Reading Pile: The Skeleton Soldier Failed to Defend the Dungeon
As I've mentioned previously, there's a looooooooot of Isekai fantasy out there these days and a lot of it is fairly derivative. The trick for me is are they still having fun and telling a good story, and are they bringing anything new to the table?
The first three chapters of SSFTDTD are free up on Tappytoon, and that title was all it really took for me to get interested. Based on a novel by SOSORI with a script by Wolhet and art by Kang Ye-seul, the series follows a meager skeleton who only wants to live a peaceful life with his master, Lady Succubus. The story starts out with their brutal deaths at the hands of adventurers though, and the skeleton lamenting his failure to protect his mistress.
Suddenly he's reawakened twenty years in the past, and while he's still weak he now has certain perks from his past life.
The style of fantasy fits into the same mold as so many of the other reincarnation stories with the world being some sort of iteration of a game. The difference here seems to be that this isn't someone from our reality being transported over, so that's sort of a new factor for me. Still, it follows the same vague mystery pattern as popular series such as Overlord or That Time I Was Reincarnated As a Slime. We don't exactly know why this is happening, we probably won't for quite some time, and it's not really of any matter for now.
The story takes on a bit of a Groundhog Day approach as the skeleton keeps screwing up and dying, only to come back with slightly more knowledge of what to expect and gaining minor skills along the way. All in the hopes of protecting the necromancer who awakened him 20 years ago, Rubia.
The resurrection element reminds me of a Dark Souls fan webcomic I read a while back (and wish I could find again) that specifically dealt with the resurrection mechanic from the character's POV. I actually really really like the setup as the skeleton now has an opportunity to change his fate, but it's going to have to be a painfully long and arduous task for it to do so.
On the flip side, the set up also requires the female characters to continually be fridged. Like, again and again and again. Hopefully that doesn't persist much past the chapters I read, but it does feel a bit baked into the concept.
Visually the series is very sleek and engaging. The coloring and pacing help to counter the naturally rigid nature of the main character, while the facial expressions of everyone else aids against the 'straight man' nature of the skeleton. There are elements of Fionna Staples, the Luna Bros, and Stjepan Šejić within Kang Ye-seul's style and I really enjoyed it.
I was too lazy to make a Tappytoon account for the time being, but I'll probably get off my butt soon and get that going because I do want to see how the series progresses. It's fun, engaging, and has a lot of potential. There's a unique balance of humor, fantasy tropes, bloody violence, and some harsher elements that can really pay off as the plot and characters develop, and it can go in plenty of interesting directions with the time travel angle.
All off that without a named protagonist as well, so not too shabby.