Op-ed

When satire doesn’t feel satirical — a critical look at the humor of Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! is dangerously close to being my first anime. It was fifth or sixth on a list of recommendations from a friend. Five of us — four relatively inexperienced in anime and one veteran — decided to watch anime together once a week.

As one of the newbies, I was excited to watch pretty much anything after falling in love with our first few shows. So here I am, on my friend’s couch as Konosuba’s opening rolls, and it introduces us to the main character. Five episodes later, I realized I was in the wrong universe.  

What immediately struck me is that Aqua doesn’t wear underwear. I thought it would be temporary, so I gave it a pass and chalked it up to the weird overly-sexualized way that anime often portrays women. However, her lack of panties persisted throughout the show. As the night dragged on, Konosuba quickly felt longer than it’s 10-episode runtime.

Our “heroes” are useless. Kazuma Sato, the lead, seems only to possess the ability to steal underwear. Aqua, for being an all-powerful deity, is beyond inept. Darkness, the masochist paladin, feels uncomfortable as a recurring character. Finally, the archwizard Megumin is drastically underwhelming and overhyped.

After 234 excruciating minutes, the other anime newbies and I finished the season with a mixture of disgust, confusion, and disenfranchisement. Later, the veteran anime watcher asked me how I liked it, and I broke it to them that I disliked it. Quite a bit, actually. It made me uncomfortable, and I found it almost offensive. 

“What do you mean? It’s satire.”

I was stunned. I had no idea that Konsuba was supposed to be satire. All I could see was the overdone JRPG party setup, the trite missions, the excessive fanservice, the shut-in main character, the lack of real relationships, and the thick coats of plot armor. Surely the community didn’t think that Konosuba was a good anime, right?

I couldn’t be more wrong. Konosuba is a big hit — popular in the community and rated highly by its fans. Since this conflict between the community at large and myself happened, I have spent more time than I care to admit rewatching it and thinking about why it doesn’t sell as satire — marking a paradox in the show’s mission and perception. 

We need to start by separating satire and comedy. Comedy is trying to be funny — pure and simple. If your cheeks don’t hurt after watching a comedy, you are left wondering why you didn’t watch two overpowered guys smack the shit out of each other instead. Entertainment is essentially the only goal.

Satire, on the other hand, is purposeful beyond its entertainment value. We seek change through satire. We all know the difference. We may roll our eyes at Saturday Night Live’s cringy skits, but they aren’t just trying to make simpletons giggle after work. They serve to comment on the world around us.

Satire is a form of frustration and an attempt to embarrass its subject with pointed jabs. If Konosuba is going to share the room with things like A Modest Proposal or Pride and Prejudice, it needs to be held to the goal that satirists worldwide strive for — to comment on the industry and push for change. 

Konosuba is undeniably popular, and I see it consistently recommended to new viewers. Yet, for being a self-proclaimed piece of satire, we don’t see it moving the ticker away from the stereotypes it claims to lampoon. I would venture to say that it functions more like an introduction to the tropes that reaffirm an outsider’s perception of anime. When the conclusion drawn by new viewers is nowhere near the point the author is supposedly making, the mark is missed, and the satirical medium fails.

That isn’t to say that satire needs to be immediately accessible. I regularly read classic works and have to put them down because I don’t understand them. However, fifty or more anime later, and Konosuba has gained zero satirical value for me.

Why is that?

It’s because Konosuba is one of the most egregious offenders of almost every anime trope. It does such a poor job of mocking the isekai genre that it inadvertently becomes what it claims to hate. Therefore, it can no longer be considered satirical. Part of satire is actually getting your point across. How can we say that Konosuba is getting the point across when they keep producing more of it? Clearly, the target audience isn’t in on the joke.

The answer is simple. Satire has a point to get across. Comedy has a story to tell. If a single season/manga/light novel cannot get the point across, the point was bad. If your audience doesn’t get it, even with an abundance of context, the point was bad. I would keep going, but this point doesn’t need a second season. 

In addition to its unapologetic performance of tropes, Konosuba shows us that satire is not the priority through how it’s marketed. It only takes a quick skim of their Twitter to see that the merchandise they advertise is largely posters and figurines of women scantily clad in bunny suits, wrapping ribbons, and bikinis.

