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Reading Log 2023 Wrapped

What did That Manga Hunter read in 2023? - My Year in Review


Hey, it's 2024. It's February. That means time to start (or break) New Year's resolutions, but also, time to reflect on the interesting manga I've read in 2023. Without further ado, here's what I read and what I thought of them.



What I read

In a nutshell, here is a list of the manga I've read in 2023.


January

  • I'll Never Be Your Crown Princess v. 1-2 (blog review)

  • In/Spectre v. 15

February

  • In/Spectre v. 16

  • Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts v. 3

  • Yakuza Fiance v. 1


March

  • Spy x Family ch. 76 and 77

  • The Villainess and the Demon Knight v. 1


April

  • Bite Maker: The King's Omega v. 1-6 (blog review)

  • Came the Mirror & Other Tales (oneshot) (blog review)

  • Love is an Illusion! v. 2 (manwha)

  • Something's Wrong With Us v. 13

  • Spy x Family ch. 78, short mission 10, ch. 79


May

  • Kowloon Generic Romance v. 1 (blog review)

  • Love and Lies v. 7-13 (complete) (blog review)

  • Prince Freya v. 1-2

  • Spy x Family ch. 80

  • Skip, Beat v. 48

  • Who Made Me a Princess v. 1 (manwha)


June

  • After School Charisma v.1

  • Don’t Call It Mystery v. 1

  • The Heiress and the Chauffeur v.1-2 (complete) (blog review)

  • I Guess I Became the Mother of the Great Demon King's 10 Children in Another World v. 6-7

  • Is Love the Answer? (oneshot) (blog review)

  • Limit vol. 1-4

  • My Secret Affection v.1

  • Prince Freya v. 3-8 (blog review)

  • Spy x Family ch. 81-82

  • Something's Wrong With Us v.14

  • Star Crossed v.1-4 (complete)

  • Titan's Bride v.1

  • To Strip the Flesh (oneshot) (blog review)

  • To Your Eternity v. 18 (I think I skipped v. 17, lol. Whoops!)

  • Touring After the Apocalypse v.1


July

  • Kakuriyo Bed & Breakfast for Spirits v. 1

  • Ladies on Top v. 2

  • Moriarty the Patriot v. 1-2

  • Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts v. 4

  • Something's Wrong With Us v. 15

  • Spy x Family ch. 83

August

  • Beauty & the Beast of Paradise Lost v. 1 (re-read)

  • Bite Maker: The King's Omega v. 7

  • Don't Call It Mystery v. 1 (re-read)

  • Lost Lad London v. 1-3 (completed!)

  • Pretty Boy Detective Club v. 1 (re-read)

  • Something's Wrong With Us v. 16

  • Spy x Family ch. 83-85

  • Usotoki Rhetoric v. 2

  • The Villainess and the Demon Knight v. 2

  • Yakuza Lover v. 6-8

September

  • Spy x Family ch. 86-87


October

  • I Guess I Became the Mother of the Great Demon King's 10 Children in Another World v. 8


November

  • Run Away with Me Girl v. 1-2

  • Spy x Family Ch. 88

  • The Yakuza's Bias v. 1

December

  • Cinderella Closet v. 1

  • Marriage Toxin ch.1-11

  • Spy x Family ch. 89-90; short mission 11

  • Wandance v. 1


So, all together, I read 38 unique manga series and 2 manwha series! But wait, there's more!


Some quick stats. My most read month was June. If I did my math correctly, I read about 27 volumes and 2 chapters of manga that month! On the other hand, my least read month is September followed by October. That's it in the stats department. Moving on, I wrote what I read and thought about them each month on my Tumblr. Few thoughts turned into full-length reviews. I wrote 9 manga reviews last year. So, this year I'll strive to write even more.


My goals for this year are: read to completion and write more reviews. It seems I can't stick to a dedicated reading list. The reading list is "just a suggestion" rather than a "gun-to-my-head you better read this or else." But whatever. Positive direction. Progress. That's what's important, right? With that said, it's time to take a deep dive in to some interesting reads.



Hi-lighting the Interesting Manga I Read in 2023


Last Thing I Read in 2023 Award: Cinderella Closet v.1 by Wakana Yanai

Cinderella Closet is an 8-volume, slice-of-life romance manga series following a plain college girl. Seven Seas published the first volume in April of 2023, but I didn't get to it until the last few days of December. Overall, I think it's a nice start to what will be a short series.


The premise: Haruka is attending college in the big city; she's self-deprecating and has low self-esteem, but she wants to change. She wants work senpai Kurotaki to notice her. In steps Hikaru, a cross-dressing, fashionable fairy godmother, to transform Haruka. Love, friendship, and drama ensues.


You see the love triangle/shape/whatever coming a mile away. From this first volume, it seems obvious that the boys will catch feelings for the girl, and the girl will catch feelings for the boys. The story is not exactly new, but the characters are great and have room to change and grow. Also, unlike some stories, Cinderella Closet is a romance-first and focused story. Yes, Cinderella Closet is an easy recommendation for anyone who enjoys Princess Jellyfish. (Just letting that elephant out of the barn early.) It's also an easy recommendation for anyone who enjoys stories about fashion and fabulously, fashionable characters.


