- Mangaka : Iris (Story), Higa Yukari (Art)
- Publisher : Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem, Seinen
- Genre : Yen Press
- Published : July 2022
The world of harem and ecchi manga is filled with contrivances that readers are expected to blindly accept. From impossible setups to anatomically unlikely accidents, these unrealistic tropes are just considered par for the course.
That’s not limited to manga or light novels, either. Eroge games—explicit visual novels and games—are filled to the brim with ridiculous setups that allow the developers to advance the protagonist’s plot with one or more girls.
Enter Magical★Explorer - Eroge no Yuujin Kyara ni Tensei Shita Kedo, Game Chishiki Tsukatte Jiyuu ni Ikiru (Magical Explorer: Reborn as a Side Character in a Fantasy Dating Sim), a satirical take on eroge games and the maligned fate of side characters.
Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we review the manga adaptation of Magical Explorer: Reborn as a Side Character in a Fantasy Dating Sim, Volume 1!
Transported into the world of the titular Magical★Explorer game, our nameless protagonist’s dreams of living out his wildest fantasies are dashed when he realizes he’s taken the place of Kousuke Takioto—the “best friend” character.
In Magical★Explorer, Takioto is a side character who inevitably gets shuffled off-screen when players gather a large enough harem of the game’s conquerable heroines. This eroge game features dungeon crawling, magical abilities and weapons, and an academy setting—but in eroge games, the best friend can’t get the girls, or players would riot!
Refusing to accept his fate, our newly-reborn Takioto decides to use his knowledge of the game to change his fate, challenge dungeons, and become a protagonist—but he quickly learns that there’s far more to this game and its characters than he ever knew.
Considering the setup, it’s remarkable that Magical Explorer (the manga, we mean) is so uniquely engaging. The gameplay mechanics feel sufficiently fleshed out, and the magical system is easy to understand while still looking flashy. In many regards, Magical Explorer feels like one of the better VRMMO or video game isekai manga we’ve read in recent years.
Takioto is funny and likable, while Magical Explorer’s self-referential humor keeps things fresh, particularly when predictable ecchi moments like the accidental-slip-and-boob-grab show up. Mangaka Higa Yukari delivers some truly gorgeous artwork while maintaining an excellent pace—this first volume adapts roughly a third of the original light novel and feels perfectly paced.
1. Fantasy Gaming at its Finest
Magical Explorer focuses heavily on Takioto improving himself so that he can eventually become his own protagonist. To that extent, Magical Explorer is a really enjoyable first volume, fitting in equal parts humor and action.
Manga adaptations of light novels seem to be getting better every year, and Magical Explorer is definitely great as both an adaptation and as its own fantasy series. It’s clear that both the original author and the mangaka have taken great care with the characters and the world, which results in a strong first volume.
1. All Fan, No Service
It’s ironic that a series based around critiquing eroge games and their content stumbles upon delivering anything approximating fan service.
Usually, you wouldn’t see us complaining about ecchi content, but Magical Explorer takes a half-hearted stab at “mature” content that comes across as completely unnecessary. It feels like the mangaka added a few random panels showing characters nude to justify the “Parental Advisory” sticker on the front of the volume.
We’d have preferred if Magical Explorer leaned more heavily into the ecchi elements it satirizes, or simply removed them entirely. As it sits currently, the few ecchi scenes feel misplaced in an otherwise excellent manga.
Magical Explorer: Reborn as a Side Character in a Fantasy Dating Sim is an excellent fantasy manga, enjoyable either on its own or as an adaptation of the light novels.
There’s plenty of fun to be had by satirizing harem and ecchi manga or anime, along with the eroge game genre that the series is based around. Although we felt lukewarm about its ecchi attempts, we still think Magical Explorer is one of the best new fantasy manga we’ve read this year.
Are you going to check out Magical Explorer: Reborn as a Side Character in a Fantasy Dating Sim, Vol 1? Let us know down in the comments below, and as always, thanks for reading!