Updated: Jan 19
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
WHAT IS IT?
A notorious hitman moves to Japan after discovering the otaku* lifestyle in this action-packed slice-of-life comedy manga.
Think John Wick but instead of being a wife guy, he’s a waifu guy
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Marco is known throughout Italy as “The Oracle of Florence”, AKA T.O., and has never once failed to complete his mission. A gentleman through and through, he handles each hit with grace and manners, making him one of the most notorious and thorough players in Florence's underworld. During one of his assignments, he comes across an adorable anime figurine in his target’s home and instantly falls in love with her cute features. He then decides to give up everything to move to Japan and indulge in the otaku lifestyle, leaving the most prominent players in Italy dumbfounded by his disappearance.
The moniker of T.O. now stands for Top Otaku and Marco’s new day-to-day life consists of collecting rare figurines, going to concerts with his honorable senpais, and watching his favorite streamers. When the powers that be back home in Florence send their top agent, Viviana, to retrieve him, his peaceful new world is disrupted by gunfire and assassination attempts. Or, it would be if Viviana could stop writing fanfic about him and obsessing over the newest boys’ love manga.
Ko-dai really understands the self-aware humor and ridiculousness that is required to be an otaku. The cliches and scripting around the world of anime and manga mega-fans is painfully true and immensely funny. This is an absolutely side-splitting and delightful read.
The artwork is simplistic but appropriate for the story. It oozes slice-of-life and the designs of the main cast set next to their favorite anime/manga characters showcases an extra level of care to differentiate between styles, adding to the realism of the story.
The lettering is all easy to read and fits the word bubbles/squares well. The internal dialogue that is set against darker backgrounds has a thick enough white border to help it stand out and a variety of fonts are used which helps sell the tone.
The mixture of types of fans shown throughout the manga opens up the comedy and relatability for a variety of readers who are passionate about Japanese culture and showcases the community that can be built between fans. It highlights the strong bonds that fandom can create and how the love of a franchise can bring people together from all walks of life.
A newer manga originally printed in 2020 in Japan, The Geek Ex-Hitman is definitely made for a modern audience and the tropes and references reflect that. Phrases like “I stan him” and naming the fictional anime everyone is obsessed with after Hades and Eurydice brings the world of the story into our current time.
There are tons of cheeky references to classic titles like Pokémon and Prince of Tennis, making for a fun easter egg hunt while reading.
The anime made for the series that everyone is obsessed with, Hades Girl Eurydice, has an immense level of detail put into it since it is a major plot point. The cast members of the fictional series were given names and backstories, several episode synopsis blurbs are spoken about, and even a special move that Marco fights with “IRL” was designed. It’s a wonderful detail that really helps sell the narrative.
There’s an entire chapter dedicated to Marco trying to kill a cockroach and it’s hysterical.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Violence and blood, mild language, some adult-centered themes and jokes but nothing explicit.
Pages 12 and 14 are line-for-line identical with the only difference being a speech bubble changing from “…ah.” to “…..” and it is an immensely strange design choice. It looks like a misprint and I had to find a digital edition just to make sure it was intentional and not an issue with my volume.
Though the humor and references are incredibly on-point and relatable for those deep into otaku culture (or at least aware of it), it may not make a lot of sense to newer readers of manga. It does make it a niche title that isn’t approachable to everyone and may require some research for those who aren't aware of certain terms. There is a translations notes list but it does't necessarily encapsulate the reasons why certain jokes are funny.
It is hard to tell whether or not the characters are speaking in Italian or Japanese. There are one or two lines that are written in a classy, almost delicate font and the words are clearly Italian, i.e. “Fantastico Giappone” which means ‘fantastic Japan’, but other than that it’s hard to discern. It looks as though most of the dialogue meant to be in Italian is set between <> but when the Italian characters speak to each other those are missing, so it’s not overtly clear.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This laugh-out-loud manga channels the same self-aware, comedic slice-of-life elements with well done action sequences that made The Way of the Househusband such a well-loved series. The comedy is on par with Life Lessons with Uramichi-oniisan and Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, making this a top contender for your new favorite comedy manga series. Relatable, self-aware, and truly written for the ones who take pride in their fandoms and obsessions, Marco and his fellow geeks will worm their way into your hearts with ease.
Charming and superbly original, this introductory volume of The Geek Ex-Hitman puts a refreshing spin on the classic cold-blood killer protagonist that has gained popularity in recent years. With the right amount of espionage, fight sequences, and self-deprecating humor, this series will definitely be one to watch for those who crave some ridiculous action with their relatable stories.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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*Otaku - someone so addicted to a certain aspect of pop culture that it becomes detrimental, usually used in reference to fans of anime and manga.