Hey guys, welcome to a very special episode B’s Views and Reviews, the podcast that promotes faith-based, family friendly comics and the creators that make them, brought to you by Geek Devotions, a show by devoted geeks devoted to letting you know that you are loved.  I’m B, and today we’ll be stepping outside of our usual lane to talk about the epic Anime-inspired comic book, Nacho Fries Are Back.  

Nacho Fries???

Yes, nacho fries!! This comic book, paired with an anime-inspired TV commercial, is an advertisement for Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries.  Nacho Fries are to Taco Bell what the McRib is to McDonald’s — an addictively delicious food that only comes around “for a limited time.”  As such, Taco Bell has poured quite a bit of effort and resources into advertising their nacho fries (money well spent, in my opinion.)  This year, however, they have ventured into the realm of Geekery to draw to their restaurants the fans of comic books, manga, and anime.

The Story:

Nacho Fries Are Back tells the story of Rei.  She is the leader of Fry Force, an elite team of pilots who operate Mobile Suit Gundam style mechs to battle against Evangelion-themed monsters who seek to devour Earth’s most precious commodity — you guessed it, Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries.

This mission is personal for Rei in that the last time these monsters attacked Earth –which coincided with the last return of Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries — her brother and fellow Fry Force member Kosuke was killed in the attack.  For Rei, this is more than just protecting Earth’s Mexican spices.  It’s about revenge! 

Rei is the only character that we spend a lot of time on, given the short length of the comic.  She’s a hero born of tragedy.  You get the feeling through the flashbacks that she may not have always been as serious as she is now, but Kosuke’s death has made her that way.  In the TV commercial, she actually says in her monologue “I won’t let it happen again.”  She isn’t a hero who aspires to be great.  Rather, she’s a wounded soul who seeks to make sure no one ever hurts the way that she does.  She’s a surprisingly deep character for a Taco Bell Commercial. 

Think about everything you love about mech-themed animes and mangas.  It’s part of this story.  Teenage protagonists.  Gigantic mech suits that look like walking weapons.  Horrific monsters rising out of the ocean.  Dramatic team roll calls and shouting the team name as a battle cry.  It’s all in here.  There are elements of Voltron, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Evangelion worked into the story, along with others I’m sure that I’m not aware of.  Take away the fact that the McGuffin of the story was Nach Fries instead of an ancient alien artifact, rare source of energy, or magic-infused monarch, and you have a story that feels more thriller than silly.  It was almost a let down to be reminded that this was just an ad for Nacho Fries.  I genuinely wanted to read the next chapter in the story arc. 

The Art:

The comic book follows a traditional manga style.  It’s backwards, first of all, which means you start at what we in the west think of as the back of the book and read right to left.  For people who aren’t used to this, it’s a little jarring at first, but you get used to it very quickly.  All the artwork is black & white, so it has a manga feel to it.  The art style is obviously manga influenced.  The robots and monsters are epicly huge and the heroes are teenagers.  The distinctive big eyes, small nose, and pointed chin of the Japanese style is prevalent throughout.  

The project also utilizes Japanese lettering as part of the artform, much like manga do.  I don’t read Japanese, so I couldn’t tell you what the words said, but fortunately, they had translations in parentheses next to the words so you could tell what the sound effects should be.  It definitely added to the overall feel of the book.  

The Content:

This book definitely leans more towards family friendly than faith-based, as it’s advertising Nacho Fries.  But there are some things that happen within the story that I believe can definitely be a connection point to open up a discussion about our faith.

As far as content, aside from discussing the fact that Rei’s brother died in a monster attack, the story is really just a chance to showcase Nacho Fries and giant battles between mechs and monsters.  For an advertisement, it was well thought out and well executed.  If you have kids of any age that love Taco Bell and are also anime or manga fans, this is definitely a good one for them.  

Where can I get it?

Nacho Fries Are Back is published by Taco Bell — unfortunately, I couldn’t find the credits for who wrote or drew the story.  You can get your copy at the Taco Bell Website.  

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