What This World Is Made Of GN 1

What This Global Is Made Of GN 1

This one can be categorized as “good idea, mediocre execution.”The third English-language work by Shin Yamamoto (after Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter and Sekiro Side Story: Hanbei the Undying) chronicles the tale of two brothers who have lost everything. Their grandmother took them home after their parents abandoned them as children, after which they were passed between relatives, and she recently passed away. Kaname, the eldest brother, loses his job at the same time as they are forced out of their flat and lose their remaining savings when he misplaces his wallet. While high school student Kanade sinks farther into his cynicism, Kaname reacts by yelling and becoming furious. When an advertisement for a whopping quantity of money to solve a tiny monster problem surfaces on either of their phones, however, neither of them is entirely sure what to do.

There are no good options when you’re between the fire and the frying pan, and that’s essentially what the brothers discover. They are unable to turn down a lucrative assignment, and even if it appears to be questionable, they will have to take the risk. Neither of them anticipates that what they’re being asked to do will involve entering a real-world video game setting and engaging real monsters with the weaponry provided by the app they download, or that they’ll be held financially liable for any harm their battles make to the surrounding region. They only have one smartphone between them, which makes it impossible for them to fight together. Unless they work with a partner, this cannot be a team effort.

This appears to be a story about the gamification of life at first glance. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, “gamification” is the process of adding game-like elements to non-game settings and activities in order to increase interest. One excellent illustration is Amazon’s Kindle “reading challenge,” which grants accolades for reading a predetermined quantity, a predetermined book or genre, or on predetermined days. Although there is no reward, the fact that I finished every challenge when it first appeared in hopes of receiving a free book or a discount demonstrates how successful the method is because, for me as a regular reader, reading is the reward. What This World Is Made Of appears to work the same way in terms of promising substantial financial rewards for fighting monsters using the app’s proprietary technology, particularly given the extensive fine language that Kaname consistently ignores.

If so, Yamamoto chooses to ignore it in favor of, well, not much. The fact that this is an Ender’s Game scenario is not revealed or even hinted at, and even if it were, the plot wouldn’t advance in this case. As the lads’ new comrade Tohko is shown attempting to pay for hospital treatment for an unknown victim, there are signs that the app specifically preys upon people in trouble. However, not enough is done with this information. Kaname doesn’t tend to give things much thought, while Tohko tends to feel trapped in her work. Only Kanade has any inquiries, but he doesn’t pursue them and instead lets himself become involved in a circumstance he is unsure of. We are told much more than we are shown in this scene, including how close the brothers are, which lessens the intensity of the plot even though it is repeatedly stated that the brothers have nothing.

This is not to argue that the world-building isn’t engaging. The opening scenes do make an argument for a later Ender’s Game-style reveal—a person watching a plane fly while tabulating the stats and values of the machine and its passengers is more than a little unsettling—and Tohko’s observation that the longer a monster’s name is, the harder it is to take down, plays into the idea of gamification. Additionally, there are some attempts at creative monster designs, with the chicken monster from the volume’s last encounter sticking out. Putting a chicken on a T-rex skeleton, according to Yamamoto, works much better than you may anticipate creating a visually intriguing, unsettling monster.

Despite having its moments, the art generally doesn’t do the book any justice. Drawing humans, particularly the thighs and lower torso, is the largest problem. That part has an unusual, square appearance that is wrong and is made a little unnervier by the lack of flow in the linework. It has blocky visuals, which isn’t ideal for an action plot. However, I do like that the brothers don’t look alike or identical to one another. They are related, as seen by their acts and body language. In this kind of media, we don’t see that very frequently.

What This World Is Made Of ultimately falls short of the promise made by its plot. It veers off course, seems choppy and lacks the necessary stakes, and the odd art doesn’t help. There isn’t much here that makes me want to rush out and get volume two, though it may pick up later.

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