my first manga haul

As you may know, I’ve been trying to branch out in terms of reading. Reading more translated works, listening to more audiobooks, and choosing from a wide variety of genres are all ways I’ve changed up my reading life in the past year. Giving manga an honest try is just another way of trying something different, and it’s one I’ve been loving.

I’ve never really gotten into manga or anime, and I have no idea why. I’m fairly certain I would absolutely love a lot of the stories out there. I guess I’ve always been somewhat intimidated by them… Exploring a new genre of format of media always feels somewhat terrifying, as it can feel like being dropped into an entirely new universe in which everyone knows more than you do. However, I can’t let that stop me from diving into this whole new world. Can anyone use that phrase without thinking of the song? Apparently, I can’t.

Since I hadn’t read much (or any) manga before, I wasn’t quite sure what my reading preferences in the format would be. Since it’s one I definitely want to read in physical format rather than digitally, I needed to purchase some first volumes to try. The best option, to me, was buying these secondhand. Used books are far cheaper than new ones, and it allowed me to buy quite a lot of volumes at a price I could justify. If I didn’t end up liking it, I wouldn’t have spent much on it.

You’ll also recognize most, if not all, of these manga. I decided to start with some of the most famous ones, as they probably are loved for a reason. Here’s what I’ve bought in the past 6 months or so!

FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST

One of the first series I bought volumes of is Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa. Last year, I purchased the first volume from Better World Books to give the manga a try. I read it earlier this year, and ended up loving it. It’s one of my favorites so far – which I guess might not say that much since I’m only just getting started in manga. I immediately bought volumes 2-7 used as well, which I’m currently reading.

I already know I will continue to buy this series, but will probably go for the beautiful 3-in-1 editions in the future, and buy them new. I’m certain I’ll enjoy them, so I don’t mind spending it bit more on the volumes. One day, I’ll replace the secondhand ones I have right now with the matching 3-in-1 editions too, but that’s for future Jolien to deal with.

I haven’t watched the anime, but want to save that for when I have read more of the manga.

BLACK BUTLER

When I purchased the first Fullmetal Alchemist volume last year, I did the same with the first Black Butler one. I also managed to read it in 2018 itself, and quite enjoyed it. I didn’t fall in love with it like I did with FMA, but it is a series I wanted to continue soon. So I bought volumes 2 and 3 used this year too. I’m sad that they arrived very damaged, especially since I’d been quite lucky with that so far. I think I will buy new copies at some point, but I don’t think they have special editions/3-in-1 editions for this manga…

Either way, I’m enjoying the story and will definitely continue. I’ll also end up watching the anime at some point in the future.

I HEAR THE SUNSPOT

I discovered this app called MangaRock through a YouTuber, and decided to try it out. It’s an app where you can read manga translated by fans, as obviously a lot of manga never get translated to English. I Hear the Sunspot seemed really interesting to me, and it was the first one I read on the app. After finishing the first volume, I knew it would become one of my all-time favorites. I was obsessed with out. Some Google searches later I discovered that the first three volumes were officially translated and published. I immediately bought them all, new, and devoured them. I can’t wait for new issues to be released!

I read the fan-translated volume Limit 2 as that one hasn’t been released yet, but will definitely purchase it later too. If you have any information on whether new issues will be released soon, let me know! I can’t find anything on it, and I’m devastated.

DEATH NOTE – BLACK EDITIONS

I also purchased volumes 1, 2, and 4 of the Death Note Black Editions used. Did I forget I hadn’t added the third one to my basket before checking out? Yes. Oops. A few years ago, I tried to read Death Note volume 1 and didn’t really love it. I’m glad I gave it another try with the black editions. I read the first black edition in April, and discovered that the first half felt quite awkward, and the second half was great. I think the translation of the first volume might just be a tad weird? Either way, I really enjoyed it. I’m planning on reading Black Edition II in May, and buying the third one soon.

BLUE EXORCIST

Out of all the manga I’ve mentioned in this haul, Blue Exorcist is the only one I haven’t tried yet. I bought the first 2 volumes in my most recent Better World Books order along with the Black Butler, Death Note, and Fullmetal Alchemist ones. I’ll definitely update you all in a wrap up once I’ve read them. I really hope I’ll end up liking this one too.


