Kazuaki Yanagisawa & Kaoru Kurimoto
Vertical has been releasing some fantastic manga from Osama Tezuka and Keiko Takemiya, so I had to check out this new manga release from the publisher. The Guin Saga is a very successful series of fantasy prose novels, totaling over a hundred books in Japan. This manga is the first of three volumes adapted from one of the many side stories from that universe. The story features a leopard-headed king whose kingdom has suddenly been struck with plague. Throwing himself head-first into danger, King Guin meets some new companions as he braves the dark magic of the ominous Talidd’s Alley: a pimp who searches for a cure to the plague to save his star girl, and a sorceress’ naïve dancing girl. Together, the three confront magic and beast alike in their quest to rid the kingdom of the horrible disease. Beautiful art and fun ideas aside, this book left me a little cold. It may be that I’m simply not much of a straight-forward fantasy reader, but the whimsical magic and the characters that are utterly uninteresting beyond the surface elements, make it a little hard to get into the events of the story. I never really feel any sense of danger for the characters, nor would I care what happened to any one of them, let alone the kingdom at large (a kingdom of people who bathe in their children’s blood to stave off the plague seems like one I wouldn’t be very keen on saving). Once you look past the pretty drawings, this is just an extremely bland manga that offers little that can’t be found in books superior to this one.