Friday, February 24, 2017

Death March To The Parallel World Rhapsody Vol. #01 Manga Review

The Godkiller.

Creative Staff:
Art: Ayamegumu
Story: Hiro Ainana
Character Design: Shri
Translation: Jenny McKeon
Lettering: Rochelle Gancio

What They Say:
Suzuki was a programmer in the midst of a death march--crunch time, when coders live on caffeine and pull twenty-hour days. He just needed a little nap...but then he has a dream. A dream where he's in another world, with RPG-powers right out of his game. A dream where he calls down a great disaster. A dream that, suspiciously, just won't end.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Death March is the latest addition to the ever-growing genre of 'dudes getting sucked into gaming universes without a means of finding their way home'. That being said, there are a plethora of ideas we're already pre-exposed to before even turning the first page of this book. However, Death March decides to take a relatively different approach to it -- albeit not an entirely new one considering Wataru Karasuma's "Not Lives" does essentially the same thing. Basically, our protagonist, Ichirou Suzuki (Aptly named after perhaps the most notable Japanese baseball player of all time) is a game developer who goes by the alias 'Satou' (Aptly named after the protagonist of KONOSUBA -- another story where a dude is sucked into an alternate universe). After falling asleep following thirty consecutive hours of work on a game called "War World," Ichirou is sucked into the world he was developing just minutes ago. Of course, this new world shares the same interface and systems that WW had, making him familiar with how it works right off the bat.

One of the ideas the developers of WW had in order to drag in new players was to start everyone off with three charges of a skill called "Meteor Shower" which eliminates all enemies in a wide area of effect. Being summoned into the middle of 300 burly lizard dudes, Ichirou uses his meteor charges and wipes out every single one of them, immediately boosting him to the level cap and maxing out his stats. So now, within just the first chapter, our protagonist is already as strong as possible. What most people would do in a situation like this would be to make the most of their newfound strength and essentially just tear everyone to shreds. Ichirou, on the other hand, has a different idea.

After encountering a Wyvern and accidentally shooting it to the ground, Ichirou stumbles upon some troops from a town by the name of 'Seiryuu,' ultimately saving one of the female soldiers who immediately becomes indebted to him because why the hell not. After some background information is necessarily exchanged, the troops bring Ichirou into the city where he then takes solace in one of the town's inns. Knowing full-well that he shouldn't reveal his true identity (Or level) at this point in time, Ichirou tells everyone that he's simply just a travelling peddler named Satou. And, of course, everyone believes him. I mean, the dude looks about as threatening as a bowl of soup.

From this point on, it's just a lot of touring Seiryuu with the two attractive girls that will most likely serve as the primary love interests in the series (Martha is best girl). But after all of the mandatory sightseeing is out of the way, we're introduced to the heavier ideas of slavery. Apparently, 20% of the population in Seiryuu is comprised of slaves -- most of which are 'beastfolk'. The beastfolk, as you may have expected, are just humans with animal-like properties. According to Zena (The primary love interest that isn't best girl), something happened a long time ago that basically just caused everyone to hate the beastfolk, bringing the theme of racism into play which obviously can be directly linked to slavery. One thing leads to another and Ichirou winds up sticking up for some of the slaves as they are stoned in the center of town. The owner of these slaves, however, winds up having a terrible secret (Which he may or may not even be aware of)...But I'll let you find that out yourselves.

Despite how unoriginal this title may seem at first glance, Death March is actually pretty good. The systems encased within the world of WW seem like they would really make a solid RPG. And with a very detailed levelling and character advancement system, it's easy to tell that a lot of time was put into the world building. Even with Ichirou level-capping instantaneously upon his arrival, it feels like there's still a lot that needs to be done. And the fact that this universe seems to have an immensely fleshed-out backstory leaves even more to be desired as we traverse the rest of this journey.

In Summary:
Don't be fooled by the seemingly unoriginal basis this series throws at you in its synopsis. Death March Rhapsody brings us an incredibly interesting world that stands out amongst the similar series out there and ultimately lays the foundation for what I expect to be a phenomenal story. The characters are likeable and not over-the-top by any means whatsoever -- a feat of its own for a series like this. Though the art may prove to be slightly disorienting at times, this first volume is definitely one I'd recommend to any lover of the fantasy or action genres.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B-
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: January 24, 2017
MSRP: $12.99

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