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January Purchases

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Collecting up everything for this post, it looks like I had a sensible month. My bank balance would say otherwise, but I think that’s mostly due to paying for preorders and I bought a lot of stationery which I’ve already talked about in previous posts.

IMG_8659We’ll kick off with my new anime additions. If you remember back to the Anime Limited mystery box I got, in the box was Welcome to the Ballroom part 1. You’ll all know by now, I can’t leave a collection unfinished, so I bought part 2 with a code for 20% off. I also added O Maidens In Your Savage Season to my order, as I’ve heard really good things about it.

 

IMG_8661I started the year by playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and it reignited an interest in mythology within me. I wanted to read more about Norse mythology so my knowledge wasn’t just formed from Valhalla and Marvel movies. I also bought a book on Japanese folk tales, which was on my Christmas list but actually became really difficult to buy around that time for some reason, but I managed to get my copy on eBay for pretty cheap!

IMG_8660And finally (I know!) rounding off the post with some manga. I bought the latest volume of My Dress Up Darling despite still not having read the previous volume. I wrote a quick review of the first volume and I really liked it a lot, so I’m looking forward to cracking on with it. I also started to buy a new series, The Kingdoms of Ruin. I haven’t read this yet either, but I really liked the general premise and I thought the cover art looked really cool. I’ll write up a review of it when I’ve read it!

A pretty short post this month, but I have a lot of preorders due to arrive in February so the next purchases post should be a lot more exciting!

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Orient vol. 1

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Story and art: Shinobu Ohtaka
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Shounen
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: At age 10, best friends Musashi and Kojiro sat in excited silence as Kojiro’s father span tales of evil demons who preyed on the innocent, and the warriors who defeated them. Practicing swordplay, the two swear an oath to become the strongest in the world. But as they grow up, Kojiro turns cynical, and Musashi comes to realise that he can’t turn back 150 years of demon rule on his own. He’s being called a prodigy with a pickaxe, and he’s almost ready to settle for a life of labor. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that he still has a responsibility to act… and, soon, the injustices of his world will force his hand.
Publication date: 26th January 2021

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Musashi and Kojiro are childhood friends who have grown up with a shared dream to become bushi – warriors who are tasked with ridding the world of evil demons. Bonding over their shared dream, and spending all their free time training to achieve their goals, the pair realise that bushi are not the revered warriors that they’ve always imagined, and are actually outcasts in their world.

Musashi begins to train to become a miner; allegedly the most esteemed occupation in their world. Musashi and Kojiro begin to drift apart as their lives move towards separate points, but events cause the two to converge again and their dreams align once more.

Though the majority of the story is current time, the manga is peppered with flashbacks to Musashi and Kojiro’s childhood, showing their training and their school lives. It’s really cool to see how their different backgrounds had an impact on the two characters, and how they were both influenced differently by the same events.

Orient does seem like a pretty generic shounen manga at this early stage and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to shounen tropes. That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Orient does drama well, and the battle scenes are really exciting to read and have you rooting for the characters.

There are some really interesting titbits peppered through the manga, none of which I want to spoil in case it ends up being a bigger point than I anticipate at the moment but it definitely adds a layer of intrigue that makes me want to check out future volumes.

For a first volume, Orient does a fantastic job of world creation and getting the reader invested in the plot and the fates of the characters. It does often feel like too fast-paced and that too much is crammed in and one thing is happening after another in rapid succession without much time to process what has just happened. Though this does feel like an issue at times, it does also work for the manga because as at the end of the volume you do feel fully invested as a reader.

3 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10. 

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Whisper Me a Love Song vol. 1

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Story and art: Eku Takeshima
Genre: Yuri, Romance, Shoujo Ai
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Bubbly, energetic first-year high school student Himari falls head over heels for her senpai Yori after hearing her band perform on the first day of school. Himari tells Yori she’s fallen in love at first sight, and, to Himari’s surprise, Yori confesses that she has as well! But when Himari realises that she and Yori are feeling two different kinds of love, she begins to ask herself what “love” really means…
Publication date: 20th October 2020

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve never really delved too much into yuri manga or anime before, only having watched one yuri anime and never having read any manga from the genre. When I saw Whisper Me A Love Song on NetGalley, I thought the cover art looked really cute and I was interested in the musical element.

