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Friday, August 23, 2019

Selah's Manga Mania Reviews: Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Vol. 1 by Kikori Morino

Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale Vol. 1 
by Kikori Morino
February 20, 2018
180 pages
14 chapters
3 Volumes, completed
Genre: fantasy, sci-fi, YA
Seven Seas Entertainment

A young girl named Nagi and a giant spider make an unusual pair in this post-apocalyptic story, but living in the mountains is lonely, and they’ve managed to find each other. Join them in their strangely sweet domestic bliss as they spend their days sharing tea and throwing picnics, proving that love (and delicious food) can bring together even the most unlikely of friends.

Sometimes we don't want drama and survival in our post-apoc stories. Sometimes all we need are tales of friendship, good food, and a new species of spider monster.

Oh what, this is me here.

Today, let's flick through Giant Spider and Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale.

You thought I was kidding, didn't you? Yeah, welcome to my aesthetic.

Nagi lives on her own in Japan after an unspecified apocalypse. All we really see are images of skyscrapers jutting out of the water and reference that it happened a while ago. Her father is away on adventures but hasn't returned and we don't see him at all in the series, so take that how you will. She lives in a house in the woods near a village, but keeps to herself, choosing to upkeep the house and tend the fields nearby. Until she happens to find a pumpkin one day...and Asa.

Asa would be a big giant green leafy spider monster with tentacles. Its species is never defined in the series, and we never know if they are part of a group or singular.

The good: This is a super-cute, relaxing read and at only 3 volumes it's a great starter title. It's also all ages. The story is one that promotes seeing past the surface and meeting others on their terms. I love the use of Asa's pronouns (they/them) and the continuing evolution of people trying to understand Asa for who they are as an individual and not an animal. That aspect isn't not talked about - there's plenty of debate once Nagi and Asa go to the village about whether Asa is a threat or not. It's nice to see people learn to accept others in a story like this.

The characters aren't too sweet and aren't too jaded. In this world there's enough stability to have working communities, so the emphasis is on building relationships and not fighting for survival. Some characters choose new roles for themselves, some take pride in their traditional community roles - different views are given space.

This is also fabulous as a food title. Time is taken to portray the steps in different panels as the characters discuss what they're doing. Asa usually helps, and there's plenty of fun schtick there.

The recipes sound yummy and are soothing to watch come together, which is what I look for in titles like this. I like that the author takes time for reaction panels where the characters describe what they're eating and how it makes them feel. Delightful.

The character designs and setting are also really nice. Things are just haunting enough in a background way while keeping the story mostly pleasant.

The bad: The fact that this is only three volumes. I respect the author's view that the characters had more adventures but this is where the story ends. I don't have to like it, because this is such a sweet breath of fresh air.
The ick: Nothing, unless…

But what if I'm scared of spiders?
So there's no getting around the fact that Asa is spider-like (They're not portrayed as an actual spider). I actually do not like spiders at all and only picked this up because it seemed like such a bonkers idea. I think the line between creepy and cure is portrayed very well. Asa has predatory instincts at times, but around humans, they're benign and helpful unless they're not feeling well.

There's a lot of great discussion about whether they'll grow to be a threat and the characters that are worried have a legitimate point. There are also great moments where the character design is just unsettling enough, which adds to the theme of looking past the surface. Still, Asa also has leaves and tentacles and helps cook and works in a cafe, so for me, there's enough to balance out any arachnophobia. However, YMMV, though I'd suggest giving it a flip through because on the whole, it's uplifting and really cute.

5 cafe-working post-apoc sheep

About the Author:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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