I think I went into this expecting too much. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. Not as great as I had hoped, anyways. As someone who has visited the 人外×少女 tag on pixiv for a long time (and as expected there is a TON of this series in it now), I thought the idea of a series that was this tag embodied would be pretty awesome! So I guess that’s just why my expectations were so dang high.
But hey I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Nine chapters isn’t very much, after all.
It’s a strange series to be sure. A strange series that is doing extremely well. I only read it because it popped on my twitter feed with kvin listing numbers about just how well it was selling. Of course I wanted to jump on the bandwagon before it got stupidly popular, of course. So I know if I have to be excited or not in case it does get an anime series!
Like Gakkou Gurashi! But nowhere near as addicting as Gakkou Gurashi.
But you know what? What makes this so strange to me is that it doesn’t feel like manga. If I hadn’t known better I would have been sure it was a OELM ala Bizenghast or whatever Yen Press puts out these days (which I may turn my nose up at but I know non-anime folks like my tiny imouto happens to enjoy so there is a market for and that’s not a discussion for today). It feels so western. There’s nothing manag like about it at all. Does that make sense?
Furthermore, it evokes so much nostalgia in me. It feels so western and reminds me of novels from grade school. Though much darker and adult that the novels I would have read in grade four when Harry Potter was at the height of popularity (a bit of quick math and googling tells me that in grade four I would have been nine maybe and it would be about 2002ish so the second movie should be out by this point) and our classrooms were filled with fantasy novels about dragons and fairies and all that. But see, I never read those books. I remember them being popular with my friends and picking up the colourful book and reading the description and not finding it very interesting. But I’m reminded of that. I’m reminded of my grade four self. I can’t explain it and it’s a very powerful and unexpected feeling that makes me feel weird towards this as well.
Moving on, the obvious thing to talk about here would be the unusual ‘romance’ between the two main characters. It’s not shoujo let’s establish that right away. The romance is minimal so far but I see the series billed as such everywhere. Well you know the main character is a slave bought to become the apprentice and wife of the goat lookin main character sooooo you know how it is.
You know I’m probably desensitized because I read a ton of shoujo and I’ve browsed that aforementioned tag pretty extensively but it’s not as creepy as you would imagine from that scenario. Like sure she’s sixteen and they joke about how they’re gonna have a kid eventually cause they’re gonna be married but as far as gross shoujo tropes go, this could be worse.
Ellias is interesting only for his designs and abilities. As a character he’s just ok. When he’s the butt of jokes by side characters worried about Chise, then yeah I like that. BVut as a love interest and serious character, he’s rather boring. The “oh mysterious man takes me in and is kind to me but has a Deep, Dark Past™ full of awful things he’s done and maybe he’s actually bad???” feels SO familiar and done before but I have trouble placing a specific name to who also fits that bill.
The Beast from Beauty and the Beast would be the closest, most obvious comparison though he is the exact opposite from Ellias. I also thought Livi but thinking about it, Soreseka is just incredibly similar to BatB and I never realized before. Despite not being able to pinpoint any specific character to compare it he doesn’t feel like an entirely unique (appearances aside) person at all.
Chise is no better. She’s very blank which makes for an uninteresting character to watch. We can blame it on her past but that’s a dif issue we’ll get to in a bit. She goes along with things far too easily (again, we’ll get to this), doesn’t have much personality and is not compelling at all.
Like I said earlier, Chise has a Very Tragic Past™. The thing is the severity of it seems to fluctuate. Yeah her mom killed herself (in front of Chise apparently) and Chise was unwanted by her family and eventually ended up a slave that prob would have been tortured to death but hey no biggie right. She’s so ~bland~ it has no bearing on how she acts or meets people. She is a bit reserved but it doesn’t take much to win her over.
Like despite all the things that happens to her, she accepts Ellias relatively easy when she definitely should have been more skeptical. Especially because he admits that yeah he did those things specifically to win her over and trick her into accepting him quickly so he could put her to his own uses.
You would think someone who went through so would be a bit more guarded or skeptical and untrusting but I guess not huh.
And god not to mention she is one of the special few who is the best and can do all kinds of exceptional and great magic without trying that hard and absorbs everyone else’s awesome magic that they worked super hard for and wow is this character going to die nope not on The Great One’s watch, lets use this super great magic to completely save the day. Everyone flipping their lids about how great Chise is gets real boring quickly. Oh no Chise is in trouble NOPE solved it with super magic and also Ellias is here now?!
But the side characters! Now there’s a reason to keep going. In nine chapters a whole slew of side cast is introduced and most of them have absolutely fantastic designs (such as the fairy queen Titania and her husband Oberon!) or are just interesting individuals (the mechanic lady).
It was also my impression at the beginning of the series that it would be a lot more cynical (or she should be) and that life sucks. I kinda expected a crapsack world but pretty much everyone she meets (including the antagonists?) seem pretty chill and nice. It’s still early on so we’ll see if they turn out to be horrible jerks who betray them or get mad owned but both of those seem unlikely from what’s happened so far. I guess it’s just my expectations being betrayed but it really seemed strange to me.
Not to say there isn’t a dark tone to the story. The cat killing chapter was pretty awful because I love cats. Love em. From the shots of cats being hung all over the place to Mina just falling a part in a big sploosh of blood, it’s the darkest arc so far. Though it was resolved in a relatively anticlimatic way (though I was happy the cat didn’t die).
And I LOVE the magic system in this series. It’s pretty much exactly as I’ve written magic systems in stuff I’ve written in the past. I love when magic has a scientific angle. When it has to follow rules and formulas and is precise and not just LOL ITS MAGIC I DON’T GOTTA EXPLAIN which is why I might be annoyed with Chise because her power (which is magic that is a miracle and should not exist) is pretty much exactly that. It doesn’t need to follow rules or guidelines, she can bend them without consequence. Well the consequence is she’s so powerful she’s gonna die but hey they’ve already vowed to fix that and I have no doubt that they will.
I’m gonna keep following it with the hope that it does something super exciting or interesting and doesn’t continue following the same worn pattern. It still has some nice, atmospheric art and setting. Not to mention the side characters are consistently great looking (and one good thing about Chise I will say is she’s had multiple outfits and one was cute, if I recall correctly).
Not to mention almost more interesting than the main characters.