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Shonen Jump Rival Gives RPG Dungeon Trope A Terrifying Twist in New Manga

This article contains spoilers for King of the Labyrinth’s 3rd chapter!

Shueisha’s rival publisher Kodansha whose Weekly Shonen Magazine is the closest publication to overtaking Weekly Shonen Jumps untouchable circulation numbers has a new manga called King of the Labyrinth that gives a twist to the popular RPG dungeon trope. King of the Labyrinth‘s publisher Kodansha is the only entity that really rivals Shueisha as well as its sibling companies Shogakukan and Hakusensha who together make up Hitotsubashi Group.

Sometimes a byproduct of the incredibly popular Isekai genre, RPG dungeon manga usually make the gamified aspects of role-playing games a part of normal everyday life. For example, characters level up after they gain experience points and sometimes get to choose which stats to update with an actual gaming status screen that materializes in front of them. Also, like in most RPGs, heroes take on quests from their local adventure guild and form parties for particularly difficult missions that normally transpire in dungeons.


Related: Hilarious New Isekai Parody Manga Finally Gives Genre Refresh it Needs

King of the Labyrinth incorporates many of these gamified aspects into its world. For example, when a hero or monster dies, their bodies disappear, but their items remain for other characters to pick them up. Also, dungeon bosses can’t leave their boss room and when they die, they disappear and then reappear with no recollection of their former life, so the next hero can slay them. These bosses also can’t learn from their mistakes for that reason. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. King of the Labyrinth follows a Minotaur boss from a particular dungeon who breaks these rules for some unknown reason. When he’s killed in the first chapter, it reappears with a new drive to get stronger and face more powerful foes. This causes the Minotaur to actually leave its boss room when a later hero tries to escape when she realizes she’s been overpowered.

Usually, RPG dungeon manga follows their respective heroes who abide by the gamified rules of their world. The twists normally involve a hero getting kicked out of their adventuring group for having a pathetic power that later turns out to be incredibly amazing or, if it’s an Isekai, a normal person having to get used to living in a gamified world after they’re transported from their mundane life. But none of this happens in King of the Labyrinth, as the role of the manga is essentially deconstructing the trope in a terrifying satire. Since the main character is a boss, the manga also has the unique capability of getting to kill off heroes as though they are bad guys. As a result, readers form attachments to these characters only to later watch them die in brutal fashion at the hands of this rampaging, rule-defying Minotaur. In many ways, King of the Labyrinth‘s early chapters repeats the first installment of a similar manga Goblin Slayer, which revolves around an unlikely hero who also exists in an RPG dungeon world. Goblin Slayer‘s opening chapter serves as a means to lull readers into a false sense of complacency by introducing a group of new adventurers setting out on an exciting quest, only for them to later get maimed in the most brutal fashion. Instead of this happening once, King of the Labyrinth introduces new sets of heroes to investigate the anomalies surrounding the Minotaur for the purpose of showing new rules the Minotaur can now break as it continues to evolve.

Although RPG dungeon manga dominates the industry outside of Shonen Jump, King of the Labyrinth gives a unique twist to an overbearing genre that’s both terrifying and satisfying. At least there isn’t a normal person who gets transported to this world and has to fight the Minotaur … yet.

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