Stars: Takehito Koyasu, Jun Fukuyama, Haruka Tomatsu
The manga market is full of stories of people being transported to another world, but what if they return to Japan after spending significant time in another world? Well, that’s what the guy from another world is here to tell us!
The story follows Takafumi, whose uncle has been in a coma for 17 years. Suddenly, his uncle wakes up and reveals that the whole time he was in a coma in Japan, he was actually adventuring in a fantasy world! To begin with, Takafumi assumes his uncle is confused, but to clear up any misunderstandings, his uncle shows some magic!
As Takafumi has been working part-time to make ends meet, he quickly realizes that he could use his uncle’s skills to make cool YouTube videos and earn enough money to live a more comfortable life. But first, he needs to update his uncle on everything that has been lost over the years, including the explosion of the Internet, smartphones, and video games.
Uncle from Another World is a comedy series that knows its audience well. While there is a lot of otaku cultural humor through Takafumi sharing popular Japanese media with his uncle, there is also a lot of tried and tested isekai humor as the uncle shares his otherworldly experiences. With help, he is able to create a screen in the air to relive and share a few select moments with Takafumi, who is increasingly amazed at how many great things have happened.
Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about this one. I like the basic premise, but some of the jokes aren’t funny and I’m not sure they’ll go well with the art style. This manga has been created by Hotondoshindeiru and it is his first work published in English. His art style is quite realistic and I don’t find the cast all that nice to watch.
There’s certainly value in giving us characters that don’t look like the pretty boys and girls we normally find in the genre, and the panels are very well detailed. The scenes depicting the fantasy world match what you’d expect to see, so it’s mainly the Japan sections that mystify me. Of course, this doesn’t mean the artwork is bad in any way, it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as I’d hoped.
The biggest problem in general is that if you don’t like video games or the isekai genre, some of the jokes will fall flat and that will make the book good or bad for you. There’s a fairly long page of translation notes at the back of the book to help with the jokes, but these won’t help you as you read the scene (although I appreciate your presence anyway). It’s certainly worth a look if you like the sound of the premise, but I’d go in with lower expectations.
Perhaps none of this is helped by the fact that Takafumi and his uncle aren’t that interesting as characters. The guy doesn’t have much of a personality outside of his gags, and while Takafumi works better in this regard, he still doesn’t offer as much depth.
Uncle from Another World Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Christina Rose. The translation reads well, and as mentioned above, there are plenty of translation notes to help explain some of the references, which is appreciated! The series is ongoing in Japan for six volumes and Yen has Volume 2 of the series scheduled for release in August.
Overall, Uncle from Another World offers something new in the crowded isekai genre, but it certainly won’t be for everyone. How much you enjoy it will vary, depending on your thoughts on the art style and humor, but as long as you can stick with it, you’ll have fun with it.