What’s the manga? Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project, Volume One.
Okay… and what’s it about? Are you familiar at all with the 1966-1967 Japanese live-action television program ‘Ultraman’?
…I don’t think so, no? Then do I have the manga for you!
I said I wasn’t familiar with the series? Why bring it up? What’s going on? Calm down. So I brought it up because this manga is a spin-off of the aforementioned 1960’s television program—I was sort of familiar with it, in that I’d heard of it and undoubtedly had seen images of the titular Ultraman. If you’re not at all familiar with the show, it’s not dissimilar to shows like Power Rangers or the old Godzilla films—what with heroes defeating giant monsters and the fights being performed by people in monster costumes stomping around miniature cities.
Right, I think I know what you mean… but why are you reviewing a spin-off from a series that old that you’ve never watched? Isn’t that kind of a tough entry bar? This manga’s greatest strength, especially considering its lineage is that no prior information about the Ultraman series is necessary to enjoy this spin-off!
That seems… unlikely… I’m serious. All you’d need to know is what I said above, everything else is dished out surreptitiously throughout the text. Basically, while reading this one volume I went from ‘complete noob’, to ‘relatively informed’ about the Ultraman universe and never did I feel like I was being hammered over the head by dense lore or paragraphs of backstory.
That’s quite the feat—if true. Why are you so sceptical?
I can see the pictures, it’s all cute girls—this is a cute girl doing cute things manga isn’t it? I can’t take your opinions seriously when you’ve under the influence of cute girls. Listen, I’ll gladly admit that I bought this because I liked the character designs—but genuinely this is kind of a unique series (at least for me) that has a lot of things that elevate it above the usual CGDCT fare.
Uh-huh, like what? Well first of all there’s the premise, which is that after Kaiju (the big battle monsters) are defeated by Ultraman they’re sent to the Kaiju graveyard and reincarnated as High School Girls! And so right away we’re dealing with these monstrous creatures suddenly taken the form of cute girls and not only that, all of the Kaiju (at least the one’s introduced so far) were male so there’s the added complication of them having changed gender too!
So does it deal with the emotional consequences of a person—or rather Monster’s identity suddenly changed? Well, ah… not to a great degree, to be honest most of the Kaiju make the adjustment to being high school girls’ pretty quickly, which in of itself is pretty amusing. Added to that they also have all the powers in-tact that they had as monsters and it makes for a pretty unique CGDCT series!
What I’m hearing is that it’s just a CGDCT series with some minor tweaks, not that it’s reinventing the wheel? Did I say it was “reinventing the wheel”? No, if you’re a fan of CGDCT this’ll probably be right up your alley, and if not—well unless you’re a ~massive~ Ultraman fan there’s probably not going to be anything for you.
Fair enough. So who are our protagonists? The series mostly follows Mefilas, a “Malicious Alien” class Kaiju with a 10,000 point IQ who used to be able to grow into a 60m high, 20,000 ton Kaiju but is now stuck as a petite high-schooler. The majority of her interactions come in the form of her fellow Kaiju turned school friends, such as Eleking an electric Kaiju, Red King a volcanic Kaiju, Metron a hallucination inducing Kaiju and Temperor a beam weapon Kaiju.
Right… and they’re all ~so~ cute! And it’s not just their character designs, right from the very first few pages Mefilas proves to have such an adorable personality—which I mean feels kinda strange to say because she’s actually a male Kaiju inside but it’s 2018 a male Kaiju can be a cute girl too!
You’re a weird one, but whatever. So what kind of things happen in the first volume? What makes it worth reading— CUTE GIRLS!
—Aside from cute girls, you maniac… The thing that I found most endearing about this particular CGDCT premise is the characters who, despite embracing their newfound lives of eating sweet treats and drinking tea and studying are still villains intent on defeating Ultraman and taking over the world, and it’s that contrast between their cute appearances and villainous ways that’s so much fun!
I feel like you need to say something negative about the manga. This review has been far too positive if you ask me. I’d say they introduce too many characters in the first volume, I think 8 girls get a formal introduction (complete with a bio page that’s so useful and even shows what they looked like in the original live-action series—it’s so cool!)
Hey! We were supposed to be talking the negatives! Oh right. So the problem with introducing so many characters should be obvious, it makes things a little confusing—but then again the character designs are so interesting and unique that I never ~really~ felt all that confused!
Wait. Did you just turn the only negative into a positive? Oops. Okay, I’ll try and take this seriously. As far as CGDCT manga go, it’s very cute and very fun but it isn’t as funny as it could have been—it’s mildly amusing but I think there were some missed opportunities for more ~obvious~ jokes, a lot of the humour comes from the situation rather than actual jokes. Also, while I know they were trying to make the manga is friendly to newcomers as possible I think I would have liked more references to the old series, at least in the form of more still imagery from the original live-action series, perhaps incorporated into flashbacks. If this ever becomes an anime that would be an absolute delight to see flashbacks of these live-action lumbering costumed monsters then back to the animated antics.
Well, I guess you ~tried~, still didn’t seem particularly negative. What can I say, it didn’t do much wrong.
Final thoughts and score for Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project Volume One? I didn’t expect to like this manga as much as I did, when I finished it I thought it was enjoyable enough that I needed to write a review straight away (which I did) but as I wrote the review I realised it was even better than my initial verdict. The fact that this manga is so approachable for newcomers to the franchise, seamlessly blends the obviously rich lore and does so in a light and entertaining way without being pandering is something to behold. Some people might look down upon the ‘CGDCT’ genre as “twee” or “simple” and while that might be true—it’s also reductive of a genre that has real value. This is clearly the beginning of a cute, fun and light-hearted franchise but one that carries the potential of being a lot more satisfying given the wealth of material that exists in its narrative universe. Final score: 85 out of 100.
Other Manga Reviews:
Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War – Volume 1 Review
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs – Volume 1 Review
Nameless Asterism – Volume 1 Review
Though You May Burn To Ash – Volume 1 Review
World’s End Harem – Volume 1 Review
How To Build A Dungeon: Book Of The Demon King – Volume 1 Review
The Elder Sister Like One – Volume 1 Review
Mononoke Sharing – Volume 1 Review
Yokai Girls – Volume 1 Review
Murcielago – Volume 1 Review
Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary – Volume 1 Review
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