While humanity celebrates the defeat of the Demon King by the hands of a lone hero, the denizens of the demon world prepare for the contest of a lifetime—a tournament to decide who would inherit the title of Demon King.
Now, three months later, the tournament has been proceeding smoothly—well, other than the fact that the favorite to come out on top is the human hero Helck! With a smile and a wave, he easily bests his demonic competition, all while loudly proclaiming his hatred for humans. Though he calls for the destruction of humanity, the truth of what lies behind his cheery façade remains a mystery.
Doubtful of Helck's intentions, Red Vamirio—one of the "Four Heavenly Kings," who oversee the realm of the demons together—seeks to uncover what the hero is truly after. With the title of "Demon King" at stake, the fate of the demon world rests on her shoulders.
Helck is literally the most fun i ever had with fiction.
It doesn't sound like anything particular innovative, and it isn't really, the Demon King was defeated and they're holding a tournament to choose the next one, does the twist that the guy who killed him is in the tournament and goes around with a funny face saying that he hates humans makes it more interesting? Of course it does.
Helck has a lot more comedy in the early part than the rest, i'm not going to pretend it's a series that "starts childish but get serious" or anything, it's just a series that happens to mix
stupid comedy with interesting twists to plots we have seen before.
But, if that's the case, then why did i gave it a 10?
Because it's freaking amazing.
Even tho Helck's name is in the title, almost the entire manga is presented to us from Vamirio's POV, she's may seen like just a tsundere, but she's actually really likeable and cautious, since we follow her trying to discover the truth about Helck, it allows us to see not only Vamirio's character better, but also makes Helck's past more powerful, i didn't expected this series to give me the strong emotions it did, but i understand that because the series relies so much in her, a lot of people might not enjoy it that much, i also feel that the author understood this and porposefully made the first arc more comedy-heavy.
Big gentle guy and small angry demon girl are a lot of fun to follow.
I noticed the artwork getting significantly better as the series goes on, i also think that this has the best usage of lightning in shot composition i have ever seen, not just black or white backgrounds, the character design is also really good.
If you feel like Helck's strength is going to make it not fun to read because he will punch his way through everything, keep in mind that Vamirio is almost the protagonist of the series and that characters like Azudora have fights that are a lot more detailed than Helck's, and honestly even tho i would enjoy more tecnical fights, the fact that the strength of those characters is actually a plot line and not just a gag makes me forgive it easily. Also, having such insanely powerful punches makes up for some incredibly well executed scenes later on.
If you're going to read Helck, i can guarantee you'll laugh a lot, and save some of the pages because you want to look at then for the rest of the day, but unless you find yourself so invested in Vamirio's character as i was, then this will probably just be a entertaining series for you.
Just personal scratch.
Advised, possible spoilers.
Opinion & Informal
I've got quite a few things to talk about in the art area so I'll go through the general stuff first. The anatomy and proportions, for what they're worth, in this manga I suppose are alright. A lot of the characters and beings in this manga were really odd in terms of anatomy and proportions. I'm not saying that the art is bad because of the odd anatomy and proportions, I'm just saying how it is. The odd shapes and sizes of the beings in this manga actually added a lot of diversity and depth to the
story's universe. I think that the unexpectedness and diversity of the people and races in this manga are a good thing; it kept the even the minor characters interesting and created a lot of possibility for the story. There were A LOT of impact shots, particularly towards the end of the manga. There were a good mix of types of impact shots too, but I did feel that there were a lot used for plot twists. I'll explain. Some impact shots to me can be directed differently. For example, some impact shots are directed at the reader or another character and showcases the speaker: the MC may or may not be talking to someone but there will be an impact shot showcasing some sort of emotion or resolution by showing their detailed face/expression & maybe walking away cool-like from something or have a nice-looking background; and example of this is in the chapter where Anne tells Helck something along the lines of, "Come to the Empire, everyone will welcome you." with the sunrise in the background. There was a fine amount in this manga that I felt did their jobs in creating awe and emotion. Another impact shot type I like to think about (by the way, all of this mumbo jumbo is just me) are ones that are reaction based. For example, in Chapter 89.2, Helck makes a verbal resolution and the impact shot in this case is Anne being surprised by those words. I feel like these types that were used in the manga were the best at the character building in the manga. The last type I want to bring up are the plot-twist types. There were, in my opinion, way too many of these. These ones are kind of just there; not usually including a great art scene...usually just "important words." Basically, I thought there were a bit too many plot-twist-like moments in this manga. The plot got very complicated in the span of maybe 30 chapters. Moving onto other bits...There were many showcases of artistic skill in the manga. Frankly, by the end of the manga, was great. However, the art was a journey. The art in the beginning of the manga was pretty basic and honestly about average. The importance of the art journey is that the mangaka clearly shows artistic improvement in the manga. It's wonderful to watch the mangaka settle into their own style and improve their skill when going through a manga from start to finish. What I want to say here is that the art in the beginning was maybe a 6, but because of the gradual improvement, settling with a style, and end-product...the art by the end was great and overall really good. There were a very good amount of nice-looking environmental and scenery shots/showcases. There was also a healthy amount of tones used to keep the panels interesting. Phew...
