Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023

February is chock full of romantic reads, so naturally, this month’s round-up gravitated toward some of the overtly cutesy print content at our fingertips!

For starters, Yen Press delivered a brilliant fresh perspective on unlikely BL romance, VIZ Media dove head first into the love pond with new and inclusive titles that enjoy a comedic twist, and SuBLime capitalized on their passion-filled reputation to drop new and returning favorites. So with all of these exciting titles and more to consider (plus a few for those with anti-romance interests) here’s what all-inclusive manga and manhwa selections made the cut for our best of the best in February.

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine
SOTUS: Yen Press

SOTUS

Volume 1

Publisher: Yen Press

Format: Manga

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Premise: SOTUS is an educational system in which upperclassmen impose “trials” upon underclassmen. Arthit, leader of the engineering seniors, plans to put his new juniors through a harsh training regimen to earn the symbol of their major—the gear. However, a first-year named Kongpob causes new headaches for Arthit when he declares he’ll snatch the gear from him: “I’ll make you my wife!” 

Why It Works: In the strict world of SOTUS, things work very differently from the education system we’re accustomed to, which for a first volume, manages to really unpack its fraternity-meets-engineering dynamic rather efficiently. While the aforementioned “trials” reflect testosterone-ignited hazing rituals – the series chooses to analyze the intentions behind these upperclassman leaders and submits a better viewpoint of those affected, and those handing out the punishments. Still, just like any bubbling romance story, the two central characters of Arthit and Kongpop begin to develop unique banter (in comparison to other peripheral characters) and create interesting dialogue about social status.

When the manga is exploring Arthit’s point of view, he’s very blunt and tactical in delivery, often making others feel that he’s misusing seniority – which is occasionally rebutted by others who believe him to be sincere. From Kongpop’s perspective, the younger of the two is almost forced to compartmentalize his emotions and appear extremely calm, however, when opening up to those in his personal life, we learn that he’s struggling to understand his true feelings about the pros and cons of the SOTUS program. As the two begin to interact on a regular basis, there’s a softer change of pace that (thankfully) wraps up the first volume on an encouraging note for Arthit and Kongpob, so it’s only a matter of time before feelings become clearer to the push-and-pull pair. 

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine
Sasaki and Miyano: Yen Press

Sasaki and Miyano

Volume 7

Publisher: Yen Press

Format: Manga

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Premise: Miyano spends his days peacefully reading Boys’ Love comics and worrying about how girly his face is—until a chance encounter leads to a scuffle with his senior Sasaki. Intrigued by his feisty junior Miyano, delinquent Sasaki uses every opportunity he can to get closer.

Currently: Sasaki and Miyano. Bad boy and BL nerd. Miyano finally took the plunge and told Sasaki exactly how he feels! But that’s only step one of any relationship. After all, now they have to actually make dating work. And with Sasaki’s graduation just around the corner, the challenges they face are only increasing! Can they make their own happily ever after? 

Why It Works: The best-selling BL title is finally back with its seventh volume, giving readers a much-needed update on the status of their favorite polar-opposite pairing that’s destined for greatness. But more importantly, this one happens to be our favorite release this month for establishing a progressive take on meaningful conversations pertaining to same-sex love stories. Although it does need to live up to some traditional BL expectations (for those who love the classics), this manga has enough heartfelt storytelling within each chapter that it certainly feels like a universally beneficial read for manga fans regardless of gender or sexuality. In essence, we’re here for whatever Sasaki and Miyano is going to throw at us!

To elaborate on the context of its successes, within the pages of the seventh volume our central pair naturally takes their relationship to new and optimistic places, beginning to create necessary boundaries with those around them. That unavoidable big step entails surprisingly smooth conversations with family, a few less-smooth ones, and unpredictable reactions when coming out to peers, which in itself can create a complicated exchange (but in the long run, very satisfying nontheless). Just as we start to process those prominent moments – the series coyly broaches the unexpectedly sensitive subject of changing scenery for college, and setting up the first major barrier in their fresh relationship. By the time it fully concludes, the volume has marvelously paced the growing romance between the two, and the all-too-common genre conflict at hand (of physical distance) has a lot more substance to consider given how exceptionally well this duo is fleshed out. After burning through this one with ease, we can adamantly say: do yourself a huge favor and add this manga to your rotation ASAP! 

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine
Villains Are Destined to Die: IZE Press

Villains Are Destined to Die

Volume 2

Publisher: IZE Press

Format: Manhwa

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Premise: In Easy Mode of Daughter of the Duke Love Project!, you play as Ivonne, the duke’s long-lost daughter, who quickly gains the affection of the various male characters to win the game. Very easy! In Hard Mode, you play as villainess Penelope Eckhart, the duke’s fake daughter, who starts her adventure with negative affection points. Very hard…and filled with gruesome deaths?! Misunderstood and pining for love, one girl finds that she has much in common with Penelope and tries again and again to get her good ending. She is granted one more try…when she falls asleep and wakes up as Penelope herself in the hostile world of the game!

