Jun 2, 2019
There's a fundamental conflict between "actual fantasy" manga and "isekai" manga. Both carry many of the same genre trappings, but the easy digestibility of isekai manga, with its inherently relatable characters (being from our world), also makes it easy for isekais to become cliche or devolve into pointless pandering.
Heterogenia Linguistica, however, synthesizes the best elements of each. With its main character, a linguist from "our" world (or at least a world substantially similar, except for the ability to travel to a world inhabited solely by nonhumans), we have our reference point to avoid getting dropped into a world that takes dense text blocks of boring
exposition to learn about. Through the lens of learning the languages of the nonhumans he interacts with, we find out more about their culture and in turn learn more about our own by the comparison.
Meanwhile, the nonhumans aren't the cliche elves or dragons, or even the standard "funny animals" with different shapes but fundamentally human-like thought patterns. Instead, the author has made the effort to make true "starfish aliens" with thought patterns the main characters can observe and make informed guessed about, but are still fundamentally different from our own in interesting and novel ways.
As a near sci-fi story about exploration and discovery, this story scratches an itch that very, very few works of art in any medium do, and with excellent art and likeable (albeit not super deep) characters. If the idea of comparative linguistics bores you, you won't enjoy this story. But if, like me, you're part of the niche-within-a-niche that gets sexually aroused at the idea of making first contact with aliens and exchanging cultural information, Heterogenia Linguistica will be an expert at hitting your G-spot.
What did you think of this review?