My Master Has No Tail – Manga Volume 1 Review

    The Main Character does indeed have a tail!

    My Master Has No Tail is a series involving Japanese culture and mythology. It is about the performative storytelling art of Rakugo and a young Tanuki’s journey to learn all about it. Let’s follow the first act of this Rakugo apprentice’s journey in Final Weapon’s Manga March My Master Has No Tail Manga Review!

    My Master Has No Tail vol 1 cover

    Pre-Show Act

    My Master Has No Tail is a manga series by TNSK. It runs in Kodansha’s monthly good! Afternoon seinen manga magazine. 8 out of 10 volumes are currently in English. An anime adaptation is also available on HIDIVE.

    This is a series that I have only read the first volume of and I have only seen clips of the anime. I don’t have the history with this series as I did with the series, Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro, that I reviewed previously. I enjoyed the first volume quite a bit and I am interested in reading the rest of the series. Let’s dive in a little deeper so that you hopefully become inspired enough to take a look at this series as well!

    Tail 1: A Tanuki’s Aspirations

    Our “tail’ starts with a young tanuki leaving her village to run some unnamed errand. However, her devious nature gets the better of her, leading to her going around town and causing mischief. And failing miserably at it! While she’s avoiding getting caught she learns about and becomes enamored by Rakugo, and considers it the ultimate form of trickery. This sets her on the path to learning this art so that she too can trick people into laughing. She then seeks out the Rakugoka (performer of Rakugo) she saw in order to request them to be her master.

    My Master Has No Tail

    That’s the basic premise of this manga. I will discuss what the rest of the volume covers, so feel free to skip the next paragraph to avoid mild spoilers. Don’t worry about the manga panels I share, as they only show aspects of the premise and the characters with context removed. The only way to get more spoiler-free would be to blindly pick up the manga or anime, which you have already failed at if you’re reading this review!

    The chapters following the first one involve our main character Mameda learning more about the human world through various side characters and personal fumbles and bumbles. She also gets to experience firsthand the behind-the-scenes of the Rakugo world. As she learns she makes friends with a fellow Rakugo apprentice. The final chapter of the volume is the culmination of what Mameda has learned as she attempts to save her friend. She doesn’t quite succeed in the way she wanted to, but her master is there to guide her hands (and paws!).

    My Master Has No Tail

    So, for a spoiler-free summary: The main character Mameda learns much, makes friends, and grows.

    My Master Has No Tail

    Another Tail: Learning Another Culture

    One of my favorite things about this manga is getting a taste of real Japanese culture. There are some supernatural elements and folklore, but the actual Rakugo culture is real. There are even inserts between chapters that go more in-depth on the terms and stories being told.

    My Master Has No Tail

    The main character, Mameda, being a tanuki from the boonies really helps the story a ton. She’s just as new to all of this as a prospective reader may be, making Mameda a good perspective character for the reader. In fact, she’s probably MORE green than a prospective reader. She barely knows anything about humans or their culture, making the reader at least a little more well-versed in some regards than poor ol’ Mameda here (Unless YOU’RE a tanuki too!). Well, a reader of this manga probably has some knowledge of aspects of Japanese culture if they’ve read some manga, watched some anime, or played a few games. Generally speaking though, it’s not likely for an English speaker to know about some of this stuff. I know about tanuki and legends about them but I sure didn’t know exactly what Rakugo was!

    ‘Nother ‘Nother Tail: Culture Shock From The Big City

    My Master Has No Tail

    I’ll start this section with a funny thing that I enjoy in English translations. The way certain Japanese dialects are translated gives me genuine joy. The story takes place mostly in Osaka, and Osakan dialects are translated as American Southern accents in many things. I believe both Yokai Watch and Log Horizon have done this. The Osaka-speak isn’t quite on that level here, but there is a touch of it. I think I enjoy it so much due to the creativity of the localizer and that I’m a southerner (making it funny to me somehow??).

    Anywho, one thing I did consider during reading is that some people probably won’t want to engage with learning terms or myths. Y’know aspects of a culture outside of America. I feel weird that I thought this because some people will remember every detail of a series like Naruto or even Star Wars but may not enjoy something that’s more historically grounded with some drama and myths thrown in. I’m probably an outlier in having this train of thought, but I feel that I should say it. The important qualifying factor here is that the series itself doesn’t explain these concepts in-depth, instead relying on inserts that are 1) only in the volume release and 2) not interspersed throughout particularly well. A reader that enjoys and engages thoroughly with the material doesn’t NEED these in all honesty. These inserts are clearly intended to spur the reader onto learning more and giving them a digestible snippet of info if they so desire to read it. If one pays attention one can feasibly extrapolate all needed information just fine. I have these thoughts because I know that some people will just glaze over things and not understand what’s going on, then promptly and unfairly blame the material. (I fully admit that this is a messy paragraph and idea, but I figure that it has some point and can maybe better portray my thought processes I had while reading)

    My Master Has No Tail

    There are a couple of things in the first chapter that worked me up in a right tizzy, I tell you! Some pacing aspects are weird in the first chapter. There are small “jumps” in the dialog and panel presentation that seemed off to me. I will admit, this is actually communicated well due to this happening at page turns. Quite smart! Though it threw me off for a second. That is forgivable due to it being on me. I figured I should mention it regardless because some of the “jumps” occur during Rakugo sequences. You don’t actually get to hear the full story during the Rakugo sections, which is disappointing. This is done because what’s important is how the Rakugo affects the characters and progresses the story rather than the actual performance itself. This is a good chance to read the information inserts and self-research the stories if you wish! Also, a single piece of character information took me some time to digest. Mameda’s master, Bunko, has her identity revealed when Mameda gets cut off when trying to say what she is. It’s obvious when going back to the scene, but I didn’t understand until the next chapter when Bunko performs a certain action. It just makes me wonder if the wording of the cutoff dialog was clearer in the Japanese version.

    (I avoided mentioning exactly what it was that is revealed because I consider it a spoiler. Ironic because of all of the pages I shared!)

    I Know What You Are… The Conclusion!

    I enjoyed the first volume a lot. I think I may need to give it a few once-overs and some research fully understand what I desire to about the topics. This could be remedied by reading more of the series and paying attention, though. I’m only doing this because I wanna learn more about Rakugo. The creator’s end-of-volume message shares their passion and admits that they’re learning, as well. So, I’m going to as well!

    My Master Has No Tail Vol 1 afterword

    As for scoring the first volume, It’s pretty good! The art is nice, the characters are fun, culture is interesting! There is a barrier to entry if you don’t wanna learn about this aspect of Japanese culture or don’t like the setting. The only actual quibbles I personally have is a couple of instances of page pacing and a couple of lines that took me some rumination and further reading to understand (entirely on me, but them’s the brakes). This is easily a 4/5 for me! A fun and informative read!


    I mostly wanna show off my favorite panel in this volume. Well, it’s actually a split panel. Does that make it two panels actually? I’m not certain… Maybe I need a master to teach me more about this kinda stuff…

    My Master Has No Tail Omake img

    It just strikes that balance of cute and funny to me, I suppose. Yup!

    My Master Has No Tail Manga Review Related Links

    I’ll be working tirelessly to provide more and more content for Manga March here on Final Weapon. Here are some other choice manga articles and reviews, conveniently linked here for your viewing pleasure!

    Payne aka PayneFusion is a huge fan of JRPGs. SQUARE ENIX owns his heart, especially their 'FINAL FANTASY' series. He is currently an aspiring artist and a studier of Japanese.

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