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Villain Actor Volume 1 Review

Villain Actor Volume 1 Cover art with a flaming monster holding a beaten up hero

Publisher Summary


Perfect for fans of seinen and supernatural manga, this first volume sees Ayumu Mashiro transforming into Zero, the monstrous villain that once destroyed the world!


Ayumu Mashiro has given up on his dream of being a hero and settled down into the mundane life of a police officer… until one day he transforms into the legendary villain known as Zero! Now a mysterious voice is guiding him as he's thrown into the battle between good and evil! Villain Actor Volume 1 Review


Author: Mikumo Seto

Illustrator: Kentaro Harada

Translation: Motoko Tamamuro & Jonathan Clements

Lettering: Tom Williams I purchased Villain Actor Volume 1 with my own funds for the intent of this review

 

Background


The manga launched in Monthly Comic Zeon in July 2022. The series has 18 chapters and is compiled into three volumes.


On October 11th, 2023 Titan Manga announced it acquired the English license for the series physically and digitally.

 

Review


a showcase of two police officers, a super hero, a building, and a monster in the background

Thirty years ago, a surprise attack by aliens caused 1.3 million human lives to be destroyed. Despite the chaos, people around the world began to notice supernatural powers awakening inside them. These powers became known as "blessings." With these newfound powers, those gifted with them organized themselves as "heroes" to prevent another attack against humanity. And when the second alien attack happened months later, the heroes were successfully pushed back. Since then, a new company has been formed called Nast, whose promise is to help stabilize the global economy while also promising to protect citizens from future attacks with its brand of heroes. This brings us to our main character, Ayumu Mashiro. He is your standard upbeat police officer who has a strong sense of justice and wants to protect others from evil. However, unlike his superhero counterparts, he does not have any "blessings," so he relies on his natural ability to carry out his duties.


A police officer noticing an explosion and rushing in to investigate

One day on patrol, he noticed a large explosion on the highway and decided to investigate. There was an ongoing battle between the flame hero Firewolf and an alien who revealed he could communicate with humans. Behind them is a truck containing an alien body. After a fierce showdown with the alien, Firewolf and Ayumu are both close to death. However, Ayumu hears a voice asking if he wants "power." Ayumu agrees and notices that the alien body in the truck begins to fuse with his body into one superbeing. With this power, Ayumu defeats the alien and rushes over to resuscitate Firewolf. However, while in the middle of rescuing, Firewolf reveals to Ayumu that they've been deceived and the "alien" they were fighting was actually a human after all. He also tells Ayumu that the alien body in the truck is actually named "Zero," who was responsible for the original alien attack that wiped out 1.3 million people. As Ayumu comes to terms with this new information, he is surrounded by police and military units from Nast and is pinned for the murder of flame hero Firewolf. With nowhere else to go, Ayumu has taken on the role of a "villain" to uphold justice and get to the truth about the alien attack that day.


the police officer and alien fusing together into one being

Looking at its narrative, Villain Actor is a unique spin on the superhero story. It's very reminiscent of titles like "The Boys" and "Go! Go! Loser Ranger!". For example, we're shown a city covered with "Nast" merchandise, and the heroes being put on a social pedestal by its citizens. It's a world that's dominated by a corporation, and its heroes are the "product." We're shown a hint of Nast's "true colors" when they draw their guns on Ayumu and Zero after the fight. Which unites our two protagonists with a common goal.


I'd compare this relationship to Yuji and Sukuna's from Jujutsu Kaisen. While Zero is our "bad guy," he decides to help Ayumu discover the truth behind what Firewolf told him. Ayumu, on the other hand, does not want to be in the "villain" role. But due to the circumstances, he accepts it if it means he can carry out his idea of justice. I like this dynamic as the two have a mutual goal, but it's very clear that Zero and Ayumu have very different end goals once the truth has been discovered.


the alien putting up a barrier stopping a barrage of bullets

Another one of Villain Actor's strengths is the art and paneling. The characters expressions help convey the emotions they're feeling as we see them throughout the narrative. When the narrative shifts into its action sequences between those with "blessings," While there's your standard "Blocking Bullets," "Fire Attacks," and "Building Destruction," I can't help but be amazed at how detailed each attack is, which helps sell the "impact" each of these has on the environment around them. The Hero designs look like your standard costumes that'd you find in other super hero media, and Zero/Ayumu's combined form is this cool, sleek design that reminds me of Kafka's Kaiju design in Kaiju No. 8 (Minus pissing from your nipples). The artwork and paneling never overpower you and show everything to make each fight enjoyable to watch unfold.


the police officer and alien caught off guard by a sudden appearance of a hero

There wasn't much I didn't like as I flipped my way to the end of the volume. My only critique is that some of the phrases Ayumu says come off as "stiff" and lose some of the tension that was built up in the events prior. For example, when Ayumu and Zero hide out in a building discussing their next plan, A Nast hero bursts through the way, catching both of our characters off guard. However, in that moment, Ayumu decides to exclaim, "What the heck?" which comes off as nonserious given the circumstances.


However, it was not terrible enough that it ruined my overall enjoyment of what I've read in volume 1, and I want to know more about the "aliens," the true intentions of the "Nast" company, and Zero's true intentions.


 

Final Thoughts


I surprised with how much I enjoyed Villain Actor. I was initially drawn in with the cool cover design and what I got was a solid narrative that reminds me of "Go! Go! Loser Ranger" with really impressive artwork that really showcases the power of these "blessings". I enjoyed the dynamic between Ayumu and Zero and all aspects of this manga have me invested in this conspiracy superhero/villain dynamic story line


Verdict: Buy It


Villain Actor Volume 1 from Titan Manga is now available at all retailers

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