We’re back in time for Spring, with plenty of entertaining manga and manhwa to dive into – including big action/adventure stories, sweet romance, tear-jerking feels, and otherworldly chaos! And for the most part, the month’s best offerings all come as either new titles or very recent stories, introducing the next big wave of must-read content.
So without any further hesitation, let’s see what print manga and manhwa are worthy of your time and money! But make sure to stick around at the end for a nice little last-minute (rare) February surprise that just needed to have the spotlight in March.
Happy Crappy Life
Release Date: March 28, 2023
Premise: After his boss discovers that he has been having sex with his daughter, Kyoutarou gets is transferred from his high-powered job in the big city to a ho-hum position in the Japanese countryside. Obviously, his first intentions upon being transferred are to return to Tokyo as soon as possible, but after . he realizes that everyone in his new village knows exactly why he was demoted he loses all hope for his future…but still finds it in his heart to embrace who he is – a ne’er-do-well with a love for a certain type of sex!
Why It Works: If you’re in need of something new that has unique, unconventional methods of storytelling, mature themes, sharp dialogue, or perhaps even some off-the-wall humor, KUMA publishing’s Happy Crappy Life checks every aforementioned box and several others! As a hilarious manga that’s targetted towards adult readers, the unlucky work-related and outlandishly sexual storylines stemming from main characters Kyoutarou and Yoshiyuki are without a doubt the biggest asset to the shocking yet comedic title — introducing readers to a primarily physical relationship between two men that aim to redefine traditional desires and ‘masculine’ stereotypes they’re all too familiar with (currently identifying as heterosexual while openly embracing aspects of physicality with one another).
Once the well-balanced introductions and uncanny world-building have officially set in, Happy Crappy Life then goes full throttle into its incomparable zany tone and continues to create new dynamics, as well as solidifying the leading duo by creating a well-rounded group that eventually grows into integral main players in the most unpredictable and NSFW way imaginable. Toward the end of the journey of the first volume, readers invested in a blossoming romance will also find themselves getting a nice teaser at something more substantial, so this is one title that you’ll want to keep up with when KUMA drops volume two later this year.
Still, if all of that hasn’t convinced you that Happy Crappy Life is a complete hit title, the series’ magical artistic display through character designs and detail-heavy countryside settings across every single panel is just the kind of content that will have you inevitably coming back for more. Pick this one up while it’s still available here!
Hirano and Kagiura
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Premise: Akira Kagiura has decided. He will marry him. Taiga Hirano, roommate—and the most perfect man who has ever existed! After all, Hirano’s bad boy vibe doesn’t really matter when he acts so sweet. Like when he wakes Kagi up every morning or cheers him on when he’s feeling down…So now there’s only one thing left to do: enact his grand plan and overcome the first hurdle—confessing his feelings!
Currently: Okay, so his first attempt didn’t work. Hirano somehow managed to turn Kagi’s attempt at a confession into nothing. If it was intentional, then does that mean he…doesn’t like Kagi back? Indulging him at every turn, treating him differently than anyone else—it’s not possible that Hirano sees him as just a friend. Is it?
Why It Works: This blossoming story about chemistry and companionship has wasted very little time in establishing the duo of Hirano and Kagiura, proving that this still unfolding title is a perfectly paced manga. Picking up on the heels of a major confession, the second volume cautiously skirts around Kagiura’s bold feelings for Hirano, but still adds enough depth and development to get a better understanding of what this “love” entails. As the chapters progress, we begin to uncover what feelings and sincere sentiments are contributing to this declaration of devotion – excellently challenging the use of a word that’s often thrown around without careful consideration. And as Kagiura begins to feel more confident in what love actually means to him, the conversations become more important than ever.
Without diving into the deepest of spoilery territory (because you need to read this one) by the time our main characters are forced to discuss the topic once more and rather directly, we receive an answer that organically deviates from an easy solution. The relationship between both Hirano and Kagiura could lead to something strictly platonic, there could be a greater exploration of feelings, or the duo could potentially go their separate ways, and there’s something very uncommon about the ambiguity that makes Hirano and Kagiura another (realistic and grounded) standout romance series.
By the time the second volume of the manga comes to its endearing conclusion, there’s still plenty of gas in the tank to make this heartfelt narrative a long-term must-read.
The Otherworlder, Exploring the Dungeon
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Premise: Broke and desperate, Souta signs up for a gig to warp to a fantasy world and ascend a dungeon tower to claim the treasure inside. However, an accident in the transfer process separates him from his teammates, leaving him stranded. Will his adventure end before it even begins?
Why It Works: In one way or another, everyone can relate to times being tough – and sometimes that involves stepping up to roles or jobs that you might not anticipate. For Souta in The Otherworlder, Exploring the Dungeon, becoming an adventurer in a quirky (but still very dangerous) world certainly takes the cake in terms of drastic changes, and there’s something admirable about his immediately responsible demeanor. And when we meet Souta, it’s hard to determine if he’ll actually be successful at becoming a powerhouse leader or if he’s on course to become a goofy protagonist, but one of its massive strengths is that it walks a fine line between being both. Which, as a modern protagonist in an adventure/Isekai title, feels like the most essential ingredient.
