Loki Ragnarok vol. 1
Jesika Brooks rates it:
Author/Artist: Sakura Kinoshita
Loki is a trickster god feared by many. Or, at least, he used to be. Now he lives in a huge house and runs a detective agency, all while in the body of a prepubescent boy. All of his friends and acquaintances are also Norse gods: His vegetable-growing neighbor is really love goddess, Freya, the mighty thunder god Thor has taken to being an excitable high school boy, and the giantess mother of Loki’s monsters winds up in a very unusual guise. Who knew Japan was such a hot spot for the superstars of Scandinavian myth?
One day, Loki’s walking home from a bakery when he runs into a dine-and-dash girl with a voracious appetite. She follows him home. There, Loki and his butler realize that, not only is her stomach bottomless, but she’s mute as well! They decide to let her stay at the house on the condition that she’ll help Loki with any cases. Loki decides to call her Spica, after a star in the constellation of Venus.
That night, Loki wakes up to a suffocating blackness. Deep in the throes of near-strangulation, he’s surprised to see Spica’s hands grasped around his throat! He fends her off and she collapses. The next morning, she can’t recall a thing.
Suddenly, Loki has his hands full with an interesting new case.
When Spica was first introduced, my “annoying girly love interest” sense started tingling. Thankfully, her appearances were limited to bright smiles and cute glances. Not only that, but her attacks on Loki really spiced up the story! For a manga with the word “detective” in its title, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok has surprisingly few mysterious undertones.
I love the idea of appropriating Norse mythology and using it to fuel a cutesy mystery-comedy. The incorporation of Norse gods and goddesses in anime and manga has been done before–one of the most infamous examples is with Fujishima Kosuke’s Ah! My Goddess!, wherein Belldandy, Urd, and Skuld become domestic goddesses rather than fierce, sword-wielding ones. Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok takes it to an interesting level, however. Those who are familiar with the myths will likely enjoy the character interaction more than those who aren’t. I was especially amused by the depiction of Fenrir, the son of Loki. Once a great hulking wolf god, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok‘s Fenrir is a small black puppy that yips, “Daddy! Daddy!” to Loki.
I keep expecting a gag to pop up in which Odin is revealed to really dig oden. If it doesn’t come up in a later volume, I’ll be ashamed to have thought up the pun in the first place. If anything, it would really fit with Detective Loki‘s tone– one brimming with weird puns and caricature.
Actually, the art really is quite nice. Its a bit saccharine at times, but hey, I’m allowed my sugar rush every now and again. The layout is easy to read, excepting a few pages in which panels that should have been laid out horizontally are instead tilted upright to fit on the page. I had to turn the manga in order to see what was going on–kind of irritating. There’s also a patch of Japanese writing left on page 113; I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but it looks a bit out of place.
Overall, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok is well worth a read. While it may not make everyone’s top ten list, it’s still a fun little manga that both entertains and blasphemes Norse mythology in the best possible way. As a mythology nut, I enjoyed the Norse references; for those without an interest in mythology, it may be a bit more bland and unfamiliar. Without the Norse jokes, Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok would be just another well-illustrated comic with cute little girls and boys getting into cute comedic situations. As is, the Norse myth adds a bit of darkness and a bit of interest, and bumps it up to an enjoyable level.
Added: Monday, July 18, 2005
Related Link: ADV Manga