Whisper Me A Love Song follows Himari Kino, a first-year student embarking on her high school journey. At the opening ceremony for the new school year, Himari sees SSGirls, a band comprised of fellow students, with Yori Asanagi filling in on vocals and guitar. When Himari sees Yori, she declares that she has fallen in love at first sight and she is spellbound by Yori’s singing prowess. Bumping into Yori later that day, Himari makes her declaration again, and here is where the misunderstandings begin.

From the early chapter of Whisper Me A Love Song it’s clear that Himari and Yori have different definitions of what ‘love at first sight’ means. Yori, thinking that Himari means she is romantically interested in her, starts to develop matching feelings for Himari – or so she thinks. When Yori and Himari meet later it’s clear Himari meant her declaration as more of an admiration for her senpai rather than anything further. Though slightly put out, Yori rallies and makes her own declaration – she’s going to make Himari “fall in love so hard” with her, and the premise is set.

The characters of Yori and Himari couldn’t be more opposite. The older Yori is reserved, shy and gloomy, where Himari radiates pure sunshine, she’s energetic, cheerful and talks non-stop. Seeing the two interact feels really special and genuine, as they both start to change the more time they spend together.

Whisper Me A Love Song has Yori and Himari spending quality time together, so it’s really nice to see their feelings develop the more time they spend together. Once the girls get past the initial ‘love at first sight’ stage, though both thinking different things, they come to realise they’re interested in each other on a less superficial level and value the time they spend together, which is really wholesome.

What I especially liked about Whisper Me A Love Song is that it doesn’t follow the usual tropes of love stories and misunderstandings. Yori is very straightforward with Himari and tells her often in what way she likes her. Apart from the initial misinterpretation, there’s no time wasted and it gives the story time to focus on the girls’ blossoming relationship and their own character development. Yori takes the time to understand her feelings and then does something about it, which is really refreshing to see.

Volume one of Whisper Me A Love Song was a really great introduction to Yori and Himari, and really got me invested in their relationship. I’m really excited to see where things go for Yori and Himari in future volumes, and whether they’ll finally get on the same page about their feelings.

4 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10. 

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December Purchases

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December is a month where my mother tells me, “Don’t buy anything for yourself! It’s Christmas!”, which I obviously don’t pay any attention to. Alongside the Anime Limited mystery box I bought, here’s what else I bought in December!

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Pompompurin is my favourite Sanrio character, and I really wanted to get a plushie of him because I didn’t have a full sized one. I bought the plushie on the right from YYKawaii to itch my scratch! I then wanted to get the Pom pocket straw as I’d seen it online. I’m making a conscientious effort to be more environmentally friendly, and usually I carry round metal straws with me (y’know, when I can go outside), but they’re quite bulky, so these rubber ones are a really great idea as they roll up really small to fit in the case which is much more convenient! The plushie on the left came in the set with the straw and the sewing kit, and I couldn’t resist it all! My Pompompurin collection is really coming along!

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If anyone knows me, they know I love Haikyuu!!, and know that Bokuto and Akaashi are two of my favourite characters (and favourite ship), so I have a lot of merchandise of them. This month was like a bumper crop of Bokuaka merchandise as a lot of my preorders came in. I got these adorable finger puppets of Bokuto and Akaashi in their school uniforms, and small plushies of them too! I also got this huge SNS strap which is really cool, I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but it’s still cool!

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Next up is the first of my figures I’ve bought that have cost me a significant amount – Kyo from Fruits Basket. Kyo is my favourite character in Fruits Basket, so I couldn’t resist getting this figure. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, and it’s definitely a lot darker than this photo would suggest and not quite so bright!

 

 

 

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I also got another cool figure this month – Akechi from Persona 5, in his Crow outfit. This makes my second Akechi figure, which is kind of wild as Ryuji is definitely my character and I don’t have any figures of him. Something to rectify in the future maybe! I also got these Persona 5 playing cards – I have a small collection of playing cards, so it’s cool to add these into the mix too!

 

 

IMG_8539My final set of anime merch this month was this Ouran High School Host Club mirror and pass case. Both are such amazing quality and feature my favourite host, Mori! The mirror is a really decent size – small enough to keep in a handbag, but big enough to be a good sized mirror. When I can eventually leave the house again, I’ll use the pass case for travel tickets and stuff like that! I really love the art on both of these items, and the photo definitely doesn’t do them justice.

 

IMG_8540I can’t seem to make it through a month without buying a game, so this month’s addition to my ever growing collection was Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. I haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed game in a really long time, but I’ve heard a lot of really good things about the latest installments to the franchise, so I thought I’d delve back in. I’m looking forward to some quality time with my PS5 too! I feel like I haven’t got much mileage out of it lately!

