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):
Moriking continues to subvert my expectations to a degree here as I figured Tomohiro Hasegawa would alternate between a few casual chapters of fun and silliness and then introduce more of the challengers and provide for some seriousness and fighting. Especially since as humaniform version of insects they can go pretty weird and funky. Hasegawa’s still delivering some cute chapters as I really enjoy the supporting cast that’s been built up and the expressiveness of the characters as it digs into some fun comedy tropes and all with skill so it’s making me smile for the most part. But then it introduces another of the big power players like it does here…
Here, the next-door neighbor in Sakura, a child the same age as Shota, has come over to get him and some of the others come to her yard. As it turns out, another of the king-candidates is there with the great purple emperor who has been given the name Oki Samura by Sakura. She had found him during a wind that had swept him and others away and she took care of him, which her parents were okay with though her dad kind of cried about. He’s been there for a little bit now which really gets Oka in a state of shock that he didn’t detect him, causing him to question his skills. Sakura is a good bit of cute fun here as she lays out some of the basics before Oki does himself, especially given the way he’s got a bit of cool style about him with an edge – even with or maybe even especially because of the smaller butterfly wings on his back.
What’s welcome is that Oki isn’t actually interested in a fight. He knows his power level and what he can do but he’s also made it clear that he promised that he’d protect Sakura. And if he really worked his wings in a fight it would flatten the whole town, which would make her sad. That doesn’t mean that Oki and Moriking are friends but rather two people who are living next-door to each other and are just going through their days. It’s amusing to watch as we see how they get involved in clean-up events, or Moriking sees how Oki suffers from the learning curve of being fed human food, and the larger kind of group that’s being built here. You can still see some of the bigger elements at play that it can work with for something to turn more serious if it needs to but mostly it’s just building one weird community together with a threat in the future to deal with.
Moriking’s surprising me in what it does from time to time but it’s been an enjoyable lighthearted romp so far and that continues here. The introduction of another king-candidate works nicely as there’s little left to introduce which has me wondering what the big plan is here, or if this series is on a fast-track to a quick ending. Regardless, the addition of Oki Sakuma is fun here and seeing him and Moriking together at the end made me laugh a lot more than I expected. Hasegawa’s artwork and scripting is pretty solid throughout and I’m definitely becoming more interested in where they want to take the series.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: June 26th, 2020