So, I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got.
“Moriking” is a comedy manga by Tomohiro Hasegawa, and follows the wacky adventures of third-grader Shoto Aikawa, his family and the pet beetle he raised. However, instead of growing into a normal beetle, this one grew into a full sized human-man with a horn and beetle wings, who claims to be the king of the insects.
Hasegawa released a similarly titled one-shot manga in the magazine last July as well. So, I guess the editorial team liked it well enough, and it had a strong enough response from readers that they decided to give it a complete serialized run.
However, reading this opening chapter, I thought there were some funny aspects of the story, but I didn’t find myself laughing out loud, or even rapidly breathing out of my nose too much.
It probably comes down to demographic and taste, but the bizarreness of the concept wasn’t enough on its own to hook me, particularly in its approach to comedy. However, I think that the dynamic between Shoto’s older sister and Moriking, along with the responses people have toward Moriking, will probably bring laughter to a lot of people.
It also appears as if it will be somewhat of a slice-of-life series as well, given the plot of Morking living together in the house with the Aikawa family. So, as the series develops it might grow into itself and improve in quality and narrative.
The chapter displayed a few strengths that I think are worth mentioning.
Throughout the chapter, the artwork was pretty strong for the most part, and the scene at the Elementary School for the insect wrestling competition were well put together. Furthermore, the parody of the opening of “The Lion King,” where the future king is born and presented to the people, was actually kind of funny.
What those two scenes had in common was its use of insects, their thoughts and the personification of them. Particularly, one insect picked up a stick and started writing on the ground to explain their actions to the humans, and in the other scene the insects were waving their arms around and cheering as if they were a crowd of humans.
While in writing that may not sound super funny, the illustrated depictions of them does come off as humorous.
Another thing to note is that the three primary characters: the little brother Shoto, the older sister Shoko and the pet beetle Moriking all have distinct mannerisms, personalities and speech patterns. Not only does that allow for interesting interactions, but it opens up the potential for good character work as the series develops.
The biggest thing about “Moriking” in whether or not it will be a hit or miss is if you think its brand of comedy is funny. If you’re not laughing, I’d only give it a few chapters before dropping it. It doesn’t seem to have much story potential outside of chapter-by-chapter gags.