Panel Progression: 7/10
The panel progression was good. There was thought put behind the panel layout during fights so that things looked nice. There was a good amount of flair in the form of panel-cutting, but that's really the only above-average part about the panel progression. The dialogue and layout conveyed things clearly. I didn't have to do any back-tracking or spend time on thinking about what was going on. There aren't much negatives I can recall from the panel progression, but at the same time there aren't too many things I can praise about it either. All I can say are that the layouts were dynamic, the progression was clear in conveying the story, and there was a pretty nice amount of nice-looking panel-cuts.
The characters were surprisingly all interesting. The major supporting characters were all pretty compelling. The minor supporting characters were kinda nice and mostly just "there" to me. I really liked how much, but not too much to make it bad, detail the mangaka went into building the supporting characters. The supporting characters felt like that had a good amount of depth for what they did in the story and I personally liked quite a few of them. Rococo was a joy and Kenros was amusing. The minor supporting characters all had this sort of comedy to them that made them tolerable and a bit funny to watch. The character designs for the main, major and minor supporting, and some of the antagonists were good to me. The character designs were all interesting and did well to differentiate the individual cast members. The only designs I didn't like were Mikaros and Rafaed. They looked lame for the main bad guys. The winged soldiers is such an interesting design choice for the bad guys. The character growth was good to me in only the middle section. I felt the relationship growth between Helck and Anne as friends was a wonderful thing to watch. Their transition from unquestionable enemies to best friends is something that I'll remember. Anne's personal growth in this regard is astounding. Helck's personal growth in regards to his past and resolve to keep his promise was nice, but I'm really appreciating Anne's and the overall dynamics between the two. Piwi's cool.
The initial plot setup was pretty weak, but what the plot eventually settles into is interesting and unique. It's a different take on the humans vs. demons + demon king trope. The execution of the plot as a whole was good to me and I appreciate that this manga exists for that reason.
The overall pacing was a bit slow at the first and final quarters. The middle section of the manga had the best flow and presentation to me. The first quarter was a lot of the tournament, character and world introduction, and plot setup. This part felt pretty slow and is a pretty hard startup I feel for people picking this manga up out of the blue. The tournament felt pretty extended and didn't really hook me which can be a problem for some people...basically I thought the initial chapters and hook for this manga were a bit on the weak side. I felt like the story wasn't really taking off and kind of just loitering around. The plot picks up with a pretty interesting development going into the second quarter. I liked this development. The second and third quarters are probably my favorite part about this manga. The pacing was just right. The atmosphere of the middle section of this manga is something like Kino's Journey. I really wished this part of the manga was a bit longer. The final quarter of the manga felt a bit drawn out to me. There were constant plot twists and an ABSURD amount of deus ex machinas. The first half of the final quarter felt way too slow while second half of the final quarter felt way too rushed. I just didn't like the pacing at all in the final quarter of the manga. Going back to the deus ex machinas...it's crazy. It's crazy how literally everyone but the villains died. They were somehow able to rescue everyone with these crazy, unbelievable and out-of-nowhere reasons. I didn't really like the constant yelling of resolution or reminders of staying hopeful in the final quarter of the manga.
