Today's Cerberus Vol. 1 - Manga Review

Chiaki Mikado has it rough. He hasn’t been able to smile, or feel any great emotion whatsoever since childhood. However he’s in for a life-changing surprise when a girl suddenly arrives on his front doorstep claiming to be Cerberus, his new guard dog.

The Lowdown

As it turns out, Kuro, the girl who suddenly appears out of a parcel sent to Chiaki from Greece, is indeed Cerberus, the three-headed Hound of Hades, or to be more specific, the first Cerberus (head). Locked inside her are heads two and three (Shirogane and Roze) and all three have agreed to help guard Chiaki from misfortune. However, this is misfortune that they themselves caused when they accidentally ate a part of his soul when he was seven. With supernatural threats and Kuro’s own hyperactive personality, life will no longer be “normal” or “boring” again for the emotionally apathetic Chiaki.

How Was It?

Suddenly appearing new roommates are a dime-a-dozen in manga, and this is so much so that it can be hard not to do such a well-worn premise without feeling dull or tired. Thankfully, Today’s Cerberus is neither of those, blazing through its cliche set-up with a hyperactive pace that hits the ground running and barely ever slowing down for breath. The art feels lively and expressive, bouncing around with interesting compositions and smart page layouts that allow for the often frenetic storytelling to read clearly even as it rushes forward to its next joke. Today’s Cerberus knows exactly what kind of series it wants to be: a lighthearted comedy with small hints of drama to keep the characters interesting and relatable.

It is these interesting characters that really make Today’s Cerberus stand out amongst its peers, for while it may not have the most deep or involving characters, they are at least far more than just a set of Evangelion clones. This is easily seen in the decently well-rounded character arcs each of the the three Cerberus girls get in this volume, and since this is a majorly character focussed comedy, having three strong personalities is a real win. First of all there’s our lead girl Kuro who is just as hyperactive as the pacing, and is a bit of a ditz with a single track mind while being earnest to a fault. Her hardworking attitude and abundance of excitement never allows anything to be boring even as she bounds up and down the market stalls asking everyone from the florist to the barber for eggs. She is definitely the most “puppy” like of the three, and it’s her exuberance more than anything that carries the overall tone of the book. Shirogane is the practical, confident and most physically able of the group. Personality wise she is somewhere in-between the traditional tsundere and kuudere archetypes, but it is precisely that fluidity of character that makes it hard to pin her down and makes her interesting. She’s also the one who has no real attachment to Chiaki, and this gives her a much different character dynamic to the other two Cerberuses (when she’s not being subjected to silly panty-shot antics). Roze looks like the quiet one at first glance with her face obscured by a sort of scary mask, however what interested me about her was trying to work out how much of her closed-offness is actually her personality, and how much it is simply self-imposed punishment or fear stemming from her (likely) guilt over having eaten part of Chiaki’s soul. Roze has the most potential to underpin the dramatic subplot of the series, and this at least has my interest going forward. The best part about the drama is that it sets up a good intercharacter dynamic of secrets and hidden feelings which should drive the best parts of the comedy: the inter-character dynamics.

The comedy is really what to read the series for because even with good hints at drama there is nowhere near the depth required for such a story at this point. However, the brisk nature of the comedy and scenes makes for quick, light reading with plenty of different types of gags for different characters. Most of the gags work, but I did find the two nods to traditional manga panty-based humor to be ill-fitting and just so rote as to be kind of pointless (though the bonus mini-chapter at the end dealing with the setup of the panty gag is actually decently funny). In all, the jokes make Today’s Cerberus an easy to pick up manga that will leave you with a smile on your face at least.

If there’s one small personal gripe I have, it’s that the classical mythological elements seem to be more of a plot contrivance to get a new type of body-switching heroine(s) as opposed to being an integrated part of the major themes or plot. There are at least some nods, especially with the arrival of Orthros, Cerberus’ brother(s) but the few other spirits are more or less a hodgepodge of random mythologies/modern ideas. While each element works fine on its own, overall it gives the feeling that the author is just cherry picking monsters that sound cool rather than sticking to a mythological theme (or at least not yet).

Final Thoughts

Today’s Cerberus Vol. 1 is a light, enjoyable comedy manga that is a good light read for anyone who enjoys fun, cute comedies. While the plot may not be groundbreaking, it makes up for it with some fun main characters and some quick paced humor and is definitely worth a shot for anyone looking for a new Comedy Slice of Life.


Today’s Cerberus Vol. 1 was published in English by Yen Press on October 25, 2016, and was translated by Caleb Cook. It covers chapters 0-4. The original work was created by Ato Sakurai. Vol. 2 releases in print on January 24th, 2017 (with volumes 1-5 available already electronically).

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: October 25th, 2016

Translator: Caleb Cook

Author: Ato Sakurai

Publisher: Yen Press