It's also a good recommendation for people who enjoy seeing characters grow. Haruka's arc is easy to spot, going from a meek to confident girl, but what about Kurotaki or Hikaru? Kurotaki just has "asshole fuckboi" written all over him, and yet, I don't hate him as a character. I could be wrong, but I'm looking forward to seeing Kurotaki improve and possibly win Haruka's heart. As for Hikaru, I'm not sure what his arc or role will be other than "fairy godmother." He could win Haruka's heart or not. In any case, I'm looking forward to reading more in 2024. Check out Cinderella Closet here.


Cinderella Closet manga pages shows Haruka meeting Hikaru (dressed as a woman) for the first time


Biggest Surprise of 2023 Award: Marriage Toxin ch. 1-11 by Joumyaku and Mizuki Yoda

As I type this out, the first physical volume of Marriage Toxin has hit store shelves, but the series has long been available legally online via MangaPlus. You can read the first three and last three chapters for free. However, the in-between chapters can only be read once through the app. If you'd like to re-read those chapters, you'd have to pay a nominal subscription fee. On the other hand, Viz will have the superior translations. (Medibang is translating the series on MangaPlus.)


Sidebar aside, Marriage Toxin is better than I thought it would be even though it's literally not toxic yaoi. (Total bummer, dude.) The story follows Gero, an assassin with a poison specialty, who's looking for a bride when he crosses paths with a cross-dressing marriage swindler named Mei. Mei is an expert in marriage and matchmaking, and seeing how Gero has 0 game, takes pity on him and helps him out. Action and comedy ensue. The first 3 chapters covers Gero and Mei's introduction and partnership. Chapter 4-9 covers Gero's next assignment and payment: a date with a pretty Robin Hood-esque art thief. Ch. 10+ starts a new arch. Gero and Mei are tasked with watching over Shiori Ureshino, a nice college freshman with social anxiety who belongs to a rich family set on killing her. I like the airheaded assassin that's tasked with killing Shiori. XD


If you're a fan of other Shonen Jump stories like Kiruru Kill Me, Sakamoto Days, or Spy x Family, then read Marriage Toxin.




You Can't Make This Anime Award: Wandance v. 1 by Coffee

What does Bruno Mars, Scatman John, and Maison Ikkoku have in common?


This manga.


Not a joke aside, I'm not a big sports manga fan, but I do like great art. Heard some buzz about this series and decided I'll put it on the never-ending tbr pile. I finally got my chance when Kodansha gave away v. 1 for free (digitally) in December 2023. Wandance is a coming-of-age sports drama about a shy stuttering boy named Kaboku who takes up dancing because he likes it and wants to express himself. Yes, there is a girl involved: Wanda. Wanda is the literal embodiment of the well-worn phrase, "Dance like no one is watching." Quirky Wanda sparks something in Kaboku. (Love? Yes. No, not yet.) However, Kaboku doesn't join the high school dance club solely because of her nor does he join because of the favorable girl to guy club ratio. He really does just wants to dance and express himself. Turns out he's got some natural rhythm too.


That rhythm, however, comes at a cost. There are so many music references packed in to this first volume. As you read along, you may want to queue up your Spotify and put on your boogie shoes. Coffee's illustrations give you clear instructions on how to do these dances, and you'll want to follow along as Kaboku and Wanda dance to Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, and Shawn Mendes. Yeah, I don't think any animation studio can make an anime of this series based on the music alone. It's not like you can pop and lock it to classical music or other royalty-friendly music... 🤔 If by some miracle, some studio can make Wandance work, then I will be sweating bullets on what we will get via streaming and home video because music licenses are not cheap! (Using all Sony music and then having the Sony-owned Crunchyroll distribute it in the West is an option but a lame one.)


In any case, I'm not a big sports manga fan, but if you give me decent characters, nice art, and breakdown the sport in such an appealing way that I'd want to go out and do it, then I will be reading (or watching) it. Overall, Wandance is a decent first first volume. The series is still ongoing, and Volume 8 will be released in February 2024. Check out Wandance here.


Wandance manga pages shows Kaboku watching Wanda dance


Favorite/Most Anticipated Purchases of 2023 Award: Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts by Tohko Tsukinaga; Something's Wrong With Us by Natsumi Ando

There is only so much manga I can buy physically...So, I have to be strategic about what I buy, where, when, and how.



I usually buy what I'm excited to read most. Sometimes the story just gets to a critical point or just starting to "get good," and I have to know what happens next, ya know? I also consider the manga's popularity and likelihood it will go out of print sooner rather than later. Finally, almost completed series or series I can get caught up in took precedence.