 

IMG_8542Finally, as ever, we round off with some manga. Not a lot this month, just the latest published volumes Haikyuu!! and given. I’m getting very close to having a full Haikyuu!! collection, which is kind of exciting but also sad. At least I’ll have the anime to keep me going for a while!

 

 

So, that was December’s purchases! Thinking ahead to 2021, how do you feel about my monthly purchases post? Do you like to read them? I like to make them, so I will probably continue, but just wondered what the opinion was!

 

 

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November Purchases

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You’ll recall that I didn’t actually buy anything of note in October, so there was no Purchases post. I paid off my PS5 in October, so there wasn’t a lot of money spare! My haul for November seems somewhat more modest than previous months, but I’ve done the bulk of my Christmas shopping so there hasn’t been a lot of cash to splash on myself! I did buy some cool things though, so here they are!

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First up, as I’ve mentioned previously, I was lucky enough to get a PS5! I bought Spider-Man: Miles Morales with it at launch, and then later bought a new Dualsense controller (I missed always having a fully charged controller!), and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. I really like the PS5 so far, it feels very different to the PS4 which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but is taking some getting used to! Also in the games genre, I bought Piofiore on Switch, which is an otome game. I bought it digitally so no photo as I couldn’t get a decent one of my Switch without glare! It’s set in Italy and features the mafia, so it was really hard for me to pass up as I knew all the boys would be totally my type. I’ve only played one route so far (and got the bad end), but I was totally right on that front!

My preorder of the Nendoroid of Hanako-kun from Toilet Bound Hanako-kun came in! I really loved this anime, it was so good and Hanako-kun was my favourite character from it (and went straight on the cosplans list!). I’m really happy to have him in Nendoroid form, he’s just so cute!

IMG_8426Speaking of preorders, my copy of Ride Your Wave also arrived. I first saw Ride Your Wave when it was showed at Scotland Loves Anime last year, and it was my favourite film of the whole festival. I’m so excited to watch it over and over again, it’s definitely up there in my favourite anime movies list.

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Finally, to round off my November purchases, some manga! Only a couple of volumes this month; the latest volume of Wokatoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku, and also My Broken Mariko, which I bought because a lot of people were hyping it up online! I’ve yet to read either, typically, but I’m hoping to do so soon and have a review of My Broken Mariko up!

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Unboxing: Kinda Kawaii

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I haven’t bought a subscription box for a while, partly because I haven’t seen one with a theme I like, and partly because a lot of my usual companies I buy with are now charging a mandatory £10 extra shipping for tracked shipping, which seems a little unfair to me as I was pretty happy with waiting it out for the standard shipping and I never had an issue. I get why they’ve put it on there, but I think it should at least be optional.

Regardless, last month I felt like getting a box, and after a lot of searching for a UK supplier, I found Kinda Kawaii. I opted for a single box, just to test the waters and bought via Etsy, so it was really simple.

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My first impression was that the box was really cute! The box itself is pastel coloured (just my vibe!), and on opening there was a strong visual impact with the box packaged really cutely and bursting with goodies! A great start!

 

 

 

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Obviously the first thing I saw when I opened the box was this bunny plushie! I don’t think it’s a specific character (feel free to correct me!), but it’s so cute! It’s so soft, and the pastel purple is one of my favourite colours, so I’m really happy with this item!

 

 

 

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Next up was this Pokémon mug! It hasn’t photographed particularly well, and it is a lot more muted and pastel in real life, which is totally my aesthetic. It’s a really cute mug, but much like tupperware, I own far too many mugs and I’m being threatened that if I get any more they’ll be binned! Still, a cute mug for my last one!

 

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I also received these Sumikko Gurashi socks! They’re packaged really nicely, so I didn’t know what they were at first, but when I unboxed them and folded them out, they’re a really cute pair of socks! I especially love them because they’re a bit thicker, so they’re warm and stop any rubbing shoes!

 

 

 

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I’m a sucker for stationery, so luckily for me I got these two pieces in my box. Firstly, a colour changing pen which is really nice to write with (I don’t know the characters though!), and secondly, some Gudetama sticky notes. Both are coming in very handy in keeping me nice and organised.

 

 

IMG_8259 Last but not least, I got these Sumikko Gurashi chopsticks – I’m also amassing quite the chopstick collection! Luckily I’m not too bad with a pair, so now I just need to learn some Japanese recipes to put them to use!

