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Manga / Splatoon

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Splatoon is a Gag Series manga serialized in CoroCoro Comic, written and drawn by Sankichi Hinodeya, and based on the Nintendo video game franchise of the same name. While it does briefly adapt some of the various single-player campaigns, the manga puts the bulk of its attention on the main multiplayer modes.

The manga stars four Inklings named Goggles, Headphones, Specs and Bobble Hat. This quartet forms Blue Team, and each chapter follows their antics as they partake in various tournaments and slowly rise through the ranks of Turf War and (eventually) Ranked Battle, both in spite and because of their dysfunctional dynamic.

Beginning as a promotional one-shot released prior to the game's release in May 2015, the manga would continue later that December, before gaining a regular monthly schedule in February 2016. Viz Media would start localizing the manga in English in December 2017. The original series ran for 65 chapters across 16 volumes.

After a one year hiatus, the original run would be followed in September 2022 by the Sequel Series Splatoon 3: Splatlands, based on content from Splatoon 3. Following directly on from the events of the previous manga, it sees Team Blue move to Splatsville, where a skittish Inkling named Braid ends up joining the team as they compete in this new league.

Splatoon contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Every boss from the first game except The Mighty Octostomp and Octavio.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Volume 10 bonus chapter is Dear Pearl, an in-universe manga by Marina that focuses on the relationship between her and Pearl.
  • An Aesop: "The real winner is the team that has the most fun." Most of the rival teams lose due to not following this moral, and taking the matches very seriously.
  • Animated Adaptation: Sort of. In August 2017, the series received a two-episode motion comic adaptation of its first couple issues, featuring the voices of Mikako Komatsu, Kondo Rena, and Haruka Shiraishi.
  • Audience Surrogate: Goggles doesn't understand Turf Wars and has to have it explained in the promotional comic.
  • Book Ends: The original run begins and ends with Blue Team facing Rider's team in Arowana Mall, though the outcome of the rematch is left unknown.
  • Breaking Old Trends: The main character of Splatlands is based on the feminine yellow Inkling, going against previous arcs using male Inklings or Octolings as leads.
  • Clothing Damage: When Team Blue have their first friendly match with Team Green, Goggles ends up sliding down a wall, which tears open the back of his clothes. The match gets called off because of his bare back ruining everyone’s concentration.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: To an extent, with there being a few arcs that serve as loose adaptations of the various story campaigns.
  • Confusion Fu: Goggles is a avid, unknowing user of this technique. In an early chapter, Army's team loses to Goggles because despite being Crazy-Prepared about the behavior of the rest of Blue Team, none of them had any idea how to react when Goggles loses focus and leaves the match for a few seconds to grab some curry.
  • Cuckoosnarker: While always happy to join in on Goggles' hijinks, and her joyful behavior (complete with permanent grin) makes her comes across as oblivious, Bobble Hat can often be found in the background of scenes quietly snarking about whatever absurdity is going on.
  • Decomposite Character:
    • Both Goggles and Rider are Agent 3, though Rider is officially designated Agent 3.5.
    • The role of Agent 4 is split between Gloves (who gets the official designation), Skull, and Vintage (who respectively are Agents 4.1 and 4.2).
    • For the Octo Expansion Arc, Agent 8 gets split into the Octo Boy Eight as Agent 8 and the Octo Girl Seven as Agent 7.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Since the Octo Valley arc was cut down to 2 chapters, the Squid Sisters don't appear in it until the very end.
    • Eight after the Octo Expansion arc.
  • Denser and Wackier: Though the games themselves enjoy injecting moments of levity even into its more serious moments, the manga never even gets to that point. Nothing is ever taken too seriously for more than panel or two before the tone snaps back to the comic's goofball baseline.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Bobble Hat's original Japanese name is Knit Cap. This mirrors her signature item being referred to as the "Bobble Hat" in the games' English localization, as opposed to the Japanese "Pom-Pom Knit".
    • Specs' original Japanese is Glasses, once again mirroring his item's name being Retro Specs in the English localization, versus the Japanese "Black-edge Retro Glasses."
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: There were a number of clothing and weapon changes between the promotional one-shot manga and final serial.
    • Goggles' Purple Hi-Horse shoes were swapped in for the Hero Runner Replica and his Zink Layered shirt for the Armor Jacket Replica. His weapon set is also changed from the Splattershot setup used in the game's original E3 2014 demo to the Tentatek Splattershot one seen in the final release.
    • Headphones' White Tee became a B-Ball Jersey (Away) and her Pink Trainers became Red Work Boots. Her weapon set went from a Charger-class combination that didn't exist in the game to that of the Classic Squiffer.
    • Spec's Vintage Check Shirt became a Shirt and Tie, while his White Kicks became Plum Casuals.
    • Bobble Hat's Cream Hi-Tops became Purple Sea Slugs, while her custom Roller-class set was replaced with the standard Slosher.
