Mr. Villain’s Day Off Volume 4 Review

It’s Christmas on Earth and the General/Mr. Villain (on his day off) is wondering how to choose a present for his second-in-command Rooney who has suggested they follow Earth customs and exchange gifts. It’s fortunate, then, that he happens to encounter the white-bearded gentleman he helped before to distribute presents and who seems to have exactly the answer he’s been searching for: “I choose them by imagining the smile the gift will bring to the recipient’s face.”

One rainy day, Mr. Villain is going through a nearby park when he becomes aware of a cat mewing in the bushes. On further investigation, it turns out to be not a flesh and blood creature but a little robot. And when it addresses him in a feeble voice as “Human” he goes closer, asking what it’s doing there, only to receive the answer, “Just waiting for my energy… to run out.” Mr. Villain covers the little robot with his umbrella and goes on his way but returns – just as its memory is fading – to hook it up to a battery and boost its power. The memories stored in the robot cat (C-018) are a sequence of failing to pass the various tests its scientist creators put it through, culminating in the stark label: ‘Mark for Disposal’.

It seems that the little robot was created to be a weapon against the humans (and other aliens threatening the home planet) but it’s not able to carry out such functions. Even when it tries to bite Mr. Villain’s arm, it doesn’t cause any damage, so he pops it into a cat carrier and takes it back to ask Rooney and other scientists to check it out. When C-018 has been disassembled and reassembled (during which time the General finds it hard to concentrate on his work) he hurries to the lab to find out the verdict…

Meanwhile, it’s spring on Earth and the cherry trees are in bloom, so the saga of the cherry tree spirit in the park and her admirer continues, with Mr. Villain playing Cupid as the two are still too shy to strike up a proper conversation.

Readers who watched the recent anime TV series of Mr. Villain’s Day Off will already be familiar with the material in this volume as it was very faithfully adapted and animated. Nevertheless, reading the original artwork and story is well worth your time as there’s nothing quite like the original manga to give all kinds of insights (and little details) that might pass you by (or be omitted) in the animated version.

Fans of the Earth Rangers will not be disappointed either; we get several delightful and touching glimpses into the lives of these (very) young defenders of the earth, mostly around the giving of gifts. Daybreak Pink has encountered Mr. Villain in his human form before and was secretly delighted when he recognized and acknowledged her secret yearning to be Magical Girl. So, when she spots him again around Valentine’s Day, she can’t help remembering their earlier meeting and wondering who he might be choosing chocolates for. To her surprise, he’s agonizing over which box of animal chocolates to buy. I guess he’s an animal lover… Later, we see what the other Earth Rangers bought for her for White Day… and her reaction when she gets back to her room.

If you are looking for a linear plot development in this relaxed yet sometimes poignant series with its humorous take on the secret life of a supervillain, then you’ll be disappointed. After four volumes, though, it feels as if something needs to happen as the Dawn Red Ranger and Mr. Villain continue to bump into each other, with Mr. Villain constantly insisting that as it’s his day off, he’s not interested in fighting. I find myself wishing for something to happen; Mr. Villain is, after all, a fearsome alien who’s been instructed to destroy the inhabitants of Earth. Is he going to change his mind – and turn traitor to his own planet? Is he going to try to persuade his superiors to think again and avert disaster for humankind? Or are these themes just too big to deal with in such a charmingly drawn and gentle comic? Volume 5 is due out in August 2024 and the series is ongoing at six volumes in Japan, so I guess we’ll find out then which way Yuu Morikawa wants to take the General and the Earth Rangers.

The translation for Square Enix Manga is again by Julie Gonwich, ably backed up by Kelsey Denton’s versatile lettering which conveys everything from the speech of tree spirits to robot pets. I’m pleased to say that Square Enix Manga have kept the atmospheric colour page at the front of the manga (the contents on the other side of the main image are framed by delightful chibi images of pandas and the main characters).

Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

8 / 10


Sarah's been writing about her love of manga and anime since Whenever - and first started watching via Le Club Dorothée in France...

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