Typically monsters in stories are the bad guys, but in Monster Soul, they’re the heroes. Many years ago, humans and monsters fought a war, and it was the monsters who lost. Now they are oppressed by humans and humans try to poach them. Even though they lost the war (and some monsters are ready to go back to the fighting), a monster squad known as the Black Airs stood out for its bravery.
These days, instead of warring against humans, the members of the Black Airs play jokes against one another, indulge in toilet humor, and like to goof off. Aki is the most human-looking of the Black Airs, but you don’t want to mess with him or his friends. James is the Frankenstein monster, and he has a soft spot for pretty fairies. Mummy is, well, a mummy, but instead of your usual mummy, she’s a beautiful woman with wrapping around her like clothing. Tooran is the golem (though so far the real story of the golem seems to have no relation to her), and she goes back and forth from acting ditzy and acting smart. There’s also Joba, who’s the… hmm… well, onion headed monster.
The chapters have them getting involved in various hijinks. At the very beginning, two comically moronic poaching brothers decide to kidnap Tooran at her birthday party, but they underestimate how loyal and protective her friends are. Afterward the characters find themselves in the midst of a revolution that has to do with mind control more than it has to do with righting any wrongs or changing the status quo.
The stories flow comfortably and smoothly. Having the monsters be the heroes is a nice twist, but what really gives the manga strength is its cast of characters. They’re all absurd in their own ways, and they all bring various types of offbeat humor. There are also more serious moments, as we see the connections the characters have with one another. Even if they pull pranks and say crude jokes, in the end you know they all deeply care about one another. This tightens everything and gives readers a reason to likewise care about the characters. It’s also worth noting that this manga comes to us from Hiro Mashima, the mangaka behind Fairy Tail. So any fans of Fairy Tail out there ought to check out this title as well.
Story & Art: Hiro Mashima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics