MANGA REVIEW | "Record of Ragnarok" - Volume One
The fate of humanity in the hands of gods has been played out in many forms of fiction and religious scripture. But in those stories, it’s normally earthly catastrophes that humans fight off against. Having humans fighting against gods in hand-to-hand combat is something that would be deemed laughable, as the deities could smite any person with the snap of their fingers. So why not have the strongest humans ever in the history of mankind be the ones to put up a fight? That, dear readers, is what Record of Ragnarok is all about!
As the gods meet to vote on the fate of humanity, the valkyrie Brunhilde offers an interesting suggestion. Instead of merely wiping out all of existence, she suggests that the humans put up a fight in the circled arena. The gods laugh at such an idea, until Brunhilde mocks their cowardly ways. Angrily, the gods agree to the Ragnarok tournament, with thirteen gods facing off against thirteen powerful humans from history.
Record of Ragnarok sets the stage for what’s to come, as the Norse god Thor faces off against the Three Kingdoms’s Lü Bu. With protruding muscles and impressive weaponry, the two warriors face off against one another with the crowd gleefully watching. At first, Thor doesn’t take things seriously, until Lü Bu demonstrates the kind of strength he has. As the two fight, it becomes clear how much in common they have with one another, in ways that would have made them friendly rivals if they lived in the same timeline.
One of those things that makes them formidable to one another is how boredom motivates them. While Thor’s boredom resulted in the rescuing of Valhalla, Lü Bu’s boredom results in him realizing that no living person can take him on. This results in Lü Bu’s execution, as he hoped to meet a proper challenger in the next life. And now, standing before Lü Bu is that challenger, who realizes that he cannot hold back in this fight.
It’s this aspect that helps Record of Ragnarok be the exciting battle manga that it is. While we’ve seen tournaments happen in the likes of Dragon Ball, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Baki, those fights have never reached literal god-tier levels of excitement. Seeing a human face off against a legit deity leads to the ultimate David Vs. Goliath sort of face-off. All of it is captured beautifully and in great detail by illustrator Azychika, with every clash showcased with hardcore intensity!
But it’s writers Takumi Fukui and Shinya Umemura that have the hardest job, as the two try to argue how humans can fight gods. Brunhilde knows that humans can’t defeat gods with their own strength; hence why she uses the power of her valkyrie allies to lend a hand via specialized weaponry. This aspect is a smart concept, as it’ll give humans an understandable handicap to make the fight less one-sided. As such, it leads to impressive strategies and — most importantly — some pretty badass blows!
Record of Ragnarok will easily get any lover of battle manga’s attention. While the Netflix anime adaptation does an okay job showcasing these fights, the original manga goes into full gear to demonstrate the power these humans and gods have. Once readers see the list of planned combatants, there will no doubt be a lot of salivating over the sheer potential of what will happen in that arena. Until then, Round One of Record of Ragnarok is shaping to be one hell of a slobberknocker!
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media