I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but a nice culmination. It's the end of Helck's story so it was appropriate to leave the plot-holes standing regarding the demons. The final panel sequence between Anne and Helck is what this manga really is to me. I REALLY REALLY wish this was executed slightly differently. What I mean is that this manga wasn't about Helck's past, saving his friends, or defeating the big bad boss. This manga to me was the journey between "enemies." This manga to me was an exercise in discovering what the other person is really like. One may hear all kinds of things about a person or group, but one really has to see for themselves. That is what Anne and Helck's journey is and that is what I felt like the conclusion was trying to get across. Anne started out as saying, "Unquestionably, he is the enemy!" By the end, Anne is wishing "One day, let us meet again my friend." This culmination of their journey and relationship is truly something I wish this manga focused on a bit more; the whole saving the world bit was a bit too drawn out for me.
I didn't rate this higher because I really wanted it focus on what the plot initially setup up even before the winged soldiers, how Anne distrusted Helck no matter what. I wanted this manga to spend a bit more time on Anne and Helck's journey and flesh out their personalities and dynamics. If I were to separate the plots: Helck's plot which is mostly the winged soldiers and saving the world is around a 6/10. Anne's and Helck's journey is a solid 8/10 to me and could maybe be a 9/10 if it was developed more. Overall, the good things about this manga are the art, the art journey, and the middle section of the story. The parts I did not like were the plot setup, the pacing in the first and final quarters, and the execution of certain parts of the development. Anne and Helck's journey as a whole, their transition from enemies to best friends, is really beautiful and is definitely a reason to pick this manga up.
What is it that makes Helck so enjoyable, I often ask myself. The story is nothing new, nor is the art anything special. The cast is simple: there are good guys and then there are bad guys. It really isn't anything groundbreaking.
But what it has that separates it from other manga is its execution. Helck delivers a heartfelt story filled with laughter and tears in a simple yet elegant manner. There is nothing else to it- it's not convoluted like Death Note, and it doesn't need to be.
All it needs to do to kick-start the whole thing is ask one question: "So, can a
human who hates humans become a Demon King?"
Story (8): Helck is a story set in medieval-esque times, with demons and monsters. Just before the start of the story, a hero killed a Demon King. The plot begins with the titular character entering a tournament to decide who will become the next Demon King.
Yes, he's a human entering a tournament for demons.
Naturally, when Vamirio, one of the Four Heavenly Kings (who is higher than a Demon King in the demon hierarchy) finds out about this, she freaks out and tries to sabotage his chances of winning. However, Helck is ridiculously powerful, and he is pretty much a maxed out RPG character at Level 99.
Needless to say, things don't go as planned and it goes downhill for her from there. Along the way, they face a threat to the Demon World, and it seems Helck may know more than he lets up on.
Basically, it starts off as seemingly slapstick humour and One Punch Man-esque jokes before developing into something more substantial.
Art (8): Nothing special, to be honest. The art is on par with most manga, but it does seem to be getting better as the story progresses.
Characters (10): The characters, from Helck to Vamirio to the other human characters are mostly stereotypical characters abiding by common tropes, but as the plot thickens the way they interact with one another becomes something special. For example, Helck is the typical hero with the heart of gold, and Vamirio is the cold kuudere loli. But the more they interact with each other, the more interesting they become, building off of each other to create distinct personalities that veer away from their default character templates.
I won't say too much for fear of spoiling, but it's amazing how far the cast has come in 62 chapters (as I'm typing this, that is). I struggle to think of characters that can beat Helck in terms of sheer memorability. Everyone has a role to play in this story, and every one of them fit it so well that it makes my enjoyment seamless. And speaking of which...
Enjoyment (10): What more can I say? I enjoyed this, and I'm still enjoying this weekly. Also, special mention to translator Rello on Batoto. His one-man translation is the reason why us Helck fans get to even enjoy this hidden gem, and all props to him for bringing this single-handedly to our attention.
Helck is a manga that is definitely worth reading. It is a simple manga that works off a simple premise, which evolves into an intriguing story that is still simple but absolutely excellent in its execution of said story. It can be touching one minute and boisterously fun in the other, a balance I have found to enjoy greatly. There really isn't much else I can say about this without going into spoiler territory, but I can guarantee Helck will take you for a wild ride.
