From one half of the team behind Akame ga Kill! comes the new series Slasher Maidens, published by Yen Press. The new manga promises a unique and exciting action-filled story, but does it deliver? Let’s find out!
Our story revolves around protagonist Asuma Sudo, who lives in a world where a mysterious phenomenon transforms people into “Kaijin” when their mental stress reaches a peak or they’ve suppressed their desires for too long. This transformation leaves them as nothing but monsters who want to kill humans. While the world is aware of the Kaijin, most of the information is kept a secret and Asuma certainly doesn’t see them as anything but an urban legend.
Instead of worrying about Kaijin, Asuma is busy trying to get the attention of the girl of his dreams, Innami, who is a student at Meidou Girls Academy. While they may not attend the same school, Asuma is already devoted to Innami and has even gone so far as to burn all his porn and suppress his lustful desires. Since he’s known as the biggest pervert among his classmates since elementary school, this isn’t an insignificant change in lifestyle for him.
One day, Asuma receives an invitation to transfer into Meidou Girls Academy and while anyone else would wonder why they’ve been recruited out of the blue, Asuma is simply happy to have the chance to get to know his crush. However, his world is turned upside down when he realises the Academy is a front for an anti-Kaijin task force and he’s been recruited to help keep the girls that fight on the front line sane…
Those who fight against the Kaijin wield “Mementos”, powerful weapons that give the girls of Meidou Academy the power to fight the Kaijin. But these weapons still have lingering desires left over from their owner and, if used for too long, can drive those using them to lose all sense of reason. Once that happens, the user can only be brought back by killing someone or by being provided with a stimulus of eros, which is why Asuma is there.
Asuma is tasked not with fighting the Kaijin but instead jumping in to bring the girls back to themselves should the Mementos gain control. He does this by kissing them, groping them or doing anything that will stimulate their sexual feelings. This is, frankly, the biggest issue Slayer Maidens has.
Where most series would have put Asuma into the position of ‘hero’, someone to help combat the Kaijin alongside the girls, author Tetsuya Tashiro almost makes him into a villain. None of Asuma’s classmates are all that fond of him, given his tendency to lust over them and as a reader, it’s difficult for me to relate to his actions either. It’s uncomfortable to see him bring the girls back to their senses, especially when they’re not particularly accepting of what’s being done to them (although they understand it’s important so they don’t murder someone instead).
In a lot of ways, the premise reminds me of Super HxEros, which received an anime adaptation last season. The big difference is that Super HxEros was a comedy and extremely comfortable with sex, whereas Slasher Maidens is much more serious and uncomfortable to read. It hasn’t gone to any great length to alleviate any of the issues either, instead, it doubles down on them later on in the volume where Asuma loses control and almost rapes a Kaijin.
Honestly, this is a huge shame since I quite enjoyed Akame ga Kill! and I like some of what Slasher Maidens is offering. The idea of the Kaijin and Mementos is interesting and they’re backed up by some great artwork by Tetsuya Tashiro, but that just doesn’t make up for what’s a fairly creepy execution otherwise. Had Asuma been likeable then perhaps there would have been room for forgiveness, but he’s not and even the justification for why he’s the way he is feels forced. It’s disappointing for sure.
Usually, I’d say it might be worth reading another volume to find out if things improve, but in this case, even that’s hard to justify for the average reader. This first volume is already quite chunky at 304 pages and the chapters are long enough where it’s difficult to imagine the series will change significantly in future entries.
As previously mentioned, Slasher Maidens Volume 1 has been brought to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Julie Goniwich. The translation reads well with no issues to speak of and there are two pages of translation notes at the back of the book. The series is on-going in Japan at four volumes. Yen currently have Volume 2 scheduled for an English release in February.
Overall, Slasher Maidens is quite a disappointment after a series like Akame ga Kill!. There is an interesting concept here but it’s overshadowed by an uncomfortable and off-putting way of storytelling that will serve to do nothing but put readers off. It’s not irredeemable, but I doubt many will stick with it to find out if it ever does improve after this instalment.