Image of Record of Ragnarok
One side has Nikola Tesla and Sparta's King Leonidas. The other has Zeus and Odin. Who's going to come out on top? (Image via Instagram/@d_eo__7)

‘Record of Ragnarok’ Deviates From the Typical Manga Formula

Don’t look for the usual cliches here. This series is about humans fighting gods in a one-on-one tournament, and the fate of humanity is at stake.

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Image of Record of Ragnarok

Don’t look for the usual cliches here. This series is about humans fighting gods in a one-on-one tournament, and the fate of humanity is at stake.

If you’re a manga or anime fan, you may think you’ve seen it all. You’ve seen alien fighters battle to save the world, a scrappy knuckleheaded ninja and most recently, a dynamic class of teen superheroes. While all of these series are great, many longtime fans may feel like too many of them play on typical formulas and overused cliches. There are only so many times that the “power of friendship” can be used to save your favorite main characters from total destruction. It’s natural to want to see something different.

With so many mangas, you may think there’s nothing more that can be done. But I can guarantee you’ve never seen Adam from the Bible take on the mythological god Zeus in an effort to save humanity from complete extinction.

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about this absolutely wild series.

“Record of Ragnarok,” also known as “Shūmatsu no Walküre,” is a manga series written by co-authors Shimya Umemura and Takumi Fukui, and it’s illustrated by Ajichika. The series is published by Monthly Comic Zenon.

“Record of Ragnarok” begins in a giant coliseum far grander than any human architecture. It is there that the world’s creators, the gods, convene to debate humanity’s future. The will of the gods is unanimous: Humanity is to be eradicated due to their heinous actions throughout their long history.

There is a little voice that speaks up and proposes that humanity should get one last chance to save themselves. The proposal? A humans versus gods, one-on-one tournament to decide humanity’s future. Enthusiastically, the gods agree.

The stage is set, and 13 of humanity’s most notable figures across history are selected to fight against 13 of the most notorious mythical gods.  What follows is probably one of the most intense and edge-of-your-seat experiences put to page.

From the first battle, which sees Norse god Thor taking on infamous war general Lu Bu, absolute war oozes from every single panel. Readers can practically feel the thunderous pain that is dealt with every punch and attack.

Now that you get the gist of the story, you might think the premise is interesting. But if the series is just a bunch of people fighting, then it may not exactly be the most well-written story.

At its core, “Record of Ragnarok” is an action-fighting manga; if you’re expecting the next “Death Note,” you may want to look elsewhere.

But that doesn’t mean that “Record of Ragnarok” doesn’t shine in its storytelling either. Each round delivers mesmerizing combat, but the series also takes the time to give readers the information needed to understand each fighter’s backstory and motivations. This is where the story really elevates. As readers learn more about each fighter, they begin to empathize with them.

While fighting mangas tend to use flashbacks, they are particularly effective in “Record of Ragnarok.” One of the most notable examples is in round four’s fight, between the god Heracles and the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. While each previous round has readers easily rooting for the human fighters, this round complicates things.

After all, Jack the Ripper is a serial killer, so naturally, the decision to have him fight for humanity makes readers question their morality. And while the unique take on his backstory doesn’t excuse the character’s real life actions, his tragic backstory helps readers both gain empathy and question their own moral philosophy.

It’s made even more difficult when his opponent, Heracles, is portrayed as honorable, noble and even protective of humans. The fact that he is fighting against humanity adds another layer of nuance to the match. Needless to say, the lines get really blurred in this fight. What follows is a seriously intense back-and-forth battle that puts readers on a roller coaster of emotions — all the way up to the very end, as the victor makes the final blow.

The series has just finished its fifth round, but readers still have a long way to go before the tournament reaches its conclusion. Fans are excited to see many different fighters that have yet to compete. On the gods’ side, everyone is excited to see Buddha, Odin and Apollo. On the other side, the Spartan king Leonidas and the technological innovator Nikola Tesla are also set to fight for humanity.

Just like you, I am also really curious as to how Nikola Tesla will find a way to take on the gods, but fans will just have to wait and see.

Now would be a great time to check this series out, because it was just announced that the series will receive an anime adaptation produced by the studio Graphinica. While waiting for the anime to be released, take the time to read this phenomenal work of art for yourself; you might find yourself raising your fist in triumph as humanity makes its final stand against its creators.

Writer Profile

Alex Luna

University of California, Berkeley
English

Student at UC Berkeley currently majoring in English. Lover of all things anime, literature, sports and debating the possibility of parallel universes.

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