The Brave-Tuber Vol. 1 – Takahito Oosaki

4 out of 5

I thought it was pretty cool when manga started to incorporate “I’ve been transported into a video game” as a premise, until I realized how widespread of a spin on isekai that was. That doesn’t rob of it it potentially being fun, but the scene is definitely saturated with takes on it, so there’s gotta be more than just RPG references in there to make it stand out.

Takahito Oosaki’s “The Brave-Tuber” can’t be the first to incorporate a youtube spin into the mix, but it fulfills that qualification of “more than just references,” delivering laugh-out-loud physical / conceptual comedy and a couple of characters which, though loosely defined, feel like they have more personality than your average hero and cutesy spirit girl.

The setup mixes fantasy with social media: it’s a world of magic and swords… and also youtube videos (“WizTube”), on which you’ll find users demoing their powers, or trying out new slime-making potions, or reviewing armor. Zane, wielder of a holy sword, and the spirit of that sword, Kuku, are trying to make their mark on that scene – as that’s the only way to be profitable – but are stymied by Zane’s penchant for cutting vids short when he steamrolls through the demons he fights within seconds. Our first few episodes are spins on common youtube vids as Zane (filmed by Kuku) tries to find a formula for bringing in viewers; these work incredibly well because Oosaki avoids going for super specific parody and just lifts concepts, meaning readers years from now, when social media has inevitably morphed, will likely still be able to appreciate the humor of things never going the way Zane / Kuku would hope. Oosaki also smartly doesn’t tire out this vein – after a few chapters, we switch to focus on Kuku during downtime, and then on the Demon King himself, who seems to spend his whole day “weeting” over videos of wiztubers he digs, then mashing the dislike button on Zane’s vid. These are all cute bits, but there’s just enough characterization put in to make it flow like a story and not just isolated gags.

Artist Ikuro is a huge component of this, of course, making the jokes all land with great timing and acting. Backgrounds are occasionally lacking – it’d be nice to have gotten a better sense of place for some of the settings – but I appreciate that Ikuro may’ve realized their own limitations on that front, and so instead put work in to getting the character models and choreography right, which ultimately works for the tone.