Monday, August 30, 2021

REVIEW: Giant Spider & Me: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale (manga, vol. 1) by Kikori Morino, translated by Adrienne Beck

Giant Spider & Me is a post-apocalyptic slice-of-life story. I bought my copy of this volume brand new.


Twelve-year-old Nagi lives alone in the little house she and her father moved into three years ago. Her father likes to go exploring, but it's been longer than usual since Nagi last heard from him. Still, she tries to stay cheerful, taking care of her garden, making good food, and occasionally going to the nearby village market.

Then one day she encounters an enormous spider. She's scared at first, but it seems friendly, so she feeds it, names it "Asa," and begins trying to learn more about it and communicate with it.

This was one of my impulse purchases from a while back. I'm always on the lookout for short series that are actually decent, and this seemed like it had potential. It's only three volumes long, and so far it's a gentle story that's three parts "cooking yummy meals for my new spider friend" and one part "post-apocalyptic world-building."

At some point in the past, something happened that killed off a large chunk of the population (climate change? There's a city mostly underwater, so the sea level has risen). Big urban cities are now little more than empty ruins. Nagi was born after whatever happened, so all she knows is her current life, although her dad has told her stories about how things used to be.

All readers see in this volume is Nagi's solitary existence, although we're told that there's a village somewhere nearby with a market. The villagers occasionally band together to kill off aggressive feral dogs. So far, Nagi hasn't gone to the village because she's worried about how they'll react to her new friend Asa, but I'm guessing a village visit will be happening in the near future. It'll be interesting to see what others' lives are like. Although she's definitely lonely, Nagi seems to deal with it by living in the present as much as possible. Her life and her meals are governed by the seasons, and she seems to be doing very well, considering.

Asa's arrival gives Nagi an opportunity to cook for someone besides herself again, and a good portion of the volume is devoted to detailed cooking scenes, complete with lists of ingredients and amounts at the end. A confident and competent cook (aka not me) could probably make each of the three meals featured in this volume (pumpkin dumplings, Japanese-style ratatouille with miso paste, and turnip soup).

The end of the volume adds a couple new human characters to the mix. It'll be interesting to see where the author goes with that. Will it continue to be a gentle series with lots of cooking scenes, or will there be more conflict?


A couple full-color images (one of which is the front and back cover art), a cute extra comic on the inside of the front and back covers, and a 2-page comic-style afterword by the author.

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