REVIEW: ‘The Emperor and I,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Emperor and I Volume 1

What would you do if you opened the fridge one day only to find a penguin tucked inside next to the jelly and shredded cheese? Well, if you’ve ever wondered what to do, maybe The Emperor and I Volume 1 will have some answers for you!

The Emperor and I Volume 1, by mangaka Mato (stylized as mato), is a digital-only title from Viz Media. Translation for this series was done by pinkie-chan, who also handled the lettering and touch-up. Additionally, Nancy Thistlethivaite served as the editor for The Emperor and I Volume 1. Finally, Yukiko Whitley handled the design. The manga follows a girl named Kaho who finds an Emperor Penguin inside the family fridge one day. However, instead of sending him off to a zoo, the family decides to keep him. That’s right; instead of sending him back, they adopt him. And they give him a name: Emperor the Emperor Penguin. So begins the hijinks of housing a wild, artic animal inside of a Japanese home!

The Emperor and I Volume 1 is such a lighthearted, genuinely funny volume. I can’t express the joy I felt seeing Kaho and her family adjust to their new black and white guest.  Kaho and Emperor play off each other so well. Because Emperor can’t speak or emote like humans, a lot of the comedy is physical. However, I found that mato’s timing was perfect, making Kaho and Emperor shine.

Emperor is perhaps the best penguin in all of manga, though I’m not sure how many penguins are in manga at the moment. Still, Emperor is the best boy. I love how self-centered Emperor can be, especially when it comes to things that interest him. He has a heck of a lot of personality for a penguin and often feels like another child in the family. 

Additionally, the slapstick comedy of having to hide a four-foot-tall penguin never stops being funny. Then again, I could easily say that about the slapstick nature of the entire premise too. I also think that the series’ lightheartedness makes it a perfect read, especially right now when laughter might be hard to come by. If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself snickering and frequently giggling at the gags and foibles of the cast. 

In the end, The Emperor and I Volume 1 is a really great first volume. The episodic nature of the stories is great for busy readers. You can read a chapter or two on a break, set the manga down, and easily come back without missing a beat. Plus, there’s no overarching story to remember since it’s a comedy about a penguin. That kind of easy-to-read nature really appeals to me lately, especially as a busy writer and reader.

The Emperor and I Volume 1 is also a splendid title for young readers. I highly recommend gifting this title to the tween manga enthusiast in your life. It’s funny enough to entertain kids. Not only is The Emperor and I Volume 1 really charming, but it’s also downright fun. Emperor is the best penguin in all of manga, and his hijinks will keep you laughing from digital cover to cover.

Folks who are looking for a nice, short slice-of-life series will find themselves at home with mato’s hilarious series. Fans of series like Tamamo-chan is a Fox or even Komi Can’t Communicate will find similar comedic beats, even if the premises are radically different. Additionally, fans of the anime Gal and Dino will probably really enjoy the hijinks in this series. In fact, I often found myself comparing the series.  Strangely, I also think fans of The Adventure Zone, both the podcast and the graphic novels, in large part because of the comedic timing and overall humor, will enjoy this manga.

The Emperor and I Volume 1 was released on June 27, 2017. Currently, this title is a digital-only title from Viz. You can buy it digitally on various platforms or read Volume 1 using the Shonen Jump App. As of the time of this article’s posting, chapters 1 to 3 of The Emperor and I Volume 1 are free to read without a Shonen Jump subscription.

The Emperor and I Volume 1
4

TL;DR

Folks who are looking for a nice, short slice-of-life series will find themselves at home with mato’s hilarious series. Fans of series like Tamamo-chan is a Fox or even Komi Can’t Communicate will find similar comedic beats, even if the premises are radically different.