What a year so far for subscribers of Manga Spice Cafe! If you haven’t heard of this amazing subscription box, and you’re a fan of anime and manga, you need to grab a box for yourself NOW, and here’s why: Manga Spice Cafe is a subscription box service that sends you 3 new, monthly releases of actual, physical manga! But what makes it even better are the Asian snacks you get along with it, PLUS a drink item too. It’s everything you need to experience a Japanese manga cafe in your own home on a regular basis. If you haven’t explored any new manga lately, and don’t know where to start, it’s the best box to try. Not to mention, there are exciting new themes each month.
This month’s theme is Ghouls and Devils, and boy, was this box spooky! Manga Spice Cafe takes on the darker side of manga this time, including books that sent a chill down our spine! We had a fun time not only unwrapping and reading these lovely stories, but we also got a kick of spice and a smooth mix of natural flavors from our cafe food and drink items, PLUS, a special dagashi or “Japanese junk food” candy bag to put us in the Halloween mood, even if we may be too old to trick-o-treat. Also, guess what? Our favorite maid character, Neko-chan, returns to pack and present this box to us, seeing how horror and the occult are her favorite themes! Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s jump right into October’s box!
(To see a live unboxing of this video, check out Anime Some Now’s latest review video: http://youtube.com/watch?t=129s&v=yXdZfasDdqU )
Upon opening the box, you see a glossy booklet with this month’s maid mascot, Neko-chan, who first appeared in April’s monsters and occult box. She is Manga Spice Cafe’s ever shy and adorable neko (cat) maid, but you wouldn’t tell by her pose on the cover. (She’s in her element!) This time around, Neko-chan has packed our October box with goodies pertaining to Ghouls and Devils for the Halloween holiday.
Inside the booklet, we found a wealth of information about the featured snacks and drink items, along with info and special content about the artists and writers who created our included manga books, plus related anime news. There’s also a special space for an artist showcase, which belonged to this month’s selected artist, Sui Ishida. His artwork is gorgeous, with a mix of painterly texture, bold shapes, loosely sketched lines, and a contrast of warm and cool colors.
This mixture of art techniques gives Ishida’s included manga a raw, spooky, and artistically rendered feel unlike most other manga we’ve seen. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at Ishida’s manga, Tokyo Ghoul:re:
“In the world of Tokyo Ghoul, sometimes the only way to fight monsters is to become one…
The Commission of Counter Ghoul is the only organization fighting the Ghoul menace, and they will use every tool at their disposal to protect humanity from its ultimate predator. Their newest weapon in this hidden war is an experimental procedure that implants human investigators with a Ghoul’s Kagune, giving them Ghoul powers and abilities. But both the procedure and the newly formed Qs Squad are untested. Will they become heroes…or monsters?!
Haise Sasaki has been tasked with teaching Qs Squad how to be outstanding Investigators, but his assignment is complicated by the troublesome personalities of his subordinates and his own uncertain grasp of his Ghoul powers. Can he pull this ragtag group together as a team, or will Qs Squad’s first assignment be their last?”
With it being the sequel to Tokyo Ghoul, this manga had big shoes to fill. But :re does not disappoint! In fact, it’s really quite enjoyable to see both new characters entering into the series and the old characters return. Reading through this book, as we said above, it’s absolutely gorgeous and rendered with such artsy detail. The rawness of each panel adds to its dark tone and the action is exciting and intense. We recommend checking out the original Tokyo Ghoul manga and anime (though the anime does diverge a bit from the manga) It’s a great series to get into and has grown quite popular with the anime/manga community. We must warn you though, there is quite a bit of blood at times. And that brings us to our next title, Devil’s Line:
“Unbeknownst to the general public vampires are rampant in Tokyo. To control and contain them, the government has developed a program to track and treat rogue vamps who decide to pray on the public. But what happens when vampire and man come together in harmony and love? Will the public accept this or will they try to tear such partnerships apart.
Tsukasa, a college student, is rescued from an attack by a devil, one of many vampires that can blend in among the human population. Anzai, her savior, is a half-devil who exploits his supernatural gifts as a member of a shadowy police task force that specializes in devil-related crime in Tokyo. As Anzai continues to keep guard over Tsukasa, the two quickly forge a tentative bond—one that Anzai fears will test his iron-clad rule of never drinking human blood…”
Ryo Hanada’s art isn’t the strongest and most polished style out there, but we must admit, this story is good. REALLY good. It’s a shame the manga is a bit of an underground title that not that many folks know about. But it falls within the realm of what a vampire love story should look like, with engaging action and plot. Vampires are actually called Devils in this story, and these Devils consist of a community of blood thirsty monsters disguising themselves in public. To keep them under control, our ( second) main character and his organization try to keep the murders to a minimum. It takes many elements from the Tokyo Ghoul idea, and includes similar dark themes and gore. Despite that, it is an interesting title that makes for a great fit in this month’s box. We enjoyed it with a bag of Cosmo Tteokbokki, which looks like red, crunchy noodles, and taste surprisingly sweet with a kick of hot spiciness at the end. It’s a popular Korean snack, and now a favorite of ours as well!
And now, we’ve reached the spiciest of book of this month crate. Not necessarily scary, but definitely sends chills down our spine. Let’s take a look at Kakegurui:
“Hyakkaou Private Academy. An institution for the privileged with a very peculiar curriculum. You see, when you’re the sons and daughters of the wealthiest of the wealthy, it’s not athletic prowess or book smarts that keep you ahead. It’s reading your opponent, the art of the deal. What better way to hone those skills than with a rigorous curriculum of gambling? At Hyakkaou Private Academy, the winners live like kings, and the losers are put through the wringer. But when Yumeko Jabami enrolls, she’s gonna teach these kids what a high roller really looks like!”
The art style for Kakegurui is actually really pretty, but what’s even more interesting is just how ugly and eccentric these high school characters can get. Well, it is a gambling school after all, but still, the creepy, mad, dead-eyed, and freakishly turned on facial expressions of our main characters as they placed their bets and sentenced their opponents to their doom scared the heck out of us. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad read, in fact, the suspense was exciting and well executed. The best part about this? That, along with Tokyo Ghoul:re, this book was thick! That means lots of extra content to snuggle up under the covers with. This book went well with our elegant Apple & Jasmine drink, which fused apple juice with hints of jasmine fragrance. Delicious.
And let’s not forget our “dagashi” Japanese junk food bag of goodies! Most Manga Spice Cafe subscribers, like us, are no longer children and aren’t braving the cold in cosplay to trick-o-treat on Halloween anymore. But that’s okay because this box has brought the candy and treat bag to us! Here’s side one.
And side two. It includes a sweet and salty rice cracker snack, 2 marshmellow HK candies filled with chocolate, a corn pottage savory Umaibo snack, 1 juicy Kasugai gummy, 3 cola candies, both hard and chewy, a tangy lemon emoji candy, a Hi chew sours, cookie and cream Koeda sticks, a Caplico cream cone, and a classic box of Chocolate pocky. (They couldn’t fit all the ingredients to each item, so it will be included in a separate post.)
So, what was our overall verdict?
We loved this month’s box! 3 chilling manga paired with spicy chips, a smooth apple & jasmine drink, and an entire candy bag to ourselves?…. Maid Neko-chan and the Manga Spice Cafe crew outdid themselves this time and totally surpassed the value of this box. We felt like kids again! But then again, we always do when we break open this box every month to find a pleasant surprise waiting inside.
What to subscribe to your own monthly manga cafe surprise? Sign up here at mangaspicecafe.com!