  • Gender Flip: The "Hero Mode" chapters use the leading boys as the agents, while the Octo Expansion story arc has Agent 8 be male. Promotional materials for Splatoon games always have the protagonist roles for the single-player campaigns filled by females, with the developers often alluding to this being canon. That being said, the Octo Expansion arc plays with this a bit by revealing that not only did Eight have a companion in the form of the female Octoling girl (who gets the name "Seven"), but two other companions with the other two Octoling hairstyles.
  • Idiot Hero: Goggles definitely isn't the brightest Inkling, with the rest of Blue Team usually getting labeled as morons by proxy by outside observers.
  • Invincible Incompetent: Despite being forgetful, immature and a complete idiot, Goggle and his team win nearly all of their matches against the more skilled teams, including the Big Four of the S+ Rankers (aka the S4). In fact, the one time they did lose was an off-screen match and that pisses off Rider because it meant he really did lose to a team mostly composed of C Rank Inklings.
  • Japanese Delinquents: Rider has the look, with his leather jacket and boots, and he also has an aloof personality.
  • Keet: The currently unnamed pink inkling in the Splatoon 2 adaptation is excitable and cheerful boy who is also rather naïve.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the games aren't exactly the darkest out there, all the horror undertones present in them are pretty much absent here.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The characters are named after their gear, but they don't change outfits in general. Lampshaded in chapter 3 when Goggles goes shopping for new clothes after suffering Clothing Damage, and ends up getting the exact same ensemble as he had before, though he claims to have different underwear.
  • Mythology Gag: The main squads of the 1 and 2 era, Blue Team and Green Team, are based on the inklings used in promotional pieces like the official game site. Goggles himself is based off of the goggle-wearing blue inkling on the 1 cover, Gloves is based on the roller wielding green inkling on the 2 cover, and Mitsunami is based on the yellow inkling on the 3 cover.
  • Naked People Are Funny: This is a reoccurring Running Gag. For example, the promotional manga starts with Goggles getting slapped by Headphones for forgetting his clothes when he transformed into a human. The manga itself also starts similarly.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Team Blue wasn't named until the serialized manga.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Almost everyone other than previously established game characters are named after their gear. Might count as His Name Really Is "Barkeep"/They Call Him "Sword" if those are their real names.
  • Passing the Torch: After Emperor's defeat in the Square King Cup, he quits the team and passes leadership to his younger brother, Prince.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • In the games, players cannot battle those that are outside of their rank range. Usually players will battle only those in their rank, though matchmaking may allow one to battle players one level above/below them unless they are Rank S+ or X. The manga completely disregards this to have Blue Team made up of a C-, a C, a C+, and a B-, and allowing them to battle inklings who are S and S+.
    • In the games, unless it's a Splatfest or one has "Color Lock" enabled, Inklings change colours for every match. In the manga, characters are organized by colour and always stay that colour.
    • The first Hero Mode arc features both Goggles and Rider acting as Agent 3, even though only one Inkling could act in their place during the first game. By the time of the Octo Expansion arc, this is dealt with by having Goggles be an "agent" (in the Secret Agent sense) with the rest of Blue Team, while Rider gets Agent 3's in-game appearance. The second Hero Mode arc does the same as the first, though with Gloves accompanying Goggles as Agent 4.
  • Running Gag:
    • Goggles frequently either loses his clothes or forgets to put on his clothes when he transforms from a squid to a kid.
    • Goggles pulling down other characters' pants.
    • It's pretty common for characters to say "I'm fine!" only for somebody else to clap back with "You're not fine at all!"
    • Blue Team being at the center of a ridiculous event, usually caused by Goggles, prompting passerby to note that they must be doing something stupid again.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Specs is the resident smart guy and Only Sane Man, though he does have his silly moments.
  • Spotting the Thread: In chapter 3, Jungle Hat goes through the entire friendly match without being hit once, which Beanie notes as being very unlike him. Turns out it was Aloha of Team Pink, disguised as Jungle Hat to sneak into a match with Team Blue in preparation for the Blue vs. Pink match that happens in the next chapter.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Goggles points out that the whole conflict between Inklings and Octolings could be easily solved if Inklings simply shared their zapfish with the Octolings, as the latter are only stealing the creatures to begin with because of an energy shortage. Marie admits that they do have a decent excess of them.
  • Suddenly Voiced: To an extent. While the Inklings did speak in the game, they spoke in an entirely fictional Inkling langauge that is pure gibberish according to Word of God invoked. In the motion comic though, they speak in full Japanese, making it the only Splatoon work to have them speak in a human langauge.
  • Tournament Arc: The bulk of storylines are these, following the characters as they progress through various Turf War and Ranked Battle matches.
  • Twinkle in the Sky: In the first chapter, Specs overshoots the entire map while Super Jumping back into action, and disappears into the sky. The next time he's seen, he's careened all the way into Octarian country.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Rider doesn't look any older than the others but has a very deep voice in the motion comic. It contrasts with the other boys' more kiddie voices.