Manga Review: Gate – Where the JSDF Fought

The above trailer is for the anime. This review is for the manga.

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as GATE – Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri and ゲート 自衛隊彼の地にて、斯く戦えり.

Score: 7/10

Gate – Where the JSDF Fought is interesting in that it combines the tropes of a fantasy isekai story with those of a military/gun fanatic story.

The story starts off in modern Japan. A magical gate has appeared in Shibuya and an army seemingly from a fantasy world shows up and starts killing people. The Japanese Defense force shows up and repels the invading army back into the gate. Fearing what else will come out of the gate, the Japanese Defense Force is ordered to enter the gate and deal with whatever threats they find inside the gate.

The first story arc is simply military supremacy. The enemy is medieval and the Japanese Defense Force has guns. It’s a one sided slaughter. The story gets more interesting as the plot tries to tell a sort of realistic story about how Japan would try to establish diplomatic relations with a medieval society in a fantasy world. There are tons of new threats for the Japanese government to deal with like new natural resources on the other side that need to be negotiated for, nations that could be easily destroyed but are negotiated with for the sake of peace, new natural disasters like the presence of dragons that can survive bombs and machine guns, and a whole bunch of fantasy world problems that will be dealt with modern diplomacy and weaponry.

The other main part of the story is a harem story. The main character is a Japanese special forces soldier who is also an otaku or nerd. He loves manga and anime and all the other stuff that comes with it. Over the course of the story, he meets all sorts of classic, fetishized female tropes that you normally see in anime and they become of the core group of characters. It’s very harem-esque. There is much fan service. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of glorifying the Japanese military while also showing off scantily clad, well endowed anime girls.

Personally, I found the otaku tropes generic and overdone, but I really enjoyed the military and political aspects of the story, even though they are a bit oversimplified and glorify Japanese integrity quite a bit. Some people might find the pro Japanese military stuff objectionable, but I didn’t mind it at all. Every country that produces entertainment also produces stuff that makes that country look good. I’ve read quite a bit of Korean Manhwa and they never hesitate to include some Japanese characters as the bad guys. American media often casts bad guys as Russians or Nazis. The Chinese government doesn’t even allow their entertainment industry to touch upon politics unless it is a blatant attempt to make China look good and foreigners bad. Every country does this sort of thing and I found the presence of this in this manga to be minor and not take away too much from my enjoyment of this story.

The art is fine.

Overall, I enjoyed this manga. It’s something unique in that I can’t recall seeing a story that combined classic anime tropes with military glorification. It’s definitely something new to me and new is often more than enough to keep me entertained.

Comic Book Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal

Details: This series is currently complete. More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/comics/dark-nights-death-metal-2020/dark-nights-death-metal-1 and https://dcdeathmetal.world/

Score: 6.5/10

Dark Knights: Death Metal is DC Comics big comic book event for this year. It is a mess. The prior big annual event was also written by Snyder and that was also a mess. This was an even bigger mess and while entertaining if you read it superficially, it feels too disjointed and pointless. If there was any real point to this series, it is to relaunch the DC Comics universe yet again and to launch an enormous line of toys and action figures.

If you’ve been keeping up with Batman and the Justice League comic books over the last few years, you’d be aware of the character known as The Batman Who Laughs. He’s basically an evil Batman from a parallel universe with all of Batman’s intelligence, but none of his morality. The Batman Who Laughs has obtained god like powers and threatens the entire DC Comics multiverse. Now the heroes and villains must band together to fight him and his nightmare forces.

After reading this, it’s clear to me that Snyder’s forte is writing horror, not large scale science fiction. Scott Snyder first met success at DC when he wrote for the main Batman book. His run on Batman is considered one of the best runs on Batman in its history. The story arcs here that got the most praise were the dark ones that were full of that horror atmosphere and yet had an optimism that permeated those stories.

Snyder later moved on to Justice League and the Death Metal annual miniseries’ which were books that mostly turned me off. They were just so scatterbrained. Snyder writes all these plot points that build up almost instantaneously and offer lackluster, unearned payoffs. It’s a weakness that I’ve also seen in Jonathan Hickman’s stories where the writer just tries to cram in too many ideas into a story and what you get is a half assed story that doesn’t do justice to any individual plot point. There’s too many things going that were set up poorly.

The same is true in Death Metal. There are too many cameos, plot points, development, references to past comics, all bereft of any competent setup. It all just ends up feeling cheap rather than what was like intended to be an epic moment. Of Snyder’s DC books that he’s written since leaving Batman, it was The Batman Who Laughs that I enjoyed the most. That was a small, intimate story with horror tones and ample character development. Death Metal lacks all that. It feels like Snyder constantly overreaches and throws in poorly researched elements of DC Comics history and glues them together for an incohesive story.