If I was any wiser, I might think that they were capitalizing on a community that doesn’t care whether it’s intended to be satirical or not but instead loves the sexual and comedic elements. But surely, this is also satire — like when George Orwell sold Soviet flags on the Facebook marketplace to promote Animal Farm

Besides its advertising and merchandise, how they portray their characters also lacks any satirical value. Just a week before I wrote this, they made a post out about Kazuma tripping over a rock. I can hear the furious mustache twisting of armchair critics on my shoulder saying, “Why, Marshal, it’s obviously satire because heroes aren’t supposed to trip on rocks.”

Well, mustache twisters, where is the satire? Ironic? Perhaps. Funny? Situational. Purposeful? Not in the slightest.

Their Twitter runs like every other isekai Twitter. If this is supposed to be satire, there should be cheeky allusions and digs at other shows, established and otherwise. But it doesn’t do this. That is because Konosuba is just another paint-by-numbers isekai that follows the tropes of a stand-alone work. Simple, comedic, and without the satire it claims to have, it is purposeless beyond entertainment. 

Let’s put the jokes aside for a moment — arguments like this matter. Anime is a passion, and the community treats it like one. People invest their lives, their money, and their time to identify with the medium. If we care so much, we need to insist that the anime, the people who create it, and the community that watches it stop lying about a show’s true nature.

The popularity of Konosuba alone warrants that we look critically at its message and how its creators hold themselves. Hiding behind the guise of satire is cheap and intellectually dishonest. It is okay to love the show. It is not okay for the show to hide behind something it isn’t. 

It’s complicated — my relationship with Toonami, the anime gateway drug for a generation

Toonami, the legendary after-school programming block, launched on March 17, 1997. It was hosted by Moltar from Space Ghost and featured episodes of ThunderCats, Cartoon Roulette, Voltron, and The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. Jason DeMarco and Sean Akins were in their 20s when they pitched the idea to Cartoon Network using a mashup of skateboarding clips, giant robots, and bootleg footage of Dragon Ball Z.

Despite anime being in the initial pitch, it wasn’t always part of the schedule. Toonami needed to prove itself first with content already owned by Cartoon Network. A year later, DeMarco and Akin were given the green light to acquire broadcast rights for Robotech and Sailor Moon. However, it wasn’t until August 31, 1998, that anime had what DeMarco refers to as the “Big Bang.” That’s when Toonami debuted The Ocean Group’s dub of Dragon Ball Z.

The importance of Toonami can’t be stressed enough. It was the anime gateway drug for the majority of fans of my generation. We may not have known that we were watching anime at the time, but we found out soon enough. 

Toonami became the reason to rush home after high school. Rurouni Kenshin was on 30 minutes after the final bell, and I didn’t want to miss it. My friend Kirsten and I could hang out over the weekend instead.

They moved the block to Saturday in 2004, a year before I graduated. I was not happy with this change, but it makes sense when I think about it now. The Toonami generation was getting older. We had jobs now. We didn’t have time to watch Mobile Fighter G Gundam after class anymore. The anime they were airing was also starting to get too violent for a weekday slot.

After an impressive 11-year run, Toonami was canceled on September 20, 2008, due to poor ratings. While I mourned the loss, it had been several years since I tuned in. I still loved anime, but between working full-time delivering pizza and playing shows with my band every weekend, I was usually busy during the broadcast.

Things had also changed too much. The schedule kept getting shorter, and the programming became less diverse. My beloved block had been gutted and turned into the Naruto Power Hour.

Fortunately, I had a regular income at this point and didn’t have to rely on TV for my anime fix anymore. I could just buy the DVDs. High-speed internet was also becoming more widely available, which led to the rise in popularity of downloading fansubs.

But Toonami wasn’t gone for long.

On April 1, 2012, Adult Swim revived the programming block as an April Fool’s Day prank. I was running a panel at the Minneapolis anime convention Anime Detour when the news broke online. 

After two months of people spamming #BringBackToonami on Twitter, Toonami was reimagined as a Saturday night block on May 26, 2012. Devoted fans organized weekly hashtag campaigns during the broadcast. Getting Toonami trending on Twitter helped bring it back, so they wanted to keep it trending to ensure it stayed.

While I was happy for them, the cult-like fervor was exhausting to deal with. For years my timeline would be flooded each Saturday with Toonami related hashtags. Sites like Toonami Faithful continue to encourage this behavior by reporting on the trends.

