Thursday, 26 March 2015

Reviewing the evidence time (Manga Edition!) - Genju No Seiza vol.1

Title: Genju No Seiza vol. 1
Author: Matsuri Akino
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga, YA (older teens,) Fantasy, Paranormal

A few starting notes:

Genju No Seiza translates to 'Constellation of the Imaginary Beast' (thanks Wikipedia,) and is presented in the format favoured by the publisher (the now sadly diminished, but hopefully will soon rise from the flames, Tokyopop,) of reading right to left to keep the orientation of the artwork. It sounds more complicated than it is, honestly, though sometimes you do read things in the wrong order and have to check yourself.

I picked this up randomly in my last library haul, so didn't really have any preconceptions about what it would be like.


Fuuto Kamishina hasn't had the easiest of lives, and it turns out the past few lives have been a bit complicated too. It's not everyday that a birdman attaches himself to you and tells you that you are the reincarnated rightful ruler of a tiny Asian country called Dhalashar. What's a Japanese schoolboy to do when there are paranormal assassins, restless spirits, and premonitions of doom to deal with?

Best bits:

The artwork is competent and engaging. Sometimes it crosses the line into truly beautiful - which is always a good sign going forward in a series. Some of it is brutal and striking - manga rarely shies away from dramatic wounds and blood.

The characters - Fuuto in particular - are believable and interesting. You care what's going to happen to him, what he's going to decide to do with this insane situation that's suddenly landed on him. And he's different, which is a huge thumbs up as far as I'm concerned!

The plot and tone have a gothic and slightly surreal feel that I think actually fits quite well. The castle which Mayu lives in gives the whole thing this sort of other-world anything-is-possible feel that's really entrancing.

There's humour here too - not over-used, but excellent at tempering the seriousness of much of the plot. I particularly enjoy 'Professor Vision' which shows what it looks like to outsiders (this outsider happening to be the Professor, there are always professors in manga,) when Fuuto is arguing with a random bunch of animals.

Not so great bits:

The first chapter (this volume takes in Chapters 1-5) is a little rushed as far as plot is concerned, but it soon settles into it's groove.

Some readers may find some of the themes and artwork difficult to deal with - there's discussion of suicide and abuse here, for example - but I think it's handled with grace. Obviously, if you find this sort of thing distressing, this may not be the book for you.


A promising start to the series that tempers gothic seriousness with the gentle touch of humour. Engaging characters, artwork, premise, what more could you want in a good slab of manga?

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