One of the nicer things I’ve come to find out about in the past couple of weeks was something called the Crunchyroll Anime Awards. While fan votes tend to be very much a bit of a mess – looking at last year, it’s clear that the anime with the most rabid fanbase won – the addition of a manga category spices things up a bit.
Manga in general tends to be a bit different from its animated counterpart. Its fan base is much smaller to start with, and on top of that the types of people who read it are slightly different than the people who enjoy anime. As such, I wanted to give an overview of Crunchyroll’s picks for the year, in part because I think this line up is simply fantastic. It seems as though like movies, anime and music, 2017 was a fantastic year for manga as well.
Starting this series off is the manga, recently licensed by Yen Press, called Dungeon Meshi, in English titled “Delicious in Dungeon”. A take on the recent boom of fantasy series – both the “reincarnation” trope and just regular RPG type fantasy series – it combines that standard premise with a twist: the group, broke because of circumstances outside of their control, begins to cook up the various monsters they find in the dungeon in order to save on cash. The story becomes an episodic look into the various creations they manage to cook up, and through those creations an introduction to the larger world they live in. After all, world-building is essential for any good fantasy series.
This particular series is almost entirely crafted towards the modern trends of the day. Its chapter pacing is very much in the style of the modern online light novel/manga series; if the overarching plot doesn’t feel that urgent, that is entirely due to current trends, with slow-burning short chapters that eventually build into a larger plot. The artwork is fantastic with clean strokes that suits such a series, and the panelization phenomenal, with the pacing of every chapter set so that the action feels neither too slow nor too fast. In fact everything about this work was so trend-based that it took me a bit by surprise to realize that the work was entirely manga original, although it should be no surprise to anyone that it ranked first in 2016’s Kono Manga ga Sugoi!.
While it may not be groundbreaking, it certainly gets much credit for its excellent mix of trendiness with stellar comedy and pacing. For people who love the fantasy RPG genre (or are fans of cooking), definitely check this series out.