Things might have been different if I was watching along with everybody, but my work schedule continued to make it difficult. It’s been eight years since Toonami came back, and even though I have weekends off at my current job, I’m still not watching.

Something just doesn’t feel right. It almost feels too late to reconcile. Cartoon Network broke up with me as an anime fan in 2008. That moment is at the top of my list of Anime’s Greatest Betrayals. Why should I take them back now when I’ve already moved on? Sure, they’re playing good shows again, but I can’t get the sour taste out of my mouth.

It doesn’t help that Toonami currently runs from 12:00am – 3:30am. What’s the point? I’m not staying up that late to watch anime I can stream on my iPad during my commute to work.

At the same time, I feel bad not supporting something so critical to my becoming a fan. In an attempt to make sense of these conflicting feelings, I started watching Toonami again. Not for the whole lineup, but for whatever was on when I remembered to tune in. Maybe seeing T.O.M. introduce the latest Fire Force episode would trigger some nostalgia, and I could make peace with what happened.

That’s when I learned something about myself that I should have known all along. I was never a Toonami kid to begin with; Adult Swim was my anime gateway drug.

My family didn’t get cable until 2003. Cartoon Network was a treat that I only got to partake in when we visited my grandparents, so it was exciting to finally have it at home. So exciting that it was the only channel I watched for weeks.

That’s how I found Adult Swim. The logo in the corner was confounding. Apparently, the concept of a branded programming block eluded me when I was 15. I thought I left my TV on Cartoon Network. Why does that say Adult Swim? If this archive of the schedule is correct, it was February 5, 2003.

That was the day I became an anime fan.

Inuyasha was playing when I turned on the TV. It was the first episode, and I’d only missed the opening scene. Yu Yu Hakusho was on next. While it wasn’t the first episode, it was the beginning of a new arc — Beasts of Maze Castle. To round out the night was “My Funny Valentine,” the episode of Cowboy Bebop that tells Faye’s origin story. I couldn’t ask for a better anime entry point.

The unique art style and non-American character names had me captivated. I went to bed having no clue what I had watched, but I knew I needed more. I spent the next day searching frantically online for more information. My unfamiliarity with Japanese made it difficult to remember the names of what I had watched. They were part of something called Adult Swim, I think — maybe I’ll try searching that.

Found it!

This is what Adult Swim’s website looked like on February 7, 2003 (Source: Wayback Machine)

Once I learned that what I was watching was anime, there was no hope for me. I immediately became obsessed, and my timing couldn’t have been better. It was the Golden Age of Anime on TV. Adult Swim was playing new anime every night. I actually found out about Toonami through Adult Swim when Yu Yu Hakusho changed time-slots.

Toonami was okay, but Adult Swim had more and better anime. It was hard to beat Adult Swim when they had heavy hitters like FLCL, Trigun, Paranoia Agent, and Samurai Champloo. By comparison, I usually skipped the first hour of Toonami which played SD Gundam or Justice League.

And let’s not forget about Tech TV’s Anime Unleashed block that aired at the same time as Adult Swim. They had serious bangers like Boogiepop Phantom, Serial Experiments Lain, and Last Exile. Each night I had to make a difficult choice — do I watch Reign the Conqueror or Gungrave? It was like the fucking console wars for anime on TV.

Then something happened.

Just like with Toonami, the anime started to disappear from Adult Swim. Ratings weren’t what they used to be, and I remember hearing that management changed at Cartoon Network. I don’t know if that’s true. What I do know is that they stopped spending money licensing anime and started making their own shows. It was probably the right call for business, but it still burned.

My break from Adult Swim echos my break from Toonami — real life happened. Instead of going straight to college after high school, I spent two years working and focusing on writing music. Moving out of my mom’s basement was more important to me than getting a degree.

I was finally able to do that after I got a job working the second shift as a janitor. The apartment was a converted office space that I shared with seven other people. We didn’t have cable, so watching Adult Swim or Toonami was out of the question. Not that it mattered, they stopped playing anime anyway.

Right?

Wait a minute. That doesn’t make sense. I moved into that apartment in 2006. Toonami wasn’t canceled until 2008, and Adult Swim was showing anime until at least 2010. Sure, I didn’t have cable, but nothing was preventing me from ordering it.

