“High schooler Sasae Hatsushima has been summoned to a world of dark fantasy to defeat an undead army. That shouldn't be hard when he has the help of his hyper-competent stepmom and her two younger sisters, a high school karate champion and a girl genius! But to gain the powers needed for their quest, a great and painful price must be paid…And who better to pay it than Sasae, who seems utterly ordinary compared to his brilliant stepfamily?” (Yen Press)
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“Games of Familia” is somewhat deceptive in its packaging; having the ‘warning label' and protective plastic does not do justice to the content. The title certainly is a mature isekai, but the amount of graphic sexual violence puts it on par with the shock titles of the era of extreme v-cinema OAVs that was many a deviant's first introduction to extreme Japanese content. While abiding by Japanese censorship concerning genitalia, there is ample nudity and sexual violence as the titular family battles hordes of sex-crazed demons.
Moreover, the book is a masturbatory power fantasy in which the protagonist, a young male, goes from unremarkable to powerful, ‘trapped' in another world surrounded by buxom women. While the first volume only hints at the sexual liaisons of the protagonist, there are hints that this will be expanded on in subsequent entries. Undeniably, the manga focuses on an indulgent escapism that will likely click with a predominately male audience. “Games of Familia” fills a niche for those looking for violent content short of erotic grotesque and eroticism short of hentai. Still, this is the first hurdle or caveat before indulging and will establish the potential readership before tearing off the protective plastic.
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Putting the graphic content aside, the series makes a solid first impression despite the predictable nature of the harem surrounding the protagonist. The ‘family,' consisting of Sasae and his three ‘sisters' (it's not incest because his father married into the family), all have unique personalities, and the interactions between the four are consistently humorous and flirty. Still, each sister is molded into a predictable fetishized type, and despite them feeling fully conceptualized, they still fall into the expected stereotypes. Essentially, the characters are memorable and well-written for the overt power fantasy focus of the series but would be lacking in any other context.
Visually, artist D.P is the perfect complement to the world that Mikoto Yamaguchi has built. Crafting exciting action sequences, defined characters, and (of course) curvy nude women, the art is a comparable draw to the series as the story. There are also larger panels on offer that ideally highlight the artist's skill (as above), giving moments of pause to appreciate the work. The solid visual direction makes the book's standard-size print slightly disappointing, but considering the niche nature of the content, the approach Yen Press took makes sense.
“Game of Familia” is a title that needs little promotion beyond expressly stating what it is, and, unfortunately, the book seems slightly mismarketed–the nature of the graphic content was a surprise when going in with little previous knowledge. However, for what it is, the manga is a well-constructed and visually sharp piece of masturbatory escapism that will scratch that itch of those who enjoy mature manga.