The Hero is dead!
Yuusha ga Shinda! (勇者が死んだ！, The Hero is Dead!) by Subaruichi (スバルイチ) is a comedy fantasy adventure manga with a really, really long name. Its full name is Yuusha ga Shinda! Murabito no Ore ga Hotta Otoshiana ni Yuusha ga Ochita Kekka. (勇者が死んだ！村人の俺が掘った落とし穴に勇者が落ちた結果。, The Hero is Dead! The Hero Fell into the Trap that a Villager Dug for the Village.). It may come as no surprise that this is a weird one. There was a brief storm on the Western Internet when it first began and a person who was translating it as a hobby was discovered. It’s basically a parody of the common “destined Hero versus invading demons” premise. It’s a story about a scumbag of a protagonist who ends up accidentally killing the Hero of his world with a pitfall trap, as the Hero is apparently a complete moron in spite of being so skilled. The Hero’s original adventure was over, and he had been going around because the demons he’d sealed three years prior had returned. Now the hero is dead, and through a series of shenanigans this radish farmer has to take his place by literally taking over his corpse.
The series immediately caught attention because the main character of the series, Touka Scott, is really just scum. He’s perverted (specifically, he has an all-consuming fetish for plump thighs — specifically those in black kneesocks, and even better if the woman wearing them is naked), he’s underhanded (loves making traps), a liar, a thief, he can’t fight, he doesn’t WANT to fight, and he’s regularly trying to abandon responsibility. He is a simple farmer who wants nothing to do with this shit, has no interest in saving the world, and upon taking over the Hero’s body his first response is to abuse his new status and exploit everyone around him. He’s scum, and that doesn’t actually change over time.
As a comedy, it’s surprisingly funny and, in my opinion, the humor keeps. A lot of the humor is perverted, but there’s also “that’s just ridiculous” humor, and “these characters are idiots” humor, as well as good old fashioned jokes. As an adventure, the series surprised a lot of people by proving in its first proper arc that in spite of (and, in fact, because of) the humor, it was turning out to be a manga with unique battles focused on extensive planning, bluffing, and the protagonist being a real bastard. Even later, the series demonstrated that when it wanted it could produce genuinely hype and emotional climaxes as well. All in all, although the premise seemed only good for a one-off joke, it has demonstrated several reasons why it’s stuck around for over 70 chapters to date instead of being canceled in 20. A very silly and unusual sense of humor, a rousing and thrilling sense of adventure, well-executed and different action, hot girls (with an atypical focus on thighs and bottoms and a general appreciation of, uh, “healthier” female forms), and one of the most likable main characters around (a definite 10/10) have made this a mostly solid manga that I’d call one of my favorites. That said, it’s not one I’d highly recommend for a few reasons. For one thing, the pacing…
Actually, pacing is something I’ll talk about later.
I already sort of explained the premise. The main character, Touka Scott, is just a farmer. His mother was unremarkable, his father was an abusive wife and child-beating shithead mercenary, and he himself is, like I said, a scumbag. He spends his days growing radishes because they look like big ol’ thighs, which is nice in his opinion. His childhood friend, Yuna Yunis, finds him disgusting.
She chastises him for not being similar to the Hero, who she admires: Shion Bladedarts. He couldn’t have any less respect for the guy, who he believes could have been anyone (after all, all he did was pull out a sacred sword from a stone). He also thinks it’s stupid as hell to march into desperate battles with demons, saying all he’ll ever need is to stay on his farm, put down some pitfall traps, set some bait, and be safe.
The Hero shows up and saves them. After that, Yuna begins to fawn all over him while scorning Touka. Touka is (unjustifiably) pissed off, and while he’s fuming the Hero wanders into his pit trap and dies.
What proceeds further cements Touka as an awful person. He immediately blames the Hero for the Hero’s death, saying the Hero illegally trespassed onto his property and tried to steal his food (so he’s the victim). Then, when the villagers consider sending him off to be tried in the capital he immediately switches it around saying nobody would believe the Hero could be killed by a goddamn pitfall trap and they’d probably assume the village itself sacrificed him. Lastly he convinces everyone to be complicit in burying the Hero’s body in an unmarked grave and keeping this a secret from everyone.