It’s not like I grew out of anime either. If anything, I was at peak consumption. I watched all of Fullmetal Alchemist in five days, and there was more than one all-day Bleach session. There were two weeks where I made a point to get up early to watch Grenadier and Lamune before work. I also put episodes of Chobits and Yu Yu Hakusho on my iPod 5th Generation so that I could watch them in bed. If I wasn’t watching anime, I was listening to anime podcasts like Anime Pulse and Weekly Anime Review Podcast.

This whole time I’ve been blaming Cartoon Network for the death of anime on TV, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cartoon Network didn’t break up with me; I broke up with Cartoon Network.

Anime on TV will probably never see another Golden Age, but that’s okay. The way people consume media has changed a lot in the 17 years I’ve been a fan. Toonami will still attract viewers with dub premieres and exclusive titles like FLCL Progressive and Alternative, but most people will still choose to watch things on-demand.

I may not be a fan of how the block is being handled, but I don’t doubt that DeMarco and Akin are doing the best they can given the circumstances. The fact that Toonami went from being canceled to producing original anime content again is pretty incredible in itself.

Anime on TV’s biggest strength will always be…that it’s on TV. It’s just on. You turn on the TV at a certain time, and it’s there. It’s how I became a fan, and it’s probably how you became a fan. That’s why things like Toonami are still important even if I’m not watching anymore. If they can only do one thing in the modern era, I hope they can still make people feel like I did in 2003 when I first discovered anime.

AnimeLog unlikely to destroy Funimation and Crunchyroll with its 360p release of Fantastic Children

“Japan’s first official anime channel on YouTube” AnimeLog opened it’s doors to the rest of the world on Friday. When the channel was first announced in August, the darker side of AniTwitter cheered. Would this finally be the death of the US anime industry?

Misinformation spread quickly. The most common claim was that anime companies in Japan were tired of American politics being inserted into English dubs. AnimeLog was their way of taking matters into their own hands. By cutting out the middleman, they could release their content directly to consumers without having to share the profit.

When the service launched with mostly classic titles for Japanese residents only, the discourse mostly faded into obscurity. Now that some titles are no longer region-locked, it’s safe to say that AnimeLog is not going to change the world.

Currently, six titles are available:

  • Ahare! Meisaku-kun
  • Hello, Anne Before Green Gables
  • Hungry Heart
  • Fantastic Children
  • The World of Golden Eggs
  • Jungle Emperor Leo

While it’s always great for more people to get access to more anime, AnimeLog in it’s current form is a mess. The landing page is an unorganized, low-effort affair that I would expect from a college student that just got into vlogging — not a partnership of 30 anime companies with financial backing.

The About section is only in Japanese, which means that non-Japanese speakers that stumble upon the channel will have no clue what its about. Episode labeling is all over the place in terms of consistency, and include multiple formatting and punctuation errors.

Video quality for some titles is laughably low. Fantastic Children, for example, has a maximum resolution of 360p. They also can’t seem to figure out how they want to implement subtitles. Some shows have subtitles burnt in, while others use YouTube’s closed caption feature. The subtitles for Fantastic Children are auto-generated and based on the dub.

Something that’s particularly funny about the narrative surrounding AnimeLog is the claim that it was created so anime companies could “own the American SJWs.” I’m going to go on a limb and say that wasn’t the case because they put a trigger warning in the summary of almost every video.

The warning reads:

This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions. However, we respect the historical value of the works and the historical background of the time when they were published, and we decided not to change against any of them. Thank you for your understanding.

This is similar to the disclaimer that Discotek put on their Blu-ray of Lupin III: The Pursuit of Harimao’s Treasure. Despite this being common practice when older titles are reprinted, some fans revolted. One person was so incensed that they issued a trigger warning for the trigger warning. You probably shouldn’t click that link.

Despite the writing on the wall, some people are still holding out hope that this is Japan’s attempt to kill off the localization companies that provide them with millions of dollars of revenue each year (because that makes sense). One commenter, Yang Wright, claims they’ve spoken with the people in charge, and they were told that the channel will eventually contain “all anime” and not just family animations and nostalgic masterpieces.”

Even if this were true, I can’t imagine a world where someone would prefer to watch anime on YouTube unless it’s their only option. The channel is clunky enough with only six titles. If they achieve their goal of 3000 titles, navigation would be a nightmare

While it’s entirely possible that some studios dislike working with overseas companies and would instead prefer to have complete control of their products, this isn’t the way to do it. The lazy implementation of AnimeLog proves what I suspected from the start — this is just a cheap and easy outlet for ad revenue. Throw a bunch of titles online that no one is interested in licensing and see what sticks. Considering what the channel looks like now, it’s anyones guess what they spent their investors money on.

