A Centaur’s Life, Vol. 1

By Kei Murayama. Released in Japan as “Centaur no Nayami” by Tokuma Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Ryu. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I think the North American marketplace has sort of reached the point where it’s wary of slice-of-life series. There was a huge glut a few years ago, but we’re seeing less of them now. They were quiet, laid-back stories, usually involving a group of girls in high school and their slightly comedic, slightly heartwarming adventures. They’re so huge in Japan that one publisher, Houbunsha, has almost devoted its entire company to making them. But these days you can’t just have cute girls in clubs, or cute girls in bands, or cute girls in yuri relationships. So you need a hook. A Centaur’s Life certainly has that hook.


The title literally translates as “A Centaur’s Troubles/Worries”, and indeed the first chapter (which reads like an ecchi doujinshi that was toned down for publication… then again, given it’s Comic Ryu, maybe it wasn’t toned down too much) features our heroine being very worried indeed. She attracts some cute boys, and is concerned about her sexuality. The hook is that Himeno is a centaur, in a world where fantastic creatures are the norm, and her main concern is that she wants to know that she’s … compatible with other humanoids. After all, she has the body of a horse. Her friends Nozomi (a dragon girl) and Kyoko (a goat girl) help her out and calm her fears… not that this helps her romantically.

The first chapter is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit too concerned with the girls’ privates. Luckily, the chapter does indeed seem to be more of a pilot chapter, and the rest of the series settles down as a slice-of-life that happens to feature a multiracial… indeed, multispecied cast. We see the usual school tropes. The marathon run, and the girls trying to get out of it. The school play. Side jobs as a model, and trying to hide it from the school. There’s also a hint of yuri sprinkled throughout between Himeno and Nozomi, though so far it seems to be mostly just the standard “if it’s you, it’s OK” high school tease.

What makes the manga interesting, and ensures that I will at least try a second volume, is that the writer doesn’t seem to be using the idea of fantastical creature folks as fodder for fetishes or comedy, they’re honestly worldbuilding. Centaurs used to be a slave race, so riding on top of them – even if consensual – can lead to arrest or worse. There’s discussion of “snake people”, and how the term is felt to be derogatory and they prefer “Antarctic people”. We see how Angel clothing deals with wings, what shoes centaurs wear, and how underwear works for those with tails (yes, the fanservice goes way down, but it’s still there at times). This is not just “let’s take these fantasy characters and dump them in cliched situations”, it’s “how would these situations go if these types of characters were involved”.

So far the series is merely adequate – like most slice-of-life, they tend to seem better the more you get to know the characters, so I expect my appreciation to rise as we go along. The girls may be fantastic creatures, but their personalities are still “the naive one”, “the tomboy”, etc. But given that the premise seems like an excuse for weird fetish pornography, I was pleasantly surprised at A Centaur’s Life, which is taking itself more seriously than you would think. I’ll get a second volume.

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  1. Not that I can afford another manga series at the moment, but nothing I’ve seen/heard about it is gripping me. I’ll see how you think volume 2 is.

  2. I liked it. It’s not terribly DEEP, god knows, but I found it reasonably gripping. I do think the ‘0’ chapter is just off… almost wish they had stuck it in the back or something.


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