Manga Review – Manga Dogs

Manga Dogs Volume 1

Manga Dogs
Shoujo – Comedy, reverse harem
3 Volumes (complete)
Kodansha USA


Fifteen-year-old Kanna is a manga artist, but her series is in danger of being cancelled. She enrolls in a new manga course, but it’s worthless! And, much to her annoyance, three guys decided to learn about writing and drawing from Kanna, and they all have delusional ideas about what being a pro means!


Manga Dogs‘ humor feels less like it’s a satire of the manga industry and more like how the three guys are incredibly stupid.

If you don’t know who the God of Manga is or the names of manga magazines, please look elsewhere. I don’t mean this as an insult, but Manga Dogs makes a lot of references that even veteran manga readers can miss. Some titles it references aren’t even available (legally, of course) in the US. While the notes at the end can help explain the humor, if you have to have the joke explained to you, the effect is lost.

I thought this series would be more parody-ish. The guys would come up with some ridiculous idea (like an ugly yankee for a love interest or an absurdly overpowered hero) and Kanna would act as the tsukkomi. In this case, however, it’s kind of an odd combination. Several manga deal with outsiders (aka “normals”) versus artists and otaku, but it’s rare to see three teenagers so clueless about their dream industry. There’s also not much educational value like some other manga-about-manga series do (explain the name and such). So the comedy is lacking and the insider’s view of the industry is minimal. It’s unfortunate because I like both of those.

The guys almost never even get into the brainstorming stage; instead they obsess over signatures and spending money. Kanna constantly thinks to herself about how stupid and lazy the three guys are but seldom voices it. Of course, they eventually get closer, and she gets drawn into their delusions occasionally. The three guys are also rather naive, believing any lie Kanna tells them. I keep saying “the three guys” since they are a packaged deal; very few times are they separated. They are almost always called by their nicknames. Kanna herself also has her eccentricities, and the others around her are of little help even with their best intentions. Buddha statutes as love interests, anyone? I actually found the two teachers to be the funniest characters.

A lot of the humor does not deal directly with the manga industry. Manga is always tied in, but it is often the mechanism for the punchline rather than the inspiration. Scenes where the three boys attend Comiket are funnier to me than when the guys choose to ride a bike over a car with driver. It doesn’t help the manga brings in one new character with much fanfare and then quickly drops him. It’s too bad, as he could have brought in more of the self-deprecating humor of the manga industry this series needed.

Characters all have long bangs and rather small eyes. The main cast doesn’t look that much different from main characters in the author’ other series. Her designs are more…serious looking than many other shoujo artists. She’s not an artist whose strong suit is beautiful or moe-type characters. I’m not calling her artwork terrible; Toyama just is not the type to focus on sparkles and frills. Her characters look more tsuntsun than deredere. As chapters are short at about 10 pages, the artwork can feature many dialogue-heavy panels. Some gags are based on the visuals, and the artist does a good job of providing enough space to fully appreciate the humor.


No honorifics are used except for “sensei” and a couple random ones left in.Ironically, the school teachers are not called “sensei”. Regardless, I know using honorifics is hotly debated, but it is really odd considering that titles like The Seven Deadly Sins keep them in. I mean, readers need to be familiar with manga to understand this story anyway.

Anyways, several pages of translation notes are included. Most are about the references the manga makes to real-life people and places. The dialogue is punched up and Americanized, mostly in regards to Kanna’s monologues. (“Call the funny farm!” “My Kryptonite!!”) There’s even a joke about a character using a rotary phone despite being seen with a smartphone earlier in the volume. This adaptation also seems to switch surnames for personal on occasion. It does keep terms like “dojinshi” and “Comiket”. One character is given the wrong gender in the first volume, but it isn’t known until the second.

Final Comments:

If you’re looking for parodies about manga tropes and cliches, Manga Dogs will not satisfy you. This series is more about those crazy fanfiction authors who believe they are destined for success with no effort.

Each volume includes a color insert. Several of Toyama’s other series were published in the US, including her more well-known ongoing series Missions of Love aka Watashi ni xxx Shinasai! also from Kodansha USA.

This applies to all of Kodansha USA’s recent releases: FIX YOUR BINDING. I didn’t pay to read most of the story. I have physically pull the pages in order to read some of the text. This is not only worrying (I’m afraid the spine will break), but it’s super awkward and uncomfortable to hold. They really need to do something about this. Make the pages slightly smaller, raise the price, cut the color insert, something.

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