About Sean Gaffney

Sean Gaffney has been reading manga since 1996, writing fanfiction in the manga and anime world since 1996, but only decided to start a manga blog in 2009. No one is quite sure why, as talking endlessly is one of his favorite things. He’s also written guest posts at Erica Friedman’s Okazu. His favorite manga things to discuss are shoujo with cheerful yet oblivious heroines, defending angry tsundere girls, and pretending he doesn’t ship. His favorite non-manga things to discuss are classic cartoons from the 1930s to 1960s, William Shakespeare (and other Elizabethan/Jacobean playwrights), and Frank Zappa. But really, he’ll happily talk about anything, even if he has to Google it first to pretend he knows all about it. He lives in Connecticut.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Vol. 1

By Fujikawa Yuka and Rifuin Na Maganote. Released in Japan as “Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu” by Media factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Flapper. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

Never let it be said that companies don’t know their core audience. Someone like Viz might have simply called this ‘Jobless Reincarnation’ and be done with it, but Seven Seas knows that the folks most interested in it also wouldn’t recognize it unless it had its original Japanese title. Hence the hyphenated name. And Media factory knows their audience as well, which is why the front cover stars the cute teenage girl who’s a mere mentor for our hero, with our hero himself in the back. That said, some of the editorial decisions, while I can sort of guess why they happened, baffle me a little bit, the first one being why we have this story’s framing device at all.


Our story starts off with a chubby goateed guy at his computer eating instant ramen. He’s quickly kicked out on the streets by his family, as it turns out he’s a NEET with no job or desire to get one. As he bemoans his useless life, he sees a truck barreling towards an arguing young couple and decides to rescue them, even as it means the truck kills him. He dies with a desire to do his life over properly. We next cut to a standard ‘fantasy’ world, where Rudy, our hero, is a 3-year-old precocious brat learning swordfighting, but he can also do magic. He’s that guy reincarnated, but he still has all his prior memories. Now he buckles down and learns as fast as possible, so that he can live a life he’s proud of.

This is all very well and good, but aside from creepy moments when we see a little kid perving on a young teenage girl, or the odd traumatic reference to his death from the start of the book, there’s no real reason why this had to happen at all. Why not just have it be a story of a bright and precocious young kid in a fantasy universe? I fear the answer may be that ‘ordinary guy gets trapped in a fantasy universe’ is the in thing right now, and the author knew it. It’s based on a series of light novels, so that wouldn’t surprise me. It could also be a way to ward off criticism of his hero, who’s doing things at 3 years old that most folks can’t pull off till their teens.

That niggle aside, this was better than I expected, and shows off Rudy’s boyish young charms (when he’s not being a 34-year-old otaku) very well. His conflict resolution is also based off his prior memories, and while this does give him a vocabulary no little kid should have yet, it does actually resolve the conflicts to some degree. There’s also a suggestion that this might get into some darker areas, not least of which is the cliffhanger. I’ll check out the second volume, but I wish the series had simply dumped the wraparound and been a straight up fantasy.

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, Vol. 8

By Nagaru Tanigawa and Puyo. Released in Japan as “Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

It is not particularly surprising that, having resolved its main relationship in this volume, Nagato Yuki-chan continues. After all, the main Haruhi novels are still in limbo, and may remain there permanently. The anime, unlike this spinoff manga, is not allowed to use Sasaki (indeed, the anime of the Nagato Yuki-chan manga took pains to avoid having her appear). And Haruhi-chan, while fun, is still just a gag manga. Thus is is this title which has almost become the series flagship, despite featuring characters who remain, at heart, really nice and sweet. And so we continue to toddle along, vaguely discussing graduation plans and learning how to cook, and occasionally teasing the main continuity, such as when Yuki gets sick.


