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 time: CRIMSONS: The Scarlet Navigators of the Ocean by Kanno Takanori
You know, just when I was thinking I’d seen a shonen manga about everything, I come across this. I mean, there’s shonen manga about baking bread, shonen manga about tennis, shonen manga about dating sims, shonen manga about genderflipped warlords… but until I found this one, I didn’t realize there were any shonen manga about salmon migration habits. A dramatic, hot-blooded shonen manga, at that.
So, CRIMSONS is about a school of sockeye salmon. They live in a lake in Japan, and are oppressed by the older generation of salmon – but a certain sockeye named Shintarou and his posse of manga-character-stereotype fish-bros decide they’re fed up with having to scrounge for water fleas to eat. They want to ditch the jerk fish who keep picking on them, and leave the lake to find the fabled “ocean”, where they can be free to do as they wish and eat all the water fleas they want. Shintarou leads the younger generation through the mouth of the river, and thus their journey to find paradise begins.
Shintarou and the salmon travel all over the ocean, meeting various other fish and dealing with various situations along the way. Highlights include meeting the Russian-speaking Pacific Herring Battalion who act like a military company, trying to go upstream with some steelheads, and a trip down to the sea floor’s hydrothermal discharge zones. And since this is, of course, a hot-blooded, shonen manga, everything goes down in the overblown way you might imagine. Inspirational speeches, pitched battles with giant sharks, and heroic fish sacrifices are the types of things you can expect in this manga.
As for a B plot, hot Canadian exchange student Kris is studying marine biology and trying to seduce her professor. Each chapter has her trying to make a move on him, only for him to dodge the subject and give a short lecture on how the plights of our heroic school of sockeye salmon can be applied to real life. It makes for a fairly amusing human element to what is otherwise a ridiculous tale about sentient fish, and makes this manga educational! Isn’t that fun?
The entire plot feels like it’s transplanted from a generic shonen series, but it becomes surprisingly dramatic at times. The animal kingdom has the potential to be extremely brutal, and CRIMSONS doesn’t shy away from that. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t comedy relief: while the sheer oddness of the premise leads to a lot of humor on its own, all the main characters being fish just makes it funnier when they participate in the typical antics you would expect of any other anime. The female fish compare the sizes of their fins, while the male fish talk about what makes the girls sexy – is it a flat pectoral fin, or do they prefer a curvier salmon? And just to drive the comedy home, every time the school of sockeye is acting particularly “anime”, the mangaka draws them as plain-looking fish without speech bubbles, as if to say “yes, they’re just normal fish”. I don’t know why, but it makes me crack up every time.
Special mentioning goes to the scanlators of this series – they throw in dumb fish puns (“carp” instead of “crap”, etc.) whenever appropriate, and it works wonderfully. Of particular note is the line “Son of a submariner!” – any scanlators managing to throw in a Final Fantasy VI reference and make it relevant in-context deserves a fucking award.
Verdict: Don’t Throw It Back
This manga is hilarious – the entire GLORIO crew was laughing at the pages I posted while doing my read-through. What would normally be an incredibly boring and generic story is made fresh and amusing merely because of the fact that it’s about fish. It’s not on the same level of quality as last week’s share, but it’s great for some quick and silly entertainment. Check it out if you have the time.