Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 is the latest installment in the Kirby comic book collection. Instead of covering all the stories, they choose some of the best chapters and put them together. There is no linear order and the stories are self-contained.
Instead of working as an adaptation of Kirby’s adventures, it’s a gag manga. The notion of Kirby Manga Mania puts the pink puffball and his friends in strange situations. The jokes range from toilet humor to breaking the fourth wall, but there’s nothing too elaborate.
There are references to the games here and there, and there’s even a specific chapter that can be seen as an advertisement for Kirby: Star Allies. However, many jokes don’t fit the world and characters, only touching the surface. It feels like the writer puts the jokes above the characters, making some situations barely believable.
Manga adapted from video games are a tricky medium, as they often struggle to capture the magic of the original. Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 also fails to make the most of its intellectual property. It looks like a generic gag manga with a Kirby skin applied to it.
So as easy as it is to recommend the volume to people who don’t even know Kirby since there’s no continuity, that’s also its biggest downside. Despite using things like copy abilities or the meta-joke about how Kirby’s appearance changes over time, it often feels weird and a bit superficial.
That’s not to say there’s nothing of value here. The jokes are funny and there are sometimes curious ideas. I enjoyed the story in which Kirby tries to be an idol and starts acting completely wrong. The whole setup contradicts Kirby’s original self while telling something about him through the gags. Most other instances of Kirby or others stepping out of character only feel forced.
Ultimately, readers who love all kinds of gag manga and know just a thing or two about Kirby can have a great time reading the volume. However, people who are deeper in his universe probably won’t be as malleable to these weird non-canonical happenings.
Visually speaking, the manga is flashy, often twisting characters for jokes. Kirby and Friends are different from their original game, so their manga designs can be easier to draw and more expressive. This choice works well, but it’s the kind of material that reminds readers that this is an interpretation by someone who isn’t one of the original creators.
Although he has pleasure in giving, Kirby Manga Mania Vol. 3 is a job that would only be enjoyable for a few people. Although it tries to use some gaming references, this gag manga mostly falls flat as the jokes are a little too forced. Instead of a clever depiction of the Kirby world with added jokes, it feels like a made-for-gags mockery that downplays its characters and could have applied to any other series.