volume the Survey Corp is tasked with rescuing Eren, who is in bad shape and being held captive along with Ymir by Reiner and Bertolt. Facing off against Titans is one thing, but having to attack those who at one point seemed to be allies is another thing entirely. Attack on Titan has always been intense and the twelfth volume is no different.

Border, Volume 1Border, Volumes 1-3 by Kazuma Kodaka. Although Border is an ongoing series at five volumes and counting, only three of those volumes have so far been released in English. I’m not sure if Digital Manga plans on licensing more at this point or not. Border is the most recent of Kodaka’s boys’ love manga to be translated. Though calling it boys’ love might be a bit misleading. The manga’s lead, Yamato, is gay and all of the characters seem to be in love with him to one extent or another, but so far the series seems to be more about detective agency he runs with his two foster brothers and his cousin than it is about romance. The first volume, which focuses on ex-soldier Yamato and his tragic past, is the most boys’ love-like (including explicit sex scenes), but subsequent volumes turn to the other characters—his brothers Kippei, a computer genius, and Tamaki, a hair designer whose skills are handy when disguises are needed. Their backstories are likewise tragic. I like this narrative structure of Border. And if the pattern continues, the next volume in the series should focus on Yamato’s cousin Sogo, which I would be very interested in reading.

Eyeshield 21, Volume 32Eyeshield 21, Volumes 32-34 written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. Often I find that reading sports manga makes me at least temporarily more interested in the games which they’re about, but for whatever reason that hasn’t been the case for Eyeshield 21. I probably have developed more of an appreciation for American football, but it still isn’t a sport I care very much about. Eyeshield 21 on the other hand, I’ve come to love. The artwork is phenomenal and the characters are engaging and distinctive. At this point, much of the humor and many of the running gags from the start of the series have faded into the background; Eyeshield 21 has become much more serious and dramatic, but it’s still a tremendous amount of fun. The series has been building up to the Christmas Bowl where the Deimon Devil Bats are playing against the Teikoku Alexanders, an all-star team which has never lost the tournament. The games in Eyeshield 21 have always been exciting but the Christmas Bowl match is fantastic. I fully anticipated Eyeshield 21 to end with the Christmas Bowl, but no, there are still three more volumes to go!

xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 1xxxHolic: Rei, Volume 1 by CLAMP. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the original xxxHolic manga, and I never did finish reading the series before it went out of print (happily, Kodansha will be re-releasing the series in an omnibus edition), but I was still happy to see Rei licensed. As indicated in the translation notes, rei in this instance means return, “signaling a return to the series and to its roots.” It’s not really clear yet exactly how, or if, Rei will tie into the main series. I do have a few ideas how it might, though. Those who have read at least some of xxxHolic will be at a slight advantage over those who haven’t since the characters aren’t thoroughly introduced, but even new readers should be able to make sense of most of Rei. I love Clamp’s artwork in this series. The high-contrast and relatively simple illustration style is very evocative and elegant, and creepy and disconcerting when required. The supernatural elements in the manga tend to be dark in tone, but at the same time the main characters and their interactions tend towards the more comedic. It’s an interesting mix that somehow works; even the humorous scenes have something menacing lurking underneath.

My Week in Manga: January 27-February 2, 2014

My News and Reviews

I only posted one review last week, but there were a couple of other posts as well. As for the review, I took a look at Haruki Murakami’s award-winning Kafka on the Shore. Of the two Murakami novels that I have so far read, this is my favorite. Still, at times I found it to be a rather frustrating reading experience, although there were parts of the novel that I absolutely loved. For the few people who are actually interested, I also posted January’s Bookshelf Overload last week. But, perhaps most importantly, my first manga giveaway of the year is currently in progress! I accidentally ended up with two copies of the second Vinland Saga omnibus, so now you have a chance to win one for your very own! The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so there’s still some time to enter the giveaway.

