Beck’s Picks: January 2021

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Beck Iannucci

In January I read 1 novel, 95 mangas, and watched 5 shows. Here are my favorites out of all of those.

Books

  • The Water Dragon’s Bride (11 book series, finished)

I cannot recommend this series enough. This is a must read if you love romantic comedies and time travel. In this series, a young girl is brought to the past where she is then offered up as the village sacrifice to the water dragon god. She isn’t, however, a sacrifice in the way you might imagine. Instead of being killed, they are actually offering her as his wife, where she would have to spend her days under water with him. We watch as this god that is devoid of empathy grows a heart and the protagonist has to decide — which world will she stay in? The past with the people she’s come to love or the future with the family she hasn’t seen in years?

  • Angels of Death (12 books, finished)

TW for series: talk of su*c*de, domestic abuse, murder

I found this series through its anime adaptation on FUNimation. After seeing it on the homepage I decided to try a few episodes and the show immediately stole my heart. If you love stories about serial killers or any sort of murder mystery then this story is also for you.

Angels of Death follows Rachel Gardner, a 13 year old who mysteriously ends up in an abandoned hospital. She has no recollection of how she got there, but when she wakes up, Ray is informed that she’s part of a killing game. She soon realizes the rules — a different serial killer lives on every floor. The killers can’t interact with other floors. It is Ray’s job to escape each floor, therefore escaping the killer, and making it back out. While reaching these floors Ray remembers pieces of the past she tried to forget.

This series is heavy so it’s not for everyone, but it is a must watch for crime fans or horror lovers.

  • Fire Force (21 books, ongoing)

TW for series: sexism, death

Fire Force is set in a world where humans can turn to flame without warning. Special fire soldiers put out these fires and put the humans to rest. But what is causing these fires? Could it be a man made substance? And if so, who is behind the creation? Can the other fire divisions be trusted or is there an enemy soldier within the ranks of the fire force? 

This series has comedy and mystery. I also loved seeing the characters that were used as comedic relief having their own character arcs and self growth. We see this with Maki. Her brother insists that she must quit because the force is a “man’s job”. Yet she continues to preserve despite her family’s protests and saves the world.

  • Love Me For Who I Am (4 books — only 2 translated so far though, ongoing)

TW for series: discrimination, internalized homophobia & transphobia, misgendering characters

So far I’ve only read the first book, but it certainly is making history. I have searched for animes and mangas with nonbinary characters but they’re always a side character, sometimes only included to be picked on. Having a nonbinary main character with (mostly) understanding friends is insane. There isn’t anything like this yet. Having drag queens as well without having them as the butt of a joke is also amazing.

The series features a student that tries to make a safe place for his queer classmates. He doesn’t fully understand everything about the community, but he tries his hardest to learn so he can support his sister and his new friends.

There are characters that deal with being ashamed of who they are and the protagonist has a friend who is claiming to be supportive, but claims that their friend is technically a man and goes on this whole homophobic rant. 

All in all, I like the series so far and I’m planning on reading the next few so expect an update in the February addition of Beck’s Picks.

  • Deadman Wonderland (13 books, finished)

TW for series: murder, death, loss of family & friends

The story revolves around Ganta, a teen accused of killing his friends and classmates. Fake evidence gets him convinced and while on a bizarre verison of death row, he finds that the real murderer left him with powers.

This is another one for murder mystery fans. You can make some of your own predictions along with Ganta before the killer is revealed. There is also Shiro, the woman who claims to be friends with Ganta, but he doesn’t remember her. There is a plot twist about who she is that took me by surprise. 

This is a series I enjoyed reading because I watched the show and they’re different. Honestly, I think the manga is a better portrayal of the story. If you are interested, then read the books first.

  • The Promised Neverland (18 books, ongoing)

TW for series: violence, death, loss of family & friends

This series is so unbelievably good. It follows orphans trying to run from monsters. But they don’t just want to save their own lives — they want to save everyone else in the orphanage and more!

Like Deadman Wonderland the tv adaptation strays from the manga but this one is worse. Key plot points are going to be taken out of the next season and we’re going to be missing a bunch of characters. You need to read the books to get the full story. I promise you won’t regret it! This is one the best series I’ve ever read!

TV

  • Aggretsuko (3 seasons, Netflix original, ongoing)

TW for show: there’s a few episodes about stalking, sexism in the workplace

If you’ve been endlessly scrolling on Netflix, chances are you’ve seen this angry raccoon that loves death metal. In this adult cartoon, Retsuko has to deal with a sexist boss and a mother that constantly pressures her about getting married. She is flooded with work that shouldn’t even be her problem and then her boss harasses her the entire day. The way that Retsuko gets out her frustration (whether it be the hardships at work or her mom randomly showing up at Retsuko’s apartment to set her up with a man she’s never met) is to go to karaoke and sing death metal. Retsuko is a loveable protagonist trying to deal with the world. You’ll surely love her.