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A Manga/Light Novel Pick for AAPI Heritage Month: My Happy Marriage

24 May

When it comes to manga (Japanese Graphic Novel), the first thing that comes to mind for many are Shonen titles, also known as action series. Things like Naruto, My Hero Academia, Bleach, One Piece, and Black Clover are often found on the forefront of that train of thought. There is a similar effect when light novels, a type of Japanese novella, are brought up. In this case, the one thing that comes to mind is the Isekai genre, in which a protagonist is brought into another dimension through various means. Rising of the Shield Hero, That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, and I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level are a few examples of well known light novels among light novel fans.

However, there is one genre that falls into both the manga and light novel category that is starting to see a resurgence in popularity once more. Shoujo, a genre that focuses on works aimed towards young female readers, though anyone of any age can enjoy them. 

This is where My Happy Marriage comes into play. Written by Akumi Agitogi and illustrated by Tsukiho Tsukioka, both the manga and light novel editions tell the story of Miyo Saimori, a young woman, who is part of a renowned noble family which is gifted with supernatural abilities, but she was born without any power of her own. Frequently abused and neglected by her family, she is given away as a potential bride to Kiyoka Kudou, heir to another powerful family surrounded by rumors of cruelty from rejecting past would-be brides. 

Both light novel and manga vibrant in their storytelling, the light novel lets us see things through Saiyori’s eyes while the manga shows us just how hard things are for her, both showing us the abuse that she faces from her family that gives very strong Cinderella vibes.

The mediums of how they’re written also compliment each other very well. For the manga, the art throughout the pages is wonderfully drawn while the writing within the light novel is refined, yet simple. The one advantage that the light novel has over the manga is the fact that we get further insight into the thoughts of the characters and see the world they live in through their eyes. While the manga also does an excellent job of this, it’s not as deep of a perspective as it is in the light novel. With the anime due out in July and the live action movie hitting the top ten spot in movie theaters across Japan, it’s easy to see why many people find this series so captivating.

For those looking for a heartwarming read for the summer, My Happy Marriage is one I highly recommend.

You can learn about some additional staff Manga picks here and check out my review of Villains Are Destined to Die, a Manhwa (Korean Graphic Novel).

Share your favorite Mangas, Manhwas, Light Novels as well as Graphic Novels written or drawn by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders with us for AAPI Month in the comments!

Written by:
Lauren Lapinski
Information and Digital Services Assistant

Valentine’s Day Manhwa Pick: Villains Are Destined to Die Vol. 1

1 Feb

Isekai manga and light novels have exploded within the last year or so. In almost every genre now, you can find stories where the protagonist is transported to another world through various means and circumstances. High among the isekai boom has been within the shojo category (comics geared towards a female audience) under what is becoming known as “Villainess Isekai” in which the protagonist finds themselves in the role of a ‘villainess’ from an otome game (game involving a romantic story arc) and they must use their wits and knowledge of the game to avoid a deadly ending.

One such example of this is the manhwa (Korean comic), Villains Are Destined to Die by Gwon Gyeoeul and SUOL. Starting as a popular webcomic on Tapas, it has only grown in popularity due to the Villainess Isekai boom. 

With just a few glances at the pages alone, it’s easy to see why readers have taken so quickly to this story. The art by SUOL is gorgeous, every page filled with eye-catching art of the characters and the setting of the world. 

The story itself follows the above mentioned pattern, a girl wakes up in the world of an otome game and finds herself in the role of the villainess, Penelope Eckhart, whose route also happens to be the most difficult in the game. One of the takes on this plot that  makes it more unique is that our protagonist actually empathized with the villainess due to her own circumstances in the real world and thus she wanted to see the character find happiness.

Volume one does a remarkable job of setting up the stakes for the characters and the plot, introducing us to the characters of the story and the game within the world of the manhwa. Penelope is shown to be quite the sympathetic character, but the actions that made her a villainess to begin with are actually acknowledged within the story rather than just having her actions be misunderstood like you might find in some variants of Villainess Isekai.

One of the other interesting parallels is in regards to the girl who awakens as the villainess is that her own past is actually mentioned quite frequently. Other versions may have a brief flashback to their former life, but for the case of the protagonist who becomes Penelope, we get tidbits of her backstory that connects her to the villainess and that there are hints of a mystery regarding her family from that life.

The other interesting take we see is that she is determined to escape the world of the game and go back into her reality. More often than not, the usual take on this genre is that the protagonist died before awakening in the game world. 

For those seeking to dip their toes into the Villainess Isekai genre or for anyone curious about this manhwa, Villains Are Destined to Die Vol. 1  is an engaging and fun read that holds much promise for future volumes.

Written By:
Lauren Lapinski
Information and Digital Services Assistant

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