On to other things online! Matt Thorn has tracked down the interview with Inio Asano that sparked the whole discussion about his gender identity among fandom and offers some of his own comments. Over at All About Manga, Daniella Orihuela-Gruber writes about Hetalia’s Version of History: What Does It Offer Readers?. The fourth episode of Fujojocast has been posted, which takes a look at some award-winning and award-nominated manga. And speaking of honor-worthy manga, Wandering Son made the Rainbow List again this year and quite a few manga appear on YALSA’s 2014 list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens (which is actually a great list of graphic novels for anyone, not just teens). Finally, Seven Seas has had a week full of license announcements, including Vampire Bund doujinshi, Kokoro Connect, and it’s newest yuri acquisition Citurs.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 11Attack on Titan, Volume 11 by Hajime Isayama. To be honest, I’ve recently been a little worried reading Attack on Titan due to the sheer number of plot twists that seem to be included in every volume. While this does make for some exciting (and occasionally confusing) storytelling, it also makes the series feel like Isayama barely has it under his control. Fortunately, the eleventh volume of Attack on Titan is relatively the free of any “big reveals.” (At least in comparison to previous volumes.) Instead, the characters must deal with the fallout from some of the most recent developments—there are a surprising number of Titans who have come out of the 104th Corps. So, while there aren’t many dramatic plot twists in the eleventh volume, there is a major Titan battle between Eren and some of the people he once considered to be his comrades. Some nice character development comes out of it, too, as well as some more hints regarding what the Titans really are and who is behind it all. I’m still sticking with the series at this point.

Sake JockSake Jock: Comics from Today’s Japanese Underground edited by Adam Glickman. Published in 1995, Sake Jock is described as being “the first collection of Japanese alternative artists to appear in English.” Sadly, this slim volume from Fantagraphics can be rather difficult to find nowadays. Sake Jock collects seven short manga, most if not all of which were originally published in the influential alternative manga magazine Garo. Some of the creators I was already familiar with from other underground comics anthologies while others I was encountering for the first time. I was particularly happy to see a work by Kiriko Nananan included since I love her style. Overall, I appreciated and enjoyed the manga collected in Sake Jock. I’m not sure that the collection will hold much general appeal except to those who already have an established interest in alternative manga; there have since been other anthologies published that would make a better introduction. It’s kind of a cool artifact, though, and I am glad to have it as part of my collection.

Two Flowers for the Dragon, Volume 2Two Flowers for the Dragon, Volumes 2-4 by Nari Kusakawa. It’s actually been a few years since I read the first volume of Two Flowers for the Dragon, but I remember being quite taken with it so I figured it was about time to get around to reading more of the series. I’ve rediscovered that I really enjoy the manga. It’s a wonderful mix of fantasy and romance with great character dynamics. There’s also a bit of court intrigue and some assassination plots for good measure.(And some unexpected gender-bending, too, for that matter.) Shakuya, the princess and heir of the Dragon Clan, has two fiancés vying for her affections. Kuwan is a capable but somewhat arrogant captain of the guard while Lucien is a kind-hearted young man who has lost many of his memories. The two of them obviously care for her dearly and are understandably a little antagonistic towards one another. Much to her dismay, Shakuya has developed feelings for both of them to varying degrees. But trying to figure out the workings of her own heart is only one of her many concerns.

The Tyrant Falls in Love, Volume 7The Tyrant Falls in Love, Volume 7-8 by Hinako Takanaga. Volumes seven and eight of The Tyrant Falls in Love form the last story arc in the series although Takanaga does promise that she hasn’t completely abandoned the story and characters. She plans on creating more manga—side stories, epilogues, and so on—but The Tyrant Falls in Love forms a complete story on its own, even considering the fact that it was a sort of follow-up to her debut series Challengers. Throughout The Tyrant Falls in Love, Morinaga and Souchi’s communication has been absolutely terrible. Their relationship is an extraordinarily rocky and volatile one; I honestly wasn’t sure what sort of ending Takanaga was going to go for. Overall, I was very satisfied with the series’ conclusion and I think it works. The only thing I wasn’t entirely convinced by is the direction that Masaki’s relationship with Morinaga’s older brother seems to be taking. Granted, that particular development did set in motion a pretty critical realization on Morinaga’s part.