Currently: Penelope Eckhart’s fate may seem grim, but she’s determined to avoid it by rescuing her sympathetic love interest Eclise. Yet when her very way out of death turns out to be more dangerous than she thought, Penelope realizes she needs a backup plan-and a backup man…!

Why It Works: After the quickly immersive first volume of Villains Are Destined to Die, it was natural to become invested in the next chapter of her game-turned-life narrative – especially considering the implication that our unlikely protagonist has yet to reach her end goal of a satisfactory conclusion for this new identity. During her current unconventional “Hard Mode” existence, “Penelope” has now managed to show progress with a few bonus points for better relationship management, but the introduction of Eclise was sure to shake things up for the knowledgeable player.

Being the misunderstood character herself, Penelope finds herself drawn to Eclise who is established as being a dangerous persona, but of course, when the two finally get the chance to meet (after being unfamiliar with his mystery role in her prior playthroughs), there are evident sparks. Showing unrivaled compliance to her and her alone, Penelope envisions Eclise as her designated love interest but due to considering his checkered past, trust becomes a major part of the second volume. In fact, this feels like the most unpredictable element to Peneleop’s insight into the game so far, which generates fewer opportunities for planned interactions and offers more free-flowing responses to scenarios from the long-term player. So, if you’re looking to re-enter your ‘total feels for a bad boy’ era while questioning what’s right in front of you, Vol. 2 of Villains Are Destined to Die is definitely headed in that direction!

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine
Choujin X: VIZ Media

Choujin X

Volume 1

Publisher: VIZ Media

Format: Manga

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Premise: Being a superpowered creature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, though. Tokio has to hide his transformation from his family and dodge a truancy charge at school, all while dealing with the increasingly odd incidents happening around town!

Why It Works: We’ve always had quite a soft spot when it comes to the horror genre, because it tends to be one of the most well-versed platforms for storytelling. For example, you can be overwhelmed with laughter, tears, and frustration, or even find yourself becoming a victim of the classic jump scare due to the unpredictable journey that comes paired with spooky content. Now, the fresh genre title Choujin X is the newest manga series to play into the genre’s strengths, with something that feels like its compiled of unused ideas from projects like Tokyo Ghoul or Parasyte, but discovers enough uniqueness to still feel like an original story that utilizes its comfortable building blocks. 

From the very beginning, the dark title kicks off with a seemingly light scenario that throws readers for a loop – before then skipping over the shocking outcome entirely to establish its classic and balanced protagonists. This use of a well-executed bait-and-switch opening accurately facilitates the sub-genre fun that can be had with horror, (including lightheartedness) quickly establishing that it’s as zany as it is gruesome throughout its first high-stakes volumes. When things get really grisly and the blood starts pumping, Choujin X teases viewers with just enough information to keep them turning the pages courtesy of its genre-pleasing art and entirely strange universe of peculiar horrors. Oh, and remember that Tokyo Ghoul comparison? Well, this happens to be the same author, so if you enjoyed Tokyo Ghoul, there’s a solid chance you’ll be vibing with this follow-up title too. 

Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Best Manga and Manhwa Releases: February 2023 Vanity Teen 虚荣青年 Lifestyle & new faces magazine
The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend: VIZ Media

The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend

Volume 1

Publisher: VIZ Media

Format: Manga

Release Date: February 14, 2023

Premise: Mieri is an awkward, nerdy college student with no dating experience, and her previous crushes on fellow butch women have all ended in disaster. That all changes when she meets Ash and has her feelings returned for the first time. But when first love turns to first heartbreak, Mieri will do everything possible to win Ash back. Based on true events, this is a hilarious and heart-wrenching story about love, loneliness, and the true meaning of finding one’s own happy ending.

Why It Works: As we mentioned at the very beginning of this list, it’s so close to Valentine’s Day that we just have to talk romance in some capacity – whether it’s for being successfully adorable like SOTUS, or a total misfire pairing that still equates to a compelling read. For the new VIZ Media series’ lengthy title alone, (The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend), you instantly know that the misfired love category is all but certain… however, that doesn’t stop a girl from dreaming about what’s possible in the romance department, right? And with our entertaining main girl Mieri in particular, it’s only a matter of time before her quirks are finally valued!

Unlike some of the other romance-heavy titles we’ve focused on in the manga and manhwa round-up, with TGTCGAG we begin this series with a socially uncomfortable (but sometimes oddly relatable) romantic who actually succeeded in finding the person who she believes to be her soulmate of sorts – only to discover the pain of heartbreak that can come with poor timing in new relationships. Offering us a character who has undergone trials and tribulations in order to escape her comfort zone is totally refreshing narrative change to introduce, essentially making her character feel like the (partially) grown-up version of a timeless character trope that goes beyond gender, age, genre, etc. As the fun title gets into its consistently chaotic-stylized final pages of the volume Mieri even finds herself pursued by someone new (one of several tales), but just like any zany lead, she might not be finished with the effortless act of self-sabotaging. Or maybe she’s just not ready now, or possibly ever, and that’s fine too! What we do know is that with a character like Mieri, whatever path she takes next is going to be an eclectically entertaining one. 

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