Do you enjoy a good post-apocalyptic story? How about cooking? Giant spiders? A feel good slice-of-life? If I’ve hit on one or more of your genre faves, than I’ve got a manga for you. Giant Spider and Me: A Post Apocalyptic Tale is a short, 3 volume miniseries published by Seven Seas that hits all of the genres I’ve listed above. It may seem like a strange combination, but I assure you it works! This manga very quickly catapulted itself into one of my top favorites for just how unique its story and narrative combinations are, and I truly wish this series could have had more volumes. Three volumes definitely does not seem like enough, but the stories told within hold a fascinating combination of feel-good iyashikei/slice-of-life and post-apocalyptic horror. If you haven’t already picked up this manga, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s not a large reading investment and I do think there’s a bit of something for many different manga lovers out there.
Giant Spider and Me follows the young girl Naga who has grown up in a post-apocalyptic version of Japan where the seas have risen to flood all the major cities. People have adapted to a more rural way of life as they slowly recover. In the midst of this, Naga’s father decides to head out on a journey around the world, leaving his daughter to fend for herself in their small cabin and farm. One day coming back from checking on their farm, she encounters a giant spider like nothing she’s ever seen before. It follows her home and slowly becomes the lonely Naga’s best friend and confidant, if only the rest of the village thought the same way.
The story and art for this series is done by Kikori Morino who only seems to have one other one-shot creation to their name (according to MyAnimeList). Giant Spider and Me seems to be their biggest success and most well-known series. Looking at their art, you wouldn’t think so though. It’s polished with a perfect amount of style to make it stand out from a lot of other series. I love how they have designed both the characters and the giant spider, Asa, as they come off as feeling kind of soft in a way. Asa isn’t necessarily designed as a horror-like spider, but it does have features that make it slightly spooky at times. And Morino inserts moments throughout the series where we get to see a spookier side of Asa in terms of its very large teeth.
It’s here that I really fell in love with the series. Morino does a great job melding horror and slice-of-life with little moments here and there to keep you on your toes and slightly off-balance. It gives the series a feeling of depth and uniqueness where many cooking/slice-of-life manga have never thought to tread. Asa’s soft design of a fuzzy body, covered in leaves, with big round eyes draws the reader and Naga into a sense of comfort. Asa comes to be seen as a cuddly friend who would never harm anyone. But those few and far-between moments Morino inserts where we get to see Asa, all sharp-toothed fury, just being a spider monster, throw the whole comfy atmosphere off balance for a little while, letting you wonder what Morino really meant for this story to be.
The added post-apocalyptic elements only add to this sense of depth. In the first chapter we see the extent of the flooding in the background, tall buildings sitting dilapidated and sunk in water as Naga walks through the woods. We also see more evidence of this as Naga takes Asa to her favorite picnic spot that just happens to be an overgrown bus in a field of flowers. It becomes this cheery scene with a backbone of despair as the world we, the reader, know no longer exists. But to Naga, this world full of evidence of a once great past is all she knows and she takes a refreshingly positive stance on her life in this world. So while the manga series adopts this sort of depressing background, it adapts and transforms it into this feel-good story about a girl making a friend and connecting to it and the people around her through her cooking. It’s a nice refreshing take on a genre that almost always winds up being grim and dark in its tone.
That brings me to the series’ next strength: cooking. Much like the series What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Giant Spider and Me incorporates recipes into each of its chapters, with easy to follow directions including an ingredient list at the end with the finished product. However, where I think this manga differs from WDYEY in terms of its cooking aspect is the execution and incorporation of these recipes into the wider story. If you’ve read my review of the BL cooking manga series, you know I had some issues with how the author inserted cooking into each chapter. It felt like it took over the chapter and wound up serving very little purpose.
With Giant Spider and Me, cooking is Naga’s way of communicating with people and making connections with those around her. She uses food to tame and “talk” with Asa and she cooks to show her feelings to the people she meets. The recipes are explained very well and the added ingredient list means that the reader will have an easy time making it themselves if they want. I never found myself getting annoyed with the moments of cooking in each chapter because there were so many other things going on: story, character development, and world building. It became part of Naga’s caring personality to cook for anyone she met and to enjoy cooking and sharing with Asa. We see through her excitement to cook for Asa just how lonely she must be as her father wanders who-knows-where.
The culmination of all these elements creates this truly unique and comforting series with just a touch of darkness that gives depth to the overall narrative. I loved seeing the way Morino built her world piece by piece, sometimes in the background of scenes, as the story progressed. And while I’m sad that there was only three volumes to enjoy the adventures of Naga and Asa and the various delicious food they get to enjoy, I found that it doesn’t necessarily need more chapters to be an enjoyable series or progress the story to where it needs to be. The story is episodic enough without too much of an overarching plot, that the three volumes provide a nice snippet of a world that could be expanded on if Morino wanted to, but doesn’t necessarily have to be.
So if you haven’t already picked up this series to read, I would highly suggest at least picking up the first volume. If any of the story elements appeal to you, I think you’ll get more than you bargained for out of this series, and the tone and narrative winds up being a nice feel-good manga to read this spooky season. Let me know in the comments if you’ve already read this manga, and if so, what you thought!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress for all Bloom Reviews content updates and news!
If you like what I do, consider supporting me on Ko-fi.