Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Centaur's Life vol. 2

Somehow I have the feeling that this series is getting majorly overlooked. I'm not seeing much social media buzz, or much of a best seller list presence. At least compared to its fellow Seven Seas monster girl manga, 'Monster Musume'. Perhaps that is because 'A Centaur's Life' doesn't go full blown sexualized fanservice(though it does feature some nudity). Whatever the reason, after reading volume two, I am even more intrigued and I think it is a mistake to pass this series up.

The first volume started off with a chapter entirely about vaginas that I noticed annoyed some readers and may have turned them off to the series. This volume starts off with a chapter almost entirely about kissing, and I can see it being viewed in a similar manner(plus, the bathing scene towards the end doesn't really help its cause...). This chapter reads part Yuri fanservice, part progressive stance on lesbian couples, and of course, part simple and cute slice-of-life. It features main character and centaur girl, Himeno, and her affectionate little cousin, Shino. Shino hangs all over Himeno and doesn't like it when anyone else show affection towards her. So she gets really mad when the little sisters of the class president of Himeno's school try to give her kisses. Shino explains that only people that love-love each other are allowed to kiss, and the class president goes on to explain that adult girls don't kiss anymore. Cue the lesbian couple from their class showing up to explain that it is okay for adult girls to kiss. Needless to say, the small children are confused. And interestingly enough, the class president seems very uptight about homosexuality and takes offense at the two girls kissing in front of the children. The manga itself clearly isn't agreeing with the class president(I forget her name...was she named?), but showing the realistic different views of the world, which I think only strengthens the interesting world building aspect that this series has going for it.

Another cool world building detail is that it is illegal for angel-folk to cut their hair halos. It breaks racial equality laws and is considered rejecting your own race. They even takes steps to make sure angel-folk aren't prosecuted if it is accidentally cut or falls out because of illness. This was seamlessly woven in to a normal slice-of-life chapter about what kind of haircut Himeno should get. And on top of that, there was a mini chapter where a teacher gives a lecture about this creature world's evolution and how their many racial differences beyond just skin color make for a very fragile world. She then (incorrectly)speculates that a world like ours with normal humans would probably be much more peaceful and stable. To add to the world building, we are introduced to a new race of creature people, merfolk. Himeno and her class visit a merfolk school, which seems kind of fun because the school is partially flooded and the students swim around from class to class. Though don't throw your trash on the ground, because litterers are shot on sight at the merfolk school! Yeah, you have your cutesy and calm slice-of-life moments that draw people in, but this volume was pretty well rounded with intriguing world building that I think people will stay for.

This volume is capped off with a chapter that I found kind of strange and slightly dark in comparison with the rest of the book. It is about a normal human girl and her dog with a human face. To be honest, I don't really know what to make of it. I'm pretty sure it isn't set in the same world as Himeno's, because we haven't seen any normal humans and the teacher clearly stated that normal humans didn't evolve. So I guess this is just a "what if" type chapter. Anyway, the dark aspect that I mentioned comes from the girl seemingly being imprisoned by her neglectful parents to the point of starvation, and her human-faced puppy going to get help like Lassy. I may not have understood the point of this chapter, but it certainly didn't detract from the volume in any way. If anything, it was thought provoking.

Volume two of 'A Centaur's Life' was basically more of the same pattern from volume one. That is, cute slice-of-life with the unique creature world getting fleshed out in between. And I think that pattern works. As long as the following volumes continue with this formula, I'll keep reading.