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Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Now Wander the Dungeon Vol. #01 Manga Review

3 min read

How exactly does selling cup noodles and milk tea help with battling monsters? You might be surprised.

Creative Staff:
Artist: Kunieda
Character Designer: Hagure Yuuki
Translator: Alice Prowse
Letterer: Chiho Christie

What They Say:
How far are you willing to go to protect your interests? For one Japanese vending-machine enthusiast, the answer is “to the grave.” Crushed by his favorite contraption, his life as a fanboy of dispensed goods may be over, but his close connection to vending machines can only grow—when he’s reborn as one in a fantasy world! Is a land of monsters and magic ready for this modern marvel of convenience?! INSERT COINS FOR ADVENTURE

I was a big fan of the Reborn As a Vending Machine light novels, so picking up the manga was a no-brainer. I did have some concerns that it wouldn’t be too much fun the second time around; a big part of the draw of this franchise is seeing just how an unmoving vending machine can possibly fight to protect his allies in battle, and I know all the answers there already.

To be honest, the story is a little boring if you’ve already read the light novels. It is a faithful adaptation so far, so there aren’t any major changes to get excited about. However, this manga accomplishes something I never expected: It provides an absolute master class in manga art. The detailed character portraits pop off the page, practically every panel has a full background (and those backgrounds can get very detailed), and the action scenes feature some really energetic line work. I was so impressed with the art that I looked up the artist, Kunieda, and he’s also done some great stuff for other series like Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls In a Dungeon? I highly recommend looking him up if you’re a fan of manga art, which you probably are if you’re here.

One of the reasons why the artwork is so important here is that our main character is a vending machine, and the artist needs to draw all those little bottles and cans from many different angles, because what is a vending machine without its products? Kunieda could have gotten lazy and gone sketchy here, but no: he draws those cans and bottles practically every time.

Since our hero, “Boxxo,” can only speak a few pre-recorded phrases, much of the dialogue comes from Lammis, a warrior girl strong enough that she can carry Boxxo on her back. Her presence makes up for the fact that the main character is something so unusual, because she works as a kind of secondary protagonist. A lot of the appeal of this story comes down to how Lammis interacts with Boxxo, and it’s quite charming.

This manga even makes the lists of stats and products from the light novel work. We don’t get the constant lists that the novel had, but we do get periodic updates on Boxxo’s stats. More importantly, the “products” are highlighted well. I’m just going to warn you, you’re probably going to need to eat some Cup Ramen after you read this.

Just about the only negative thing I can think of is that the text on the back of the book is really difficult to read. It’s a small thing to be sure, but a bit puzzling considering how high-quality the visuals are in general here.

If you’ve enjoyed the light novels, you’re probably going to want to pick this up to revisit the story in grand fashion. But if you haven’t read the novels and this world is brand new to you, then wow, you are in for a treat. I’m really looking forward to Volume 2.

Stellar art and clever writing make a frankly bizarre high-concept work in this gem of a manga. Highly recommended.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 16, 2023
MSRP: $13.00 US/$17.00 CAN


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