Original Story: Buncololi
Art: Pureji Osho
Character Design: Kantoku
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Translation: Alice Prowse
Lettering: Rachel J. Pierce
WHAT IS IT?
An office drone and his new pet bird travel between dimensions in this comedic, magical isekai* manga based on the light novel series.
Think The Office meets a magical girl anime.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Sasaki is your basic office drone. Now that he’s hit forty, he’s feeling a bit down and lonely. Following in the footsteps of a co-worker who recently adopted a cat, Sasaki heads to the pet shop to find himself a new companion. That’s when a little java sparrow calls out ‘pick me!’ Sasaki, being the kindhearted man that he is, decides to take the little bird home.
It’s only once they’re alone that Sasaki’s new companion begins speaking in full-blown sentences and demanding Kobe beef chateaubriand for dinner! But poor Sasaki simply can’t afford it on his meager working man’s salary! The talkative bird introduces himself as Piercarlo - which Sasaki decides to shorten to Peeps - and claims to be a starsage from another world who was exiled to Earth and forced to inhabit the form of a bird. When he talks poor Sasaki into forming a contract with him, they begin to hop dimensions on a quest to make enough cash for the fabled chateaubriand, only to unwillingly open up Earth to a menagerie of otherworldly chaos and a whole mess of trouble.
Buncololi has created an absolutely charming and comedic story with Sasaki and Peeps. By mixing several genres - isekai, magical girl, and office drama - into a strange and slightly quirky tale like this, they managed to craft a story that pretty much any millennial can laugh at and find relatable.
Kantoku’s character designs are a shining piece of this adaptation. The manner in which they draw worn down yet hopeful Sasaki really amplifies the ridiculousness of the narrative, making him a memorable protagonist. The characters from our world and Peeps’ both have their own unique looks to easily tell them apart as Sasaki and Peeps bounce back and forth between worlds, but they still feel cohesive.
Osho’s art style is lacking in heavy blacks, which emphasizes the whimsical nature of the tale. Small details like the stars on Peeps’ chest and the sprawling architecture are done with excessive care and the magic use really feels like it was ripped straight out of a magical girl series.
As always, Yen Press’ team - this time consisting of Pierce and Prowse - knocked it out of the park with the translation and lettering. Everything is easy to read, the exterior text is well-shaded so it stands out against the art, and the sound effects are translated in a way that doesn’t impact the panels.
The humor is dry and it fits with the office drone theme so well. It’s self-aware without feeling forced and the jokes are well-timed and hit the mark every single time. There are plenty of pop culture easter eggs to find, too.
The familiar setting of our real world and its mundane office culture is offset perfectly by the alternate world that is slightly RPG-like without feeling complex. Peeps’ home is fleshed out without being overwhelming or confusing. It has its own unique charms and style, as well as its own rules and hierarchy but, unlike similar titles, it doesn’t cause headaches trying to keep up.
Sasaki is an incredibly realistic character. His innocence is almost painful at times, and he’s a brilliantly relatable protagonist who stands out from others in the oversaturated isekai market right now. He feels like someone who works in the cubicle across the way from you, he’s the kind of character that everyone has someone in their lives he reminds them of.
There’s a nice little bonus story from original author Buncololi in the back for anyone who may be interested in seeing how the light novels read.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
While this would be a great introductory series for those unfamiliar with the isekai genre, it may be a bit slow and lacking action for those who are used to more fast-paced titles available, at least in this first volume.
Since this is an adaptation of a light novel series, it’s taking from a title that is already established and lengthy, meaning this first volume spends most of its time setting up the world and characters and can feel a bit expository and slow at times.
The highly touted magical girls don’t really show up until the end which is a huge bummer.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Sasaki and Peeps: That Time I Got Dragged into a Psychic Battle in Modern Times While Trying to Enjoy a Relaxing Life in Another World ~Looks Like Magical Girls Are on Deck~ is a mouthful of a title and a roaring good time for fans of isekai, slice-of-life, and magical girl titles. This chill, comical manga title will be a great addition to any reader’s collection and its refreshingly low-key and almost relaxed narrative is great for when a nice pick-me-up is needed after a stressful day at the office.
Yen Press is also releasing the English adaptations of the light novels so you can continue following along with Sasaki and Peeps’ journey while you wait for vol.2 to release. While the emphasis on the magical girl side of things has yet to really reveal itself in this new series, I cannot wait to see where it goes next and how the teased increase in action plays out.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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*isekai is a genre where a regular human is transported to another world, one usually filled with magic.