In a world where every fantasy creature, UMA and god you can imagine exists, those beings (along with humans who can no longer live in the open world) have been secluded on a secret island that was made the 51st state of the US, hence its name − "Area 51". In this chaotic and wretched city, Magoi Tokuko, a human woman who goes by the name "McCoy" runs a shabby detective agency with her partners Kishirou (a Kappa) and Pike (a century-old gun that came to life), solving various cases and kicking a variety of butts for a living. Keeping the places they visit in one piece is usually optional.
It helps that McCoy has some very useful connections − from the centaur doctor Chiron to the Japanese Sun Goddess Amaterasu − and a good heart despite a distinct lack of tact. While the series often follows a Monster of the Week or Mystery of the Week format, there are a few longer arcs here and there, as well as an overarching plot about something that resides in McCoy's body even though it shouldn't. And the very fun and tongue-in-cheek tone doesn't prevent more dramatic or melancholic moments.
Area 51 is a seinen manga by Hisa Masato, previously known for Jabberwocky (amongst other things). It was published in Shinchousha's Monthly Comic Bunch, and ended in September 2017 with 15 volumes. The series is drawn in the author's peculiar Chiaroscuro style, emphasizing silhouettes and contrasts rather than graphic details. Outside of creating a very somber and surreal atmosphere that can be reminiscent of some graphic novels, this also conveniently serves to somewhat water down the gore and (occasional) nudity. The storytelling can also get quite experimental at times, with unconventional structures, points of view and resolutions, making for a very unique reading experience.
Tropes in Area 51
- All Myths Are True: Just about every religion and myth in the Northern hemisphere is represented in some way. There's even a council regrouping the biggest ancient polytheistic pantheons (Egyptian, Nordic, Celtic, Chinese, Greek and Japanese). Even the monotheistic God is implied to exist, going by the snake arc, although it's never shown. Volume 14 confirms that the Abrahamic God not only exists but reigns over all the Pantheons, and was the one who locked them into Area 51 in the first place.
- Badass Longcoat: Part of Tokuko's usual atire, being the badass detective she is.
- BFG: "Pike", as Tokuko calls it, has a big jaw-shaped muzzle and can fire extremely powerful and course-changing bullets.
- The Big Race: There's one in volume 2, where Tokuko has to rig the race so that the thugs who kidnapped her partner Kishirou can win their bet. When her efforts prove insufficient, she settles with threatening the radio commentator into doing a fake commentary to fool the kidnappers.
- Black Comedy: Area 51 being the Crapsack World that it is, a lot of the comedy includes gore or deaths of some sort.
- Clothing Damage: Tokuko occasionally finds herself topless one way or another, although that doesn't stop her from kicking butts.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: See All Myths Are True above. Fairytale characters are also commonly met in the city.
- Film Noir: The series has a very pronounced chiaroscuro artstyle and a private detective protagonist in a wretched town. Despite those elements though, there's quite a bit of humor. And also lots of monsters, gods and other fantastical creatures, so it's a pretty quirky take on the genre.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Combined with Kill the Ones You Love in the first volume. A man saw his sister sired by a vampire and into an immortal prostitute in a nasty bar for "special custommers" (i.e. brutally sadistic monsters). The only way he found to save her was by injecting himself with many doses of liquid silver and letting her bite him so that she could finally die. Needless to say, the silver in his veins ends up killing him too.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Tokuko's very close friendship with Amaterasu gets into borderline romantic territory in later volumes, especially on the latter's side. Amaterasu's flashback in volume 13 shows that she sees her as more than just a friend. Not to mention their Bathtub Bonding moment at the inn in volume 11, where the usually brazen Tokuko timidly blushes at Amaterasu's touch.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter is titled after (the English translation of) a piece of dialogue in said chapter.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Prince Charming (yes, this one) is every bit as noble as his fairytale counterpart, and ends up joining Tokuko's party for about two volumes, before he's killed during the pseudo-Ragnarok in volume 8.
- Last-Name Basis: Outside of Pike, everyone calls Tokuko by her alias "McCoy", a deformation of her last name "Magoi".
- Living Weapon: Tokuko's gun, that has existed for 100 years, morphs into a sentient gun when she's in danger at the end of volume 1. It has a strong emotional connection to Tokuko and her memories (and is also the only character calling her by that name).
- Money, Dear Boy: invoked As benevolent as Tokuko can be, she still doesn't work for free, unless the fate of Area 51 or of the world is at stake. Otherwise, she will take care of any case as long as she can make a good buck out of it.
- Ms. Fanservice: Tokuko and Amaterasu are the two main ones, their rather curvy body helping.
- Otaku: Amaterasu, of all people, likes nothing more than lazing around in her house playing videogames and reading manga.
- Physical God: All of the gods have a physical manifestation in the Area 51, but Amaterasu in particular is said to be so powerful that a human vessel can't contain her unless a special ceremony is performed. And even then she has to go to a special inn once a year to renew it, which leaves her body defenseless for one night.
- Scars Are Forever: After being slashed in two haves, Tokuko was maintained alive by the Kusanagi sword, but the scar remains as well as a constant, intense pain.
- Thigh-High Boots: Tokuko wears those over her jeans, another badass point in her general design.