By jin. Released in Japan as “Zannen Onna-Kanbu Black General-san” by Fujimi Shobo, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dragon Age. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Timothy MacKenzie. Adapted by T Campbell.
Sometimes, when reading a manga title, you’re looking for something well-crafted, with gorgeous art, sophistication, and character development. Something that will not only entertain you but make you think. And then there are those other times. Times when you look at the reading pile and say “I need something obnoxiously loud and over the top”. If it’s the latter you’re after, I’m pleased to tell you that Precarious Woman Executive Miss Black General is right up your alley. Another in a current trend of Western Superheroes done in a Japanese manga way titles, Miss Black General will not win any points for subtlety, and you need to be prepared for a lot of sexual innuendo. But I found myself laughing far more than I expected throughout this tale of a desperate young fangirl who has joined the side of the villains so that she can have the hero she idolizes force her to submit.
Our “heroine’, who I don’t think is ever actually named, is part of a rather pathetic organization of evil, headed up by a masked leader and his Riza-Hawkeye-esque assistant. She also has three interchangeably faceless minions to help with her schemes, and later on they pick up an eccentric mad scientist who you can tell is eccentric as she has those thick spiral glasses that manga artists love to give “nerd” characters. Together, they are there to take over the world! Sort of. In fact, most of Miss Black General’s plans seem to involve confronting the local hero, Braveman, and embarrassing the hell out of him. She’s his biggest fan (indeed, at the end of the book we see her bedroom and the narrative calls her a “shameless otaku”, and seems to be doing this half-hoping he’ll end up doing something inappropriate. He never does, despite her informing Braveman that she’s a virgin and despite her impressive figure. But that’s OK, there are still battles to win and evil to spread! Except the problem is that even without Braveman around to leer over, she’s still a bad villain.
It should not be particularly surprising that I enjoyed this, given its similarity to another series I adore, Excel Saga. I doubt that Miss Black General will ever get the depth that Excel had at her best moments, but that’s fine. The way she acts and reacts to things is funny. There’s also Braveman, who is absolutely nothing like a certain DC Comics-copyrighted character, thank you very much. Supposedly a stolid hero of justice, you get the feeling he started to dress as a hero so he could stop being arrested by police – he has the face of a thug, and whenever he’s out of uniform he ends up in trouble. There’s no real plot development to speak of aside from the organization recruiting the mad scientist midway through the book. We do see Braveman and Miss Black General meet each other out of uniform, but neither recognizes the other. But that’s fine, we’re here for gags.
This isn’t exactly Hamlet, as I indicated above. But god, it’s big dumb fun, and I want to read more volumes of the ludicrous Black General and her attempts to defeat/woo the stiff, long-suffering Braveman. Recommended.