Our graphic novel of the month for August explores what happens when a bad guy is off the clock in Square Enix’s new manga series Mr. Villain’s Day Off. The mysterious and dastardly man known only as the General within the evil organization plotting to take over the world is one of the top targets of Earth’s defensive unit, the Rangers. But on his precious days off, he’s more likely to be at the local zoo staring at his beloved pandas or trying out new ice cream flavours! Will his secret hobbies be jeopardized forever when his natural enemy—a Ranger hero out to save the Earth—catches him in the act?
This series has already been a hit in in Japan with creator Yuu Morikawa developing a strong following on Twitter in particular. Now with an anime adaptation in production, it is a perfect time for English speaking fans to discover this series.
There are several strong action-comedy manga currently running with Spy X Family leading the pack. Mr.Villain’s Day Off is looking to join that group if this opening volume is anything to go by. The dichotomy created by The General’s job and his personality make for a very fun read. This is a man who has a ruthless role to play and aims to rule the world. But his antics on his days off bring out an enduring quality in him which makes him surprisingly relatable. This is played off nicely against the rather ineffectual Rangers who are not prepared to see their arch nemesis in such an affable state. The opening chapter that depicts The General’s trip to the zoo and his casual demeanour completely disarming the Red Ranger after his attempt to confront him sets the tone wonderfully for what is to come.
Morikawa shows a lot of skill in the art department. The General is presented in such a way that blends the cool silent loner anime archetype with a typical manga/anime villain which allows him to fit into both serious and satirical moments. Beyond her execution of the comedic scenes like The General’s antics with cute pandas, Morikawa also does a tremendous job of using little expressions and movements from The General to convey his emotions and feelings, which is no mean feat given that his hair usually completely covers his eyes.
This is a brilliant comedy manga packed with heart with and a very promising sign for things to come. Manga readers who like comedic takes on classic genres will eat this series right up.
Mr. Villain’s Day Off 01 is out 15 August from Square Enix Manga (9781646092239, p/b, £14.99)
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