Thursday, January 16, 2020

REVIEW: The Brave-Tuber Vol. 1

Everyone knows that manga is an industry that goes with the current trends. Usually that means one series gets popular and others try to mimic what it did. That's why we have a lot of manga featuring battles, the supernatural, super power schools, special organizations, the other worlds. The Brave-Tuber doesn't aim to imitate any specific genre that's currently popular. Instead, it's imitating real life.

With the revival of the Demon Lord, chosen ones able to wield holy swords have appeared to fight evil. But the Demon Lord is not the only thing turning the world upside-down: the internet has arrived in Wizdaregidor! Adventurer Zane and sword spirit Kuku are determined to become WizTuber stars, making videos on everything from "I Tried to Fight in Cursed Armor!" to "I Made a Giant Slime!" Will they defeat the Demon Lord?! More importantly, will they get more followers?!

The Brave-Tuber, written by Takahito Oosaki and drawn by Ikuro, is a hilarious comedy manga about two adventurers trying to break in to the online video scene. This is, without a doubt, one of the most creative and original ideas I've seen in a manga in a long time.

The juxtaposition of a classic Japanese fantasy RPG setting with present day technology has me laughing from start to finish. It's never explained how electricity, let alone high-speed internet access, is readily available in a world akin to Dragon Quest and honestly who cares? This isn't supposed to be a complex world.

Each chapter is inspired by a current trend in YouTube videos, but twisted into a fantasy setting. There's item reviews, unboxings, tutorials, and even a battle royale game stream. The best is the slime recipe video that replaces the basic slime kids play with today with the common RPG monster. That idea alone is probably what sold this series.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the characters. Zane and Kuku are your typical shonen manga protagonists. They're decent at defeating monsters and Zane even has a secret alternate super form. The problem is that they're just terrible entertainers so no matter how many evil generals they slay they still aren't getting views.

What The Brave-Tuber captures best about the video scene of our real world is how dang hard it is to break into.  Zane and Kuku begin the story with less than a hundred subscribers and struggle to figure out how they keep getting low views while other stars are raking in millions. It felt weirdly personal to me, which is saying a lot for a manga about fighting demons with a magic sword.

The Brave-Tuber is an absurdly playful series that doesn't take itself to seriously while exploring the world of YouTube through the lens of a fantasy RPG setting. The series only ran for about a year in Monthly Comic Garden, but to be fair there's probably only so far this premise can go.

Click here to get your copy of The Brave-Tuber Vol. 1 and click here to pre-order the second, and final, volume.