May is here and I’m baffled…where did the year go?!Oh well, it is time for another seasonal Manga Bookshelf Spotlight. From some indie picks ranging from apocalyptic setting to coming-of-age, I was busy reading. Here is a perfect time for a seasonal check in to spotlight a few gems on my physical and digital bookshelves for anyone looking for some new manga to read! Otakus who love flowers, twisted families, queer longing, body snatching and more–you name it! I got it!
Crescent Moon Marching
Creator: Hamachi Yamada
Age Rating: TEEN
Available Formats: Digital
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing
Localization Team: Arthur Muira (Translation & Adaptation) Bari Shager (Lettering), Gergő Rácz (Proofreader)
D.S. Jay (Quality Assurance), Glen Isip (Cover Design)
To escape the stress of city life, high school, and her overbearing mother, Mizuki runs away from home to spend spring break with her aunt in the countryside. The teen missed the chance to make friends at the beginning of the semester, she’s always in a cramp school and most shockingly– she realizes that there’s nothing that she’s passionate about! She’s led a dull life guided by her strict mother who commands good grades above all. At her aunt’s coffee shop, she meets Akira, a high school trumpet player who introduces her to the world of marching band! Crescent Moon Marching introduces Mizuki, whose life was missing color, passion, and anything that made her heart sing and come to life!
Shoutout to my fave manga app, Azuki, for once again making this season’s manga bookshelf list! Hamachi Yamada’s series had such a strong first chapter that stunned me: I love a good coming of age manga where the young adult characters find that spark, that one thing that just clicks for them. Like Yatora in Blue Period stumbling across that painting, here Mizuki is forever changed after seeing Akira’s high school marching band in action.
Crescent Moon Marching is an amazing story of a teenager who never committed herself to anything and starts discovering who she is through the comradery of the marching band she joins. Wanting to be on the same page with others means she’s yearning to take the first step and the next and the next. With Yamada’s expressive artwork that highlights facial expressions, it is easy to be enamored with just the first few chapters that dive into the intricate details of musical instruments, marching band need-to-know, and Mizuki’s dive into belonging.
Recommended for: Those who love the coming-of-age and slice of life vibes via manga, band geeks, and their fans approved manga
Creator: Hidari Yokoyama
Age Rating: 12+ (TEEN)
Available Formats: Digital
Ongoing or Completed: Completed, published on the MANGA Plus app
Localization Team: Ella Donaldson (Translation) YKS Services LLC (Lettering), Katherine Tran (Editing)
High-schooler Tsukumo Fukakusa is a lovable teen obsessed with an anime called Bouquet Garden: that features human idol characters based on flowers. There’s a place at school that he regards as his “Holy Land:” the back entrance of his school where he always secretly admires the flower arrangements displayed there. One faithful day, he goes from being the boy who looks at the flowers to being recruited by the school’s ikebana club. Ikebana, known as the centuries-old Japanese art of arranging flowers, is a new world for the happy-go-lucky boy with a knowledge of flowers to enter and find new challenges and happiness. Hidari Yokoyama’s manga, which took me by surprise, is sold as an “Ikebana x Coming-of-Age School Life Drama.”
Tsukumo, who is described as a bright and cheerful person, meets and is paired with the gloomy and socially awkward Tsubasa Dewakuni. Moebana is a Shonen manga with a surprising twist that is uniquely Japanese and full of heart and a lot of fun, truly. It does have its familiar Shonen beats with competitions and rivals, and it is quite wholesome, if not a little short (less than 28 chapters). It has an engaging narrative about an outsider, a newcomer entering an already established world set with legacies, emotional histories, and traditions with a backdrop of loving flowers. I loved Moebana for the rich storytelling and the way that we are connected with our loves, here it is a love of flowers.
I adored the way both Tsukumo and Tsubasa found ways to use their great love of arranging flowers to comfort, inspire, and encourage others, including themselves–the beautiful twist in the last chapter that connects two of my favorite characters is a subtle one that just may be one of the best twists in all of the more recent manga.
Recommended for: Folks who love manga about otaku, fans who like their Shonen in small bursts, people who want an introductory to Ikebana or love reading about the Japanese art and pastime
Creator: Masakazu Ishiguro
Publisher: DENPA BOOKS
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Rating: 16+ (OLDER TEEN)
Available Formats: Digital & Physical
Ongoing or Completed: Ongoing, Five Volumes as of May 2023
Localization Team: Ko Ransom (Translation), Patrick Sutton (Proofreading) Glen Isip, Nicole Dochych, Brandon Bovia (Production)
I may not love living through an apocalypse, but I sure do love reading about them! Heavenly Delusion switches through the point-of-views of two groups: Tokio and children inside a special facility and Maru and Kiruko who are out fending for themselves. The manga takes place after some calamity has befallen Japan, and the place is mostly a wasteland with survivors here and there, eking out a living. Tokio and the other children he’s grown up with have been raised in a nursery-style setting by robots and a few adults, safe from the ravages of the wasteland outside its walls. Maru and Kiruko have been traveling across Japan on a special mission that constantly keeps them in danger and discovering new things of a time before, searching for a place called “heaven.”
Masakazu Ishiguro’s work successfully had me intrigued by the end of volume one and wanting more. This apocalyptic land is an interesting one with man-eating creatures that are hauntingly terrifying, promising offerings by survivor camps of humans, and the mystery of the place called heaven. There are several reveals in just the two volumes of manga that I devoured that have surprised me, shocked me, wrecked me, and made me happy that this is my gateway to this mangaka’s work. Existing and thriving in the science fiction genre, but also slightly fantastical, I am immediately invested in this engaging dark story of survival, growing up and living a life–manufactured or not. Also, there’s an anime adaptation!
Recommended for: Folks who love post-apocalyptic stories, people who read manga centering mostly child characters, lovers of science fiction, and shocking reveals
The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend
Creator: Mieri Hiranishi
Age Rating: TEEN
Available Formats: Digital & Physical
Ongoing or Completed: Completed, One Volume
Localization Team: Arthur Muira (Translation & Adaptation) Bari Shager (Lettering)
I don’t believe that the manga industry is lacking when it comes to LGBTQIA+ content, yet I feel a little victory chant in my heart every time I see more releases. The Girl Who Can’t Get a Girlfriend “is an autobiographical journey about one lesbian mangaka’s search for a hot, short-haired girlfriend,” claims the back cover. Based on true events, it follows the queer awakening of the creator and her challenging journey of finding love, losing it, and moving forward. Look–there’s cringe, severe second-hand embarrassment, and a lot of discovery and growing pains on the pages here in Mieri Hiranishi’s manga debut.
I am really enjoying this flood of autobiographical manga being published, and the gems we’re able to read. It is a refreshing take on a queer woman figuring out who she is and making an effort to acknowledge that romanticizing others and relationships gets her nowhere. Originally, the first version of The Girl Who Can’t Get a Girlfriend was published online to webcomic fanfare, cheered on by fans. (Which I’m finding is not uncommon for manga nowadays, as it was for I’m a Terminal Cancer Patient, But I’m Fine.) I think what I love the most about Hiranishi’s manga is the very sincere and honest way she shares her story via manga. Her retelling of her navigating her first attempts at a love life and figuring out her sexuality is an endearing ride that left me rooting for her.
Recommended for: Fans of autobiographical manga, readers who love romance, folks who want more comedic manga to read
What manga is a must read on your bookshelves this Spring? I’d love to know. Sound off in the comments or via our social media channels! See past Seasonal Bookshelf spotlights here!
Love manga? So do we! Check out more manga reviews and related content here!