In the American Area 51, there is a society where many varied supernatural creatures—kappa, vampires, aliens, gods and goddesses of various mythologies, mythological figures (like King Arthur), and more—make their home. In addition to the non-humans, there's also a population of humans, people who can't live in the ordinary world for one reason or another. One of these people is Magoi Tokuko, commonly known as McCoy, a tough woman who works cases with the help of her kappa associate, her deep knowledge of the area, and her pistol. In her office, which she's built in an unfinished subway station, she takes on all kinds of jobs (recovery of stolen goods, infiltration, etc.) from the many humans and non-humans who come to pay for her help.
Area 51 is both stylish and fun, while containing a heavier-than-you'd-expect dose of darker adult themes. With an interesting premise, impactful stories, and a cool art style, it's a real pleasure to read.
In this story, gods aren't gods -- they're people.
The premise of "various gods and legends of mythology coming together" is used a lot in anime and manga nowadays, but this particular interpretation is quite refreshing. It presents gods and other figures not as superpowered spirit-like beings throwing fire and destruction everywhere, but more like real people with power who integrate into human society and culture in Area 51.
As opposed to stories
like Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Area 51 is a place full of suffering, crime, death, and power struggles. Everyone here has their own place in this new home, their own motivations, and more. While they all still have powers, the more godlike beings seem to be de-powered or don't often use them in full force, and even die rather often -- which in this case makes for a much more interesting story. Even though there is plenty of action, they also do plenty of things normal human citizens do -- they have meetings, negotiate, perform business, and have other interesting interactions with each other.Showing all this really gives you the sense that they're in a town. A bit like American Gods, except it doesn't spend its entire time setting up the story.
However, some of the most interesting characters have been human. Plenty of humans live in this town -- people who can't exist outside of here for various reasons, and people who are just here to smuggle magical goods in and out. As they often have little to no power, they have many interesting stories to tell of love, suffering, sorrow, and strife -- all big themes in this manga. Our protagonist is no exception, as she has an incredibly interesting background story that I LOVE.
Furthermore, the author did more research than you'd expect -- he integrates culture, origins, and historical representations into his renditions of these characters. This makes for cool interactions and relationships between characters, as well as a fairly educational experience. Especially because Area 51 does not only contain gods -- it has weird anomalies like Aliens and the loch ness monster, as well as a bunch of ones that I've never heard of before. It's really cool to see these characters blend into human society, doing anything from running shops to running races.
The art was honestly strange and hard to follow for me at first, but quite easy to get used to after reading for a bit. Once I got used to it, it made the manga stylish as hell. This shows itself in spades during the action scenes and makes everything feel cool, but shines the most during some of the emotional moments, where it is truly both beautiful and impactful. It was still occasionally a bit difficult to follow, but overall I didn't have much trouble at all after adjusting.
I really enjoy this manga. After every chapter I couldn't wait to see what new and strange anomaly came up next, carrying a cool action scene and often a moving story along with it.