Hakumei & Mikochi: Tiny Little Life in the Woods by Takuto Kashiki
I'm covering a whole series this time rather than a single book. That's because this time I want to talk about Hakumei & Mikochi, a manga series about two tiny friends and their day-to-day lives. Cozy books have been gaining in popularity lately, and to me, there's nothing more cozy than picking up a volume of Hakumei & Mikochi.
It was first published in Japanese in 2013, with an English edition following in 2018 (and I'm so glad it did!) Since then, a volume a year has been published pretty steadily. Volume 12 just released in Japanese in January 2024, while Volume 11 just released in English the same month.
I don't read a lot of manga. Every now and then a story might catch my eye and I'll give it a try, but I still prefer novels overall. The first volume of this series was one such time where I liked the premise and decided to give it a chance.
By the time I finished the first volume, I knew I needed to get the second one, and the third...
Now, about the series itself. It is exactly what it presents itself to be: a cozy, slice-of-life series about the two title characters (and some of their friends). Each chapter can be read as its own short story, though sometimes a single story may run for two chapters. (I'll add the caveat that the stories are in chronological order, so you won't want to skip around as previous stories are sometimes referenced.)
For those unfamiliar with slice-of-life stories, a chapter can follow a character on a typical work day, or helping out a friend with a task, or taking a trip into the city.
Some major defining story elements: Hakumei and Mikochi are part of a race of tiny people—think "Thumbelina" or The Borrowers. There are also several animal characters. The series has a lot of funny moments, some touching moments, and even a few moments that moved me to tears on this latest read-through.
At this point, it is a tradition for me to begin my yearly re-read some time in January, leading up to the release of the newest volume. I consider this series among my favorite books, and always look forward to spending a weekend or two immersed in Hakumei and Mikochi's world.
One final note: for those unfamiliar with manga, the series follows the traditional Japanese format, meaning you read the books from right to left.
Amazon: Volume 3
Amazon: Volume 4
Amazon: Volume 5
Amazon: Volume 6
Amazon: Volume 7
Amazon: Volume 8
Bookshop.org: Volume 9
Bookshop.org: Volume 10
Bookshop.org: Volume 11
And for those who read Japanese: Volume 12 (The English edition should release early next year.)