THE WOLF NEVER SLEEPS, VOL.1
Orignal Story: Shienbishop
Art: Gonbe Shinkawa
Character Design: Kichi Taga
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Lettering: Brandon Bovia
Translation: Jason Moses
WHAT IS IT?
A legendary event transports a seasoned adventurer to a strange world filled with monstrous beasts and a promise of riches. The Wolf Never Sleeps is a dungeon-crawling isekai* manga filled with magic, action, and classic RPG elements.
Think Solo Leveling meets The Witcher.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Lecan is an adventurer known far and wide as the One-Eyed Wolf. He travels the world in search of monsters and mazes to hone his skills and reap the mana within. When a rare event known as a black whorl opens up a portal to another world, Lecan and his fellow adventurer Bohd step inside with the goal of improving their strength and finding the toughest dreadbeasts to slay.
Upon waking in a strange world, he discovers that Bohd has vanished and the beasts and humans around him are quite unlike the ones he’s come to know. When a carriage comes under attack, Lecan steps in to slay the formidable beasts. Little does he know that the passenger within will change the course of his adventure in an unforeseen way. Though he is welcomed and taken in by a well-off family rich in land and wealth, his journey of self-improvement and the call for adventure continues to pull him toward the fight.
Shienbishop’s story is filled with classic fantasy elements and excellent world-building. It feels dangerous and magical, and it is presented in a way where chaotic encounters and magic spells are believably commonplace. The cast of characters is elegantly written and portrays a sense of duty and honor that matches the seriousness of the overall tone.
Shinkawa’s art is stunning and sprawling. The sketchy style is rich with deep black tones and exquisitely fine details and shading, and the action jumps off of the page with expert mastery of motion. The smallest of panels are filled with textures and the full-page spread illustrations capture the wonder of the story in a breathtaking and expansive way.
Taga’s character designs are perfect for the story and setting. From Lecan’s scarred and gruff appearance to the creative and monstrous dreadbeasts, each individual cast member both human and creature alike are unique and memorable.
Bovia’s lettering is clean and easy to read and fits the bubbles appropriately. Text outside the bubbles is shadowed so it stands out against the backgrounds without being abrasive.
Moses’ translation work is commendable. It’s never easy handling a story with such heavy and unique lore as The Wolf Never Sleeps, but each story element and plot point comes across clearly.
Lecan is an atypical protagonist, especially for the isekai genre, which makes him instantly memorable. He’s collected, calculated, and rough in appearance with sharp features and a laser-focused mindset but comes across as gentlemanly and respectful. He’s far removed from the out-of-place, bumbling heroes one usually finds in these stories and he’s immensely captivating.
One of the most stand-out elements of this manga is the way Lecan’s abilities are showcased. He’s set against a pure black background with all of the shading removed from his body, leaving him almost floating amongst a void spotted with energy points as enemies approach him. It reads like an ability is being used but doesn't come across as cheesy.
There is an underlying storyline of royal politics in the world that Lecan finds himself in. As he integrates into this well-off family, he learns about their customs and expectations, which adds another layer of depth to his actions as he wrestles with his own goals and these strangers who accepted him.
Like many other isekai titles, RPG elements are a major part of this manga. Lecan’s abilities to scan for enemies, summon items from his inventory, etc, are key elements of his journey and they feel natural within his story. He exposits world-building narration in a way that reads like internal rumination, allowing the readers to familiarize themselves with important aspects in a clever way.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Strong fantasy violence, blood and gore, language.
Though it is a common trope in fantasy stories, the made-up language used for the world Lecan finds himself in can be a bit tedious, as though it was added to try and enhance the differences between the world Lecan knows and this new one. Though it is mostly kept to greetings and honorifics, and translations are provided, its place between the English words feels strange and reads oddly.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Based on a web novel by Shienbishop, this first volume of The Wolf Never Sleeps is an appealing and gripping introductory manga that balances several elements that both isekai fans and classic fantasy lovers will enjoy. With the growing popularity of isekai titles, finding one that focuses solely on adventure in a gritty, serious fashion like this is a treat. This title is perfect for fans of fantasy epics like Lord of the Rings, The Witcher, and Game of Thrones who also enjoy the nostalgic aspects of classic RPGs.
The fast-paced action is thrilling and filled with magic and swordsmanship, while the designs of the dreadbeasts are memorable and monstrous. Lecan’s cool, confident demeanor, excellent adventuring skills, and mysterious aura makes him a memorable hero. His sense of honor, coupled with his thirst for improvement, sets him apart from many fantasy heroes in modern manga.
The overall mystery of what awaits him in this new world, as well as the whereabouts of his missing friend, sets the series up for a thrilling and captivating narrative. Lecan's journey of dungeon-crawling, monster hunting, might and magic makes for a satisfying, powerhouse title that you won't want to miss.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Shienbishop, Kichi Taga, and Gonbe Shinkawa characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Shienbishop, Kichi Taga, and Gonbe Shinkawa or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*Isekai is a genre where the protagonist is suddenly transported from their world to another.