When I first saw the title and cover art of Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale I laughed at it. Everything about it was just the right flavor of bizarre; utterly strange and ridiculous, yet weirdly appealing at the same time. I finally ended up purchasing it the other week and, if I am being honest, getting a laugh out of the cover art is probably the peak of the Giant Spider & Me experience.
The setting is sort-of reminiscent of Humanity Has Declined, in the sense that after an undescribed apocalypse took place, humanity has abandoned its fallen cities and returned to a more rural, wholesome lifestyle. We follow the story of Nagi, a girl who lives on her own because her dear father has gone on another one of his adventures, except this one is taking a lot longer than any of his prior outings and he hasn’t sent any letters home like he usually does. Hmm…
When Nagi sets out to harvest some food, she ends up meeting a giant spider. The creature follows her home and after some trial & error, the two end up bonding over food and decide to live together. What disappointed me is that this first volume doesn’t really do anything interesting with its concept. It has a cute main character in Asa the Spider and the art is largely fine, but the stories themselves just involve making various meals for the two characters to eat and, by that standard, it’s nowhere near as interesting a read as Delicious in Dungeon.
My issue is that the story hints at greater ideas, only to never actually follow-up on them. The man-made apocalypse that took place is sometimes addressed, but since this is just a book about enjoying food, showing us pictures of destroyed cities feels jarringly out-of-tone when the stories themselves would have worked equally well if Nagi was just a girl living in the countryside. The book also ends on a cliffhanger that puts our two characters in danger, which feels like a blatant attempt to get people to buy the next volume in the hope that something will finally happen. I read a bit of volume 2 at the bookstore and, as expected, the cliffhangers ends on a disappointing, but presumably delicious note.
Once the joke of having a little girl hang out with a funny-looking, giant spider wears off, the manga doesn’t have much going for it. I was hoping we’d get to see either some fun comedy of Asa and Nagi living together or get a story about the two venturing through the post-apocalyptic world. What we get instead is a strange tale; too melancholic for a comedy, too passive to be exciting. It doesn’t manage to establish any unique quality that would sell me on the second volume, so instead opts to have a lame cliffhanger come out of nowhere. Even the whole deal with the cooking has been done many times before and better.
Based on this first volume, I can’t recommend Giant Spider & Me.