And so it was in ancient times (or maybe it was three years ago) that an evil prince of distant lands did threaten the once-peaceful Kingdom of Dikay. But in the darkest hour, when all seemed hopeless, a hero emerged – a bold champion who hunted all things evil and slew them in the name of goodness and decency. With his beautiful companion by his side, he destroyed the evil prince’s cursed artifact, drove back the assembled armies of darkness, and forever banished the dreaded demons back to the hells from which they’d come.
Now, the twice-peaceful Kingdom of Dikay is safe. Apart from an epidemic of amnesia that has clouded the minds of most of the citizens of Dikay as to precisely what happened during this epic battle between good and evil, most of the people are healthy, happy, and content. Yet even now their savior stands ever watchful for signs of evil’s return…mainly because it’s really difficult being a hero in a twice-peaceful kingdom and he’s incredibly bored. Then one day he happens to notice that his next door neighbor – a barmaid whose amnesia is so severe she can’t remember her name or anything of her life three years ago – looks an awful lot like the beautiful companion he lost three years earlier…
So begins the tale of Van Von Hunter – one of the funniest American manga I’ve ever read and one of the best parodies of the fantasy genre I’ve seen in any medium. Imagine Slayers as written by Mel Brooks and you might just be able to grasp the sheer hilarity of Van Von Hunter. There’s a lot of referential humor, with several characters who are obvious parodies of established characters and archetypes from other fantasy manga and Japanese role playing games as well as a lot of gags about the fantasy genre in general.
For instance, The Evil Prince is quite clearly mocking every effeminate ineffectual villain in manga history – think Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII as played by James from Pokemon. There are also numerous jokes about such staples of the fantasy genre as impractically large (but cool-looking) weapons, a group of elves corrupted by dark magic who now use their magical baking powers for evil, and impractical armor like plate-mail bikinis.
Thankfully, the humor isn’t limited to gags that only fans of the fantasy and manga/anime genres will appreciate. The situational humor and characters are amusing enough on their own terms. From the wizened old man who is determined to narrate the action of his surroundings no matter what the facts are or who is listening to the crazed king of Dikay (who laughs at his advisors and seeks advice from his jester), this series is full of memorable characters whose antics will leave you laughing out-loud.
Long out-of-print, all three volumes of this hilarious series are once again available through Tokyopop’s website. It is rated T for teens 13 and up, due to some mild cursing, excessive comedic violence, and sexy sorceresses in scanty armor.