Title: Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3
Author: Hirokazu Hikawa
Release Date: December 14, 2021
Publisher: VIZ Media
Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 is the newest tome from the collection of Kirby comics. Instead of covering all stories, they pick some of the best chapters and put them together. There’s no linear order, and the stories are self-contained.
Instead of working as an adaptation of Kirby’s adventures, this is a gag manga. The concept of Kirby Manga Mania is putting the pink puffball and his friends in weird situations. The jokes range from toilet humor to breaking the fourth wall, but there’s nothing too elaborate.
There are references to the games here and there, and it even has a specific chapter that can be considered an ad for Kirby: Star Allies. However, many jokes don’t fit with the world and characters, only touching the surface. It feels like the writer puts the jokes above the characters, making some situations hardly believable.
Mangas adapted from videogames are a tricky media, as they often have a hard time capturing the original’s magic. Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 also fails in making the most out of its intellectual property. It feels like a generic gag manga with a Kirby skin applied to it.
So, as easy as it is to recommend the volume for people who don’t even know Kirby since there’s no continuity, this is also its biggest downfall. Despite using elements such as the copy abilities or doing a meta-joke about Kirby’s appearance change over time, it often feels uncanny and a little superficial.
That’s not to say there is nothing of value here. The jokes are funny, and there are some curious ideas occasionally. I enjoyed the story in which Kirby tries to be an idol and starts acting completely fake. The whole setup is at odds with Kirby’s original self while still telling something about him through the gags. Most of the other instances of Kirby or the others going out of character only feel forced.
In the end, readers who are fond of any sort of gag mangas and just happen to know a thing or two about Kirby may have a good time reading the volume. However, people who are deeper into its universe are likely to not be as malleable to these uncanny non-canon events.
Visually speaking, the manga is flashy, often distorting characters for the jokes. Kirby and his friends look different from their original game selves so their manga designs can be simpler to draw and more expressive. This choice works nicely, but it’s the kind of material that reminds readers that this is an interpretation from someone who’s not one of the original creators.
While it has some fun to offer, Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 is a work that’d only be enjoyable for a few people. Though it tries to use some references to the games, this gag manga falls flat more often than not because the jokes are a little too forced. Instead of a clever representation of the Kirby world with extra jokes, it feels like a simulacrum made only for gags that downplay its characters and could have been about any other series.
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