So Helck just finished as of me writing this review. Having completed it, I believe I owe it to the mangaka to write something explaining just why this seemingly one-trick gag manga has found such a special spot in my heart.
To preface this review, let me say that I tend to gravitate to psychological manga; thrillers that are intellectual, that make you think and feel. Things that can be considered 'masterpieces' like the likes of Death Note and Monster.
That being said, Helck is none of those things.
Helck is Helck; I don't think it can be defined in terms of manga conventions and
plot-structures. It's a thoroughly unique, refreshing and immensely entertaining experience that managed to keep me hooked throughout the entirety of its well-paced plot. So, how did Helck manage to keep me invested?
For one thing, Helck is funny; not the kind of 'funny' that makes you breathe air out of your nose, but the sort that had me genuinely laughing at some of the ridiculous moments and stupid antics on the page. Most of the earlier gags are very reminiscent of One Punch Man, and the authour is very consistent with hitting the right note of comedy. But, more than just that, Helck is incredibly endearing as a manga -- although the characters may seem flat at first, a mixture of strong characterization over development and unique character designs made each of them stick out, and helped define their distinct personalities. Having these characters involved in the gags also gave each of them a sense of formula and healthy predictability -- the gags didn't seem so ridiculous or far out of left field that they were unfunny, because they all seemed to match the nature of the characters being presented. And, believe me, there are plenty of characters with varied quirks that make them endearing.
But Helck is more than just funny. If anything, its greatest strength is the charm and character it oozes, which are only reinforced by the cute, consistent art-style. Characters somehow latched onto me with strong, brazen and consistently written personalities and plot-lines followed simple, easy and entertaining structures.
What Helck succeeds in doing in where so many supposed 'masterpieces' fail, however, is it manages to keep its characters and plot-threads in check. It doesn't forget itself, or any foundational characters or lines. It manages to start and finish in a neat, self-contained bundle that knows its boundaries and doesn't try to be anything more than what it is. And that's what makes it special; it's a self-contained story that gradually becomes something more, easing you into the journey and letting you grow attached to the characters before throwing them into tense and emotional situations.
Anyway, enough of me rambling; it's sort of hard to put down what makes Helck so great. What I can do, however, is put arbitrary numbers to its name!
Art - 8/10
The art compliments the tone of the story, and the character designs are simultaneously memorable and clever in that they convey plenty about the characters. The style is cutesy and consistent, albeit rather average. It should be noted, however, that the author is particularly good at doing facial expressions, as well as character designs. Ultimately, it's nothing to cry home about, but is a key component in what makes the manga so good.
Story - 9/10
It is what it is; a self-contained tale that evolves into something grander, but only after having eased you into the world. The worldbuilding is excellent, albeit somewhat shallow, and the journey the characters go through is both believable and representative of the manga's key themes and ideas.
Although there are some exposition based chapters that break the pace, they are handled incredibly well and were, in fact, amongst my favorites in terms of plot and character. Definitely a high-point of the manga.
Character - 10/10
There isn't much more that needs to be said here. After having become numb to character deaths and typical manga tropes, Helck was a breath of fresh air in that it didn't try to be anything more than what it was. No character came across as annoying or overplayed; they stuck to their strengths and characterization like glue, and developed in a realistic manner.
It's hard to say what made them so enjoyable -- perhaps the way they bounced and played off eachother. Or maybe the dialogue that accompanied them, or the way they were drawn. Regardless, Helck had an imperceptible magic to its characters that made me love them all the way. Truly one of the strongest aspects of the manga, except for one other thing....
Enjoyment - 10/10
Above all things, Helck was genuinely enjoyable. It didn't ask me for 50 chapters of exposition and commitment to reach the 'good bit'; it thrust me into the deep-end and respected my intelligence as a reader that I'd be able to adapt to and enjoy the crazy, lucid environment it was throwing me into.
From start to finish, the plot progresses and never halts; it may turn and sidetrack, but it always played to its strengths and knew when to follow the characters that mattered.
It was comedic, emotional, witty and brilliant all in one. Helck is a genius gem that I doubt can ever be replicated in terms of style and nature. It's special and, therefore, I think its worth your while.
The description on MAL doesn't do it justice -- Helck is truly something else.