Story/Art: Tomohiro Hasegawa
Translation: Paul Starr
What They Say
Third-grader Shota Aikawa’s pet beetle evolves from a larva to a pupa to a superhot human! The wacky adventures of the Aikawa family and the fabulous beetle who would be king now begins! You’re gonna LARVA this new comedy manga!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Tomohiro Hasegawa provides for some welcome downtime with this installment, though it’s still a pretty busy chapter. I get fearful with series like this that it’s going to be introduction, fight, resolution, in repetition because so many books do operate that way. But Hasegawa took care to resolve issues with Oka and incorporate her into the main flow of the series now and providing for some group gathering time and fun without any real sense of threat to it. It leans more into the comedy with it since there’s no action but there are a lot of very fun moments. As I noted before, the parents are there to be able to provide for some good laughs and just seeing Oka unknowingly slice of the dad’s hair, making him bald, is utterly hilarious because of his expressions. Smart creators know how to wisely use adult characters in younger-skewing properties to very good effect.
The general premise for this installment has the family through an impromptu barbecue because Mom and Dad were told that Moriking just had a great victory. They’re clueless but up for a party so it works well enough with everyone in the back yard and putting things together. The character dynamics are fun as Shoko just rolls with it until she sees that Oka and some of the girls from school have come to the party as well. She’s simply so fearful of them learning what Moriking is that it pushes her past sanity, which is unfortunate as she just makes it worse. Not that Moriking helps as he makes it clear that he’s not Shoko’s boyfriend but rather her pet and the family pet in general. That both sort of raises and lowers their estimations of Shoko but it’s a delightful little bit of pervy humor.
A lot of the chapter is just small interactions that happen between the characters and a few gags, including how Moriking manages to both impress and horrify everyone with how he handles the barbecue. The main piece of larger storytelling comes from Shoko sitting down with Oka and learning a bit from her about how she’s viewed things and what she meant by how a different potential future winner of this battle may destroy humanity. Shoko’s lack of knowledge of the size of the insect kingdom makes clear she wasn’t really taking things seriously and it’s certainly enough for her to start rallying to Moriking’s side for support as the property picks up and he faces more challenges. Now that she knows the reality of what they’re facing, she’s going to take it to heart a lot more.
The series taking a bit of downtime here definitely makes me like it more because the properties that are just constantly on the go sap my will to live pretty quickly. I don’t much care for character development done by quip amid battles and the results of them. Hasegawa gives us time with everyone together hanging out and dealing with trying to obscure what Moriking is while also having a good time. Shoko’s providing a good view into all of this as someone who’s on the outside a bit in her understanding of the world and it provides the tidbits readers need to understand in a natural way. I continue to really like Hasegawa’s designs and layouts as he packs a lot into each installment but still gives it a breezy enough feeling to be carried along well.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: May 31st, 2020