The concept of humans being familiars isn't anything new, with series like The Familiar of Zero and Negima! showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of such a contract. However, it take a good concept to make something feel refreshing, giving new life to such a what-if scenario. That's what Tekka Yaguraba has done with his latest series Sorry For My Familiar, which brings a curious human to the world of monsters and things that bump and crunch in the night. It also helps that the end result is a solid comedy with some strong action elements.

Sorry For My Familiar begins with a young demon girl named Patty, who has unwittingly grabbed an older human named Norman to be her familiar. The guy doesn't mind his new predicament, as it gives him the chance to study daemons, beasts, and other citizens of this new world he's enter. Of course, this leads to many misunderstandings, fights, and headaches that almost become too much for Patty to handle. But she's on a mission: to find her deadbeat dad somewhere on this vast land of theirs.

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What the first volume does great is its means of world-building. Right from the get-go, readers are thrown right into this world filled with strange creatures and stranger citizens. Norman acts as our eyes and ears, and while one may be more freaked out by the things he comes across, his level of keen observation is one that would be akin to those reading along. You understand that this place Patty has brought Norman is brimming with mystery and wonder at every turn, and even if it costs them mental anguish, you get a sense of gratefulness from Norman that he loves every moment he's there.

At first, Sorry For My Familiar gives you the running gags that you know are coming from a mile away. What Yaguraba does right, though, is how these jokes are delivered, with moments like Norman wrapped too much in his studies to notice he's about to be eaten by a behemoth. The reactions from Patty are priceless as her human familiar throws himself in danger in the name of research, with the poor little demon looking like she's about to have a heart attack. It can get goofy at times, especially when they start tracking down Patty's dad via the trail of bar tabs he's leaving, but it's exactly the mood this manga wants to deliver.

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Perhaps the strongest storyline of the first volume involves Norman entering a familiar contest, with the winner getting the expenses-paid trip he and Patty desperately need. I don't want to spoil the details, but -- of course -- Norman wins, but how he wins is on a level of fantasy comedy brilliance that's practically on a Princess Bride level of clever and funny. Of course, Patty has her shining moments, especially when she finds out the hard way why a riding demon she rented has a saddle constantly on. Even as the first volume ends on a sort of cliffhanger, it delivers one final solid laugh thanks to Norman using Patty's relative as a special kind of assistance.

When it comes to the monsters showcased in the manga, Yaguraba delivers many imaginative creations in a hugely detailed world. One could easily just make real-life bugs and animals bigger and call it a day, but it takes an imaginative mind to pair up a freaky centipede with an incredibly round chicken. Demons cows, massive arachnids, fire-breathing salamanders, mythical felines, and muscle-bound minotaurs are what are delivered this volume alone; and this guy is just getting started. The design of Norman is great, too, with him looking like Patty dragged him out from a 9-to-5 job located in Hell's Kitchen. Patty's looks are also adorable, with her demon/human hybrid appearance bringing about a level of frustrated cuteness from her demeanor.

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It may be hard to tell just from its first volume, but Sorry For My Familiar has the potential of being a runaway hit with fans of fantasy comedy. With a massive world filled with likable and imaginative characters -- along with the strong chemistry delivered by its two protagonists -- Yaguraba's latest work is one that will make you laugh while you stare in awe of some of his creations. Whether or not Patty will be reunited with her dad remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain: I sure as hell am up for taking part in the journey that Sorry For My Familiar is promising!

FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Lianne Sentar of Seven Seas Entertainment

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