 

 

 

 

The Kinda Kawaii box was beautifully presented, with a lot of high end items. I spent more than I usually would on a subscription box, but with the price of boxes going up it made more sense to support a local business and get quicker shipping time. I’m really glad I chose to get a Kinda Kawaii box, and would definitely do so again in the future!

manga, Manga reviews

Review: My Dress-Up Darling vol. 1

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Story and art: Shinichi Fukuda
Genre: Ecchi, Romance, Slice of Life
Publisher: Square Enix Manga
Synopsis: A high school boy with a passion for traditional dolls and a talent for sewing gets roped into making cosplay outfits for one of the prettiest, most popular girls in his class! As the odd couple grows ever closer, they find themselves in ever racier situations!

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Whilst browsing for new manga to buy, I stumbled across My Dress-Up Darling. I have a weird thing about not wanting to read too much manga that has been adapted into anime, I can’t even explain this hangup, and My Dress-Up Darling looked really cute from the front cover, and it was a story about a cosplayer! Much more relatable to me than anything else I could have picked.

I thought I was in for something cute and wholesome, and whilst not entirely wrong, I was quite surprised when the manga arrived and it was wrapped in celophane. Always a dead giveaway. I then spotted the Parental Advisory warning, and wondered what I’d got myself into. Clearly, I have a problem reading product descriptions properly.

Wakana is a boy who is interested in traditional Japanese hina dolls, and having been teased about it as a child, he is very sensitive about his interests which are generally perceived as feminine. His classmate Marin is a popular and beautiful girl, who is unashamedly open about her interests in anime. Marin catches Wakana using a sewing machine at school, making clothes for his hina dolls. It’s not long before she recruits him to making her cosplay for her current obsession; a character from Saint Slippery’s Academy for Girls – The Young Ladies of the Humiliation Club: Debauched Miracle Life 2 (what a title), which is an eroge (an erotic videogame for the uninitiated), so it’s here where the Parental Advisory warning really comes into play.

Wakana and Marin are polar opposites, and it’s so nice to see the beginnings of their relationship. Wakana is a very sweet, innocent boy, and Marin seems pretty worldly, though admittedly we don’t know much about her from the first volume. Marin helps Wakana accept that it’s okay to accept your interests and that there’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, which is really refreshing and I wish I had someone tell me that when I was growing up.

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The basis of Wakana and Marin’s relationship is really interesting, and it does seem on the face of it that Wakana is giving a lot and Marin is taking, so I’m interested to see how it develops and how things balance out.

I also really enjoyed all the cosplay references, naturally. My Dress-Up Darling is actually surprisingly in depth about cosplay, talking a lot about things like patterning outfits, fabric choices and wigs. It’s actually a relief as it would have taken me out of it a lot if it had been inaccurate.

Of all the manga I’ve accidentally bought, My Dress-Up Darling is up there as one of my favourites.

8 stars

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September Purchases

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I’m on a bit of a manga trip lately, which is evident from this post. The idea was that I wanted to read a bunch of newer stuff to practice writing manga reviews. I’ve done one so far, and I did enjoy writing it, but have hit a stumbling block with writing, but I’m hoping to have more stuff up soon. I think this month was a fairly light month as I was very aware that the PS5 comes out in November so I need to be saving some money.

IMG_8164My first lot of manga was me continuing existing collections. I bought all three copies I had left to get of That Wolf-Boy Is Mine, but only two arrived in September. Typical. I also bought volume 40 of Haikyuu!!, which is kind of bittersweet because it means that there are only 5 volumes left, boo! I also bought the next volume of My Dress Up Darling because I really enjoyed the first volume (review to come!).

 

IMG_8165As is customary, I also bought a lot of BL this month. In fact, I might have got carried away. My problem with having incomplete collections once again reared its ugly head and I felt compelled to buy all the volumes of Don’t Be Cruel that I didn’t already have, as well as The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese and The Carp On The Chopping Block Jumps Twice (collection complete), and the new volume of given. 

 

IMG_8162I bought a couple of blu-ray this month to add to the collection too. Firstly, Weathering With You, which I got to see at Scotland Loves Anime last year and I already know that I love, and secondly Bartender, that I’ve never seen before, but the concept seemed interesting and the special edition looked really cool.

 

 

IMG_8163Finally for this month, I bought some games! I was recommended Nelke and The Legendary Alchemist as I wanted something that was like a world building simulation. I haven’t started it yet, but I’m excited to! I also bought 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, which I also haven’t started, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it!

