Gods battling over the fate of humanity is one hell of a concept for a story, and manga is the perfect medium to bring it to life. Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 is features art by Azychika, story by Shinya Umemura, and a script by Takyumi Fukui. The series is published and localized in English by VIZ Media through their VIZ Signature imprint. Additionally, its translated into English by Jo Yamakazi and features touch-up art & lettering by Mark McMurray. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you caught the Netflix Original Anime based on this story.
The premise of the series is simple and earth-shattering. Once every millennium, the gods assemble to decide if humanity is worthy of its continued existence or if it should be destroyed. This time, though, the verdict the council of the gods reaches is destruction. In order to save humanity, the Valkyrie Brunilde poses a wager to save the beings she is connected to. To stop the destruction, human heroes must face off against the gods themselves in a battle known as Ragnarok. In order to find redemption, the human race must win the best of 13 matches in the Valhalla arena.
For Record of Ragnarok Volume 1, the gods have opted to end the proceeding quickly by presentingThor, the Norse god of thunder as the gods’ first champion. A god who can defeat someone in a single look, Thor is not only a formidable opponent but a crushing one. To match him, Brunhilde chooses the strongest warrior in the history of mankind, the legendary general Lü Bu.
If you’ve watched the Netflix Original Anime, then you know that Record of Ragnarok blends gods from across religions and humans from across histories, weaving together the mythologies that have forged their legends. In the manga, we get this to an even greater extent. Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 is only the fight between Thor and Lü Bu, but despite being focused on one battle, the chapters contain much more depth into the mythology around the fighters than the anime.
While we get in-depth stories around Thor and Lü Bu, we also get more context around Brunhilde’s motives to help the human race. While the anime paints her as more as a character that exists to just transition between the gods and humans, Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 gives insight into her motive and how much work she puts into choosing her champions. Brunhilde isn’t a tool but an active character with agency and will that pits her against the gods themselves as much as the humans are.
With more context and a more prominent role for Brunhilde, Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 is even better than the anime. It’s loud and hyper-stylized while managing to bring camp to the gods and ferocity to the humans. Having watched the anime before the manga was officially released in English, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truthfully, the manga tells you more than the series does, and if you’re a fan of one, you can use the other to gain more value and care for the story. This makes Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 well worth picking up — and if you’re new to the series, this is one to grab if you have any level of love of mythology.
Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 is available now wherever books are sold.
Record of Ragnarok Volume 1
With more context and a more prominent role for Brunhilde, Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 is even better than the anime. It’s loud and hyper-stylized while managing to bring camp to the gods and ferocity to the humans. Truthfully, the manga tells you more than the series does, and if you’re a fan of one, you can use the other to gain more value and care for the story. This makes Record of Ragnarok Volume 1 well worth picking up — and if you’re new to the series, this is one to grab if you have any level of love of mythology.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.