Manga Challenge – August Update

Greetings fellow scoundrels,

One of my main objectives this month was to start work on this challenge’s secondary objective. Not only did I have to read 365 manga, I also had to read all the manga that I own. There aren’t many of these left, but the ones I still have to tackle are quite sizable. Such as Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade.

We already previewed this isekai manga earlier and it was interesting enough for me to keep on reading. It’s also one of my favorite manga collections because each volume has a stylish, brightly-colored spine to it. Extra efforts like that go a long way towards keeping the joy of collecting physical manga alive.

My initial optimism for the series turned out to not be misplaced. Later volumes do a great job of building on the fun premise of an MMORPG guild that acts as a found family/harem. The art improved a lot and my initial qualms with sexual harassment became less pronounced; though the manga does always retain it to some extent. Action scenes get very elaborate and tactical, much like how it was in the main series. Some battles go on for so long that they end up taking more than 1 volume, without that action getting dull at any point. This is then spaced out with fun banter and antics as the guild gets into all kinds of mishaps. Like one arc where the girls conspire to have all the businesses in the city offer exclusive deals to women while raising prices for the majority male population.

The West Wind Brigade can’t avoid living in the shadow of the main series though. A lot of the story’s events happen in parallel with that of series’ protagonist Shiroe, including entire arcs that may as well be copy & pasted. It also felt lame that many of the brigade’s achievements are previews of actions Shiroe would later take. They battle villains and make remarkable discoveries, but without capitalizing on those successes. Those have to be left for Shiroe to later do for realsies, after all.

If viewed as an isolated story, however, The West Wind Brigade shines as a delightful fantasy adventure. It has cool battles, politicking, and a very active ecchi romcom appeal as well. Whether you’re new to Log Horizon or a fan of the main series, it’s worth a shot if that description sounds appealing.

Taking a bit of a leap back into the past, I really got into the Enma-kun series by Go Nagai. It’s a 70s shounen manga about Enma, the nephew of the demon king. Many demons have revolted against his uncle’s rule and now hide out on earth; tormenting humans. Together with a dubious team of allies, Enma sets out for the human world to put these wily demons in their place.

It has the reliable mix of comedy, action, and fanservice that most of Nagai’s manga offer. You get your cool battles with creatively-designed monsters, but also plenty of slapstick and silly gags. The most recurring of which is Enma’s frequent mistreatment of Yukiko. Not a chapter goes by where he doesn’t somehow perv on her. Since this is Go Nagai we’re talking about, that fanservice goes pretty dang far too. Fortunately Yukiko knows how to dish out some retribution of her own.

The series was breezy to read through and very entertaining. One quality that sets it apart is that a portion of the series actually take place in the future. Instead of bratty pervert Enma, you get badass anti-hero Enma. The tattered clothes, the large hat, the dashing looks, it gives the manga a very different appeal. Even his relationship to Yukiko changes in these chapters.

I was really pleasantly surprised. If you can stomach older manga, it’s definitely worth seeking out. There have also been some anime adaptations, but I can’t speak for their quality.

One of the most delightful manga this month was “The Emperor and I” by Mozu Hayanie. It’s a story about a girl called Kaho who one day, inexplicably, finds a penguin in her fridge. She decides to call him Emperor and convinces her parents to let him stay.

From there it becomes a comedy manga about the various silly things that happen when living together with a penguin. Emperor is a cuddly fellow with a lot of personality to him, who quickly captures the heart of the characters and readers alike. From his determination to treat random objects as eggs to his love for seeing other penguins on TV. It’s charming, it’s fun, and frequently had me laughing.

That the manga is done in full color makes reading it that extra bit special. The artstyle and characters also look great. Suffice it to say, I look forward to reading more of this author’s works.

Finally, there is Magic Peddler Roma. A supernatural manga about a witch who grants wishes… for a price. Roma is in search of Klesha; an energy born from people’s unfulfilled desires. When she finds people overflowing with Klesha, Roma offers them magical items that can help them attain what they want. Usually by way of a shortcut around having to work for it.

As you might expect, there’s a catch to all these items. Some are luck-based, like one envious kid who is given a dice. If he convinces someone else to roll it, whoever rolls highest can take something from the other. Including conceptual things like having a wealthy family or attractiveness. Other items are not exclusive, like a mirror that can erase someone from the world including all memories of them. An amazing power for a kid looking to eliminate his rivals to have, but who else could posses it? There are also silly items, like one chapter that is just straight up Jumanji.

I was initially worried that this would get boring. The premise reminded me of Hell Girl, whose episodes quickly turned into formulaic white noise. Magic Peddler Roma manages to stay novel though. Partly due to just how creative each item is and also because not all stories end badly. This keeps you guessing about what might happen to any new client, whereas in Hell Girl it was the same, cynical conclusion every time.

  1. Wallaby
  2. Azumanga Daioh: Extra Lessons
  3. Seitokaichou no Shiri Ana Choukyou Nikki
  4. Muddy
  5. Karakasa no Saien
  6. Kuchi ga Saketemo Kimi ni wa
  7. Kuchi ga Saketemo Kimi ni wa (different version)
  8. Log Horizon: The West Wind Brigade
  9. Olympos
  10. Dororon Enma-kun
  11. Kikoushi Enma
  12. Dororon Enbi-chan
  13. Kawazuya
  14. The Emperor and I
  15. The Celebration of Haruhi Suzumiya
  16. More Than Friends?
  17. A Socially Awkward Girl Got Kissed By A Kouhai She Never Talked To Once Before
  18. Futago Yuri
  19. Twin Sisters
  20. Yuri Natsu: Minshuku Kagaya
  21. Agartha of True Metallic Element
  22. Deai-kei Site de Imouto to Deau Hanashi
  23. Rental Shop de Onee-san wo Rental Suru Hanashi
  24. Honto ni Atta Kamoshirenai Yuri na Hanashi
  25. Yuliqueur
  26. Isshou Sukitte Yutta jan
  27. Energy Kyouka!!
  28. Gyaru Harem Invasion
  29. Hitozuma A-san to Musuko no Yuujin N-kun
  30. Who Decided That Blues Had To Be Cool!?
  31. Magic Peddler Roma
  32. Warau Nikumen
  33. Is My Hobby Weird?
  34. Spill It! Cocktail Knights

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