by Makoto Tateno
published by Digital Manga; $12.95 US
When I first looked at this fantasy manga, I thought, “oh, not for me”, because I don’t much like magical quest stories. But when I opened it up, I found myself continuing to read anyway.
Sowil is a rune-wielding magic user who comes across a village preparing to bury two angelic-looking children alive. He trades some magic seeds for them, only to find out that the girl hears demons and the boy angels. Since they tell other people what they hear, they’re freaking everybody else out.
The kids are spooky-cute, with no personalities of their own. They don’t say much, but when they do, it’s mystically disturbing (and plot or exposition convenient). Especially when they contradict each other. Everything they say is close-captioned, typically of the form “blah blah says the (angel/demon) (name), (title).” At its silliest, it runs like, “‘Yes’, says the angel Raziel, keeper of secrets and records.”
Sowil takes them with him on his quest for his father, a structure that allows for individual chapters to pose separate mysteries, which the wanderers use their abilities to solve. One is a forbidden romance, another a flashback to Sowil’s youth, the last a village with a string of murders. The book is full of “I want to find out why this is happening” situations. Why do the villagers keep trying to kill the kids? What are Sowil’s secrets? Will he find what he’s looking for? I’m not sure it would have much re-readability, but the first time through, it’s a page-turner, with plenty of fights against magical monsters for visual interest.
Unfortunately, very little is resolved in this volume, and there is no book 2 listed on Digital Manga’s release schedule for the rest of the year. I can’t recommend you start such an open-ended series without some idea that some more satisfying conclusion will be coming. Angelic Runes is due out either July 22 (according to the publisher) or August 5 (according to Amazon.com). (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)