Bento Bako Weekly: 07-Ghost volumes 1-2
Title: 07-Ghost (Seven Ghost)
Author: Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara
Publisher: Viz Media
Volume: Volumes 1 and 2 (ongoing), $9.99 each
Vintage: 2005, 2006 by Ichijinsha, November 2012 and January 2013 by Viz
Genre: Action, fantasy, supernatural
Teito Klein is an orphan and slave from the Raggs kingdom, who lives in the Barsburg kingdom and attends their military academy. He is a top student, with high marks and high expectations. After proving himself in the graduation exam (a deadly test of teamwork and combat against a formidable opponent), he’s even being considered as a candidate for the Eye of Mikael. The Eye of Mikael is a powerful artifact that belonged to the Raggs kingdom, and Barsburg owns its twin, the Eye of Rafael. Unfortunately, the Eye of Mikael has been missing since the two kingdoms went to war ten years ago. When Teito overhears some officers discussing himself and the Eye, he is overcome by a rush of memories. Suddenly, he realizes that he is the missing son of the King of Raggs, who was killed during the war by Chief Ayanami, a powerful officer in the Barsburg army. An officer who happens to be in attendance during the graduation exam, and is recognized by Teito as his memories start to return. Teito attempts to attack Ayanami, but is captured and thrown in prison. With the help of his best friend Mikage, Teito escapes, but his escape vehicle crashes near District 7, and he is found by three bishops of the Barsburg Church. Castor, Labrador, and Frau are no ordinary bishops. Each of them has a unique power, separate from the powers select humans like Teito have (which are called zaiphon), and a secret connection to the god of death, Verloren. They’re also a bit strange for bishops. Frau has a short temper and a tendency to hid porn all over the church, Castor enjoys making robotic nuns, and Labrador tends the gardens and can tell the future. While taking sanctuary at the church, Teito learns about the Overseer of Heaven, Kors, Verloren, and the seven ghosts. The Overseer of Heaven gives every human three dreams, and when the final dream comes true their souls are recalled to Heaven. Verloren sends pieces of himself, called Kors, to trick humans into making their dreams come true in a barter for their souls. The seven ghosts are guardians who fight against Verloren’s presence and protect humans. Teito himself almost gets caught by one of the Kors, but is rescued by Frau. Meanwhile, in an attempt to find and bring back Teito, Mikage is sent out to find his friend for Ayanami. Teito is overjoyed to see his friend again, but by volume’s end, there’s hardly anything left of Mikage.
[The more heavy plot SPOILERS begin here, so avoid this summary of volume 2 if you want to read the series yourself.]
Volume 2 opens with Frau and Castor sensing that Teito is in trouble, and Frau hurries off in death god form to find him. A possessed Mikage is fighting with Teito in a secret area of the church typically barred from normal humans. Mikage fits Teito with a collar to control him, which activates a latent power within him – the Eye of Mikael. Zehel (one of the seven ghosts who is channeled by Frau) fights against Mikage, or rather the being possessing him, but it is too late to save the young boy. A distraught Teito shuts himself away to grieve over the loss of his friend. He remembers Mikage’s final words, and the appearance of Zehel, whom he has figured out is actually Frau. In an attempt to pull him out of his depression, Frau brings Teito an animal companion that he claims bears the reincarnated soul of Mikage (which is some super fast reincarnation there). It’s a sort of…flying rabbit looking thing. Also during this visit, Frau rather clumsily and accidentally becomes the new master of Teito’s collar. The collar ensures its wearer cannot disobey commands through pain, and if the collar bearer and master are out of contact with each other for more than 48 hours, the collar explodes. Meanwhile, Ayanami is sent on a special mission to retrieve the Eye of Mikael at all costs. The Eye also makes itself known to Frau and Castor when Castor attempts to erase Teito’s memories of Frau’s identity. Realizing that the boy will need to protect himself from those wishing to make that power their own, Frau and Castor propose Teito take the Bishop Examination. With one month until the exam, it’s time to cram, though Teito is already quite prepared in some ways thanks to his upbringing. He still needs to learn to channel his zaiphon through a baculus, however, which is a weapon bishops use to fight Kors. Teito has trouble channeling his zaiphon at first, much to the amusement of his new roommate and training partner, Hakuren Oak. Hakuren Oak has quite a lot in common with his relative from the military academy (who frequently bullied Teito and Mikage), like his pride and vanity, but he seems to have a good heart, and even gives Teito advice on how to use his baculus. While the students are training, a repented murderer working at the church is murdered, and the method has Castor on edge.
Let’s get this out of the way first – I am not impressed by 07-Ghost. I think it’s trying too hard to be too many things, and the art is not up to my standards. I can’t be too harsh, as I believe this is their first published work. However, I can sit here and wonder why Viz Media picked it up, especially when there are better series languishing around (cough obligatory mention of Tokyo Crazy Paradise cough). It’s also boring, though it’s filled with so much stuff it really shouldn’t be. Then again, that’s part of the problem. The story goes in too many different directions. Sometimes it’s an action series, sometimes it’s a pretty boy shoujo story; there’s magic, angels, demons, and cute mascots. Politics, war, and secret pasts. I can’t begin to tell you just how many other, more focused series this one reminds me of. Even though I just realized most of those things are found in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, and it works fine there, but that’s sort of the nature of the series since the point is that they travel from world to world. Regardless, it’s not working here. o7-Ghost feels bloated and unfocused, without artwork to hold it up, or creator pedigree. The artwork isn’t horrible. In fact, for a debut series it’s quite good. Nothing really stands out, however. It’s fairly generic. As are the characters. Really, it’s all been done before, and done better. It’s not that the series is bad, exactly, it just doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t even leave a bad taste; it just leaves no taste at all.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.