HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Mashle: Magic and Muscles" - Vols. 3 & 4

MANGA REVIEW | "Mashle: Magic and Muscles" - Vols. 3 & 4

MANGA REVIEW | "Mashle: Magic and Muscles" - Vols. 3 & 4

There’s always darkness lurking in magic academies. Sometimes it’s within the hearts of those lacking compassion; other times, it’s a physical entity wanting to cause harm. For Mash and the main cast of Mashle: Magic and Muscles, that darkness lurks within their rival dorms. Fortunately, our cream puff connoisseur has a plan in the third volume of his (mis)adventures.

After Mash’s bout with Silver, allies Lance, Finn, and Dot try to figure out how to gain more coins to outrank the other dorms. But more trouble arises when Abel sends two more of his magic goons towards Mash and Lance. But soon after their intense fights, Abel reveals himself for a brief moment, but as he retreats for another day, he quips of Mash, “He is the same as me…” Soon the four members of the Adler Dorms find that not is all well, as a mysterious illness takes over many of the other students.

This volume is a showcase of what Hajime Komoto aims to accomplish with Mashle. The main antagonists may be Magia Lupus for the time being, but a chat between Headmaster Wahlberg and the Bureau of Magic hints at some pretty deadly forces that’ll arrive in the future. But for now, the kinds of challenges Magia Lupus offers the Adler Dorm kids will surely give them the workout they need to combat this impending doom. With that being said, Mash is the only one not in need of any workout, as evident by his fight with the Sixth Fang.

Mash’s strength is this manga’s biggest joke, as his ways of hiding his lack of magic are both funny for the eyes and unique for the brain. His monotonous tone while fighting Sixth Fang also leads to some funny quips and cute realizations. However, one feels like the humor here isn’t as strong as it was in the past two volumes, as there’s more emphasis placed on plot than gags here. It’s not a bad thing per se, since we’re now getting an idea of what sort of dangers this world has, but most of us came to Mashle for the laughs.

Fortunately, it’s the other part of this series — the action — that does shine here. The Adler Dorm kids’ battles with the Magia Lupus members are showcased with beautiful detail, a sharp contrast to Mash’s character design. Gravity magic, explosions, and — of course — Mash’s strengths are presented with that right amount of oomph that’ll dazzle the eyes of any reader. How interesting that Dot, the so-called “protagonist”, actually manages to shine the brightest with his battle, thanks to his clever wit and use of magic!

Mashle is starting to show its hand, with the cards all now in the narrative’s pile. The third volume hints at the kinds of plays that Komoto is plotting for the future, with this current match with the Magia Lupus members showcasing what Adler Dorm can do when in great danger. Perhaps we’ll get to more funnier stuff next time around (although the side-story involving the rat is pretty damn great!); for now, Mashle wants to show just how much muscle it truly has.

On a side note, can VIZ make Creamy the Creampuff plushies a thing? I’ve got the money!



“What a page-turner!”

This was what I exclaimed immediately after I had gotten to the end of Mashle: Magic and Muscle’s fourth volume. Despite being there for the comedic aspects of Hajime Komoto’s story, I felt truly invested in every battle that was waged in this latest volume. In fact, it made me realize just how much of the real deal Mashle is in the shonen manga realm!

Beginning where the third volume left off, Mash and his friends continue with their fight against the Magia Lupis. Now separated, the students have to face their foes with their own individual magic. Mash faces off against the masked user Abyss, while Dot takes on the powerful Love, who may have a complex about her cuteness. But the greatest threat lies onward, as Abel awaits for an opponent to reach his door.

While Mashle is a comedy first and foremost, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t concentrate on the strengths of its other sub-genres. Mash’s muscular power in a magical world is the show’s big punchline, but watching him literally punch lines of foes in his way can bring forth some of the most impressive moments in the manga. It also helps that the story it wishes to tell is also filled with great turns, especially when it comes to the villains.

The tropes that follow most manga villains normally are filled with tragedy, and Mashle is no exception. Thankfully, they have Mash there to spill their life story to, who humorously shrugs off their dark pasts and tells them how one he is to friendship. He’s a sweet kid who tries to find the good in every person, even if they’ve got genocide on the mind. Mash may be simple, but he’s got a good heart when it counts…even if it’s made out of cream puffs.

Visually, this is where Komoto shows his true muscle as an artist. Simplistic as the characters can look, it’s when they use their magic and might when the explosive action just pops right off the pages. It makes me feel bad for the comments I made in my review of its first volume, where I called the art style “crude”. The fights showcased here made me realize that I was wrong, and I am truly sorry for my ignorance.

It’s clear that there’s more danger to be seen in the world of Mashle: Magic and Muscles. But for now, let Mash and his friends celebrate this achievement in the shonen manga realm. Silver coins for everybody, and an extra tray of cream puffs for our hero!


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)