Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf
赤ずきんちゃんは狼さんを泣かせたい! (Akazukin-chan wa Ookami-san o Nakasetai!)
Josei – Comedy, gag
2 Volumes (complete)
Once upon a time, there was a young lady named Red Riding Hood… who was a pyromaniac. After destroying Wolf’s house, his crying face awakens something in Red Riding Hood. Now Wolf has to contend with Red’s harassment, idiotic hunters, and even more weirdos with not-so-thinly veiled threats. Forget about living happily ever after; Wolf just wants to live!
Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf started off as a fractured fairy tale, turned into a surreal comedy, and somehow ended with me realizing that I think the most disgusting thing in the world is to lick someone’s eye.
No, not tears, the eyeball. And no, there’s no zombie or magic eye or anything. I’m talking about actually going up to someone (humanoid animal or not) and licking your cornea like a piece of candy. I don’t care that this was only talked about for one chapter; I can’t even stand those bleeping glaucoma (puff of air) tests when I go to the eye doctor’s. We all have our secret fears and turn-offs, and I’ve read and seen plenty of disgusting, gory things, but just… ugh, the thought made me gag so much I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the manga.
So now that I’ve relayed my newest nightmare fuel, let’s get back to the story.
In the world of Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf, there are animals and humans, but there are also animals that look more like humans but count as animals. Case in point, the hero, Wolf. Wolf comes home and finds all his hard work to build himself shelter has burned up in flames — literally — thanks to Red Riding Hood. Well, the look on the crybaby Wolf’s face leads Red to declare she’s in love with him, and thus we follow along with Red’s various attempts to get him to love her back, cry some more, and become her caged prisoner.
You know, the typical wishes of a girl in love.
Wolf’s days just get even crazier when Red’s former fiancee, Hawk, and his friend Crow show up. Red’s rival and Wolf’s acquaintance Bunny (who calls himself the Great Bunny) starts hanging around, and the four Hunter quads continue to be an annoying nuisance. It’s the kind of life for the naive and scaredy-cat Wolf that would leave most creatures looking for a new neighborhood to live in.
Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf is kind of an unusual manga. Each chapter is a random blend of 4-koma-like strips and traditional manga storytelling. It usually starts off as traditional manga for at least a page, but it could also go for several pages. It’s a constant switch that gave me whiplash.
I have little doubt the series was axed early (the second and final volume introduces new characters that don’t go anywhere), but it also feels like the author said, “Screw it, I’m doing whatever!” I mean, the volume opens up with the characters imaging themselves in a shoujo manga. It’s not exactly the sort of humor you’d expect when you have alternate versions of classic fairy tale characters hanging around a forest. Would you have guessed one of the segments involve a UFO? Had the series continued on, I think it would have only continued further down the path of series like Nichijou.
The first volume didn’t really have that feel. It appeared to be, at its core, a story about a pure-hearted lead dealing with a bully of a love interest while also dealing with other weirdos. Something like a twisted version of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun or Rainbow Days. This isn’t really a romance though. At best, there’s a hint that one character’s love may not be unrequited after all. But Wolf x Red Riding Hood is a long way off… a LONG way considering the ending.
Interestingly enough, when I was getting the cover images for this review, I did find a listing for a third volume of Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf was originally scheduled for March 2018 in English but was canceled. So perhaps when Seven Seas licensed this series, they imagined (or were told by the Japanese publisher) it was going to go on for a while? Because honestly, the way it is right now, I wonder who would choose this series over other Comic Zero-Sum manga. I guess that’s a risk publishers take when they try to jump on bandwagons as fast as possible over going for longer-run series.
For me, the bright spot was some of the side characters. The Hunters are so stupid it’s hilarious. This is far from the first time someone has mad the axe-wielding savior dumber than a brick, but making them four siblings gives this a fresh spin. Granny was also funny, but her big secret is revealed too close to the ending to be played up. Riding Hood’s fetish with fire and ideas about kidnapping are, of course, the type of humor that some people may find inappropriate, but at least it’s established right away. So if you don’t like comedy centered around criminal behavior, you can ignore this series.
The art is fine and better than most short series. The visuals don’t look as if Hachioujou is just starting out. In fact, quite a bit of the comedy relies on the art, and the punchlines are easy to find. The only real downside is that a lot of times Hachioujou turns to SD or animal-like faces instead of funny expressions with their actual face. Wolf, for example, often has an extremely large head with a very simple baby-like face, and I just don’t like the style. All the other designs are good, particularly Crow’s androgynous appearance. The author never tries to overload the text in either the typical manga segments or the 4-koma, and that’s always a plus. There’s a little bit of risque humor considering this is a manga aimed at a josei audience, but it’s pretty tame considering. Seven Seas rates this a T (a rating often given to even pure series like Kitchen Princess), and I think it’s appropriate.
Honorifics are used. The series uses English-Japanese honorifics blends like “Wolf-san”, and I know some people would have “Mr. Wolf” for full English. In other series, for example, Princess Tutu, some people debate on whether names should be translated or left in Japanese since they’re names. However, considering almost everyone’s name are just titles and/or names of species, I think translating is the correct choice here.) Otherwise, the adaptation makes a few accents and changes in personality obvious.
Really, though, who cares. It’s two volumes, and the translation isn’t going to make it or break it for anyone.
Red Riding Hood and the Big Sad Wolf has two volumes with a different tone and developments that go nowhere. Gee, do you think I’m going to recommend this?