Reading Pile: No Guns Life & Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu
No Guns Life Vol 1-5
I'll admit that the main reason I jumped aboard this title was mostly because of the design elements, so I was super glad to find that it was a solid and fun noir action cyberpunk series with a good sense of humor. It also feels like a bit to a throwback to the anime and manga that I was into in the late 90's and early aughts, so it was also just a comfortable read.
NGL follows Juzo Inui, a man with no memories from before he was turned into a living weapon to fight for his country. In this world those with cybernetic augmentations are known as the Extended and are essentially second class citizens who need permits to just exist in the city. Juzo works as a Resolver, basically a PI that only handles extended related cases. While the series does follow a case by case series of stories, it has plenty of long-term plots centered around a child with mysterious abilities that Juzo takes into his care. Combined with plenty of world building and delving into the mysteries of Juzo's past, the series has plenty of meat to sink your teeth into.
On top of that it has a lot of great action and nicely choregraphed fights, with tons of interesting and engaging designs for all of the various augmented cyborgs that populate the city. Combine all that with a solid sense of pacing and just the right amount of levity to balance out the darker aspects of this particularly gritty dystopian society and you just have a fun series that really pulls you in to the worldbuilding experience.
Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Vol 1-8
I'm a sucker for food manga, but Nobu has an additional level of charm that makes this series even more addictive.
Based on a series of light novels, the title focuses on a Japanese style pub that magically exists in the back alley of fictional medieval European city. The Chef, known as the Chief, prepares modern day dishes for the various citizens of the city and he and his crew create a warm and friendly place for people to socialize and form a community based on their mutual love of food. That's it, that's the premise, and it is delightful. Think the Midnight Diner meets Cheers and then toss on a whole heaping pile of wholesomeness on top.
Every volume has a number of short stories that unfold more and more characters are introduced to create a very rich tapestry. Elements from early chapters nicely weave together various conflicts and plot expansions in very satisfying ways, while different types of dishes are highlighted and become unifying elements to these various plots and themes. Virginia Nitōhei's artwork creates a perfect balance of tone and atmosphere that really infuses the series with a great sense of personality and charm.
If you're in the mood for a character centric story that aims towards just making you feel good about people (and food) then I highly recommend checking it out.