My Week in Manga: December 16-December 22, 2013

My News and Reviews

Two reviews were posted last week at Experiments in Manga. The first review was for Yaya Sakuragi’s boys’ love manga Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, Volume 3. Although the series isn’t my favorite work by Sakuragi, I tend to enjoy her manga and Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love has been growing on me. The second review was for Tales of Moonlight and Rain, the most recent English translation of Ueda Akinari’s Ugetsu monogatari, a collection of short stories about ghosts and other mysterious happenings that was originally published in Japan in 1776. It may be over two centuries old, but it’s still a great read.

I came across quite a few interesting things online last week: The Advocate posted its 10 Great Graphic Novel Gifts. It’s a great list of queer comics that came out this year and it includes a few excellent manga selections as well; Some Fog uses Kazuo Umezu’s Drifting Classroom as an example on how to creat comics–Lessons from Umezu; Voting has opened for the second Manga Translation Battle; The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund reports that Core Magazine Pleads Guilty in Japanese Obscenity Case, feeling that a “guilty plea would be a better option than a protracted legal battle.; On a happier note, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival has announced it’s initial list of featured guests. Among other great comics creators, Est Em will be coming to TCAF 2014!

Quick Takes

About LoveAbout Love written by Narise Konohara and illustrated by Tomo Ootake. Despite his family’s misgivings over his choice of career, Asaka has become an enthusiastic wedding planner. But recently things haven’t been going so well—several of the couples that he has been working with have canceled their weddings. That’s when he reunites with his first client, a man by the name of Sasagawa who has the perfect marriage and serves as an inspiration to Asaka. However, his marriage isn’t nearly as perfect as it seems. About Love is a slow-burning romance; Asaka and Sasagawa’s relationship takes a great deal of time to develop and solidify, but it’s a natural progression from acquaintances, to friends, to possibly something greater. About Love focuses on the emotional connection between the two men more than it does on their physical intimacy, although that has a role to play as well. In addition to their evolving relationship, About Love addresses some issues of same-sex marriage and there are other gay and lesbian couples important to the story as well.

Attack on Titan, Volume 10Attack on Titan, Volume 10 by Hajime Isayama. I’m not entirely sure how Isayama pulls it off, but it’s rather impressive how many twists and turns Attack on Titan has been taking lately. I went into this volume expecting a respite from major plot reveals since there have been so many recently. I was wrong. The focus of the tenth volume is on 104th’s struggle to survive against a massive titan attack on the castle in which they were hoping to hide and recover. They are without weapons or maneuvering gear, making their situation particularly precarious. This alone would have been enough to carry the volume and there are some very exciting moments in the fight. But no. After an extended action sequence, Isayama throws in not one but two (well, maybe three depending on how you’re counting) major story twists. Although there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered, the titans themselves are becoming less of a mystery. I actually kind of miss when they were beyond humanity’s comprehension, but I’m still interested in seeing how things play out.

Baron Gong Battle, Volume 1Baron Gong Battle, Volumes 1-6 by Masayuki Taguchi. Only six out of the nine volumes of Baron Gong Battle have been released in English. After his girlfriend is horrifically murdered by a Neo Hume, Baron is determined to seek revenge against those who killed her. The Neo Hume’s are extraordinarily powerful creatures born out of the Nazi’s biological experiments. Baron Gong Battle is an utterly absurd and violent action-packed manga series that can be a tremendous amount of trashy fun when it’s not being completely offensive. Baron is an over-the-top badass and the dialogue is extreme. However, the more that I read, the less enamored I became with Baron Gong Battle. The manga’s utter ridiculousness is highly entertaining, and it becomes more and more outrageous as the series progresses, but I soon became tired of the role that the women play. Occasionally they can be very competent fighters, but more often than not they seem to only be a part of the series in order to fawn over Baron and to run around mostly if not entirely naked.

