Many manga, anime and other mediums' stories feature a powerless protagonist amid a world of magic, not to mention the endless list of settings in a school. Shonen Jump's Mashle: Magic and Muscles fits right into both categories, lampooning the many tropes it features so heavily.
Written and illustrated by Hajime Komoto, Mashle is essentially a triple entendre, combining the words "magic" and "muscle" while incorporating the protagonist's name, Mash. With a quirky main character and a might-over-magic storyline, Mashle casts a spell of new life into classic archetypes and plots. Here's what the series is all about, who the characters are and where Western fans can legally read the manga.
Mashle: The Plot
Protagonist Mash Burnedead is a young man with no magical ability living in a world where such powers are commonplace. Mashle essentially turns the plot of Harry Potter on its head, featuring a muggle who's arguably stronger than any of the wizards he meets. Attending Easton Magic Academy to please his grandfather, Mash aims to fit into the school and rise among its ranks. He does so not with magic, which he lacks, but instead relies on muscle and pure physical strength.
Mashle's plot bears a heavy resemblance to anime such as Black Clover and My Hero Academia, namely in its school setting and seemingly powerless protagonist. Mash is similar to Saitama in One-Punch Man as well as Mob Psycho 100's Shigeo Kageyama, resembling the former's personality with the latter's heroism. Mash is almost uncaring in his unrelenting quest to prove his strength, showcasing it in the same flippant way as Saitama.
These similarities are only made clearer by Mashle's nature of being a deadpan comedy, almost feeling at times like a parody or satire of the aforementioned manga. For instance, when the police try to arrest Mash for lacking the mark of a magic user, he easily swats away their magical attacks like one would a bothersome fly.
Mashle: The Characters
Several other Mashle characters play off the strangeness of a hero with no magical powers. One is Mash's roommate Finn Ames, who usually reacts to his blunt antics in an astonished yet serious fashion. Finn's brother Rayne is one of the school's most exceptional students, a rank Mash himself hopes to rise to.
Mash's rival is Lance Crown, who hopes to become an exceptional Divine Visionary and change the rules of the magic world. Lance's sister, who loses her magic after catching a rare disease, may be sentenced to death for now being powerless. Dot Barret, another rival for Mash, harbors an energetic, hot-blooded persona that leaves him always itching to prove himself. Lemon Irvine, on the other hand, is a relatively strange girl who lays claim to Mash's hand in marriage, rounding out the cast of unorthodox students.
Where to Read Mashle
Having just started its run in early 2020 and currently lacking an anime, Mashle is still far from a mainstream manga series. Despite this, Mashle is available to read digitally for international readers. Viz Media and Manga Plus offer the series online. Viz also announced that the manga will begin a print publication in June 2021 and is currently available to pre-order through retailers such as Amazon. Hopefully by then, more readers will have discovered the magic, or ironic lack of, in Mashle.