So far, so good on all the manga I’ve purchased recently. I’ve bought some other first volumes in random series, but didn’t want to include those in this haul yet. I bought them in 2018 and haven’t picked them up yet, but you might see them in future wrap ups. Have you read a lot of manga? Have you tried any of the ones I mentioned? Or do you have any recommendations for me based on these? I’d love to hear your suggestions, so I can buy even more in the future.

recent reads: manga edition

I’ve been trying to read more manga in the past few months, and decided it was time to talk about some of the ones I actually picked up. These are all incredibly popular manga, because I figured they’d be loved for a reason and the chance I’d enjoy them was quite high. Let’s see what my thoughts on these 4 manga volumes are!


black butler vol 1Black Butler Volume 1 by Yana Toboso
Genre: manga, fantasy
Rating: ★★★★ – really liked it

In the Victorian ages of London The Earl of the Phantomhive house, Ciel Phantomhive, needs to get his revenge on those who had humiliated him and destroyed what he loved. Not being able to do it alone he sells his soul to a demon he names Sebastian Michaelis. Now working as his butler, Sebastian must help the Earl Phantomhive in this suspenseful, exciting, thriller manga.

my thoughts

I’ve always been interested in watching the anime, but for some reason felt like I couldn’t until I’d started the manga. I feel like it’s more fun to discover the story through the manga, and watch an adaptation afterwards, than it is the other way around. I bought the first volume secondhand, in case I didn’t like it, and gave it a try at the end of 2018.

I ended up really loving it! I knew immediately it was a series I wanted to continue. I’ve been lucky enough to stay away from spoilers, even though the manga and anime are quite a few years old now, so everything was a discovery for me. I loved the characters, I laughed out loud multiple times, and was so invested in the story.

I can’t wait to continue the manga, and watch the anime one day!


attack on titan 1Attack on Titan volume 1 by Hajime Isayama
Genre: manga, science fiction, dystopian
Rating: ★★★★ – really liked it

In this post-apocalyptic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what’s left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything.

my thoughts

Attack on Titan is another one I’ve been meaning to read and watch for years. It’s probably one of the most famous manga out there, clearly for a reason. Just like with Black Butler, I know it’s a story I want to continue. I haven’t bought the sequels yet, but I’ll definitely do so in the future. And watch the anime, of course! I might actually watch it first, before continuing the manga. Don’t kill me.

What I loved most about this is that it’s so brutal and action-packed. Attack on Titan doesn’t pull any punches, and that’s refreshing to me. People are getting eaten by titans left and right, and everyone is trying their best to survive. Count me in! I have to admit that I’m less attached to the characters here, however since this is a more plot-driven volume, I’m completely okay with that.


ouran high school host club vol 1Ouran High School Host Club Volume 1 by Bisco Hatori
Genre: manga, contemporary, romance
Rating: ★★★.₅ – liked it

One day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the ‘Host Club’, a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it’s there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

my thoughts

A few years ago, I watched the anime Ouran High School Host Club, and quite enjoyed it. Although it was a bit cringy at times, I really liked watching the show and binged it. For once, I watched the anime before reading the manga! I think it did affect my reading experience though.

This is a cute, funny, and silly story about a girl who accidentally breaks an expensive vase and becomes part of her school’s Host Club to pay for the damages. It’s such an enjoyable read, especially if you want something light that you’ll be able to finish quickly, but it didn’t really stick with me. As I’ve already watched the anime too, I don’t think I’ll be continuing the manga.


fullmetal alchemist 1Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1 by Hiromu Arakawa
Genre: manga, fantasy
Rating: ★★★★.₅ – loved it

Alchemy: the mystical power to alter the natural world; something between magic, art and science. When two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, dabbled in this power to grant their dearest wish, one of them lost an arm and a leg…and the other became nothing but a soul locked into a body of living steel. Now Edward is an agent of the government, a slave of the military-alchemical complex, using his unique powers to obey orders…even to kill. Except his powers aren’t unique. The world has been ravaged by the abuse of alchemy. And in pursuit of the ultimate alchemical treasure, the Philosopher’s Stone, their enemies are even more ruthless than they are…

my thoughts

We’ve arrived at my favorite of the bunch, Fullmetal Alchemist. Like with Black Butler and Attack on Titan, I haven’t watched the anime because I wanted to read the manga first. I’m glad I did because I simply adored the ride this volume took me on. I’m already in love with Alphonse and Edward! It made me laugh out loud so often, and put me in such a good mood.

I immediately ordered volumes 2-7 from a secondhand online store, and am waiting for the second to arrive to continue the series. I think I made a mistake ordering them secondhand though, because after realizing how much I loved it, I kind of want to buy the 3-in-1 editions instead. I think I’ll do that for volumes 7 and upwards, and slowly replace the secondhand editions I have of the first ones. I’m so excited to continue the series!