PinkPink by Kyoko Okazaki. While I didn’t find Pink to be as brutal or as hard-hitting as Okazaki’s later work Helter Skelter, I still think that the manga is an excellent work and I enjoyed it a great deal. Pink is rather curious manga filled with rather curious characters. In general, they are much more likeable than those in Helter Skelter, but they are definitely an odd bunch. Yumi works as a part-time call girl in order to feed her pet crocodile Croc. Although Yumi’s on great terms with her younger stepsister Keiko—a precocious girl with a bottomless stomach—she and her stepmother hate each other. Things get a little complicated when Yumi becomes involved with Haruo, her stepmother’s manstress and wannabe novelist. I was actually surprised by how much of the Pink was told from Haruo’s perspective. His strange relationships with these three women, and Croc, forms the basis for much of the story. But even so, it’s Yumi who really seems to be the focus of the manga. Pink has a very cynical and oddball sense of humor which I could appreciate.

From the New WorldFrom the New World directed by Masashi Ishihama. Overall I really liked the story and setting of the From the New World anime, an adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Yusuke Kishi (which sadly has yet to be licensed in English.) However, I frequently found the series’ pacing and narrative structure to be frustrating and somewhat disjointed. Saki, the main protagonist, also had an annoying habit of echoing back whatever was being said to her by someone else. I did like that the story focused on the characters at several different points in their lives. From the New World takes place in what is eventually revealed to be a post-apocalyptic environment. I actually would have liked to have seen more about how society reached the point that it is at in the series; most of the past events are merely hinted at. From the New World deals quite a bit with the terrible lengths humanity is willing to go to when driven by fear. It’s very well done in places. The anime also gets bonus points for the nice use of music from Dvořák’s From the New World symphony.

My Week in Manga: November 25-December 1, 2013

My News and Reviews

To start things off, I would like to thank everyone who voted in the poll to pick my next monthly review project. I am very pleased to announce that over the next year I will have a series of reviews that focuses on yuri and lesbian comics and manga. A Year of Yuri took an early lead in the poll and earned just under half of the votes. I’m now in the process of determining exactly which comics I’ll be reviewing for this project. Nothing has been finalized yet, but ideally there will be a good variety of both old and new titles. I’d also like to thank those of you who took time to comment on the poll as well. I was sincerely interested in reviewing all of the choices; taking into consideration all of your input and suggestions, I’m currently working on other ways to review some of the manga outside of a monthly review project. I had fun with the poll, so thank you again for indulging me!

There was a mix of different posts at Experiments in Manga last week. Of particular note, the monthly manga giveaway—a Fairy Tail Feast—is currently in progress. I completely underestimated the popularity of Fairy Tail; I’ve never had so many people turn out for a giveaway before. Not even for Tezuka. There’s still time to enter for a chance to win volumes thirty, thirty-one, and thirty-two of Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail manga. And as a bonus the winner of the giveaway will also receive a copy of the anime movie Fairy Tail: Phoenix Priestess! November’s Bookshelf Overload was also posted last week as was my review for Ichiya Sazanami’s manga Black Bard. It’s a bit of a mess, but I still had a lot of fun reading it; I couldn’t resist the combination of music and magic.

Since last week was Thanksgiving here in the United States (my favorite holiday!) I was doing quite a bit of traveling. So, I probably missed out on a lot of the week’s manga news. But there are still a couple of links that I’d like to mention here: The most recent Speakeasy Podcast focused on Crunchyroll’s new manga project. And over at Manga Bookshelf proper, Melinda Beasi posted a Status Update & Station Identification which includes a shout-out to Experiments in Manga which joined the Manga Bookshelf family a few months ago. (She also described my mind as “deeply eloquent” which absolutely made my day. Hopefully I can continue to live up to her expectations!)

