I believe we are all aware of the stereotypes of certain genres in horror, specifically slasher movies. The near formulaic structure of their story is a carbon copy of the next, just with a different villain and hoping to become the next synonymous series of films. It would be fruitless to hope for a film that would redefine what constitutes a slasher and therefore, parodies seem to be the way to progress to derive new enjoyment out of a stagnant genre.
Unfortunately, a majority of creators fail to understand the underlying process of crafting a parody, consequently becoming the very object they intended to mock initially. Final Girl, however, is aware enough to succeed at the intent, but how fun is the manga in general?
What is it
Final Girl is a 2019 one-shot horror comedy manga from the mind of Kokikuji You, known for being the author & artist of Gekikara no Ojou-sama wa Jibun wo Basshitai and Doutei Jigoku.
After Blacking out whilst walking down the street, a guy finds himself transported into the world of a classic Western horror movie. And what’s more, as the ‘slutty character’ who usually dies first!? Can he implement his knowledge of cinema to escape and save his new-found companions from their inevitable fate at the hands of a serial killer?
Prodding in jest at overused tropes, the work is a hilarious rendition of the slasher genre and the predictable story structure inherent to that. Tropes mocked include immensely unlikable characters and the killer inexplicably appearing from thin air, all combining to deliver an amusing slasher universe acting as a perceptive parody. For a mere short story, it is remarkably effective. The comedy succeeds with a meta grasp of the film inspirations, the clichés our protagonists find themselves in, raise the alarm bells they should, as well as the erratic attempts to prevent them from happening.
Deliberately unlikable, the characters are perfect representations of those they emulate, all fulfilling the roles expected from the genre: the jock, the prankster and the titular final girl. Practically all stereotypes institutionally are successfully covered in the small roster, although there is unfortunately no stoner template – a common one in other such media.
Kokikuji You has a unique art style for fluidly illustrating all panels as from the universe of a Hollywood horror movie – it is no mere fabricated fantasy world as usual of such fiction. The characters are thus portrayed as Western through subtle differences in appearance, but not in a distracting way to undermine the material. The pages are detailed to ground the universe, contouring lifelike scenes throughout this fast-paced adventure and rendering sequences with attentive set design as with films.
In a sea of isekai manga, Final Girl stands out as an interesting concept and tribute – an artistic vision compromising with others’ ideas. While many of these other manga take their main character to a new, distant fantasy world, none have displaced a character to a movie-based universe (to my knowledge) that’s closer to home. Utilizing such unorthodox crossovers in compelling ways could revitalize this approach in storytelling as with comics, applying the use of different film universes or intellectual properties to adapt their disparate style; it would be interesting to appreciate in a longer series. However, Final Girl’s length is a benefit rather than a detriment, the story possibly stagnating if drawn out to a longer conclusion – only so much can be explored in such a premise.
What Didn’t work?
The aspect of gender swapping is an unnecessary addition to the story as an oddity. The main character could have easily been female in the beginning and have zero effect on how the story subsequently unfolds. This is mostly to shoehorn underlining ecchi elements into the story, benefiting an appeal to the shonen audience, but this may be inappropriate (if not abnormal) to wider audiences. In spite of that, the organic placement prevents them from being a significant distraction from the overall flow itself.
Final Girl is a piece that truly encapsulates lampooning a certain category of films with a cult following, and demonstrates a particular love for them in the understanding to do so. It conveys a knowledge that mostly originates from a dedicated fan who has spent abundant time appreciating the techniques conceptually of slasher media and why it’s a timeless choice in horror.
The manga exceeded all expectations, it is an observational comedy perfect for the setting (the final credits were a nice feature). I would suggest this to anyone who enjoys slashers and/or parodies. At only 41 pages, it’s difficult not to enjoy this short read and is easy to review for your own judgment.
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Hey there, I’m Jim and I’m located in London, UK. I am a Writer and Technical Director here at Grimoire of Horror. A life long love of horror and writing has led me down this rabbit hole, allowing me to meet many amazing people and experience some truly original artwork. I specialise in world cinema, manga/graphic novels and video games but will sometime traverse into the unknown in search of adventure.