By Kikori Morino. Released in Japan as “Owari Nochi, Asanagi Kurashi” by Mag Garden, serialization ongoing in the online magazine Alterna pixiv. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Adrienne Beck. Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.
I suppose I should not have been surprised. We’ve seen BL titles that are really cooking manga. We’ve seen Shonen Jump cooking manga, both with monsters and without. We’ve seen dungeon crawl cooking manga where you eat the monsters, and fantasy manga where you’re eating dragons. Heck, even the monstrous Fate/Stay Night franchise, which has always had a heavy element of cooking involved in it, has given in and offered us pure slice of life foodie manga. And now we see Giant Spider & Me, which is a post-apocalyptic story of life after the Earth seems to have suffered a great disaster that left the cities flooded. Except it’s really a slice-of-life heartwarming story about a girl and a giant spider bonding and learning more about each other. Except, well, it’s really about the food. Update your recipe cards, because you’ll be adding new entries after reading this.
Our heroine is Nagi, a young girl who lives alone in a cabin in the woods, about a medium-sized walk away from a grand view of the flooded remains of a large city. Theoretically she lives with her dad; in actuality, he’s been out exploring for a long time and has not come back, so she’s living by herself, foraging, and making do. (There are mentions of other villages, and a stranger shows up in the last chapter, so there are still people around.) One day she runs into a large spider, which as you can see by the cover is VERY large – about the size of her dining room table. I appreciated the fact that she was actually terrified for a while – in titles like this, usually the protagonist is a girl who has no sense of danger or fear, and I liked that Nagi is aware that yes, this is a GIANT SPIDER. That said, it rapidly becomes clear that said spider (quickly named Asa) acts more like a puppy looking for a new home, and after Nagi takes pity and invites it back to her place, the bonding begins.
The cooking and slice-of-life war for supremacy throughout this first volume, until perhaps the cliffhanger at the very end, which seems designed to be a cliffhanger more than anything else. Nagi is sweet and elf-sufficient, and a good cook. Asa, as I said earlier, acts like a rambunctious puppy at times, knocking things over and such. That said, they’re also able to protect Nagi from more dangerous and less adorable predators, so it’s not entirely a master/pet relationship – it’s meant to be a budding friendship. There are also hints that we might eventually hear what happened in this world, and expand the cast a bit. That said, this isn’t the sort of series you want getting too complicated. It’s a story of a girl, a spider, and delicious food. Not much else is needed.