I felt like my relationship with Shonen manga had reached its limits. As a result, I typically keep my distance from the genre to focus on series that won’t take up years of my life. However, that’s changed in recent years, and Mashile Magic and Muscles is here to make that more true. Mashle Magic and Muscles Vol. 1 introduces its over-the-top premise in a way that makes you interested in this magical world and its zany main protagonist.
Mashle Magic and Muscles Vol. 1 introduces readers to a world where humans rely solely on magic to conduct their daily lives. It’s learned that those without magic have been executed so that humans will never de-evolve. Magic users are marked with a scar on their face, so it’s easy to spot someone without the gift, and it just so happens that our main protagonist, Mash is one of those non-magic users.
From a distance, Mash shares a lot of similarities with Saitama from One Punch Man. Mash is incredibly strong. To make up for his lack of magic, his father makes him train every day. People seem to assume he’s airheaded, but that’s just his innocence showing. He’s fairly complex and has a few quirks but is blunt and straightforward with his communication. I feel like his strength does limit his appeal to some degree since there is already the deceptively strong awkward man angle of Saitama, but the premise of Mashle Magic and Muscles makes things a little more interesting.
After discovering his raw strength, a magical officer decides to shake things up a bit and enlist in a magic school to become a Divine Visionary. Of course, this is completely against the rules, and if Mash is caught, he will surely be executed on the spot. However, if he doesn’t, the officer will hunt him and his father down forever. The scenes that ensue follow Mash as he attempts to get through magic school without magic.
The scenes are incredibly charming as Mash uses his strength to conquer the various obstacles he’s faced with. The means are so unconventional and outlandish that you’d expect him to be caught in no time. However, the combination of his innocence and brute strength makes every hurdle exciting to watch. There seem to be a few behind-the-scenes characters at play to make this possible, but that’s only speculation at this point.
Sadly, some moments seem to forget the strictness of this world. While the narrative nails the divide between the rich and poor, it doesn’t quite share just how “evil” the government section of the world is. Mash does some rather unforgivable things that would surely get him expelled, but convenient means make that not so. I just wish that I saw this evil side more often because it’s all hearsay at this point, and we’re just supposed to believe bad things will happen, even though Mash slides through the cracks.
The illustrations soon rushed at some moments, but Hajime Komoto is afraid to stay slow down for a few panels to explain a situation properly. It’s like Komoto-san has flipped the “cause and effect” saying to be “effect and cause.” I think making Mash such a likable character while introducing the social divide of this magical world was a proper way to deliver this first volume. We have yet to see many different sides of this school and this world, so I’m looking forward to seeing how those are explored in later volumes.
Mashle Magic and Muscles Vol. 1 delivers a charming Shonen where brute strength is put to the test against magic. All in secrecy, of course. Mash has some depth, but I hope that shows more soon because I’d hate for him to be limited to being “That one guy like Saitama.” Nevertheless, I find the writing to nail humor and tension alike, and there’s enough in the way of interesting cast members to want to follow this adventure into Volume 2.
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