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 9Attack on Titan, Volume 9 by Hajime Isayama. The mysteries keep piling up in Attack on Titan. It makes me wonder how long Isayama will be able to keep the series going without it collapsing under its own weight. The more ideas and plot twists he adds to the story, which can admittedly be very exciting, the less focused Attack on Titan becomes. I have no idea how much Isayama has thought through to the end or how much he is making up as he goes. It’s very possible that he could he write himself into some sort of absurd corner. That being said, I am hooked on the series and I really want to know what’s going on. This particular volume reveals more about some of the secondary characters, especially Sasha, Connie, Krista, and Ymir. It also provides the setup for what will be some very big plot reveals. The artwork in Attack on Titan continues to be incredibly uneven, which is unfortunate. There are a few brilliant panels and the titans are appropriately disconcerting, but the artwork remains one of the manga’s weakest points.

From the New World, Volume 1From the New World, Volume 1 written by Yusuke Kishi and illustrated by Toru Oikawa. Honestly, I am more interested in reading Kishi’s original From the New World novel (and I’m still hoping that it will one day be licensed), but it’s the anime and manga adaptations that are currently available in English. After reading the first volume of the manga, I want to read the original novel more than ever. From the New World has a fantastically dark ambiance. I also have an established fondness for dystopias and tales of survival. Unfortunately, the level and intensity of fanservice in the manga feels out of place distracts from what could be an extremely intriguing premise. Saki’s clothing choices in particular are ridiculous and could hardly be described as functional. (Bizarrely enough, some of the outfits aren’t really all that attractive, either.) I’m not even going to try to explain Maria’s underwear. Still, all of the moments in between the nonsensical bath and sex scenes are legitimately engrossing. I do plan on continuing on with From the New World for at least a little longer.

Gold Pollen and Other StoriesGold Pollen and Other Stories by Seiichi Hayashi. The first volume in PictureBox’s Masters of Alternative Manga, Gold Pollen and Other Stories collects four of Hayashi’s short manga from the late sixties and early seventies—”Dwelling in Flowers,” “Red Dragonfly,” “Yamanba Lullaby,” and the three chapters from the unfinished “Gold Pollen”—in addition to an autobiographical essay by Hayashi and an essay by the series’ editor Ryan Holmberg. I am particularly grateful for the inclusion of these essays for they reveal some of the semi-autobiographical aspects of Hayashi’s manga that I would have otherwise missed. It is clear that his mother and the concept of what a mother should be influenced him greatly. Each of the manga included in the volume deals with motherhood at least tangentially if not directly. While the manga share some similar characteristics and themes, each is distinctive in both storytelling and art style. Hayashi’s use of color is also rather striking. Gold Pollen and Other Stories is an excellent start to the series; I’m looking forward to future volumes a great deal.

Mr. Flower BrideMr. Flower Bride / Mr. Flower Groom by Lily Hoshino. The powerful Souda family has an unusual marriage custom—in order to prevent disputes over inheritance, the younger sons in the family are partnered with male brides. The basic premise of the two Mr. Flower volumes could have easily been the basis for a comedy manga. But instead, Hoshino plays it straight, honestly addressing the personal challenges and issues that the characters have to deal with in regards to arranged marriage with the additional twist that they both happen to be the same sex. Mr. Flower Bride and Mr. Flower Groom follows two related couples with similar plots—both brides are already in love with their reluctant husbands and both pairs have to navigate jealousy and come to terms with their developing relationships. However, the stories do play out differently. The two Mr. Flower manga end up being rather sweet and even a little lovey-dovey in places, which is not to say that the newlyweds do not have their problems. I enjoyed both volumes, but Mr. Flower Groom has the more interesting gender dynamics of the two.

Kaiji: Against All RulesKaiji: Against All Rules directed by Yūzō Satō. If I had to choose, I think I enjoyed the first Kaiji anime series slightly more, though I liked the second one, as well. The stakes in the first series were incredibly high—the gamblers were literally risking their lives. To some extent this is still true in the second series, but for the most part the large amounts of money involved have become more prominent than life and limb. The ways of cheating, counter-cheating, and general manipulation of the games in the second series also tend to be much more outlandish, convoluted, and unbelievable than in the first. However, it is impressive for how long, and for how many episodes, a single pachinko game can be stretched. By the end of the series I was starting to anticipate some of the major plot twists and developments before they actually happened which unfortunately made the big reveals much less effective. Even so, there were still a few surprises in store and Kaiji remains an incredibly intense and dramatic anime.

