Seven Seas Entertainment has kind of been on a roll the last few weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List, and it's all thanks to the "monster girls" featured in 'Monster Musume'. I'm glad for their success, but I'm more interested in another new manga released by them that has "monster girls" of a sort, 'A Centaur's Life'. If you've read my past blog posts, you may know how much I love the daily-life/slice-of-life genre, and after reading volume one of 'A Centaur's Life', I think it captures the daily-life aspect perfectly, and will be right up my ally.
'A Centaur's Life' is essentially a school-life manga, but there's one small difference. The world is populated by fantastical creatures. In fact, our main character, Kimihara Himeno, is a half horse, half human centaur. Following her day to day life, in school and out, we meet other strange creature people, like her best friend Nozomi, who is of the draconid race, which is a species with elvish-like ears, bat-like wings, and a pointy devilish tail. Other races include angelfolk, catfolk, among others. If getting a look into the daily lives of people wasn't interesting enough, this interesting twist on the genre lets us see how these mythological people make due in a real life setting.
So, if you're not familiar with the daily-life genre, the name pretty much says it all. It just shows the day to day lives of the characters, with almost no overarching plot or goals. That may sound boring, but it can get quite interesting, especially with good and likeable characters to follow. With only five chapters so far, I wouldn't say we've gotten to know the characters very well yet beyond their base personalities, but I certainly find them likeable enough.
The whole first chapter deals with Himeno's insecurities with the way her horse vagina looks...which was kind of strange, but it led to good character interactions between her and her friends. Another situation dealt with Himeno and her classmates putting on a school play, which briefly introduced some side characters that I'd like to see more of. And an especially interesting part for me was when they were running for gym class. Himeno's friend Kyoko was out of shape and Himeno offered to carry her on her horse back. Very urgently though, Kyoko declined in fear of being arrested for a hate crime. The manga then goes on to explain how in the past, centaurs were once enslaved and used as mounts by other races. This one little detail seamlessly added in really piqued my interest, and I hope to see more world-building features like this in future volumes.
The art in 'A Centaur's Life' is nice and easy on the eyes. Where it really excels though, is the character designs, and that is mostly due to all the different creature races involved. Main character Himeno stands out as a centaur with a huge, luxurious mane of bushy orange hair, reminiscent of Merida from Pixar's 'Brave'(they're both even archers!). And funny enough, the angelfolk aren't actually descended from heaven, their halo's are a biological feature seemingly made from their hair. There's also frightening looking snake people(Oops! I mean Antarcticans. "Snake people" is apparently a derogatory term in their world.). All these different races are a great way to give variety to the designs, and I look forward to seeing even more creatures(in the afterward, amphibian and merfolk were hinted at). And the nice art is displayed in a larger than usual format that even includes two glossy colored pages.
I thought I would like this series given my penchant for daily-life manga, but I was pleasantly surprised by the intriguing world-building aspect. Normally you don't get that because...well...our world is already built. But just changing the dominate species, how they interact with the world, and changing history up a little really adds a whole new dimension to my favorite genre. So if you are interested in "monster girls", but the heavy fanservice in 'Monster Musume' isn't your cup of tea, then 'A Centaur's Life' might just be what you are looking for. I know I am anticipating what's in store for volume two this February.