Those were mini reviews of 4 manga volumes I’ve read recently. I have read some others that I haven’t reviewed yet, and some that have gotten their own full review (like I Hear the Sunspot), and I’m sure I’ll continue to read many more this year. I’m really falling in love with this format of reading.

Have you read any of these? Which ones should I continue first? Do you have any recommendations for me? Next on my to-read list (aside from sequels) are Death Note, Fruits Basket, and Blue Exorcist.

I Hear the Sunspot | my favorite manga so far

Titles:I Hear the Sunspot | I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness | I Hear the Sunspot: Limit 1
Series: I Hear the Sunspot Volumes 1, 2, and 3
Published: 2017 and 2018 by One Peace Books
Author: Yuki Fumino
Genre: manga, contemporary
Rating: ★★★★★ – a new favorite

Because of a hearing disability, Kohei is often misunderstood and has trouble integrating into life on campus, so he learns to keep his distance. That is until he meets the outspoken and cheerful Taichi. Taichi’s words cut through Kohei’s usual defense mechanisms and open his heart. More than friends, less than lovers, their relationship changes Kohei forever.

my thoughts on - review black (1)

I never thought I’d end up loving this manga as much as I do. A few weeks ago, I saw a BookTuber recommend an app called MangaRock, where you can read manga translated by fans. I spotted I Hear the Sunspot and decided to give it a try. I fell in love with it immediately, and went on a furious Google search for the translation. After discovering there were three translated volumes published, I immediately bought them all. A week later, I’ve also read all three. And read the extra chapters that were translated on MangaRock but haven’t been published in English…

So what is this series about?

We follow two university students, called Kohei and Taichi, as they meet for the first time. Taichi falls and ends up landing close to Kohei who is eating lunch. Taichi, being someone who is always hungry starts talking to Kohei, who ends up giving him his lunch. They become fast friends afterwards. And more.

Here’s why I love this series so much.

First, disability representation. I rarely ever see disability mentioned in novels, especially in contemporary ones. To be honest, I can recall even less graphic novels, manga, etc. that talk about disability, but that may just be because I’ve missed out on the ones that do.

Kohei has a hearing disability, and is hard of hearing. He isn’t deaf, but has experienced his hearing get worse lately. It’s hard for him to truly socialize with the other university students for a multitude of reasons. He doesn’t always want to ask people to repeat themselves. Reading lips is exhausting. The sheer amount of noise is incredibly overwhelming and makes it harder for him to filter out the person’s voice.

I can’t speak for the accuracy of the representation, because I don’t have a hearing disability, and I haven’t seen an #ownvoices review yet. However, I did love that aspect of the manga. Throughout the series, they talk about reading lips, sign language – and signing versus Japanese Sign Language – the fact that everyone’s experience is different, that hearing impairments are never the same for everyone, and so on. While Kohei does hear some things, he relies mostly on lip reading. Obviously, that brings challenges with it all the time, some that people simply don’t think about because they aren’t in the same position. There are also characters who are deaf, and talk about how different there experiences are, even from those who have a hearing disability too.

Anyway, it discusses a broad range of topics related to hearing disabilities, and I loved it.

The friends-to-lovers. Yes, this is one of my favorite tropes ever, and there’s a reason why. I loved watching Kohei and Taichi get to know one another, and seeing them slowly develop feelings. I’m also incredibly grateful that there wasn’t an incredibly long period of time before one of them spoke up. Kohei knew how he felt, and decided to show Taichi. It was adorable.

This entire series is adorable, and I need more. There, I said it.

It also has some sad moments, and conflicts. Obviously, otherwise the story would be fairly boring. In ever relationship – whether it’s a romantic or a platonic one – there will be conflicts. Taichi and Kohei face some issues brought forth by the fact that one of them has a hearing disability and the other does not. While we can do our best to listen, understand, and adjust our behavior, we can never truly know what it’s like to live with someone else’s disability. THAT ENDING THOUGH.

Side characters. I also grew quite attached to the side characters, especially Ryu who is introduced in the third volume.

The art style. Often, when I read manga I find it difficult to distinguish what’s happening on the page. The art can be overwhelming, as so much happens on a page. I never had that problem with I Hear the Sunspot. I thought the artwork was so neat and wonderful, incredibly easy to follow, but still dynamic.


If I haven’t convinced you to read this by now, I probably never will. Honestly, that saddens me to no end. You don’t want to see me sad, do you? Right? So go ahead and read it! It’s truly adorable and wonderful.