Random Manga Theatre: Aquagaze’s Takeover

Hit the “Random” button and see what comes up! In this feature, we take a look at whatever manga the Random Number God decides to throw at us and find out if it’s worth your time. This week, veteran random manga connoisseur Aquagaze hijacks the feature to introduce you to all the interesting manga he has found over time.

I’m usually known amongst the Glorio crew as the guy from the terrible manga. Admittedly, my passion for delving into simply how deep into debauchery our favourite printed medium can sink occasionally becomes lethal to my health – hello, kissXsis – but of course, for every hilarious hideous gem I discover, I bump into something well worth your time. Here is a first few of the manga I have collected over all this time.

Big Order

Sakae Esuno – Ongoing – 9 chapters scanlated

10 years prior to the beginning of Big Order, the world was greatly damaged by a worldwide disaster. The destruction spouted from the wish of one particular child. The child, now a 17-year-old high school loner by the name of Eiji Hoshiyama now lives a peaceful life in company of a familiar named Daisy, who granted his wish in the first place. Eiji is an Order user, someone who has had their wish granted and received supernatural powers as a result, but he hasn’t used his powers in ages. All he wants is a peaceful life for his hospitalized little sister Sena. One day, however, a fellow Order user named Rin Kurenai transfers into his class with only one goal: avenging the death of her parents 10 years ago by killing the one responsible: Eiji Hoshiyama.

YUKKI~

If this doesn’t remind you of anything, then you are clearly not looking hard enough.

Does this remind you of anything? Show a child a picture of Big Order and one of Esuno’s previous work Future Diary and even the little guy will spot the difference. Asocial main character? Check. Yandere love interest? Check. Completely over-the-top violence? Check. Plot twists around every corner? What did you expect? While the similarities might not be that apparent in my summary, a twist early on basically turns Big Order into Code Geass meets Future Diary. It is a match made in heaven. Both are franchises that gleefully relinquish credibility in favour of bombastic fun and just like Future Diary, Big Order sees various eccentric individuals with supernatural abilities trying to one-up each other to see who gets to call themselves the biggest psychopath of them all. Especially Rin, a sick and twisted take on the yandere whose pure bloodlust is limited only by the fact that she is forced to love the person she wants to kill makes for some very entertaining manga greatness. If you loved Future Diary, prepare to fall in love all over again.

Inari Konkon, Koi Iroha

Morohe Yoshida – Ongoing – 13 chapters scanlated

Inari Fushimi is a happy-go-lucky schoolgirl whose family has respected the local shine goddess for years. Especially her older brother has a rather odd relationship with the perky shrine goddess Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami, yet Inari herself is unable to see Uka and her fox familiars. This all changes when Uka gets wind of Inari’s unrequited crush on Tanbabashi, a boy in her class. One day, Inari ends up embarrassing Tanbabashi in front of the entire class and to top all that off, she also finds out that he has a crush on another girl – the gentle Sumizome. Uka decides to help Inari out and lures her to the shrine, where she gives her a part of her power to reward her for her dedication to the shrine. However, Inari finds out that even with the power of a goddess, winning Tanbabashi for her has not become any easier, especially when Uka might get into trouble with her superiors because of her selfish wish and her simple crush turns into a whole love dodecahedron…

A girl in love with a boy meets a goddess in love with a Gameboy.

Inari Konkon, Koi Iroha may sound like a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, but its actual themes are much broader. Yoshida pays attention to detailing the relationships between all characters, leading to a well-painted landscape of hate, friendship, love and everything in between. Beyond what starts as a simple teenage crush lies a world filled with gods and deities, brought to life by Yoshida’s adorable, yet stunning pen strokes. Inari Konkon‘s true strength lies in its variety. It seamlessly transitions from a romantic love triangle to a fantasy adventure about Japanese mythology, and from a comedic slice of life to a surprisingly poignant drama. On the surface, Inari Konkon, Koi Iroha is about a generic nice girl being given a helping hand by the powers above, but underneath its tried-and-true story shell, it hides an adorable cast of teens with recognizable issues, like jealousy or a fear of being alone. It is about as close to a modern fairy tale as manga will ever get.

