Deadly giant bugs have begun to rampage through Edo Japan, and the Mushibugyou Protection Office must exterminate the threat. With the body count rising, the group requests aid from famed samurai Genjuurou Tsukishima, but due to an injury the man sends his inept-but-determined son Jinbei in his stead. Almost killed in his first encounter with the creatures, Jinbei is saved by his new colleagues of the Mushibugyou: fiery ninja Hibachi, violent warrior Koikawa, young onmyouji Ichinotani, and the enigmatic Mugai. Now, the group must learn to work together to overcome the many-legged menace!
This abomination of a manga exemplifies everything that can go wrong with 'nekketsu' shounen manga. One of the 'highlights' of nekketsu manga is its astonishing ability to deliver an inconsistent and episodic plot structure. 'Joujuu Senjin!! Mushibugyo' proudly continues this tradition of confusion and bewilderment. In the 'Ten Crucifix Insects' arc, the 'main' antagonists are finally introduced as a group of insect-humanoid hybrids with the goal of ruling over Japan. However, the lack of a coherent and continuous storyline makes it difficult to invest in the overarching plot. Instead of building upon previous events and establishing a well-crafted narrative, the manga jumps between different adversaries and storylines, preventing the story from reaching its full potential. This becomes even more apparent in later chapters and arcs. In Castle Insect Arc, the story introduces a new set of antagonists known as the Castle Insects, who possess unique powers and threaten the peace of the city. In Chapter 20 (or Battle 20, as the manga refers to it), just as the tension builds and readers anticipate a climactic confrontation with the Castle Insects, the story abruptly shifts its focus to a different subplot involving side characters, relegating the main antagonists to a secondary role. This sudden deviation disrupts the narrative flow and undermines the stakes established in the arc. The lack of a cohesive and continuous storyline prevents readers from fully investing in the overarching plot, as the manga fails to build upon previous events and establish a well-crafted narrative.The lack of originality in the manga's execution is worth mentioning. Although the premise of a group of insect-humanoid hybrids threatening Japan initially sparks interest, the execution of this concept feels derivative and fails to offer a fresh take on the subgenre. The 'Ten Crucifix Insects' served as major villains, but their motivations and development remain surface-level. Exploring their origins, their relationships with one another, and their individual struggles would have added complexity to their characters and made them more compelling as adversaries. Unfortunately, these aspects are not fully explored, resulting in underdeveloped villains that lack depth and fail to evoke genuine investment from readers.Another drawback of the manga is the lack of clear world-building and cohesive mythology. Despite the potential to delve deeper into the lore and history of the world through the 'Mushibugyo' organisation tasked with protecting the city from insect attacks, the manga misses the opportunity to explore its origins, structure, and the significance of its members. The 'Black Ship Arc' is an example of how the manga introduces new and mysterious threats, such as a black ship, but fails to explore their origins and purpose.In terms of thematic exploration, the manga touches on the concept of fear and overcoming personal traumas, particularly in relation to Tenma's fear of bugs. However, this theme is not fully developed or utilised to its potential. Chapter 3 briefly touches upon Tenma's childhood trauma involving insects, but the subsequent exploration of his growth and the resolution of his fear remain relatively shallow.While the manga initially introduces strong and capable female characters like Kuroageha, the narrative frequently relegates them to supporting roles or objectifies them for fanservice. An example of this can be seen in Chapter 7, where Kuroageha's abilities take a backseat to her sexualised appearance, undermining her agency and potential as a multifaceted character. And let's not forget about Irori, who serves no purpose beyond the obligatory fanservice for the horny lolicons.Occasionally, just every now and then, the manga manages to capture a fleeting glimpse of the Edo period's essence. It's almost like a rare unicorn sighting. But don't get your hopes up, because consistency is not this manga's strong suit. In the 'Giant Insect Arc', during intense battles against gigantic insects, the action sequences lack the necessary impact and fail to convey a sense of scale and danger. The artwork in these moments lacks the level of detail and dynamic composition required to fully immerse readers in the high-stakes battles. Comparing these scenes to earlier chapters, such as Chapter 5, the decline in artwork quality becomes more evident.Overall, it presents an intriguing premise, it suffers from issues such as inconsistent and episodic plot structure, inconsistent artwork, lack of world-building, derivative execution, rushed pacing, horny fanservice, and underdeveloped thematic exploration. Not recommended.
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