From Bakuman to School Rumble, the manga/anime industry has been a popular subject of manga and anime in recent years. Now joining their ranks is Kodansha’s new manga series Manga Dogs!
Back cover blurb
Kanna Tezuka is a serious 15-year-old manga artist, already being published as a pro. So when she finds out her high school is starting a manga drawing course, even she gets excited. But it’s a fiasco! The teacher is useless, and the only other students—three pretty-boy artist wannabes—quickly adopt Kanna as their (unwilling) sensei. But they all have ridiculous delusions about being an artist, and if Kanna can’t bring them back down to Earth, she’ll never get any work done!
Manga Dogs is meant to be a comedy. Unfortunately for Kondansha, its humor tends to fall flat. This is partly because jokes involve a lot of cultural references–in particular, manga references that go back over half a century. For example, character names are twists on mangaka from the 1950s and 1960s. Then there’s the actual interaction between the characters. The back cover blurb touts Manga Dogs as a “sharp-wicked satire of the manga world.” While it does focus on the travails of manga creation, the story is better labeled snarky than sharp-witted.
Because it is a satire, reality gets flung out the window, and the main character Kanna Tezuka enters Tokiwa High School’s brand-new manga major only to find she has a whopping total of three fellow classmates and zero instructors. Kanna’s already made her manga debut and working hard on her first series so it doesn’t really bother her–until her pretty boy classmates start pestering her for lessons.
Kanna’s not the easiest protagonist to warm up to. She’s neither cute nor sociable. She has no friends. There’s no need to cheer her toward the holy grail of publication because she’s already attained that. Although she’s desperate to keep her series Teach Me Buddha! going, her work is so uninspired and subpar I want it to get canned.
As for the supporting cast, they are meant to be a reverse harem. There is the blonde prince Fumio Akatsuka, the serious glasses type Fujio Fuji, and the loli shouta Shota Ishinomori. However, no romance is blossoming between Kanna and any of these three stooges. The boys are deeply passionate about manga and equally delusional about what’s required to succeed as a mangaka.
Chapters are very short (generally ten pages), and most are self-contained arcs. The majority boil down to the boys fantasizing about the glorious rewards they will reap for the manga they’re too lazy to actually create and Kanna alternately losing her temper and mocking their stupidity. Therein lies Manga Dogs main weakness. Whereas other parodies, such as Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, create humor by taking the many stereotypes and tropes of a genre and turning them on their heads, Manga Dogs presents minor variations of Kanna getting mad at the boys unrealistic views, and that gets old fast.
Extras include the opening illustration and table of contents printed in color; translation notes; mangaka afterword; and short bonus manga.
Manga Dogs Volume 1 manages to end on a cliffhanger, but I’m not particularly interested in the ultimate fate of Kanna’s manga career. Her unlikeable personality and lackluster work make her a difficult protagonist to root for. Her three handsome classmates give the initial impression this series is a reverse harem, but they mainly serve as a chorus of dumb, dumber, and super dumb. Some of their antics may garner a laugh or two, but on the whole, it’s hardly witty or entertaining.
First published at The Fandom Post.