Manga Review: Record of Ragnarok Volume One

Record of Ragnarok Volume One sees the gods assembling to decide if humanity is worthy to continue its existence or if it should be destroyed.

Record of Ragnarok Volume One
Written by: Shinya Umemura and Takumi Fukui
Publisher: COAMIX, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 18, 2022

At the meeting of the gods, it’s established to the reader that many well-known gods and deities are in attendance (including Zeus, Shiva, Aphrodite, and Odin). Later in the volume, the reader is introduced to other gods and deities as well, but these are the ones that are specifically pointed out at the meeting. When it looks like the gods will vote to destroy humanity, a Valkyrie named Brunhilde steps forward and suggests testing the humans. She invokes Ragnarok, which is a battle between the gods and humanity, which is buried within the Valhalla Constitution. In a Regnarok, each side has a team of 13 fighters, and the first team with seven victories wins. At first, the gods laugh and sneer at this idea, because it’s inconceivable that mere humans could defeat gods. But once Brunhilde insults the gods by insinuating that they’re afraid of fighting the humans, the gods are goaded into agreeing.

After the meeting, it’s insinuated that Brunhilde had once been transformed into a human, which is why she has such empathy for them. But this is the only time this idea is even touched on, so I’m hoping we can learn more about this plot point in a future volume of the series. After an encounter with Thor, Brunhilde begins hatching her plan by selecting 13 of the ultimate warriors from seven million years of human history.

From here, the story transitions to the first battle of the Ragnarok, and this first battle takes up the remainder of Volume One. It’s revealed that Thor is fighting for the gods, and the warrior for the humans is Lu Bu Fengxian, a military warlord and general from the three kingdoms. There are a lot of action panels during the fighting, which helps to make parts of this volume a quick read. Interspersed in between the fighting, though, are backstories for both Thor and Lu Bu, as well as reactions from Brunhilde and the other spectators. There’s also a surprising twist with Lu Bu, when it’s realized that he seems to be Thor’s equal. Zeus realizes that this due to something that Brunhilde has done.

Although something that jumped out at me with Thor’s backstory is the invasion of the giants where Thor ultimately defeats them all on his own. When the giants make their approach and ultimately breach the wall into the village, I was really getting some Attack on Titan vibes as I read this section.

The fight between Thor and Lu Bu does not conclude in Volume One, but right at the end of the volume, the 13 fighters for both the humans and the gods are revealed. There are many expected names for the gods, but some of the names on the list for the humans are… intriguing. I hope to be able to read future volumes of Record of Ragnarok in order to learn why Brunhilde chose some of the fighters that she did.

I thought the art style worked really well for the tone of the series’ story. One of the best drawn characters in this volume was Brunhilde, and there were several panels that featured her that really jump out at the reader. But I have to give the artist credit for the fact that each character has their own unique look, and that none of the major characters can be mistaken for someone else.

Record of Ragnarok is off to a strong start, and enough information and character development happened in this volume to make me want to read the next volume to find out how this story will continue. I think that this series will have a strong appeal to manga readers who also enjoy mythology, and to readers who like reading shonen manga that focuses on fighting and battles.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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