Now that Kyon and Yuki have resolved their affections, most of the stress in this volume is carried by Ryouko, who remains my favorite and gets a lot of face time this time around. She’s not made aware that anything has changed till the very end of the book, mostly as Kyon and Yuki are too embarrassed to say anything. And it’s honestly easier, when repurposing material that may have been used in prior spinoffs or the main series, to use Ryouko’s POV, as she wasn’t in them by virtue of being evil and erased. She goes back and forth between being a mom, a big sister, a shipper, and a nervous wreck here, and once again it’s Haruhi who is forced to play the minder to the minder and comfort Ryouko when she begins to cry in happiness at Kyon and Yuki’s relationship.

Speaking of Haruhi, she’s still trying to do interesting things, but she’s also the one who, along with Tsuruya, actually has her act together and is thinking about what comes next. She’s given up on Kyon, but in this title is OK with that, and appears to be content to move on. (Koizumi is still sticking with her, but again she appears to regard him more as a useful tool than anything else). Mikuru is useless in the original series, adult form aside, but here Tsuruya admits that she’s genuinely trying to change that, and give Mikuru the experience with people she desperately needs to move forward when Tsuruya can’t be there to take care of her.

And so it looks as if the next volume of the series (and yes, there is one) will discuss graduation plans. Ryouko is undecided, mostly as she really hasn’t focused on her own life as much as living vicariously through Yuki. As for everyone saying Yuki is the housewife type, given Kyon’s less than zero ambition, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. But of course this is a mild, sweet, happy title, so I suspect any crises of faith will be resolved in about 50 pages or so. It may not be the Haruhi we’d like to see, but if all we can get now is this continuity, I’m perfectly happy, and want to see what the cast will do in the future.

Log Horizon: Game’s End, Part 1

By Mamare Touno and Kazuhiro Hara. Released in Japan by Enterbrain. Released in North America by Yen On.

After two reasonably stand-alone novels, Log Horizon now has the first of the ever popular ‘2-volume arc’ books, as seen in SAO, Accel World, and Index has a few soon as well. This does allow for a leisurely pace throughout the book, with only a token cliffhanger at the end. But that’s fine, as this book is doing what Log Horizon does best, which is to showly explain how its world works and how the mechanics of gaming fit into “real” battles. Of course, as Shiroe finds out towards the end of this book, things may not be as simple as all that, particularly when it comes to death in this world.


I’ve said earlier that these books get into game mechanics far too much, and I admit at times I was getting a little bored at all the exposition. At the same time, however, the mechanics are far more important here than they are in SAO, where Kirito may as well just be genuinely using his sword as a sword. Each class has its own strengths and weaknesses, something that takes our newbie heroes (the twins from last book, Serara, and two new kids) the entire volume to really understand. I suspect a few gamers may be a bit frustrated by the “gosh, we need teamwork” lesson being drilled in here, but it’s cute, and serves the purpose of the actual book, which is to develop these five kids into deeper characters, particularly Minori. And we even get a mini-cliffhanger of our own with them, as Rudy seems to have a secret he’s been keeping from everyone.

As for Shiroe and company, instead of dungeon crawling they’re worrying about diplomacy. The other big function of this book is to set up the “people of the land”, which is to say the NPCs – as genuine characters with hopes, dreams, and desires, rather than “I’d love it if you could get that cat out of the tree for me” quest points. They have a history, one that is long and rather dark, as Shiroe finds out. And they have goals that may not mesh well with the adventurers, who they seems to regard as dangerous unknowns. Luckily, we meet Reinesia, the princess of one of the main capitols, who would much rather just lie against a table and be moody all day. I can identify with that. Her interaction with Crusty, who reminds me a lot of Heathcliff from SAO only hopefully without the evil, is one of teh funniest parts of the entire book.

There are also a few suggested romances, though I’m not sure if any of them will actually come off. Isuzu searches her feelings and realizes she likes Rudy as a big dog sort of guy. Akatsuki searches her feelings and comes up empty, though the more experienced reader can tell she’s in love with Shiroe and as yet unaware of it. In any case, romance may take a back seat in the next book, as evil creatures from the black lagoon are coming out from the sea all over the continent. Well, they’re in a game world, you can’t just turn off the bad guys. Log Horizon remains a well thought out series with relatable characters (so many introverts!), and is easy to recommend.