This week I polished off the latest English volume of A Centaur’s Life. It brought home two main facts:
1. This manga is damn good.
2. This manga is damn underrated.
A Centaur’s Life is largely overshadowed by that other monster girl manga from the same publisher, Monster Musume. It’s marketed in the same way, but the two manga are worlds apart. Unlike the surprise New York Times best seller, A Centaur’s Life isn’t packed full of T&A fanservice. Instead, it’s packed full of fascinating world building and down-right weirdness.
For example: there’s an entire chapter with the dialogue in a non-existent language. After transfer student Sassassul meets a fellow snake-person visiting Japan, they stop into a coffee shop to discuss philosophy. The entire time, their word balloons are filled only with pictographs and the the snake-people’s alien alphabet. Except, of course, for when they order their drinks and say thanks to the waitress. Even without using words, the chapter manages some of the greatest emotional impact in the whole volume.
For the final chapter, rather than a slice of high-school life, we get a historical look at the bloody centaur uprising during the Napoleonic Wars. I’d think I was reading a different manga, except that it snaps back to modern times for a subtle commentary on today’s race relations.
A Centaur’s Life is, unabashedly, a slice-of-life comic with plenty of “cute girls doing cute things.” And it does that damn well. The chapter with Himeno’s niece Shino is diabetes-inducingly adorable. Unlike many other similar comics, though, it can hit those buttons while still being wildly inventive. It’s like hot chocolate spiked with Frangelico liqueur: warm and nostalgic, but with an eye-opening kick to it.