Netflix might have just announced a Magic: The Gathering anime series, but you don’t have to wait until then to get your MTG fix. Rather, the new manga Destroy all humankind. They can’t be regenerated. (Subete no Junrui wo Hakai suru. Sorera wa Saisei Dekinai.) is serving up a large dose of exciting MTG action that almost anyone can understand, alongside a sweet youthful romance and topped with just a bit of 90s nostalgia. Let’s get into it.
Destroy all humankind. They can’t be regenerated. follows the story of two middle school students, Kanou Hajime and Sawatari Emi, during the late 90s. Kanou is your regular otaku and chuunibyou (although, as the series says, that word hadn’t been invented at that time yet), whereas Emi is a model student, with perfect grades and impeccable social standing.
All of Emi’s airs falls apart, however, when Kanou discovers that she plays Magic: The Gathering – the then super-nerdy trading card game from Wizards of the Coast, which Kanou is enamored with. They quickly strike up an unlikely friendship through the game, which just might lead into something else…
One of the major questions that inevitably hangs around the series is whether you need to have any knowledge regarding Magic: The Gathering to enjoy it. With regards to that conundrum, while prior knowledge will definitely help you appreciate the battles more, I’m happy to report that Destroy all humankind. makes a serious effort to help facilitate those new to the trading card game.
The MTG duels that play out in the series aren’t portrayed realistically, as in two people sitting at a table playing with bits of paper, but are rather rendered in exciting action scenes that evoke the card’s art and imagery.
What makes following the duels even easier is how the manga’s artist, Takuma Yokota, uses character acting and facial expressions to immediately signal the flow of the game, and how the character in question feels about it.
It’s because of all this that I, someone who’s only played MTG a grand total of once, was able to follow the duels quite easily, and even enjoy them, especially as they got more and more abstract.
On the flipside, however, if you’re looking for a serious Magic: The Gathering manga, then Destroy all humankind. They can’t be regenerated. might not be for you.
The manga is focused less on the duels themselves than on how they affect the relationship between Kanou and Emi, as they develop a strong friendship and bond through playing the trading card game.
This means that, at its core, the series is more of an unorthodox love comedy that features Magic: The Gathering then it is a straight-up card game manga.
If you’re looking for the latter, then I’d suggest reading something like the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, which is available through VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump vault and was originally conceived to be a Magic: The Gathering story in the first place.
If you like love comedies, however, then you’re in for a treat.
The author and the artist of the series, Katsura Ise and Takuma Yokota, have already worked together on another unorthodox love comedy (that being the very NSFW and tragic Onani Master Kurosawa (Fapping Master Kurosawa)) and their experience with the genre really shines through on Destroy all humankind.
While it may be a little too predicated on wish fulfillment for some readers, how the super otaku Kanou grows closer to the way out of his league Emi through the story and, indeed, Magic: The Gathering, is good, cute fluff.
It’s made even more interesting by the tragic mood in which the story dresses their romance by evoking Nostradamus’ apocalyptic predictions and therefore framing the narrative as a retrospective by an unknown, regretful narrator.
All of this is then served up with a tasteful dressing of 90s nostalgia, which serves a much more poignant purpose than simple nostalgia.
The story takes place in the year of 1998 and constantly invokes the popular culture of the time to reinforce this, such as the Nagano Winter Olympics, the premiere of James Cameron’s Titanic and, of course, the release of the then-latest MTG expansion pack, Exodus.
Now, I wasn’t a 90s kid, so I wouldn’t put my attraction to the 90s setting down to nostalgia. Rather, I’d say that the series’ attention to detail and clear effort to recreate that time period, which is nostalgic for the authors, gives it a real sense of character and identity that so many other, more standard love comedies lack.
If you are a 90s kid, though, I’m sure you’ll love getting to re-experience your childhood, albeit through a different cultural lens. But, much like with regards to knowledge of MTG, it’s not essential for getting into the series, nor will it leave you at a disadvantage to other readers.
The series only just started serialization last year, but I’m confident about its future. Its authors have clear experience with the genre and setting, meaning that they’ve been able to craft a compelling story so far. Several key questions, such as the ultimate fate of Kanou and Emi’s relationship given the apocalyptic undertones, also leave me anxious to read more.
Destroy all humankind. They can’t be regenerated. (Subete no Junrui wo Hakai suru. Sorera wa Saisei Dekinai.) is currently serialized in Kadokawa’s online Shonen Ace, with its first collected volume out now.