Daddy Long Legs
In 1990, Nippon Animation adapted the classic novel Daddy-Long-Legs to the medium of Japanese animation as part of Fuji TV’s World Masterpiece Theater productions. It was very well-received and even won some awards, which makes Bun Katsuta’s attempt at adapting the same story to manga an awkward and uninteresting project.
Counting a total of 4 chapters (compared to the anime’s 40 episodes), the single volume for this story is actually kind of deceptive. Daddy Long Legs is only the last chapter of this book and counts some 80 pages that rush through the story quickly. The three chapters before that are taken up by unrelated and short romance stories, all of which suffered from the same problems. The art is incredibly mediocre, the stories feature unlikeable characters, and events happen quickly and with little explanation. They are absolutely terrible.
Daddly Long Legs is a pleasant departure from this, but only because it adapts a story that was already absolutely wholesome, with the only real change being that the setting was moved to Showa-era Japan and all the characters were recast to be Japanese. It’s good, but not the best version of the story you could settle for. After all, the original has been reprinted many times, there are many movie adaptations, and the World Masterpiece Theater anime is available online. Don’t waste your time on this version.
Daikanojo is the kind of manga I wish I could buy, because this single-volume comedy story drastically improved an otherwise dull train ride to work. The main girl is a freshman with a crush on her senpai, who wishes upon a falling star to find the power to confess this love to him. Through misinterpretation, she instead gains a superpower that increases her size and power based on how “in love” she feels. Just in time, because giant monsters are launching an invasion and the people need a hero.
Main girl Mitsushima Hikaru is an adorable character who is often embarrassed as the battles get her in lewd situations, but she quickly grows a fanbase of people that cheer her on and eventually help her find the courage to save the day, even if she has to do so in her underwear. It’s a very joyful story, which manages to sneak in gags about tentacles and panties while still feeling lighthearted, as opposed to doing it purely for fanservice. I had a good time with this and, with only five chapters, I totally recommend freeing up some time to go check it out.
A relic from the early 90’s, Damned is one of the bottom-feeders of the market for edgy, hardcore manga stories for all the cool, mature people. After an apocalypse drastically reduced the world’s land mass, a mega-corporation in Tokyo became the new, dominant world power. The people live in slums and feed off rats and polluted water, while employees of the company engage in sick experiments and hoard all the world’s pleasures to themselves.
That is until angry, shirtless dude Jin shows up on the shores of Japan, ready to take down the corporate dictators and fight on behalf of the people. What follows is 25 chapters consisting mostly of Jin going around decapitating people. The story is lame and unfulfilling, with characters making a whole bunch of ridiculous decisions in a bid to squeeze out just a few more chapters. Like many other dark and edgy stories, it gets stuck in an endless loop of trying to outdo itself because shock value is the only selling point it has. While it has a few memorable scenes, most of the violence just comes down to Jin cutting heads to pieces or exploding them entirely.
It’s a spectacle that grows dull quickly, leaving Damned with nothing to fall back on. Its characters and story are too simplistic to be invested in, so without any creative violence, this manga has pretty much no reason to exist. Check out Cyber Blue instead.
12 years later and the same author behind Damned came up with a new manga, though “new” might be a bit of an overstatement. Dokuro is the same flavor of shirtless muscle-dudes reducing bad guys to a pulp and even shares many thematic elements in the story. The difference is that Dokuro is actually quite decent.
Takeo was trained to be an assassin for a corrupt cult, but the brainwashing never truly worked and he broke free. Now he is on a quest for vengeance, violently eliminating all those who serve the cult. Of course, that also includes the head of the church, the balding middle-aged con-man who presents himself as a God. Dokuro works because it’s more over-the-top than Damned. It has combat grannies, zombies, and the two main villains are absolutely hilarious.
The violence too is much more varied and surprising, though (like Damned) it is still overly fond of one particular execution. I wouldn’t call Dokuro great, but the action is cathartic and the characters were good for a laugh.
Dead End is a mystifying story that I was constantly about to drop, but kept reading because it always felt like it was finally about to get good. It’s a weirdly paced story with bizarre twists, which teases that it’s about to explain everything, and then never does.
The story is about the impoverished day laborer Shirou, who is dragged into a supernatural conspiracy when he learns that his memories were altered. He then sets out on a journey to find the people he knew in his old life, all while being hunted down by a crime syndicate, paranormal creatures, and hellish monsters. The story walks the line between the action genre and mystery, but after finishing it, I can confidently recommend just skipping it.
The manga does have its highlights and becomes somewhat interesting towards the end, but the final chapters feel rushed and inconclusive. I am not sure if the writer had bigger ambitions, but the final result is a manga that mostly feels like a waste of time.
Dei Ecchi Ei
This story starts off with a Demon murdering a family of angels, until he finds their sleeping son and catches flame at the sight of his innocent, pure smile. In his dying breath, the Demon summons forth heralds of the 7 deadly sins, tasking them to corrupt the boy so that he himself may be revived.
That boy is Hikaru Kamishiro, a kindhearted young man that never does anything wrong. That is until 7 beautiful girls show up, each tasked with making sure Hikaru commits the sin they embody. However, Ai Shiratori has a crush on Hikaru and is contacted by an angel, who then tasks her with preventing this plan from reaching fruition. Regrettably for Ai, the most direct way to do so is by having Hikaru fall in love with her and have sex.