Bonnouji

Aki Eda – Ongoing – 22 chapters scanlated

Ozawa is a twentysomething office worker who has just broken up with her long-time boyfriend. After a night’s drinking, she ends up stumbling into a random apartment in her condo, asking if she can use the toilet. As soon as she’s freshened up, she discovers that the apartment belongs to the shy Oyamada, whose brother is travelling the world. Oyamada receives souvenirs, toys, gadgets and other presents from his brother on a weekly basis and as a result, his entire apartment is stuffed to the brim with exotic goods, which earns it the nickname “Bonnouji” (“The Temple of Temptations”). Together with Oyamada’s friend Shimapon (no, not Shimapan), Ozawa and Oyamada discover one eccentric item after another, all while consuming massive amounts of alcohol and slowly developing something more than just friendship.

The manga that is like Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, only with less terrible.

Bonnouji is cute. That’s all there is to it. The witty interactions between Ozawa, Oyamada and Shimapon rule the pages. How about Ozawa giving a bunch of erotic magazines that used to previous tenant of her apartment as a gift to Oyamada because he “collects everything anyways”? While the cast fiddles around with all sorts of treasures they find in Bonnouji, Eda slowly sets up one of the most credible romances in recent manga history in the background. Bonnouji portrays every aspect of a romantic relation – from the first meeting to “the first time” – at a casual, leisurely pace without relying on overused tropes or making it into the biggest deal in the world. With relationships and sex in manga usually being either a melodramatic warzone or a perverted wish-fulfilment festival, Bonnouji stands out with its laid-back indie rom-com vibes and realistic portrayal of the butterflies in your belly when you least expect them.

An Eve in the Gelasian (J-Ta Yamada)

J-Ta Yamada – Complete – 10 chapters (of 17) scanlated

An Eve in the Gelasian, or Soukai no Eve, starts up with seven girls meeting up on the bus. Shiina has only just stopped bragging to her friend Yuki about the gift she received from her paleontology-loving boyfriend (yes, boyfriend, you read that correctly) when the duo bumps into the the haughty Kyouka, the leader of a clique of wealthy girls who attend a different high school. Seconds before the bus departs, another girl jumps up to bring her older sister the lunch she forgot. However, as soon as they set off, the bus becomes engulfed into a strange mist and the driver disappears. When the fog clears, the girls find out that they have stranded in a mysterious, semi-prehistoric world. Have they traveled back in time? Are they still on earth? Their quest for survival – and answers – has begun.

Not pictured: prehistoric birds, rabid dogs, chocobos and dinosaurs.

An Eve in the Gelasian colours neatly within the lines of the “stranded on a mysterious location” genre but it’s always a joy to see anime tackle tropes that are usually reserved for Hollywood material. Eve pays a lot of attention to its setting, mixing in some actual paleontology and geographic history to spice up the mystery. While the smart girl of the bunch’s theories about the mysterious jungle they ended up in are by no means scientifically accurate (no, there were no chocobos in the actual Gelasian), they do add up well with the many twists and swirls to put the question just where the heck they are front and centre. While the cast still consists of teenage girls, their personalities and flaws are all distinct. Not everyone is all too willing to enthusiastically go along with every proposal and some secrets get in the way of proper co-operation within the group. With every chapter, the mystery of An Eve in the Gelasian grows ever bigger.

A bombastic shounen thriller, an adorable shoujo fantasy, a casual romantic comedy and a poignant survival fantasy; these four should keep you occupied until the next instalment of Random Manga Theatre, which will happen as soon as we find Iro, who mysteriously vanished after our K-ON! movie simulwatch. Until then, make sure to stay away from everything with “Onii-chan” in its title.

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