Comic Review: “A High School Girl in the Crusades” (Monochrome May Special)
Welcome back to Monochrome May, The Splintering’s month-long celebration of all things spectrum impaired.
Today we’re going to look at A High School Girl in the Crusades, a 22-page comic that was successfully crowdfunded earlier in 2022.
Written by Jon Del Arroz (Deus Vult) and featuring artwork by Dachul Akamoto, A High School Girl in the Crusades is a comedic adventure intended to parody the Isekai genre of manga and anime, where a character is transported to another world.
The story begins as a young girl named Reiko Fukuhara falls into a magic portal on her bike ride home after school. Reiko lands smack dab in the middle of the Crusades in the Holy Land nearly a thousand years ago. Because she fell from the sky (and after she was checked out by the holy priest), the Christian Crusaders believe that she was sent by God to assist in their battle to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim control. Meanwhile, Reiko believes that she has fallen into a game world of some kind, similar to the Isekai manga/anime genre which this book is parodying. This leads Reiko to look for opportunities to gain experience and “level up” throughout the book, which is a cute running gag.
Most of the humor is in the same light, self-referential vein, though some of it can get slightly edgy at times. Certainly some of the gags poking fun at Muslim culture may offend a handful of the more easily offended readers, but it’s pretty tame compared to stuff like South Park or Team America: World Police.
Other than the main story, there are a few slight distractions, though I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “subplots” as they aren’t developed enough to label them as such. For instance, Reiko is keenly attracted to the hunky knight named Sir Richard, so she fawns over him as he accompanies her throughout the adventure.
With a page count of just 22 pages, the plot thankfully starts off and gets to the action very quickly, but the book ends just as abruptly as it began, all without providing much resolution. Some plot points don’t really go anywhere either, such as Sir Richard donning the blessed armor of one of the Roman centurions who guarded Christ’s tomb. This is written as though it is significant, though it doesn’t do anything other than provide Sir Richard with a costume change.
Some of the inexplicable plot points might very well be convention for the Isekai genre, but I’m a bit of a manga normie having only read a few manga books over the years, so they went over my head, if that was in fact the intent. In any case, I found that A High School Girl in the Crusades was begging for another 4-8 pages to give some plot details more gravity, or to tie things up more completely.
Akamoto’s artwork is isn’t stellar but it’s cute, fun and the action is clearly defined. I would have preferred a bit more from the dynamic moments. While the book has a mostly cheerful and lighthearted veneer, the scenes of violence hit light a truck. This may be jarring for some readers, though I found that it broke the saccharine tone and pace a bit, and it adds a sense of threat and urgency to the generally clueless main heroine.
A High School Girl in the Crusades was mildly enjoyable as a quick distraction, but it’s not very impactful or memorable, so your mileage will vary for your crowdfunding dollar. For me, I received a complementary digital version from backing the Deus Vult reprint. This was a pretty cool bonus that Jon Del Arroz threw in for all backers to make up for the complications and drama surrounding the campaign, so big kudos to him for appreciating reassuring his customers.
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