Friday, May 07, 2010

King of RPGs, vol. 1

Written by Jason Thompson with Art by Victor Hao
Published by Del Rey Manga

Slugline:  We will deny any similarities between the reviewer and the manga's characters

Shesh had a problem with computer RPGs, but after the therapy, shock treatment and lifetime wireless ban he goes to college and can act somewhat normal.  There are temptations at college but when Shesh goes to a RPG club he discovers they have pen and paper RPGs rather than the computer games he once abused.  As he considered leaving he is challenged by the gamemaster Theodore and after his friends ask him to, he decides to play just one game.  What he doesn't know is Theodore is his match in obsessiveness but to pen and paper RPGs.  Theodore discovers a talent to provoke Shesh into unleashing his frenzied player persona that therapy had supposedly tamed.  After dealing with the repercussions of his first gaming session, Shesh's attempt to find a gamemaster to safely game with brings him into conflict with a gamer that takes advantage of the collectible games and a student officer who is convinced of the evil of playing games.

This manga hits in the middle of my two loves (well, the ones that are not real people at least) manga/comics and tabletop roleplaying games.  I may not have been as obsessive and as Theodore, but my college room (my house now) was filled with just as many game rulebooks as it was graphic novels and manga.  While my time in college predates World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs that broke Shesh, other computer games were just as effective on people I knew, in fact I knew people similar to all the characters.  So all of the characters ring true, but are overlaid with a shonen filter.  This includes that no one is really bad, they are misunderstood or victims of circumstance and everything devolves into a personal challenge.  Still, it has enough gaming in-jokes to satisfy the gaming crowd (such as the culmination of the final story arc of the volume harking backing to a gaming urban legend) but does not need in-depth gaming knowledge to get the humor and the story, which was the problem with the review earlier this week of .hack//4koma.

King of RPGs, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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