Sasae Hatsushima, a high school student, has been called upon to a realm of sinister magic in order to vanquish an army of the undead. With his stepmother and her two younger sisters by his side, who are highly skilled in martial arts and possess exceptional intelligence, the task should be easily accomplished. However, in order to acquire the necessary abilities for their mission, a significant and agonizing sacrifice must be made. And who better to make that sacrifice than Sasae, who appears to be unremarkable compared to his exceptional step-relatives?
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“Games of Familia” is somewhat deceptive in its packaging; having the ‘warning label’ and protective plastic does not do justice to the content. The title certainly is a mature isekai, but the amount of graphic sexual violence puts it on par with the shock titles of the era of extreme v-cinema OAVs that was many a deviant’s first introduction to extreme Japanese content. While abiding by Japanese censorship concerning genitalia, there is ample nudity and sexual violence as the titular family battles hordes of sex-crazed demons.
Additionally, the book portrays a fantasy where the main character, a young man, transforms from ordinary to powerful, stuck in a different world surrounded by attractive women. While the first book only suggests the sexual encounters of the main character, there are indications that this will be further explored in future installments. Clearly, the manga caters to a male audience seeking an indulgent escape. “Games of Familia” caters to a specific group of readers who desire violent content without extreme sexual elements, but still incorporates some eroticism. However, this is the initial hurdle to overcome before diving into the story and will determine the target audience before removing the protective cover.
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Ignoring the explicit content, the show leaves a strong initial impact even though the harem surrounding the main character is expected. The group, made up of Sasae and his three “sisters” (not related by blood due to his father marrying into the family), each have distinct personalities and their interactions are consistently playful and flirtatious. However, each sister fits into a stereotypical fetishized role, and while they are well-developed, they still conform to expected tropes. Overall, the characters are memorable and well-crafted for the series’ focus on power fantasy, but may not hold up in other contexts.
The artwork by D.P complements Mikoto Yamaguchi’s world perfectly. It features dynamic action scenes, well-developed characters, and attractive nude women, making it just as appealing as the story itself. The artist’s skill is showcased in larger panels, allowing readers to fully appreciate their talent. While the smaller print size may be disappointing, it makes sense given the niche subject matter and the overall visual direction of the book.
“Game of Familia” is a title that needs little promotion beyond expressly stating what it is, and, unfortunately, the book seems slightly mismarketed–the nature of the graphic content was a surprise when going in with little previous knowledge. However, for what it is, the manga is a well-constructed and visually sharp piece of masturbatory escapism that will scratch that itch of those who enjoy mature manga.