Manga Review: Goblin Slayer Side Story: Year One

Details: More information can be found at https://yenpress.com/9781975302849/goblin-slayer-side-story-year-one-vol-1-light-novel/

Score: 6.8/10

After the success of the Goblin Slayer anime, a slew of spin off manga were published. Almost all of them achieved little success with the exception being this book. Unlike those other books that focused on new characters, this story focuses on the same protagonist and is mostly the same type of story as the anime.

Year One again focuses on a young boy whose village is destroyed by goblins. Traumatized by the experience, he spends the rest of his life hunting goblins. Year takes place about five years before the events of the main series. This is an origin story and focuses on the early experience that shaped the protagonist into who he was in the main series.

With that said, it’s really not all that different from the main series. Our protagonist goes to the local adventurers guild hall, picks up a quest to hunt goblins, hunts goblins, and learn some lessons along the way. That was the basic structure of the main series and that’s the structure of this one.

The interesting bits of both series are the details in the story. The protagonist is simply a windows through which we can view the stories of the supporting characters as well as many guest characters. We also get to learn more about this fantasy world the story takes place in through the protagonist’s eyes. The world building in this story is pretty good in that it doesn’t just dump exposition onto readers. We learn a little bit more of the world with each story arc, not a whole bunch at once. It does a good job of keeping the world somewhat mysterious while revealing just enough to keep you interested.

Overall, this was about as good as the main Goblin Slayer series because it’s mostly the same. Both are enjoyable for exactly the same reasons, so if you enjoyed Goblin Slayer, you’ll enjoy Year One.

Comic Book Review: Thor (2020) Issues #9 through #14, “Prey”

Details: More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/78635/thor_2020_9

Score: 7/10

For a long time, I really disliked Thor. He was poorly imagined and poorly written. However, like Hickman’s run on the Fantastic Four, Straczynski’s run on Thor changed my mind and turned me into a fan. Since, Straczynski’s run, I check back into Thor once in a while to see if there’s anything of interest. The recent story arc from Thor did catch my interest and I enjoyed it very much.

Some spoilers ahead.

The story focuses on Donald Blake, the alter ego of Thor. If you are unfamiliar with the Thor mythos, Thor, the Norse god of Thunder, was originally sent to Earth by his father, Odin, king of the Norse gods. Odin created an entire alter ego for Thor, basically a separate person with whom Thor shared a body. Through magic, Odin created a personality and an entire history for this fake person.

The purpose of the alter ego was basically to give Thor a secret identity to blend in with humans. Donald Blake was a doctor. He worked in a hospital and had no super powers. When trouble arose, he would switch over to Thor and Thor would go beat up the bad guys. Then they’d switch back and Donald Blake would go on with his magically created life with friends who remembered his magically created history.

It was a very short sighted, not very well explained aspect of the Thor comic books. As time went on and the Marvel movies became more popular, writers just dropped the Donald Blake alter ego altogether without giving any explanation of where he went or what he really was.

“Prey,” the recent six issue story arc in the Thor comic books, seeks to address that. Turns out, that Donald Blake was not just an illusion or anything like that. Odin created a fully sentient being. Odin also created a separate pocket dimension where Donald Blake would go whenever he swapped out with Thor. This dimension is essentially an idealized version of Americana, a small neighborhood where everyone is smiling and being good neighbors. Anyways, Thor pretty much stopped swapping to Blake years ago and since then, Blake has been stuck in this pocket dimension, slowly losing his mind to the fake people inhabiting this Pleasantville. Blake eventually breaks out, now completely insane, and decides to go kill all the people who have ever called themselves Thor.

It’s an interesting take on a not very well explained character. Donald Blake has always been portrayed as an alter ego, sometimes portrayed as another aspect of Thor, sometimes portrayed as a separate being. In this story, Blake is undoubtedly a separate being as he goes on a rampage fighting and killing tons of characters from Thor’s history. Blake was created by the magic of Odin and so possesses some of Odin’s magic, making him extremely powerful. Recent events in the Thor books have allowed Blake to gather even more of Odin’s power, making him somewhere near the power level of Odin or Thor. That means, every one he kills or beats up has very little chance of resisting him.

The story is fast and frenetic. There’s a ton of action and all of it is drawn very well. Nic Klein is the artist on this book and does a great job. His art reminds me of Capullo’s run on Batman, which also had great art.

It’s a fun book that revisits a bunch of old Thor characters, some of whom meet there violent, brutal demise. Most of all, it adds clarity to a little explored aspect of the Thor mythos while somewhat retconning it and adding more context. Like with Hickman’s current work on X-Men, I don’t mind a little retconning when it’s done well and adds something to the franchise.