For 2023, I stayed current with Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts and Something's Wrong With Us. I'd like to be embarrassed by how much I enjoy Outbride, and I would be if I weren't reading other b.s. cringe manga. 🙈 As I mentioned in my vol. 1 review of Outbride, this is definitely a guilty pleasure manga to me, and since reading that fateful first vol. 1, I am enjoying the series each volume.


Outbride: Beauty and the Beasts v. 1 manga on a table

The art is pretty, especially the covers! The smut is on point, and the stable of romanceable boys are interesting and compelling. My favorite male character is Oma the ojisan, followed by Fei Shen the yandere, then Noel the best boy, and finally Alfred the angel boy. Mashiro, the female main character, is serviceable... As far as actual plot goes, Tuskinaga has made an interesting world. Each country and leader have their own problems and history, and Mashiro may be able to stop it if the lady doctor and Noel don't do anything shady first. At any rate, Outbride is obviously not for everyone, but it is sadly, for me. If I were 16-18, no joke this would be my favorite smut story. 🙈 This is my favorite smut story of 2023 though. I didn't keep close count of how many times I re-read each volume of manga, but I can tell you I read vol. 3 like three times. 🙈 Check out the series here.


Completely opposite of Outbride, I was really looking forward to completing Something's Wrong With Us. The main story ends with v. 16, but the epilogue and short follow-up sequel is three volumes, brining the total number of volumes to 19. Kodansha is releasing all 19 volumes. I completed the main story in 2023. I'm presently sitting on v. 17, and I am just waiting for Kodansha to drop the final volume so I can binge the final part. The final volume is being released at the end of February. As I mentioned in my part 1 review, Something's Wrong With Us is an excellent suspenseful mystery and romance story. Each volume will have you dying to read more, which is why I stayed on top of the releases. My journey will soon be over, and I can't wait! Check out the series here.


Lastly I'll give a shoutout to The Villainess and the Demon Knight. It was my most anticipated new manga release of 2023, and it did not disappoint! Nothing from Seven Seas Steamship line has disappointed me yet. Looking forward to reading more from the brand in 2024! Check out the series here.


Something's Wrong With Us v. 15 and Outbride: Beauty and the Beasts v. 4 on a navy blue comforter


Biggest Belly Laugh of 2023 Award: The Yakuza's Bias v. 1 by Teki Yatsuda

By the same mangaka of the heartfelt BL drama A Home Far Away  comes a hysterical yakuza comedy. Serialized in Comic Pool since 2021, The Yakuza's Bias answers the age-old question, "What happens if you introduce a hardcore yakuza leader to k-pop?" Answer: comedy gold.


Each chapter unfolds as vignettes looking into the daily life of Ken Kanashiro following the "raid" (concert) of the K-pop group MNW (My Night With) and proclaiming his loyalty and devotion (stan/bias) to Jun. Episodes include learning how to buy and trade merch with other fans, getting on Twitter (and building up a following with his Jun yakuza fanfiction), patronizing the same cafe as Jun (making pilgrimages), and more hilarious escapades. Did I mention this manga is hilarious?


If you're looking for more manga about K-pop, especially fandom, then check this out. If you're a fan of The Way of the Househusband (intense, scary-looking dude filters his life through yakuza-isms), Life Lessons With Uramichi Oniisan (same level of comedy and both share the same magazine), or Back Street Girls (active yakuza involved in K-pop), then you'll need to read the Yakuza's Bias manga now. The realistic arts tyle just makes the comic even funnier and is truly the icing on the cake. I could not stop laughing, and I'm looking forward to reading more. Check out The Yakuza's Bias here.


The Yakuza's Bias manga panel; Ken holds up a Jun banner


Favorite *New* Read of 2023: Price Freya by Keiko Ishihara

Lastly, my favorite new (to me) read of 2023 by any measure, hands down, goes to Prince Freya. I gushed about Prince Freya in a separate review already so I'll keep it short here. I love the action/adventure, the European-esque historical setting, Freya, the battles, her knights (especially Julius), the art (use of negative space and composition is great), the cartoonishly evil villain, the premise, just everything! The story drew me in from the first chapter.


What's not to like? Prince Freya is not a heavy read, know what I mean? Like, it's not a "comedy" per se, but it isn't an epic drama either a la Requiem of the Rose King. To me, Prince Freya is not "serious business." It's so not serious. I'm just having so much fun reading this. I read Prince Freya v. 1-8 first via my library, and I loved it so much that I bought the series physically. That's the highest level of praise I can give any series. If I had the option to read a series for free an unlimited amount of times yet still spring for physical copies, then the manga earns a gold star in my book. I'm looking forward to re-reading and continuing this series in 2024. Check out Prince Freya via Viz's site here.


Prince Freya manga spread; Freya is perched on top of a turret


Conclusion

And there you have it! That is all of the manga I read in 2023. Key takeaways: read Prince Freya and Something's Wrong With Us! Now, it's your turn. What did you read? Let me know on the platform formerly known as Twitter or in the comments down below.


Let's all read more in 2024!

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