 

That’s all for this month, I’m SO excited for October’s post because it’ll have Trails of Cold Steel IV in! Hooray!

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Our Dreams At Dusk

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Story and art: Yuhki Kamatani
Genre: Drama, Psychological, Slice of Life
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Synopsis: Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.

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This review is of the full four volumes, despite image above being for the first volume.

The opening pages of Our Dreams at Dusk are pretty hard to read. Tasuku Kaname’s classmates discover he is gay, and as a result he considers suicide, believing that his life is over now his secret is out. Whilst Tasuku contemplates his fate, he sees a woman who appears to jump over a railing to her own death. Tasuku runs to the location to assist the woman, and finds Someone-san alive and well. Someone-san tells Tasuku to talk about his problems, but she won’t listen if he does.

Following Someone-san to a drop-in centre, Tasuku meets other members of the LGBT+ community and becomes involved in a restoration project rennovating an old house. As Tasuku develops relationships with the other characters, he is brought back from the brink and often remarks that he’s glad he didn’t end his life.

At it’s heart Our Dreams at Dusk has a really endearing story which made me feel a lot of things. For the past couple of years I’ve struggled with my own identity and labels, as have many of the characters in Our Dreams at Dusk. There’s a lot of focus in Our Dreams at Dusk on accepting yourself as who you are, and not getting caught up with labels or opinions of others, and it’s really refreshing to see in a manga, and resonated a lot with me and gave me a lot of food for thought. As Tasuku himself says “I think not knowing is okay. There’s nothing weird about that.”

Tasuku develops really well throughout the manga, and it’s really fulfilling to see how he grows and changes, becoming more confident in himself and about his own feelings. With the help of the supporting cast, Tasuku explores what it is to be a member of the LGBT+ community, and gradually accepts himself.

Sometimes it does feel like Our Dreams At Dusk has a character for every LGBT+ label, almost as if the mangaka used a checklist to make sure everyone was represented, and as a result it does sometimes feel a bit performative, but nonetheless it’s still really encouraging to see minorities represented in a respectful way.

Something to be aware of when reading this manga is that there are a lot of anti-LGBT slurs used. If you’re sensitive to that kind of language, then please go in knowing that. The language isn’t used gratuitously, and ultimately does serve a purpose within the context of the story.

8 stars

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August Purchases

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If you remember my last purchases post, you’ll recall that I had anticipated a heavy August Purchases post to get through my imposed 2 week lockdown prior to my Nan’s operation. Putting this post together, I’m surprised that there isn’t more, and I feel like I was reasonably restrained… ish.

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As usual, I bought a few manga. Adding to my Haikyuu!! and Full Metal Alchemist collections once again, and starting two new collections. I’ve not read Spy x Family yet, but I’ve heard really good things about it online, so I’m looking forward to starting that. I also bought My Dress Up Darling, which I have read and it was…. kind of a surprise. I bought it because it seemed like a cute story about cosplay, and it kind of is, but when I say it came wrapped in plastic, I think that probably tells manga readers all they need to know! Nevertheless, I did enjoy the first volume and I’ll continue to buy it to see where the story goes! I’m going to write up a proper review about it soon (someone please hold me to that).

 

IMG_9260Of course, I wouldn’t get through a month without buying some BL so I got a little haul this month. I bought all volumes of Escape Journey, which I promptly realised I actually have already read. I did really enjoy it though, and I have a feeling I couldn’t find the last couple of chapters anywhere at the time I read it so I’m glad to own it so I can finish it properly! I also bought the latest published volume of given, so I can continue to stay up to date with that collection!

 

IMG_0634I bought two games this month. The first was Fire Emblem Fates Birthright. For some reason I’ve been picking up old Fire Emblem games when I see them, and someone on Instagram was selling this one for pretty cheap, so I got it. Realistically, I know the chances of me playing it are pretty slim – my PS4, Vita and Switch backlogs are bad enough, without me adding the 3DS into the mix! I also bought Nexomon Extinction, which as a premise is very similar to Pokémon in that you catch and train Nexomon to win battles. I haven’t played that much of it, maybe 3 hours or so, but what I have played I have enjoyed and I hope to get back to it properly soon!

 

IMG_3348To round off the August Purchases, a modest blu-ray haul. I got Kiss Him Not Me, which I’ve never seen before, and also added to my Studio Ghibli collection by buying Laputa: Castle In The Sky. 

 

 

 

So, that was what I bought in August! Pretty pared back for me, I’m sure you’ll all agree!