This other world makes for a terribly boring game.

Title: Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Fujimi Shobo (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Hiro Ainana (Writer), shri (Character Design), AYAMEGUMU (Art)
Translation: Jenny McKeon
Original Release Date: January 24, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.

In the same way that not every anime adaptation of a manga or light novel is created equal, not every manga adaptation of a light novel is created equal either. Some of them are a great way to experience otherwise unlikely to be licensed or adapted series and others feel like a dull rehash. Given my complaints with the first light novel volume of Death March to the Parallel Rhapsody I wondered if adding visuals to the story would jazz up this frightfully wordy story. Alas, Death March‘s overuse of exposition and cliches is even further exasperated in manga form.

For one thing, instead of trimming out secondary details in order to adapt the pacing this manga tries to keep every last idea in! The pages are just covered in word bubbles, averaging at least six a page, and it’s a rare panel that doesn’t have any kind of text on it. Manga and light novels are different mediums and, in an ideal world, each would be utilized to tell different kinds of stories. If Death March is determined to keep every last bit of minutia then it really works better in a strictly prose format. The artwork too adds barely anything at all to the story, except to emphasis how young and cute all of the girls crushing on Satou are (who’s revealed to be 29 here, making this all the creepier).

Thus, all of Death March the light novel’s problems are carried over to this manga version. The story spends too much time “world building” without purpose, the story mistakes excessive game mechanics for “actually interesting and relevant world building details,” and the many female side characters have frightfully few character traits other than looking cute and being flustered in the face of unexpected danger. The one upside is that since there are so many side details in the manga it’s actually a bit harder to spot the “chekov’s open carry” foreshadowing which is actually a good thing!

There is still no real reason to check out this franchise — there’s a better story out there for nearly every element in Death March — but if you’re dying for a new “other world” series and are determined to read this one anyway: read the light novel. The light novel will at least satisfy anyone’s desire for small details: Satou’s “personality” actually feels a little more defined in the light novel, and the light novel at least provides a better hook for a sequel. This manga volume covers roughly two-thirds of the first light novel, and does end in a reasonable place, but the light novel at least gives a hint that there’s something more out there.