The next morning, he wakes up in the Hero’s body.
The first thing he does is get Yuna to wear an erotic outfit for his pleasure.
Eventually Yuna figures out it’s Touka and kicks his ass, then we find out that the reason he looks pallid and smells awful is that he’s been transferred into the Hero’s corpse by one of the Hero’s companions: a necromancer.
The necromancer, Anri Haynesworth, is a runny-nosed child who’s a bit of an idiot and incredibly gullible/naive. Thought process: Touka killed Hero -> Touka stronger than Hero -> Touka should be new Hero. She seals his original body in a small coffin and tells him to go save the world under threat of actual death. Although he tries to get out of it, Touka ultimately agrees (he’ll be trying again soon enough). Yuna comes along because she’s always wanted to go on a heroic journey, even better if she can become a magician (a lifelong dream of hers).
From this point forward the series starts worldbuilding a little bit (which is decent, but not amazing or anything) as it explains mana (magic) levels and mana crystals (that allow humans to use magic, kinda like materia from Final Fantasy VII) and so on and so forth. We learn that Touka’s new body is maintained from his mana, which comes from his spirit (not from the Hero’s impressive physical body), and that’s why he’s been rotting: his mana level is 1. Incidentally, Yuna (who’s trained since childhood by exercising) has a mana level of 2. It is immediately apparent that the two of them will probably not be able to save the world. Furthermore they’re both country bumpkins who don’t really know anything about anything. And finally, Touka is a total fuckup.
We then get the first proper arc of the series wherein Touka’s party assaults a small nest of demons hoping to prove that Touka is the true hero after he spent a long while sullying his own reputation. Throughout it, we get a strong sense of Touka’s character, and get a good idea of how fighting will go down in this series. Touka is a coward. He’s not a coward like Joseph Joestar is a coward (a person who likes to fool others more than simply save his own skin), he’s legitimately terrified in most engagements because he knows full-well that he’s pathetic. He’ll book it if he sees no path to victory, and he’ll also be awful right in the middle of battle if lewd opportunities present themselves.
He is quite clever however. Interestingly, with both him and Yuna their weaknesses are changed into advantages. We learn early on that the Holy Sword that only the Hero may wield which can change shape to the user’s will is like putty in his grasp. He can make it grow big, for example, but it’s soft (the allusion is obvious). Yuna, on the other hand, is a powerful martial artist but weak magically. Yuna ends up being a magically supplemented brawler who can use minor buffs to improve her offense and defense, while the malleability of Touka’s sword ends up being advantageous in innumerable cases.
They are a bunch of fools, generally easily pushed over on their own, but together, through the employment of a lot of planning and strategy, convincing lies, prediction, and traps, they end up being able to topple some very impressive enemies. The first arc therefore managed to be genuinely engaging and unpredictable, something that becomes a trend for most of the battles in the series.
There isn’t much more to say about Touka that hasn’t already been said. Certainly, when it really comes down to it he cares about who he cares about, and he’d rather not stand by while innocents die if he can do something about it (if he can’t, he’d rather not bother), but the really admirable thing about Touka as a protagonist is that the author never, never really loses sight of how he’s a dirtbag. He has good qualities. He’ll risk his life and limb if he really has to and ran out of options (often in some interesting ways, as he’s technically a zombie). BUT, he is always and forever a pervert, always and forever lacking a sense of responsibility, and always and forever looking for the easy path. Lacking a sense of honor, long thrown out for a sense of self preservation, by simply being so honestly awful Touka becomes truly great. It also makes the rare moments where he can be emotional or genuinely badass all the more so. There’s this one MEGA cliche scene about a third of the way through the manga involving him being heroic, and it’s just so cheesy and on the nose — god damn it’s perfect. I honestly love it.
