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: The Executed Sage Is Reincarnated as a Lich and Starts an All-Out War

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as Shokei Sareta Kenja wa Lich ni Tensei Shite Shinryaku Sensou wo Hajimaru and 処刑された賢者はリッチに転生して侵略戦争を始める.

Score: 6.8/10

I’m enjoying this story so far, but it is very similar to the Overlord manga/anime.

The story is about a mage and a hero in a fantasy world. After defeating the demon lord, the two are executed on false charges. The mage is so distraught by what happens that he vows revenge and revives as a lich. Now this mage seeks revenge on the human world and world peace by being the greatest evil in the world and uniting humanity against himself.

Overlord was an isekai story where a protagonist was transported into the fantasy world of a video game he played. Once there, he became the big bad villain of that world and the story followed his villainy. This comic is not isekai as it starts and continues in a fantasy world with no connection to the real world. However, it does have a lot of the tropes of an isekai story as the protagonist is overpowered and defeats everyone.

Like Overlord, our protagonist is a villain and goes around doing evil stuff. He kills lots of people and takes over kingdoms and raises an evil monster army. Unlike Overlord, this is mostly a revenge story, at least as far as I’ve gotten into the plot. The protagonist wants revenge for the execution of the hero, his close friend and maybe romantic partner. So you get a combination of isekai tropes, anti-hero tropes, and revenge story tropes.

The art is fine.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable story that plays off multiple genres. Accordingly, it feels slightly new, but is mostly familiar narratively.

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: I, the Demon Lord, Got Married to the Female Hero’s Mother Making Her My Stepdaughter

Details: Also known as Maou desu. Onna Yuusha no Hahaoya to Saikon Shita no de, Onna Yuusha ga Giri no Musume ni Narimashita and 魔王です。女勇者の母親と再婚したので、女勇者が義理の娘になりました.

Score: 6.8/10

This manga takes place in a fantasy world and is about a Demon Lord who marries the hero’s mother and tries to live happily together.

One day, the hero in a fantasy world attacks the evil Demon Lord, only to be crushingly defeated. Bored with the battle, The Demon Lord decides to spare the hero’s life and return her back to her home village. When the Demon Lord gets there, he falls in love at first sight with the hero’s mother (whose husband is deceased) and the two immediately get married. Now, the Demon Lord, the hero’s mom and the hero must find a way to live together and to live happily.

This is mostly a slice of life and a comedy. There are some sort of serious plot beats and a little bit that deals with the politics in a medieval fantasy world, but it’s mostly just an overprotective step dad trying to get along with his new step daughter.

Overall, it’s a nice little story that was boring in a few places. I still enjoyed it as I can’t recall reading another story similar to the premise in this one.