Reading the very first sentence for the premise “THE NEW GATE―an online game transformed into a life-and-death struggle for its players,” it seemed poised to be another entry in the generic “trapped in an online game” subgenre of the already ubiquitous isekai genre.
Going into the opening pages, the series really did start with a final battle sequence typically seen at the end of a long arc. Death game over? Time to go home? Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and this is where the series takes an interesting turn.
After victory over the big baddie, our main character, Shin, finds himself still in the game and unable to log out. Initially thinking it was a glitch, he finds out that things feel a bit too real for it to be a bug.
The new element that sets this series slightly apart from the other VRMMO isekai is that it’s set 500 years in the future of the game, even incorporating players into its history, except that the game has become its own fantasy world. This is similar to how Log Horizon approaches its worldbuilding and lore, which makes the series much more captivating in my opinion. Very few series in the genre actually do this, preferring to completely separate the old and new worlds.
For characters, Shin looks like the very proverbial isekai main character, having a stereotypical black-haired design with stylish in-game equipment. What I like about him, though, is that he’s easygoing and pragmatic, being relaxed in social interactions but analytical in serious situations. Of course, there is a variety of supporting characters and probably an ever-growing cast of attractive female characters, but it appears the focus will be about Shin, so it’s good to have a main character who isn’t insufferable.
Even with the few new elements that kind of gives the story a different spin compared to other isekai series, it feels like not much happens in Volume 1. Shin is so ridiculously overpowered compared to the majority of the other characters and monsters that he can easily solve conflicts through sheer power or skills alone. The hardest part for him is probably navigating the changes in the world from the past 500 years, with skills and high-grade items being increasingly scarce and available only to the most elite of people.
As a result, not much in this volume could present an actual challenge for him, which I hope changes in upcoming volumes. I do expect it to, since series like these usually rely on power creep, the concept of introducing increasingly stronger antagonists, to further plot progression and attempt to keep things interesting.
Art-wise, I thought that it was completely fine. It isn’t breathtaking, nor is it awful either. Even though the artwork is serviceable, I decided to put it in “The Bad” section because, in the event that a manga’s story is mediocre, it’s possible to carry a series through the artwork. I just don’t think it would be possible in this case.
Usually, I don’t include this section in reviews because rarely does anything bother me to the point where I feel the need to do so. However, while reading through the review copy, the presentation was rather off-putting and made the text difficult to read.
Speaking as someone with professional lettering experience, I can’t overlook the fact that the fonts that were chosen and the way the content was typeset impacted my reading experience. The text feels very squished together, and the leading (spacing in between lines of dialogue) is generally too wide. Ellipses appear to be “falling”, implying that the font doesn’t properly support that special character.
There are instances where the text isn’t properly centered in the speech bubbles, and this is disregarding bubbles on the edge of pages that need to be slightly off-center to account for printing edges. There are a few places where the text goes outside the speech bubble or is covering artwork, which further decreases readability. I don’t know the finality of the review copy but I hope that the volume is properly quality checked before it goes out for final printing and release.
Other Personal Thoughts
In summary, The New Gate Volume 1 sets up another “trapped in a game” isekai story, but introduces some new elements that could potentially set it apart from other stories in the genre. I hope that the very apparent issues with the lettering in this volume are fixed before it goes to print and if not, then I hope the quality is improved for future volumes.
On a lighter note, though things are a bit rough for the first volume, I do think it’s worth sticking around to see where the story goes. It was a pretty lighthearted read and I think it can be amusing and exciting to see the direction the author takes to raise the power level of everything in the world.