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 wraps up its 2020 run with this chapter and will be back in two weeks with more – though it still feels like this is a series that’s always on the verge of actually ending. Tomohiro Hasegawa has crafted something that is definitely fun and worked through a good tournament round without getting saddled by the problems and trappings of so many other ones. But at the same time, it leaves you with the question of what’s next? There are possibilities to explore and any writer with a little imagination can map out any number of ideas to dig into. But I’m left in that position of wondering what will motivate not just more chapters and continued readership but expanded readership.
With the fight getting underway, Moriking is already struggling a bit simply because the presence and power of Hercules is as strong as it is, nearly pushing him out of the sumo ring that has been set up for them to fight in. With Moriking caught in the pincers, the Horn of Hercules, it already feels like things are going to go badly for Moriking in this fight. But it’s this moment where Shoko and the rest step up to show Hercules where Moriking’s strength really lay – in that of those that he’s helped over the last few months in so many ways. With so many people showing up, they’ll be able to turn the tide and make Hercules understand that he’s alone in this while Moriking has the support of the people. Of course, that doesn’t work because everyone is enjoying the pop-up festival that has appeared here.
It’s a wonderfully done moment that undercuts the usual story plot point that would motivate Moriking. But it does motivate him because he understands the diversity of the human heart and that they’re not thinking about what’s involved in this fight as they don’t really know. But he knows it’s his job to protect them and that gets him to focus on doing just that, getting back firmly into the battle, reasserting himself, and making the right kind of stand. It’s not the most drawn-out slugfest or anything but it plays out ideally with how Moriking essentially stops Hercules from further attacks and makes clear that he is handling this right, not just for humankind but for insect kind as well in wanting to bring as many species forward as he can.
Moriking deals with the final segment of the Hoshking tournament and while it does play out as expected in the big picture sense, the small moments definitely deliver a lot of fun. It’s an unconventional series in a lot of ways and subverts itself nicely from what it sets up. I do hope for a few smaller chapters of more personal material for a bit before going onto the next thing but there’s also the possibility that the book could end on its own in a natural way here once it showcases the big picture. There are things that it can do but I’m wary as to whether it can be effective at doing so and still be as much fun as it is.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: December 20th, 2020