AnimeLog is planning to upload 100 more titles by the end of next year. Unless they step up their game, I don’t expect them to survive that long.

The pros and cons of the Netflix anime studio partnership

On October 22, 2020, the NXOnNetflix Twitter account announced a partnership with NAZ, Science SARU, Studio Mir, and MAPPA. This isn’t the first time Netflix has partnered with an anime studio. In 2018, they made a deal with Production I.G, Wit Studio, and BONES. This was followed by Anima, Sublimation, and David Production in 2019.

On the surface, this announcement seems like unequivocally good news. Netflix is worth nearly $200 billion and they’re aggressively investing in anime. This means they see potential in the medium. It could also mean that studios will start seeing higher production budgets, which theoretically translates to higher quality programming.

It also means less simulcasts each season. Netflix Originals are typically released as a complete package. Episodic schedules aren’t impossible, they’re just uncommon. The 2018 Grappler Baki relaunch was released episodically on Japanese Netflix each week at 24:00 JST. The rest of the world, however, had to wait until it finished airing. It’s possible they received negative feedback for this, because in 2020 they dropped the entire follow-up season worldwide on the same day.

Another criticism is that Netflix doesn’t always release physical copies of their original programming. If you’re not a collector, this probably doesn’t bother you as much as others. Shows like Hi Score Girl and Devilman Crybaby aren’t going away anytime soon. Netflix produced them, so it’s probable that they would have a perpetual license.

That great, but what if they decide that anime is no longer part of their key strategy like Adult Swim did in 2008. Even worse, what if Netflix goes bankrupt and shuts down?

It’s not likely to happen, but it is a concern for some fans. Without a home video release, it’s plausible that exclusive titles could be lost to posterity. This isn’t true of all Netflix Originals. The Irishman and 13 Reasons Why both have physical releases, but it’s less common with their anime titles. The only one I can think of is Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is being handled by a third party.

My biggest concern is with the people working on the localizations. I trust that Netflix is hiring skilled translators, but are they hiring people that specialize in anime? Knowing the source material and the audience that consumes it is just as important as knowing what the words mean. This is how we ended up with the awkwardly translated “Sea King Retsu” in the last two seasons of Grappler Baki.

I hate to be the, “it’s Shinigami, not Soul Reaper” guy, but they call him Retsu Kaioh in every other season. This inconsistency implies they’re using multiple translators that aren’t doing proper research or sharing notes. This kind of mistake is unacceptable for a megacompany like Netflix, especially when those with less resources get it right.

That doesn’t mean it’s all bad, though.

As I’ve already discussed, Netflix has a lot of money at their disposal. Even when compared to Crunchyroll and Funimation’s parent companies, Netflix is no slouch. This is most apparent in how they dub their shows. Netflix is one of the only union anime dubbing operations in the business.

With Netflix dubbing more anime each season, this could put pressure on Funimation and Sentai Filmworks to pay their actors more. Actors go where the work is. More union dubs could incentivize anime voice actors to become union members. With less non-union actors, it will be harder for non-union studios to cast their dubs. In a perfect world, it would lead to SAG-AFTRA organizing these Texas studios.

It may also finally give Crunchyroll the kick in the ass they need to start paying their translators more than $80/episode.

The most obvious benefit to having more anime on Netflix is that more people will be exposed to it. Streaming is awesome. Being able to watch whatever I want, whenever I want is a dream. I grew up in a time where the only way to watch anime was on TV or DVD. Fansubs existed, but downloading anime wasn’t feasible on my dial-up internet connection.

Because of the proliferation of streaming, anime doesn’t play on TV as much as it used to. VRV and HIDIVE are great, but they have limited reach for people that aren’t already fans. Netflix has over 180 million subscribers. That’s a lot of potential anime fans. More anime fans means more anime gets made. It means more merchandise and video games. It also means bigger conventions with bigger guests.

Well, maybe not that last one quite yet.

For better or worse, I’m excited to see what happens next. Netflix is a force to be reckoned with. They just need to do a better job of catering towards anime fan specific needs like simulcasts and home releases. Most of my favorites this year have been Netflix Originals, so they have my trust so far.

They’re also the company that produced three seasons of Grappler Baki after a 17 year hiatus, so I’m a little more forgiving of their flaws than others.