It thus ends up being easy to accept when the series slowly (very slowly) becomes a harem series of a sort. Touka ends up gaining love interests, but by the time it happens you can’t really question the believability (at least I didn’t, and I’m a huge stickler for that). It likely helps a great deal that the rest of the party is likable as well (if only because they share some weird hardships, like having to eat leaves while on the road, or suffering under horrible debt due to traveling expenses), and they all carry their own weight. My particular favorite of the group has ended up being Anri. The author doesn’t feel compelled to use her in fanservice, which I like because she’s simply too innocent for that sort of thing, and speaking of that innocence it makes her quite endearing in my opinion. She has a serious and tragic past in spite of her jokey and childish nature, and most of what little (but significant) character development Touka undergoes is due to the influence of Anri. Her powers are not immense, but they’re of great utility, and heck I just like her.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that although it is a comedy-first series, Yuusha ga Shinda! is still pretty cool in a lot of ways. It’s a very fun series to read because of that. It can really be hilarious, though. There’s one arc so far where Touka becomes a skeleton and the jokes in it made me laugh just as hard the second time as they did the first.
His expressions alone are priceless. That said, that arc almost lasted until the current halfway point of the series and began in volume 2.
The pacing of Yuusha ga Shinda! is weird. The series currently consists of four arcs, including the one ongoing at the time of this writing. The first doesn’t take very long, but the second practically consists of three mini-arcs. The third? It starts before the halfway point of the series and only finished recently. It’s immense, consisting of about five mini-arcs until it finally finishes. I’m not sure how to be critical of this, however. It’s not as if the series itself “suffers” from this drawn out pacing. It’s still a fun and funny series, and the climax of the last arc was just awesome, but here’s a fact: I didn’t read it as it came out.
I actually regularly put down Yuusha ga Shinda! because even the week-to-week wait for this series is too damn much, given ultimately that means it can take like a year at the longest to finish a storyline. That is painful. Read all at once, though, it’s great. Therefore, I might recommend that if you do pick up this series, you might want to wait until there is a buildup of chapters before you actually continue reading. Even following volume releases only might be frustrating.
But also, if you pick up this series, you’re going to get one royally entertaining manga. The only other things I could note would be that although the artist is really good at drawing full, nice, female bodies he’s not the best of artists overall. He also doesn’t employ squish-factor a lot, instead preferring firmness… Let’s stop talking about this. Other than that, I know this comedy can’t be universal (for example jokes I laughed at might fall flat for you, or you might think Touka’s thigh-obsession is too much), and I’m sure the adventuring aspects may not work as well for you as they do for me (although this is a parody series, cliche is still employed a lot: sometimes tongue-in-cheek but other times straight). I love cliche in a lot of cases, but that’s definitely partly my bias. The other and greater part, however, is that I honestly believe the series earns all of its powerful moments. Really, the series can be way more moving than you’d expect such a dumb manga to be, although it has a habit of being dumb one page after something cool happens. That said, I find it baffling that the author decided to include this character, Blake the “Twin Spear”, who is basically just a Deus ex Machina that shows up randomly when everyone’s in trouble to save the day. It’s just a really strange decision. I mean, he’s really cool, but why would you do that?
Lastly, be suspicious of the translation of this series. I won’t say it’s bad, because really it’s not, but the translator is self-proclaimed inexperienced and does all of this as a hobby. He’s actually the guy who picked up Criminale! as well. On that note, this series runs in the same publication as Criminale! and Helck: Ura Sunday. There are a lot of weird and fun series on that site, including Mob Psycho 100 and Danberu nan kiro moteru? (I will totally review this series; it’s one about girls exercising and getting muscular and all the exercises are accurate and it’s just great (done)). Maybe I should make a tag for it.
But that is that. Yuusha ga Shinda! is a better series than it should be. I don’t think it’s utterly amazing, but damn is it good for a laugh and a number of fist-pumping moments. Great stuff. If you’d like to buy it, you may do so through CDJapan, honto (guide), or ebookjapan. Sorry I wrote TWO late reviews this week. Ha HA! I’m terrible. Let’s not make a habit of this. Thanks for dealing with me, and thanks for reading. Until next time.