Of the seven sins, lust is definitely the one most present. The manga features full nudity and a number of daring scenes, certainly more than I am used to from ecchi manga. I also just honestly enjoyed the storyline and characters, which were fun and cute despite not being terribly deep. All in all, I’d say it’s easily worth a 7/10 and I was so into it that I powered through it in a single day.
Demon King Ena-Sama Goes To Manga School
Ena is the Demonic ruler of a fantasy universe, which seems like a cool job, but for her it has long since lost its appeal. Desperate for entertainment, she hops through a magic mirror and how appears in our world, where she immediately declares her ambition to conquer the world and murders a young manga artist called Kento. However, she then falls in love with the manga Kento just finished and brings him back to life so he can make more of it for her.
Kento and Ena forge an agreement where she doesn’t conquer the earth in return for Kento helping her explore the world of manga and draw some herself. At the same time, Kento lost his dominant arm to her attack and now has to work twice as hard if he ever wants to fulfill his own dreams.
In a way, the story is kind of a rip-off of The Devil is a Part-Timer, relying on the same gag of an all-powerful demon lord settling for a comparatively mundane life in the Human world. If it is a rip-off, however, then it’s a damn good one. I was having a lot of fun with this manga, mostly because Kento and Ena have such good chemistry and it’s fun to see the two work together. Both protagonists have a lot of passion for manga and that leads to some good storylines with emotional impact to them. Honestly, my main complaint is that I wish there was more of it. With only 16 chapters, this is an enjoyable manga with good characters, which just felt like it had the potential for a much longer run.
If I had to describe this manga in a single word, it would be “unpleasant”. It tells the story of Miriko, a voluptuous girl who fell down a well 13 years ago and arrived in a parallel universe. After conquering that world, she has now returned to earth to marry her childhood friend Takashi (Ta-kun), except they can only do that when he is equal to her in status. The solution: conquer all of earth!
It doesn’t take long to realize that author Hebisaku Yoshida mainly pens hentai manga and this one attempt to branch out into something else wasn’t a big success. Close to 70% of the jokes come down to girls being naked, with the remainder being divided between perverted men, randomly violence, and the dim-witted protagonist. Miriko’s aggressive behavior leaves many jokes feeling bitter and unfunny, such as exposing a trans character or leaving a classmate tied up and at the mercy of a sexual deviant.
I am not particularly insulted or disgusted, but it just felt tiring and repetitive. Nudity can be funny when used well, but Destruction Princess‘ hateful tone and dull characters don’t achieve that. Instead, nudity just becomes an easy escape for an author that presumably had no clue how to write jokes.
Double Arts is the kind of story that highlights how cruel and competitive the shounen industry is. The story is about Elraine, a young member of a sisterhood devoted to combating a powerful disease. However, its members do so at the cost of reducing their own lifespan and, after her latest patient, Elraine collapses in the street. That is, until a boy called Kiri rushes in to help her, and his touch instantly cancels out the effects of the disease.
Elraine gets to live so long as Kiri and she are always connected, forcing them to hold hands as they journey to Elraine’s employers to have them investigate Kiri’s power. After all, if he can cancel the disease without any repercussion to himself, it could finally end the plague for good. A mysterious cult of assassins attempts to prevent this from coming to fruition, so Kiri and Elraine will also need to run, hide, and even fight to fulfill this quest. It has a bit of a sluggish start with lots of frontloaded world-building, but Double Arts builds up a nice pace and draws you in with its interesting world and colorful characters. In particular, I was fond of Sui, a warrior girl with an exotic weapon that is always looking for trouble.
However, the manga was canceled after 24 chapters and the writer then went on to write Nisekoi for the next few years. While he did manage to staple on an ending that isn’t entirely lackluster, it’s a shame the story was just hitting its stride and now we’ll never get to see what else the author had in mind. It’s still worth reading, just be prepared for the sudden ending.
If you are into Dungeons & Dragons or game-like fantasy worlds, then Dragon Nest is going to be a great manga to read. It chronicles the story of a party of adventurers as they take on a quest that snowballs out of proportion, sending them on a journey across the world as they accrue new members, defeat monsters, and complain that the warrior is always rushing in too much.
It has great art and the fantasy setting is easy to digest, making it feel like an homage to all the great RPGs and stories out there. With that said, the plot doesn’t venture anywhere complex and the characters are kept deliberately simplistic. It’ll be a fantastic read all the same, so long as you don’t go into it expecting some kind of fantasy epic with a twist to it.
And to finish this edition of the quick reviews, we have a manwha. Drug Candy is the story of a Korean office worker at a cosmetics company, a 30-something man who is slowly drifting apart from his wife and has to watch helplessly as his career is sabotaged by managers at the company. That is when he meets an eccentric young girl at one of the stores he runs, lighting the flame to a new passion.
However, his affair has a greater impact than intended and throughout the story’s 44 chapters we get to see if this trainwreck is going to cling to the track anyway or plummet down into the abyss below. Your enjoyment of the story is going to be mostly determined by how much you are into drama, because there is a lot of office scandals, cheating, and pregnancy involved, which may turn many away. It’s definitely not the kind of story you often find in Japanese manga and the full color art is definitely a plus too. Add in entire chapters that are just non-stop sex and… yeah I am sure this has an audience.