The art is great. I always enjoy Capullo’s art. It’s a shame that the story is so scatterbrained because good art cannot shine in a comic book with at least a somewhat decent story behind it.

Overall, this book was disappointing. Ultimately, this book exists solely to relaunch the DC Universe yet again in hopes of drawing in new readers, providing new stories to old readers, and to sell a ton of new toys.

Manga Review: The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as Yondome wa Iyana Shi Zokusei Majutsushi and 四度目は嫌な死属性魔術師.

Score: 6/10

This story starts out a bit tragic, but eventually turns into a somewhat boring isekai story with tons of fan service.

The story focuses on a Japanese high school student who dies along with his class. A god shows up and reincarnates them all into another world. However, the god screws up and instead of reincarnating our protagonist into a good life, he reincarnates into a living hell where is is tortured for decades. After our protagonist dies a second time, the god shows up again and reincarnates him into a third life in hopes of things being a little better. In this new world, he is reborn as a half vampire in a fantasy world and must find a way to survive another difficult circumstance.

The story starts very tragic. When he reincarnates the first time to his second life, the tone of the story is fairly serious. When he reincarnates the second time to his third life, the tone remains dark and serious, but lightens up considerably. While I like happy stories, this lightening of the tone of this story made the story far less interesting and far more boring. At the current issue of the story, the protagonist is overpowered and surrounded by a large breasted harem of female characters. Basically, the story became a generic isekai/ harem story.

The art is not very good.

Overall, this was a skippable story. It started off with some promise, but that promise was squandered. I don’t recommend reading this.

Manga Review: Rebuild World

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as Ribirudo Waarudo, Sekai O Sai Kōchiku and リビルドワールド.

Score: 7/10

Rebuild World is a science fiction story that takes place in a post apocalyptic world. The world is actually a lot like the world in Alita: Battle Angel.

Sometime after the fall of civilization, large walled cities where the wealthy live have arisen. Outside these walls are the slums where the poor live. Life is hard here and many people become hunters, people who search the ruins of the old civilization for relic and technology from the old civilization. Our protagonist is a young boy who decides to risk his life and search the ruins for relics in order to make money. As he’s searching these relics, a virtual woman appears to him that only he can see. The woman proposes a contract where in exchange for the support she will provide to him, the protagonist must got to a certain place in the ruins. And so a deal is made involving a lot of monsters, bullets and death.

The story focuses on the mystery of who this virtual woman is, but that’s the overarching plot that we occasionally touch upon. The real story is about the protagonists attempts to grow stronger and make his way in this world. There is also a lot of world building as the story goes on. It’s a decent science fiction story.

The art is pretty good. There is a lot of fan service so prepare yourself for that. No nudity though, except for some butts.

Overall, an entertaining read. I’ve been reading so many isekai and fantasy stories that it was nice to just read a plain old post apocalyptic science fiction story. There are some elements of isekai though such as the protagonist suddenly becoming extremely strong due to the assistance of the virtual woman. It’s still mostly science fiction and action.

Manga Review: A Boy Who Has Been Reincarnated Twice Spends Peacefully as an S-Rank Adventurer, ~ I who was a Sage and a Hero of Previous World, Will Live in Peacefulness in the Next World~

Details: Also know as A Boy Who Has Been Reincarnated Twice Spends Peacefully as an S-Rank Adventurer, ~ I who was a Sage and a Hero of Previous World, Will Live in Peacefullness in the Next World~, Nido Tensei Shita Shounen wa S Rank Boukensha Toshite Heion ni Sugosu-zense ga kenja de eiyuu datta boku wa raisede wa jimini ikiru, and 二度転生した少年はSランク冒険者として平穏に過ごす~前世が賢者で英雄だったボクは来世では地味に生きる~

Score: 6.3/10

This comic is an average isekai story that fulfills most of the tropes of the isekai genre.

The story takes place in a fantasy world. A hero who has was the most powerful warrior died and then reincarnated as the most powerful wizard. Now, the hero reincarnates again with all the memories and knowledge from his past lives and decides to live a quiet life as a low key adventurer.

There’s really nothing here that is original or that I haven’t seen before. The protagonist is overpowered and defeats everything that tries to fight him… and that’s basically the whole plot. The story is basically the reader just watching our protagonist go through lie with cheat codes.

Overall, this wasn’t terrible, but I’m not sure I would recommend it. It’s simply to redundant and done before by other isekai stories.