#MANGA: Is 'Mashle: Magic and Muscles' ready for an anime adaptation?
Written by: Nicole Castro
Published on: December 21, 2021 at 17:00 PHT (GMT+8)
We don't want to raise false hopes, but when Shueisha brought up Mashle: Magic and Muscles at JUMP FESTA 2022 last Dec. 18-19, 2021 (that announced anime adaptations for big titles such as Rurouni Kenshin, BLEACH, and Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku), it made us wonder: is MASHLE on the verge of an anime adaptation?
But to set the record straight, what Shueisha announced at JUMP FESTA for MASHLE was the release of volume 9 of the manga, and with it came a promotional video (PV) with voice actors Yuki Kaida (甲斐田 ゆき) as Abyss and Natsuki Hanae (花江 夏樹) as Mash Burnedead. So no, no anime announced as of this writing.
(But if MASHLE ever does get an anime adaptation, do you think these two seiyuu would be perfect for these characters?)
In addition, it's a thoughtful reference that the theme song for the above PV is 「世界を敵に回しても」(Romaji: Sekai wo teki ni mawashitemo, Rough English: Even if the world turns against us) from Tenipuri All Stars, as Kaida is famous for voicing Shūsuke Fuji from the Prince of Tennis series. We even have manga panels of Mash playing tennis. Hopefully, the more attention MASHLE as a series gets, the higher the chances of it being animated.
But wait, what is MASHLE exactly? And what makes it deserve an anime adaptation?
Mashle: Magic and Muscles is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Kōmoto. It has been serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine since January 2020, with its chapters collected in nine tankōbon volumes as of December 2021.
The plot revolves around Mash Burnedead, a young man who was born without magic in a magical world. In order to live a peaceful life with his adoptive grandfather, he needs to become a Divine Visionary, a title given to exceptional students from the Easton Magic Academy. Mash goes to the magic school, despite not having any magic, and must survive by only relying on his muscles.
If you thought Mash was an example of the shounen manga stereotype of "anime character with superior physical prowess but zero magic skills," then yes, you're absolutely right. Other similar characters would be Rock Lee of Naruto who is unable to use most ninja techniques but excels in taijutsu, or Maki Zenin and Toji Fushiguro of Jujutsu Kaisen who are bound by Heavenly Restrictions, depriving them of cursed energy in exchange for unparalleled strength. These three characters, while not the main personalities of their respective series, have profound storylines revolving around the unconventional ways they circumvent their obvious limitations. Mash, as an oddball character in his universe while also its protagonist, creates more possibilities for the story and in turn its comedic moments.
And since we've been mentioning muscles so much, now is the time to discuss how, for better or worse, MASHLE lives under the shadow of a similar series that is also published by Shueisha: One-Punch Man by ONE. The manga for One-Punch Man has been ongoing serialization in Tonari no Young Jump since 2012 and was adapted into a TV anime series by Madhouse (Season 1) and J.C.Staff (Season 2) in 2015 and 2019 respectively. The protagonist is Saitama, a seemingly ordinary and unimpressive hero whose only outstanding trait is that he is so strong he could take out most enemies in literally just one punch. While One-Punch Man is not the first series to feature a deadpan-but-low-key-amazing protagonist, it made the gag comedy style for precisely this kind of protagonist iconic.
So, the question is, will MASHLE as a series dive or thrive under this shadow?
Well, one thing we can say in favor of MASHLE is how unapologetic it is about parodying another well-loved series, Harry Potter. Everything from the character designs to the vibes of Easton Magic Academy, all the way to the Quidditch game in Chapter 6 remind you that this series is not afraid to deconstruct the magical elements of Harry Potter and to laugh at them in place of putting them on a pedestal. Mash is definitely here to prove a point, and that's by not taking things too seriously.
So, if MASHLE were to get its own anime adaptation, would it fly or flop?
From a logical perspective, it's safe to say MASHLE would receive at least moderate success as an anime. If done with excellent execution, it could soar. The series already has the usual shounen elements that most people look for in a show. And if you didn't know about One-Punch Man, you'd think the gag comedy style is refreshing among the usual shounen series. And even if you are already a fan of One-Punch Man, it would still make for an interesting analysis on how MASHLE would be both similar to and different from One-Punch, since they are still made by different authors.
But more importantly, MASHLE still has plenty of room to grow in its original manga form. The series only began serialization in 2020 and is at just nine volumes, so we think it's a good idea to wait for the manga to develop further before adapting it into a TV anime that could satisfy audiences with enough comedy but also complexity and detail.