Story & Art: Mikanuji
Translation: Amber Tamosaitis
Lettering: CK Russell
Editor: Shannon Fay
Cover Design: KC Fabellon
What They Say:
Takagi just started her dream job at a gaming company! Not only that, but she’ll be working for her idol, the famous game designer Sakurazuki Kaori! When Takagi finally meets her hero, she’s in for a shock: Sakurazuki is harsh, blunt, and better at playing video games than dealing with people. As Takagi and Sakurazuki work together, the two women grow closer and even fall in love. Can they keep it professional, or will the whole workplace find out?
Content: (Please be advised, the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
One-shots in the world of yuri manga aren’t really anything to write home about. In fact, roughly half of the yuri material I’ve consumed at this point in my life has been in and out almost instantaneously. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned to never get attached to anything after just one volume. Sometimes, however, the thought of attachment doesn’t cross my mind at all. In fact, there are even times when I wish to forget things shortly after consuming them. This, my friends, is one of those times.
Now Loading is a one-off shoujo-ai manga that takes everything audiences loved about the New Game franchise and turns it into something so generic and boring that I’m considering going back for a refund. But hey, at least the book is kind enough to give you a preview of its poor quality in the form of a disorienting grammatical error as early as page six. In the grand scheme of things, this could have just been Seven Seas warning us to not push any further at the risk of being let down. On the other hand, though, I think it’s more along the lines of this — Now Loading is not only a rehashed and completely meaningless iteration of New Game, it is a blatant and borderline-offensive ripoff with just as little care pumped into its localization as its conception.
Now, the woes of Now Loading aren’t exactly omnipresent. In fact, the artwork is actually pretty darn good. From a sheer aesthetic point alone, I’d go as far as saying this is one of the nicest manga I’ve read all year. However, once we get into the actual ‘writing’ part of the grading scale, the entire thing crumbles faster than Vic Mignogna’s recent recording schedule. You see, Mikanuji isn’t exactly known for her/his ability as a storyteller. This mildly popular Pixiv artist gained traction through the simple means of shoujo-ai fanart, the same way many others of that ilk have become notable. So, despite not knowing exactly what sort of blood, sweat, tears went into the construction of this story (Which I’d imagine is minimal), I’d say it’s safe to surmise that we’ve got another case of someone who doesn’t really know how to write attempting to…well, write a story.
Sure, I’m positive there are a handful of readers out there who approached Now Loading as a Mikanuji artbook of sorts. But the fact of the matter is, there isn’t enough substance here to actually create a compelling manga. Hell, the first chapter alone goes through so many pacing issues that you’d think it was attempting to run a forty-yard dash on its hands. And once it finally reaches its end, it screeches to a halt without accomplishing the only thing it sets out to do — making you care about literally any of the characters it has to offer. Sure, there probably would have been a bit more luck in this department if the characters weren’t copy-pasted New Game clones (Hell, the graphic design girl in this book even dresses and wears her hair the same way Yun Iijima did), but things like that are unavoidable when you’ve got nothing to base a product on other than the success of something else. Now Loading is the result of turning fanart into a ‘full-fledged’ story and, without Mikanuji’s artwork, I don’t think anyone would have ever greenlighted its production.
At the end of the day, we’re left with a property that can be summarized by a simple industry lesson: Some people can write, some people can draw. There aren’t many people who can do both. Know your strengths and find others who can compensate for your weaknesses. Don’t try to do everything on your own, or you might end up with this — a failed and heartless fanfic.
Never judge a book by its cover. Now Loading lures readers in with vivid artwork and decent cover design, only to let them down when it comes to everything else. Even the localization department drops the ball in this blatant New Game ripoff with several grammatical errors that somehow managed to make it through quality assurance. Fans of the shoujo-ai genre, I can promise you that there is nothing here you haven’t seen before. In fact, there is nothing here at all. I’m sure that one day, many years from now, there will be a ‘true’ yuri gaming series, but this is not it. This isn’t anything.
Content Grade: D
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: C-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: January 29th, 2019