A classic sports tale plays out in Monster Wrestling: Interspecies Combat Girls, Vol. 1. Tirol is a young scrapper, scooped off the streets by an aloof but passionate wrestling pro named Kayla, who wants nothing more than the success of her all-female team. That success seems hard to come by after 15 straight losses, but Tirol never loses her fighting spirit. Tirol simply wants to make any sort of impression on her senpai, who seems more indifferent than anything. Dreams of reaching the top are put to the test when another team comes in and tries to steal success, and her senpai, away. Each match tests both Tirol’s physical and mental strength, along with those of the two hellhounds attached to her body.
Oh, did I not mention? It’s interspecies wrestling. Demi-humans (monsters) and humans coexist, and naturally have formed exploitative wrestling leagues.
Monster Wrestling Vol. 1 is the first in a series done by a talented team featuring Ganmarei, known hentai extraordinaire, and authors Tyataniyou & Takeo Aoki.
Let’s be completely honest here: this manga is clear in what it is. With gratuitous sexual shots and abruptly torn clothing, readers going into the series expecting wholesome family fun are in for a bad and seemingly sweaty time.
Fortunately, I love raunchy manga and enjoy a good monster girl plot, so I dove in with an open mind and open heart.
Surprisingly enough, the plot itself is pretty solid. As mentioned before, it has the fairly typical sports genre plot of a student and their senpai navigating through loss, success, and what it takes to achieve your dreams. Of course, there are a lot more tentacles involved and loads of ahegao (the “O-face”) expressions, but hey, at least there’s actual wrestling.
Yes, you read that right. Actual wrestling. The manga takes great care to walk through what these matches entail, from booking to promotion and practice. The writing is quick to highlight the severity and what it means for the wrestlers (or ‘wrasslers,’ as one girl constantly points out).
The wrestlers themselves are loads of fun as well. Readers are able to spend a bit of time with most of the heavy hitters in the cast, even sharing a few moments with those who only make an appearance over the course of a handful of pages. Obviously though, most of our time is focused on Tirol and Kayla. Through practice and casual interactions we get to explore the tumultuous, and at times almost sweet, relationship between the two. It plays out like a classic mentor/mentee dynamic, and both fall into their roles perfectly.
The character designs are amazing. The girls are classic monsters that we’ve seen a hundred times over, yet they still look original and creative. How many harpies have you seen wearing a Plague Doctor mask? Or arachnid girls that actually have eight eyes? And in the midst of the matches that seem more like battles, the girls almost evolve into their more terrifying forms. Tirol, our Cerberus, technically has three heads, two of which are hounds. And while she’s still shown in an erotic light, those heads can look downright scary.
Unfortunately for the manga, the amazing art is sometimes what brings it down. Every few pages, particularly within the wrestling matches, there’s just too much going on. It’s difficult to discern where one tentacle ends and one centaur begins. It’s almost overwhelming, to the point where I had to digest it within a few separate sittings.
Occasionally the plot feels redundant as well. You get the distinct feeling that you’ve read this somewhere else. Fortunately, that’s where the art picks up a bit of the slack, helping the story balance it out. Whenever the story feels lacking, the art is there, and whenever the art feels overbearing, the story helps bring you back down. Also, the eroticism sometimes comes out of nowhere. With the seriousness of the matches, the sexual nature can, again, feel like too much.
I’d love to know more about the MonWresu world. It feels so enclosed around this small cast of characters that it is almost suffocating. At one point in the story, we see a public park with some children running around. One is a small, adorable Cthulhu looking boy. And then that’s it. We know from a small snippet in the beginning that monsters were summoned into the world by a demon lord, and then integrated into society before forming the “demi-humans” we see now. And that’s really all we see. I’d love to dive deeper into that, or see it in a bit more detail throughout the story, rather than have it as a throwaway fact. The lore and the world building that could go into this would be amazing to dissect and look into. (And no, I am absolutely not reading too much into this.)
I imagine we’ll see more of this later on in the story, but we seem to be lacking in the characters’ histories and backstories. We know Tirol was scooped up off the street and not much else. We know Kayla is a champion looking to be recruited by other teams, but nothing else. It’s this emptiness behind the team that almost lets us get away with not caring. We still do, because they are all charming in their own ways, but it just falls a bit flat.
Wrestling is something I’ve never quite cared for. The whole kitschiness of it, the spandex outfits, and the overly boisterous characters were just too much. Switch it up with devilish looking monster girls? I guess I can get behind that. In the end, I was left wanting more, but I was unsure if it was because I was excited for more or because I felt unfulfilled. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoyed it, and it was a fun romp around the wrestling ring. I just wanted it to push a bit further, perhaps with more character interaction outside of the wrestling. Regardless, I’ll be eagerly waiting to see more of Tirol, and hopefully more of our beloved wrasslin’ team.