One of my favorite things about books is that they can create new worlds that readers can explore. We are introduced to new creatures and learn new things that we can’t exactly do in 2020. Heterogenia Linguistico is a story that allows readers to travel across a new land and learn more about its peculiar people who inhabit it. It was a nice escape from the crazy world we currently live in.
Heterogenia Linguistico follows a relatively inexperienced linguist, Hakaba, as he travels through the Netherworld. Originally, Hakaba’s more experienced mentor was supposed to do the trip but he threw his back out climbing out of a hot air balloon, resulting in Hakaba having to take up the task of exploring the Netherworld alone. His first stop is a werewolf village where he is meant to meet up with a werewolf guide. In this book, werewolves aren’t shape shifting humans who turn fluffy at the full moon. The werewolves in this book are more like evolved wolves who now have more human traits, such as walking on two legs and the ability to talk.
When Hakaba arrives at the village, he meets his guide who happens to be a werewolf human hybrid child. It turns out the child is the offspring of Hakaba’s mentor and a werewolf woman. From there, Hakaba and his new guide, Susuki, travel through the Netherworld meeting new species and learning more about the different life forms live.
I really enjoyed this book. The different reactions that Hakaba has when meeting new species and trying to interact with them was a bit comical. When I first started reading I wasn’t sure who was a threat and who was a friend. I kept expecting Hakaba to get eaten or attacked because a lot of the different species that live in the Netherworld are basically evolved predators. The first species Hakaba meets after the werewolves is the lizardfolk, who look like evolved crocodiles, so I was fully expecting conflict to ensue, but I ended up disappointed. Every being Hakaba met ended up being very kind. Even though the beings were all very evolved, there were still things that they did that referred back to their original species. Such as Susuki being slightly color blind like a dog and the lizardfolk feeling for vibrations similar to what lizards do. The little mannerisms and overall look of the different species that tied it back to their original inspiration was very entertaining to see.
The book was written a lot like a log written by an adventurer. Each chapter, or log entry, was written with what happened of import that day. At the end of the chapter, there would be an illustration of Hakaba’s pack, what he ate or just something that was referenced in the chapter. It felt a lot like I was also going on the journey with Hakaba and Susuki.
The reader gets a good idea of the tools that Hakaba was using and the weird foods that he was ingesting. It was a nice addition to the story and helped establish more of an adventure vibe to the manga.
The one thing I noticed in this book that seems to be a consistent theme in a lot of manga is the use of slime. I may be new to the manga/anime universe, but there sure seems to be a lot of slime. In this story, one of the species that Hakaba comes across is what Susuki refers to as know-water, aka slime. I’m not saying it was a bad addition, it was actually one of my favorites, but I feel like I’m constantly seeing manga that features slime.
The story in itself reminded me a lot of those old movies where a group of explorers travel into the jungle and meet indginous people who have different customs and ways of performing different tasks than more civilized societies do things. There was a scene where Hakaba talks to a dragon and finds out that when dragons die other beings within the Netherworld eat the corpse. Hakaba finds it unnatural, but realizes it’s important for the people of the Netherworld to be able to give back and eating their remains is a way to honor the dead. That was just one of the instances in the manga that illustrated how different the Netherworld was to Hakaba’s world.
I found Heterogenia Linguistico to be a good read. It was comical and the illustrations kept me entertained. The writer/artist, Salt Seno, did a really good job in creating a new and interesting world. They created a plethora of different characters for Hakaba to meet that never failed to create some entertaining interactions. This book was an adventure that I could enjoy from the safety of my couch and that's one thing we can do in 2020.