My Week in Manga: October 21-October 27, 2013

My News and Reviews

Last week I reviewed Takako Shimura’s Wandering Son, Volume 5. The series is personally very important to me, so I’m always happy when a new volume is released. Sadly, we probably won’t see the next volume until next year. Last week I also posted Discovering Manga: Podcasts Redux. It’s a quick update on some of the podcasts that I’ve listened to and written about in the past. It also outlines my plan to write more podcast posts since my previous ones seem to have been fairly popular. If you have a manga podcast that you think I should check out, do let me know!

On to good stuff found online! A commenter on my recent post Random Musings: Queer Theory, Japanese Literature, and Translation linked to a fascinating article from earlier this year: Talking about (a)sexuality in Japanese. Over at Publishers Weekly, Deb Aoki has a great recap of Manga at New York Comic Con. Misaki C. Kido gives seven reasons Why Felipe Smith Is the Only Mangaka from America (So Far). And some of the most interesting news from last week: Crunchyroll will begin to digitally distribute Kodansha manga, providing access to new chapters the same day they are released in Japan. (Including some titles not previously available in English!) It should be interesting to see how this venture develops.

Quick Takes

Attack on Titan, Volume 8Attack on Titan, Volume 8 by Hajime Isayama. The mystery of the Female Titan has been solved! Or, at least one of the mysteries—the identity of the person is who is controlling it. The reasons behind why and for what purpose are still unknown. For every question that is answered in Attack on Titan it seems as though there are even more to be asked. This particular volume includes a huge (dare I say titanic?) plot reveal which ends with a fantastic confrontation between Hanji and Minister Nick. (As an aside, I love that Hanji is a canonically gender ambiguous character.) One of the major secrets dealing with the walls is literally uncovered, but has yet to be fully explained. Attack on Titan continues to get stranger and stranger. For those who have been watching the Attack on Titan anime but who have thus far been avoiding the manga for one reason or another (I know plenty of people who can’t get past the terribly inconsistent artwork), the eighth volume is where you’ll want to pick the series up if you want to see any more of the story any time soon.

Knights of Sidonia, Volume 4Knights of Sidonia, Volumes 4-5 by Tsutomu Nihei. I am still enjoying Knights of Sidonia, but it frequently strikes me as a peculiar mix of science fiction horror and romantic comedy. But whatever genre it falls into at any given time, I do think the manga is Nihei’s most accessible work to date. Occasionally I still miss his grittier style of illustration, but the cleaner and somewhat simpler artwork in Knights of Sidonia has really grown on me. One of the things that amuses me tremendously is that Nagate is frequently seen stuffing food into his face. This emphasizes how much of an oddity he is compared to the rest of society on the Sidonia. And he is rather odd. His social interactions can be very awkward and often he is completely oblivious to his faux pas until it’s too late. (Let’s just say that it’s fortunate that he heals quickly.) The Gauna continue to be daunting adversaries. While at first they were terrifying enigmas, over the course of the series they have adapted and evolved and have even adopted (or at least mimicked) human technology and tactics, making them even more frightening.

Monster Musume, Volume 1Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls, Volume 1 by Okayado. Monster Musume is a harem series that attempts to distinguish itself by featuring monster girls. There is absolutely no question that Monster Musume is an ecchi manga, so unsurprisingly there are a lot of boobs and other bits. (I’m still trying to figure out how a snake can have a camel toe.) Kurusu Kimihito is an average guy who was “volunteered” for an exchange program between human and part-human species. He has become the host family for Miia, a lamia who is overly fond of him (inter-species canoodling is forbidden). Overwhelmed, he is constantly in a state of near-panic. As the first volume of Monster Musume progresses, bad puns and groan-inducing wordplay become increasingly prominent. (I’m one of those odd people who actually appreciates this sort of intentionally and ridiculously terrible dialogue, though.) It’s not at all a deep story—and I do wonder where all the monster boys are—but Monster Musume can actually be rather entertaining on occasion.