Dead Mount Death Play, Vol. 1

By Ryohgo Narita and Shinta Fujimoto. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Gangan. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Christine Dashiell.

Sometimes you get so used to a specific author’s tropes and themes that you can tell from a cursory read that a work happens to be by that author. That said, it took a while for me to feel like this was written by Narita, the creator of Baccano! and Durarara!!. Starting in a fantasy world with a battle between a paladin and a skeleton lord is not really his deal, at least not in what we’ve seen over here. But once we move back to the modern world, and the “hero” starts describing people as toys? Once you see a sociopath who commits the most horrible crimes with a smile on her face? A ganster-like organization with a “family” feel and cops who are not afraid to use suspicious methods to get justice? Yeah, that’s Narita all right. Here he’s doing a “reverse isekai”, as the death lord from the prologue ends up inside the body of a young man in our world.

Polka is that boy, and his actual self seems to have been moved out of his own body so that the corpse lord can take it over. (It’s OK he ends up inside a plushie shark.) You worry Polka will start up his old ways, but it turns out he was a misunderstood corpse lord with friends who were killed because they associated with him, so it’s all good. Unfortunately, the real Polka has an assassin’s contract out for him, and the assassin, Misaki, is a smiling high school girl who is rather annoyed that the kid she stabbed through the throat sn’t dead. That said, she gets over it rather fast, especially once he kills and then revives her as a corpse – which, honestly, she’s much happier being. Along with a young man who doesn’t seem to leave his control room and communicates through drones, he’s here to figure out this magicless world, though he can still use plenty of magic.

Polka, in his “possessed” form, reminds me not a little of Huey Laforet, who also considers people his toys. That said, he’s not QUITE as morally nihilistic as Huey, and can tell right from wrong. Which is more than Misaki, who seems like what you’d get if you fused Anri from DRRR!! and Elmer from Baccano!, horrifying as that thought is. The rest of the cast are still unfolding, though the two police officers seem like they stepped off the pages of Gangsta. For the most part, this is a fun little action manga with a few mysteries, mostly content to coast along on mood. Be advised it’s a rated M title, though you get the sense that this is more the editors telling the creators “insert lesbian sex here” than any real plot relevance. It’s very Murcielago-ish in its lesbian sex scenes.

If you like DRRR!! and Baccano!, you’ll want to pick this up. Fans of reverse isekai and mindless sex and violence might also enjoy it.

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