Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: ‘Kaiju No. 8’ mixes big fun and big monsters in a manga

Giant monsters, also known as kaijus, wreaking havoc and fighting is a hallmark of Japan and America with icons like Godzilla and King Kong.

“Kaiju No. 8,” also known as “Monster #8,” is an ongoing manga that was first published in July 2020. Written and drawn by Naoya Matsumoto, it has seen monstrous success in less than a year with more than  a million copies in circulation and a physical, English release planned for fall 2021.

The manga follows a man named Kafka who wanted to be a part of the defense force that fights kaijus to fulfill a promise to his childhood friend, who ended up joining and rising to the top. Yet ultimately, Kafka gave up after multiple failed attempts and is a washed-up man in his 30s lamenting how he ended up on the other side of things.

He works as a glorified janitor who cleans up the remains of the kaijus defeated by the defense force. However, things start changing for him when a janitor recruit inspires him to try to join the defense force again.

Both bond while working, until they are attacked by a kaiju. They try to save each other, but they’re still too weak to do anything and end up being saved by the defense force, which includesKafka’s childhood friend who refuses to acknowledge him.

They end up in a hospital, which is where the story really takes a turn. A small fly-like kaiju appears and says that it found Kafka and goes inside his mouth. Afterwards, he undergoes a metamorphosis that turns him into a humanoid kaiju.

From there, the story becomes about his efforts to join the defense force as a human while hiding his transformations.

The manga has a lot of things working in its favor, like having an older and more experienced protagonist, which is uncommon. The characters are likable, especially the recruit that sticks by Kafka’s side after he turns into a kaiju. There’s amazing art in the kaiju designs, whether it’s the design of Kafka in kaiju form or of the various kaijus the defense force encounters over the series. The series contains riveting action, which might remind some readers of "Attack on Titan."

There are only 28 chapters out for those that want to catch up, and I highly recommend it for fans of the movie series “Pacific Rim” or monster movies in general. It makes for a very exciting and entertaining read.

The manga is currently available to read officially in English at Mangaplus and Viz. Both sources publish simultaneously with the original work, so there’s no time lag between releases.

Both sources have the first three chapters free to read for those that want to try this and have smartphone apps available.

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