With the academic year starting back up for many students, some may not enjoy adding more weight to their new textbooks and homework assignments but these manga might lighten up those dreary school days.

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  1. “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun”

Overseas fans fell in love with the Summer 2014 anime adaptation of Izumi Tsubaki’s manga series “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.” Sadly the 12-episode run was a sample to the whole story. However earlier in February, Yen Press released translated volumes for the English-reading audience to savor the many adventures of the eclectic cast of characters.

“Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun” begins soon after high school student Chiyo Sakura confesses her love to the tall and handsome Umetarou Nozaki. While strange rumors surround the somewhat popula classmate, the timid girl goes forth and puts her heart on the line. Due to the unique way she states her confession, she receives an autograph from him, rather one from the most popular and newest manga creators. The bizarre event is merely the start of several others as she works as an assistant for the boy that she loves and the artist she admires.

Some may be surprised from the format of the manga for many of the chapters are merely a page with four panels, but each are small moments that bring big impacts on such silly and entertaining situations. To those aspiring to become manga creators will also find more insight on the process of making one from both the characters and Tsubaki herself. The series is a unique deconstruction of the shoujo romantic genre and has fun twisting a number of roles found in other similar stories. For example, the school’s “Prince” Yuu Kashima will give any other teenage heartthrob a run for their money. To experience Yuu’s alluring aura and the other peculiar friends of Chiyo, grab a copy of Tsubaki’s “Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun” from Yen Press through their website or your local manga vendor.

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  1. “Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project”

Director Hideaki Anno’s 1995 sci-fi psychological thriller anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion” shocked many with gruesome mech battles and dives into the troubled teenage mind during the end of humanity. While the heavy episodes and movies left some to rewatch them to gain a bit better understanding of the unusual references, others gained inspiration to expand the erratic universe.

Manga artist Osamu Takahashi forges an alternate world from the desolate main universe with his manga “Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project.” The young protagonist Shinji Ikari alongside many of the others of the other members of the participants of the scientific experimenting organization NERV reprise most of their roles as Takahashi inserts a wonderful amount of life and vibrance into New Tokyo-3. Shinji and his longtime childhood friend Asuka Langley Soryu attend school without the impending doom of the world and little care about the research work of their parents who work for at the artificial evolution lab of NERV. However when the mysterious Rei Ayanami enters into their lives, they finally step into that place of secrecy and science.

Takahashi brings in a refreshing look into the world of what the last episode of “Evangelion” projected. “The Shinji Ikari Raising Project” has the typical path of other high school romantic stories which readers can easily follow compared to the plot of the original anime. He also breaks the stiff personalities and shows that his version of the cast have an actual amount of humanity with various emotions.  Visit darkhorse.com for more information and possible grab a copy of this tale of an alternative timeline.

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  1. “Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary”

Seven Seas Entertainment brought many popular monster-themed series like OKAYADO’s “Monster Musume,” Itokichi’s “Merman in my Tub” and Eiji Masuda’s “My Monster Secret.” Among the myriad of manga, artist and writer Shake-O’s story “Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary” takes a look into the campus and days of Hitomi Manaka.

When having strange mutations and abilities are a normal part of life, large-eyed cyclops nurse Hitomi has to always be on her toes to be able to help out all of the students in the local school. Aided by her metaphorically sharp-tongued medical assistant Itsuki, she tends to the many teens that walk into her office. She may not have a lot of depth perception or finesse, but Nurse Hitomi does her best to take care of the ailments and other problems of the young pupils.

For those interested in looking into this manga, it should be duly noted of the “Older Teen” rating Seven Seas gave it. Shake-O fills the interior pages with comedic situations but also a large amount that are both funny and risque. Still, it is worth to see through the end of each of the story arcs to see how Hitomi treats the different dilemmas. The heartwarming effects are bound to touch yours no matter how many you have or what type it is. For more information, stop by Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.

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  1. “Horimiya”

Writer HERO and artist Daisuke Hagiwara team up to bring a funny tale of two teens finding themselves and love. “Horimiya” or “Hori-san and Miyamura-kun” follows star student Kyouko Hori and wallflower Izumi Miyamura. Each of them work hard to project their personas onto their peers while also keep their personal lives very private.

Fate brings them together when Kyouko in sweats and out of her make-up finds a stranger bringing her injured brother, Souta home. The little boy accidently falls, leaving him with some scratches and a bloody nose. His older sister rushes to his side to help him while also extending an invitation to stay for an afternoon snack. While reluctant, the stylish stranger with piercings accepts especially since he still has the child clinging onto his pants leg. Over tea, she finds out who her brother’s rescuer is soon after he surprisingly says her name. He reveals that he is the nearly silent Izumi who does so much to cover up his piercings and tattoos, at times to ridiculous measures. With both learning each other’s’ secrets, they form a friendship though the future may have more for them.

Hagiwara perfectly converts HERO’s writing into visual form, especially drawing out the many expressions of the characters. He then struts his stuff when illustrating many comedic action sequences, notably when Izumi wants to help Kyouko but also attempts to avoid showing is non-school sanctioned body modifications. While bringing the comedy, drama follows when Kyouko’s motherly senses clashes Izumi’s laid back and nonchalant personality. The creative team brings a good balance of each into every volume. To see what is in store for the pair, visit Yen Press’s website for more information.

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  1. “Kiss Him, Not Me”

Creator Junko takes an interesting take on the reverse harem genre with her manga “Kiss Him, Not Me.” Her story’s leading lady Kae Serinuma classifies herself as a “fujoshi,” a female fan of shipping guys with other guys. She used to be the stocky stereotype of the otaku but after seeing the death of one of her favorite characters, she lost weight while grieving. Kae’s return to school was almost like one from an “otome” (princess) game where suitors of different type approached her. Her new appearance continually attracts the attention of four of the most popular guys on campus who try to go out with her. While they attempt nearly every day to go further in their relationship, it is Kae’s dream that each of the guys end up dating each other.
It seems to be a bit disappointing that it takes drastic weight loss for the guys to take notice of Kae being such a superficial reason to court her. However they find something beyond her looks that makes their hearts skip a beat. Surprisingly the fact she is a fujoshi scares none of them away, though gives some a bit of a shock. Kae may be a bit of a mirror of Junko herself for she released a number of BL (boys love) books before making “Kiss Him, Not Me.” Alongside showing the paths Kae takes with her suitors, Junko also gives readers a taste of the Japanese otaku life. Though being set in a different country, the fandom culture may not stray far to how it is in the U.S. Junko shows similar aspects like cosplay and conventions. Publishing company Kodansha gave the series as best shoujo title during the 40th Kodansha Manga Awards earlier in 2016, appreciating the unique things Junko gave her story to break out of the ordinary. For more information, check out Kodansha Comics where you can also preview the first chapter of “Kiss Him, Not Me.”

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