The Cirque du Freak manga is getting an omnibus and I’m nostalgic as hell

Irish horror author, Darren Shan recently announced that an omnibus edition of the Cirque du Freak manga is being published, and the nostalgia hit me like a truck. 

The Saga of Darren Shan, more commonly known as Cirque du Freak, is Shan’s most well-known work. You might remember it from that time it got a film adaption in the midst of all the Twilight hype in 2009.

So why does it matter? 

Firstly, in the hellscape that we know as 2020, it’s nice to get some good news. The Cirque du Freak manga has been out of circulation for a few years. This reissue will give newer fans of his novels access to the manga without having to pay a fortune for a secondhand copy on eBay.

Secondly, the manga adaption is a great way to become immersed in the world he built. 

I’ve always been one for investing myself in stories — whether it was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, or the many, many emo concept albums I adored as a teen that I still love today. 

I was 5 when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was in theaters, and I was 7 for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Admittedly, I didn’t get into Lord of the Rings until I was an adult (because I was stupid), but it goes without saying that these worlds have played a large role in my life.

Cirque du Freak is one of those worlds. 

I don’t know who I am without those worlds. They just became a part of me. Of all the vices in the world, or weird coping mechanisms, isn’t being a little too obsessed with art one of the best? Was being a fangirl really a bad thing when I could have been doing worse with my time?

Cirque du Freak follows Darren Shan (yes, he names the protagonist after himself). His world changes when he’s turned into a half-vampire after stealing a vampire’s pet spider at a freak show. Shan’s best friend, Steve, feels betrayed when he leaves him for a world of darkness, a life Steve feels is rightfully his.

While Shan is adjusting to his new life as the vampire’s assistant, Steve joins the Vampaneze, a rival vampire race. The two boys become pawns in a war that has been raging for centuries between the vampires and the Vampaneze. 

Settings like the Cirque du Freak itself and Vampire Mountain became second homes in my mind. As someone who read as many vampire books as possible, I felt Shan’s take was one of the most unique. Hell, he created his own species of vampire!

The Vampaneze are purple-skinned vampires who kill their victims because they feel it is dishonorable and disrespectful to leave them alive. Vampires only drink enough blood to survive and spare their victims. 

The manga spans 12 volumes — the same as the book series. It ran from 2006 until 2009 and has been out of print for some time. This is concerning because Shan is a prolific author who regularly gains new readers. Understandably, these newer fans want access to the same collection of works as the older fans that were around when the manga was first released.

I had never read manga before Cirque du Freak, but I was always intrigued by it. All my pocket money went towards collecting the original books, and I felt lost as I finished each entry. After spending so long invested in this world, so where do I go now? 

Sure, fanfiction exists, and I did read a few fics in the day, but I wanted to remain mostly in the canon. 

That’s when the manga jumped out at me like a beacon in the bookshop. I had a way to stay in the universe that had begun to feel like home. Soon enough, I was buying copy of the manga each week or reading the next volume in the library. 

I vividly remember drawing art from the manga and striking it to my bedroom wall — which, at the time, was mostly a shrine to My Chemical Romance. 

One of the most endearing nuggets of information about the manga is that the artist, Takahiro Arai, was chosen via a competition judged by Shan. The character designs are quirky and unique, but the manga stays true to the plot of the books. It felt like a project that was crafted with love, not just another cash grab.

While the manga is beloved by fans, opinions of the movie are more divisive. When the film was released it received a considerable amount of criticism — most of which is entirely justified.

But I still love it.

I love it because it’s another way to become invested in Shan’s world. Yes, the casting was questionable. Yes, they may have tampered with the canon and timeline. Yes, they may have tried to shove three books into one movie, and then somehow skipped the whole book the film is named after. Despite everything they did wrong, it still felt like home to me.

That said, the manga feels closer to the real thing than the film does. 

As a writer myself, I’ve picked up so much from this series, as well as Shan’s other stories like Demonata and Zom-B. There’s never been another author where I’ve had to put the book down and take a moment because I was so mindblown. 

Shan’s work inspired me to tell my own stories. And he lives in the same town as me, so seeing someone from a relatively small city in Ireland gaining recognition as one of the best-known children’s authors in the world was inspiring to a 15-year-old who wanted to do the same. 

Cirque du Freak was the story that started it all.

The omnibus will be released in 2021 by Yen Press.