By Sato Kentaro
A high action, intensely plot driven zombie-apocalypse style manga that uses its genres for good. “Ecchi Horror Romance” is usually a sign of – what can most kindly be called – low brow gore porn; however, this series takes those assumptions and runs with them, all the way out of the park and into reality.
The first chapter is rife with typical ecchi horror imagery and plot devices: the protagonist is a bland, jaded male with no love interests; the apocalypse arrives with a sudden act of intense violence that he is magically exempt from; crude, sexual shots of dead women are shown for shock value and the male readership to lust over; the protagonist is mocked with the body of his dead crush; male survivors make sexually threatening moves on female survivors; the main female character happens to have an enormous bust. None of these are spoilers; they are expectations – and in the first chapter this manga meets all of them.
Into the next chapters – each of which are around 40 pages long – the familiar tropes are dashed to pieces. Male characters are killed off – starting with the ones who threatened the women in any way; the big breasted heroine carries a tazor; the most complicated, in depth, and plot relevant relationships are between women; the panty shots disappear and the women are no longer sexual objects; a deaf-mute character is introduced and survives; and it is women who drive the plot forward at every turn.
The three main male characters fall to the side – with the protagonist as the weak male who needs to be guarded by the women in the group, an antihero who is loudly sexual in public but secretly terrified of women in reality, and a surprise antagonist – so, while they are certainly plot relevant, they never overshadow any of the female characters. There are still sexual elements to the manga, however; there is an implied rape scene by the antagonist with an underage girl, and a few sexually threatening situations occur, but with no actual assault shown. The villain of the series exploits women’s bodies for medical experimentation later on and they are shown nude, but their situation is not sexualized.
Beyond the genre usage, the plot is also unique and continues to be engaging even during the brief down time that the characters are allowed. There is no filler or fluff – only constant action, plot revelations, character development, and a steady rush to the End. Magical Girl Apocalypse promised to be an intense thrill ride and it did more than deliver – it set a new standard for its genres.