Another comic is up for Demon Press Review Number Two: this time an action comedy set in a fantasy world. Mashle is something of a Harry Potter parody, focusing on a promising student at a familiar magic high school. Despite being enrolled in a school for sorcery, our protagonist Mash possesses no supernatural powers of his own, instead using raw strength to pass his courses and stand up to his troublesome peers.
The best part of Mashle (written and illustrated by Hajime Komoto) is that it usually doesn’t take itself seriously. Mash, though he is often presented as an underdog due to his lack of magic, is generally not in any real danger of losing a fight. He overcomes each obstacle in a ridiculous display of strength, maintaining a deadpan look on his face all the way. Mash tends not to talk all that much, but when he does, his comments always crack me up. From the school’s bizarre rituals to the fierce rivalry between dormitories, Mash reacts to everything with a detached confusion that I find hilarious. I don’t think this comic has an overly sophisticated sense of humor, but it has a very special charm and succeeds in making me laugh way more often than not. The fact that a lot of the scenes and situations are ripped straight from the Harry Potter series makes them even funnier since the set-up is already familiar. For example, when the students are introduced to flying broomsticks, most of them use magic to summon the broom from the ground into their hand. Mash, in contrast, stomps his foot on the ground so hard the broom flies into the air for him to catch. There are better examples, but I think it’s better to leave them unspoiled. Describing the events in writing won’t do them justice without the wildly exaggerated illustrations that define the comic’s visual comedy.
And even when the humor does fall a little flat now and again, there is no denying the delightfully comfortable and lighthearted atmosphere the comic creates. I feel that Mashle’s apparent flaws make it even better, the cheesy jokes quickly becoming endearing. The art is simple and messy-looking for some interactions, but it’s definitely done that way intentionally; I think it helps convey that these events aren’t to be taken too seriously. When there is a big showdown, the art cleans up to be incredible. All of the magic duels are detailed and easy to follow. Plus, as what seems to be a cross between Harry Potter and wacky superhero comics, Mashle has a certain childish charm that doesn’t take away from the heavier action that appears at some points in the story. The way the school is illustrated, the simple story-line, and the lovable cast culminate in a cozy feeling that makes this comic very special to me. Even when it does explore weightier themes, Mash’s straightforwardness in considering such topics preserves a lasting levity. I mentioned that many of the situations and settings are taken from Harry Potter, but Mashle has its own original flair with unique characters and new concepts. Honestly, I just think it deserves more attention. Even if it doesn’t suit everyone’s sense of humor, I’m sure at least some will enjoy it as much as I do.
All in all, check out Mashle if you want a laugh, especially if you’re looking for a new spin on the “school of magic” genre. If you go into this one looking for something profound, you might be disappointed, but I find its humor hard to beat, and the story has a lot of heart. Mashle has no printed version yet, but it can be found on the Shonen Jump app or website along with countless other similar comics like the popular One-Punch Man. Thank you once again for reading my review!
— Quinley Hammon