Manhwa Review: Rooftop Sword Master

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 옥탑방 소드마스터

Score: 7/10

Rooftop Sword Master is a revenge story with a super powered twist.

Some spoilers ahead.

The story is about a teenage boy who is severely bullied into a coma. During his coma, horrible things happen to his family and he is traumatized upon learning of those things when he wakes up. As he is wallowing in his sadness, a massive sword appears before him and grants him superhuman powers. Now, the boy seeks to use the powers given to him to kill all those responsible for wronging him.

Like all good revenge stories, you start out with the wrong that the protagonist is subjected to. The point it to gain sympathy and motivate the audience into wanting to see the bad guys get their due. Rooftop Sword Master does a great job of doing that and portrays some good bad guys who mostly got away with their evil acts.

Then we get to the payback. Our protagonist gears up and goes on a Death Wish-like killing spree. Back in the eighties, there were a ton of American movies where our protagonist bought some machine guns and killed a bunch of bad guys. Here, our protagonist gets a magic sword. It buffs him up and pretty much makes him invincible. He goes around beating the crap out of police and military and anyone who gets in his way as he reaches his targets. It’s wild, it’s unrealistic, but it’s a lot of fun to see.

The art is very stylized and not bad. As I often say, it’s not Solo Leveling quality of art, but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, this is a satisfying revenge story, at least so far. The series is currently ongoing and is taking some interesting turns involving foreign governments and politics and a bunch of other stuff. I don’t really love these new plot points just yet. Personally, I just wanted to see evil people get beat up, but I guess that can only last so long. For the series to survive, they’re going to have to introduce some new things.

Manga Review: $1,000,000,000,000 Game

Details: Currently ongoing. I’ve read about four issues. Also known as Trillion Game and トリリオンゲーム.

Score: 7/10

I’ve only read about four issues, but I already know that this is going to be one of those stories that I will keep up with. This story is from Riichiro Inagaki, author of Eyeshield 21 and Dr. Stone of more recent fame. $1,000,000,000,000 Game is a story about two very different people and their quest to obtain one trillion dollars.

The protagonists are two young men who are very different. One is a person who lacks any interpersonal skills, but possesses impressive computer programming skills. The other only possesses interpersonal skills and can lie and speak his way through any situation. The two decide to combine their talents and we watch as they pursue their dream of being filthy rich.

What I like about this story is that it’s similar to what I enjoy in other heist movies or movies with schemes/scams, which is we get to watch our protagonists use clever, unorthodox means in order to achieve their objective. In the case of this story, we get to see the protagonists create a business and do their best to fund raise investment for it, even though they don’t really have a business plan or idea in the first place. This is a scheme that commonly takes place in real life, which lends some believability to the story. If you know anything about Silicon Valley and how many of the tech giants of today became so large, you’d know that it was from raising investment, not through providing goods or services. All this is to say is that the story is, so far, well thought out and well researched enough to keep me very interested.

The art is also very interesting. It’s an older style of art, but with the detail you’d expect of more modern works. The artist is actually well known and has worked on a number of well known manga in the past.

Overall, I’m interested. I want to see what tricks they employ and a truly clever, believable plot that leaves me in awe at how much research and planning the author did in order to produce such a story. It’s still very early, but I’m eager to see where this story goes.

Manga Review: Even If Your Mouth Is Torn

Details: Currently ongoing. I’ve read ten issues. Also known as Kuchi ga Saketemo Kimi Niwa and 口が裂けても君には.

Score: 7/10

Even If Your Mouth Is Torn is a romance and slice of life story about a spirit and a young man. It’s very cute.

Miroku is a spirit in the form of a human woman with her mouth slashed open. She goes around scaring people in hopes of spreading her legend. Kouichi is a young man who has fallen in love with Miroku. Together, they form a contract where if Miroku cannot successfully scare Kouichi within a year, she will marry him. Until then, the two live together.

This story was originally a one shot story. Then, three issues came out. Then, it apparently got picked up for a whole series. So I guess it’s achieved some success.

What was hard for me to get over at first was how nasty the spirit looked at first. Her mouth is gruesomely split open and it shows in many scenes. But after a while, you get used to it and appreciate the character underneath. The spirit is actually very cute and you get a lot of scenes like you’d expect to see in your standard romance manga.

The art is good and a fitting style for this often comedic, sweet story.

Overall, I enjoyed this twist on a romance story. Only a few issues have come out, but I’ve enjoyed watching these two characters be sweet to each other.