From the very beginning, the series tackles Souta’s new life head on – and offers the opportunity to meet its selection of supporting characters (naturally) as you enter in real-time. We learn easter egg details on this world throughout these interactions to also give this manga a solid setup but intelligently avoids low-hanging plot devices (including the general fear that comes from other adventurers, or the vessels for gods). In regards to the art in The Otherworlder, Exploring the Dungeon, there isn’t a single page that doesn’t present this light-novel-turned-manga with extreme detail, and its (major) standout moments are arguably a handful of action-heavy, slick panels to tease what’s coming. Plus that insane heartbreaking misdirect with an adorable and very important feline… if you know, you know!
Tomb Raider King
Publisher: IZE Press
Release Date: March 21, 2023
Premise: In the year 2025, mysterious tombs appeared all over the world, each housing an ancient relic granting supernatural abilities. The lucky few who quickly obtained these relics ruled over powerful monopolies. Others came to serve them, such as Jooheon Suh, a “raider” who hid in tombs to steal relics. Betrayed by his employer, Jooheon is left to die but instead finds himself transported 15 years in the past. Armed with years of tough raiding experience and knowledge of what is to come in the world of relics, does Jooheon have what it takes to become the “Tomb Raider King”?
Currently: Jooheon’s next destination is the fabulous city of Las Vegas, where he expects powerful Relics to appear at the secret auction, maybe even a Deity-class if he’s lucky. To get his hands on the prize, he must compete with other wealthy bidders, including his archenemy, Chairman Kwon. The ante is upped even further when a terrifying presence enters the fray. With all bets off the table, Jooheon must rely on his skills and wit to even the odds!
Why It Works: There’s something absolutely magical about getting a manhwa story with a Las Vegas backdrop, because that in itself feels like a completely rare occurrence – and given the city’s reputation, there are a lot of potential details to become engrossed in. For the new volume of Tomb Raider King, the totally suave Jooheon gets to enjoy all of its perks with the character trying his luck at gambling for more than money. While Jooheon does get his lucky streak, the introduction of a fear-inducing unlucky King of Bankruptcy causes his confidence to become completely shaken and more vulnerable to misfortune than ever before. Though, as to be expected, there’s always more than meets the eye in this lighter, transitional chapter.
Despite being labeled as the reason that countries have been driven to economic downfall and total ruin (no big deal, right…) this accidentally intimidating King naturally finds herself drawn to Jooheon to build a fun repartee – however, its the second half of the volume (post King of Bankruptcy) that turns up the heat with action and richer story arcs for its protagonist. In fact, towards the conclusion of the balanced action and humor in Tomb Raider King, the follow-up chapters build up to an introduction of another King that has the massive potential to create new waves for Jooheon in the third volume. Because what’s the fun in an ongoing title without a proper cliffhanger moment from time to time?
You’ll likely start this title for its over-the-top revision of history, action-like elements, or classic hero at the helm, so once you’ve partaken, be prepared to stick around.
A Home Far Away
Publisher: KUMA Publishing
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Premise: In the winter of 1990, a young man name Alan finds himself lost and searching for direction. He currently cannot find it at home nor through the church. But when he meets Hayden, a free-spirited cook, he at least finds someone he can relate with. He may not know where his life is going but at least he has someone to lean on. But Alan’s new life, filled with new feelings and many new challenging experiences, may force him to find his path on the road…
Why It Works: A Home Far Away from KUMA is a title that managed to slip through the cracks with a last-minute Febrauary release – and upon reading the intensely dramatic story, it just needed to have its moment. But where do you even begin with something as serious as this one… Well, for starters, this romantic-drive story also happens to be another one-shot for mature manga readers (trigger warning), with central components covering sensitive subjects including religion, abuse, and complex self-acceptance, all culminating in an explosive sequence of events that’s as effortlessly cinematic as it gets for a somber atmospheric love story. Though deep down, the romance title acts as a unique and gripping noir-infused same-sex character study that somehow finds a way to still deliver an emotional silver lining to unpredictable (and rather grim) circumstances.
Comparable to some of the most timeless stories on love and loss (including the recently celebrated third episode of The Last of Us), A Home Far Away burns bright and fast – creating an interpersonal relationship between Hayden and Alan that evolves into a bittersweet dependency after overcoming severe trauma. From the very beginning to the final panel, this factor is an uncanny driving force for a title that gives this pair an enigmatic understanding of one another. With game-changing acts throughout every chapter, the single-volume story creates a nerve-wracking presentation of tension that’s sure to have readers fully immersed in the end-game… And just when you think things are looking overwhelmingly dire, the actual conclusion still throws a curveball that might just be the most oddly fitting final moment for the tragic ‘90s noir love story. But don’t take my word for it – pick up a copy of A Home Far Away here to find out for yourself!