Greetings, manga fans! It’s been a while, and I’d like to offer my apologies. Between conventions, non-profit work, a new job, and freelancing, things have been really busy! To help with that, I’m experimenting with a new review format. This will mean shorter reviews (without the lengthy summaries and analyses that I usually do), but more of them. Specifically, more of them at once. So let’s get started.
If you read my first review, you’ll know that I was somewhat bored and underwhelmed by this series. Fortunately, things pick up in this volume and become a bit more interesting. Fumi is still struggling to find a place to belong, but she’s haunted by her past. Everywhere she goes, strange things seem to follow, and eventually no one wants her around anymore. Fumi believes she is cursed. Meanwhile, Kyutaro is convinced that Fumi is the girl from his past who disappeared into the Void. The first volume only teased this as a possibility, but Kyutaro is convincing in his own desperation to believe. There sure does seem to be a curse around Fumi, though, as she appears to be specifically targeted by the Void’s insects. This leads her to believe that she’s about to bring ruin to those she cares about, and she plans to run away. Kyutaro and the others won’t hear of it, and as people who hunt down curses for a living, assure Fumi that nothing is wrong with her. Instead, they continue to teach her how to be a successful Sweeper, and clear out the infestations in people’s minds and hearts. That’s the focus of this volume – teaching Fumi how to help ease the pain of those around her. There’s barely any mention of her quest for her Prince Charming, which bogged down the first volume with unnecessary silliness. There’s comedy here, still; drama, too, and a little romance. As well as the hint of something larger and sinister creating troubling and powerful infestations. Much more interesting than the first volume, and the characters are fleshed out a good deal.
A moderately interesting concept ruined by an over abundance of unnecessary fan service. That sums up 7th Garden. Look, I know why it’s there, I know it sells (or I assume it does), but it’s incredibly distracting, in a bad way. Massive boobs, butt shots, a ridiculous costume (complete with magical changing scenes), nudity (because demons don’t care about clothes), rape imagery (because why not). And that’s just one character. The angel that appears in this volume is actually wearing less than the lead demon. It’s completely unnecessary to carry the story, and kills any interest I might have had. I don’t know if the designs were Izumi’s idea, or if an editor pressured them into including such shots, but aside from my personal annoyance and preference, it also doesn’t fit within the rest of the visuals. It’s distracting because it doesn’t belong. As for the story, it’s angels versus demons. All Awyn wants to do is tend his mistress’s garden and make sure she’s safe and happy. Unfortunately, he accidentally awakens the demon Vyrde, who is anxious to destroy the world’s ruling angels so she can rule instead. When the Anti-Knights attack the nearby town, Awyn makes a desperate pact with Vyrde to gain the power to protect what he treasures the most, in exchange for helping Vyrde defeat the angels. There’s some interesting religious politics going on, and the good guys aren’t necessarily “good.” Awyn is a likable protagonist; a seemingly simple gardener with a dark past. It’s nice to look at, too; the art is well detailed. But the superfluous fan service just kills the whole thing for me.
This one is promising, though it’s meant for a younger audience than I. I’d say around twelve or thirteen would be a good starting age. Asta wants to be a powerful mage – specifically, he wants to be the Wizard King. Unfortunately, Asta can’t use a lick of magic. He tries to make up for it with physical strength, but in a world where everyone has at least some magical ability, Asta is an outcast. His best friend Yuno is the complete opposite, strong in magic and a promising candidate for the Magic Knights. When the time comes for each fifteen-year-old in the town to receive their magical grimoires, Asta is the only child to not receive one, while Yuno receives a legendary Four-Leaf Clover book. Such powerful tomes attract trouble, however, and Asta must go to Yuno’s rescue when a mage attempts to steal the grimoire. As Asta struggles to protect his friend, a tattered book appears bearing a black clover with five leaves. It summons a massive sword for Asta that repels magic. During the Magic Knights exam, Yuno is assigned to the most powerful squad, while Asta gets picked for the most bizarre group of misfits. The Black Bulls find Asta fascinating, and welcome him with open arms. Black Clover keeps a quick pace with kenetic artwork and exciting (and excitable) characters. Both Asta and Yuno are orphans from a small town, and are looked down upon by most of the other Magic Knights. Only Yuno’s impressive abilities save him from the disdain thrown at Asta. In a world where magic rules, those of lower birth and weaker skills are seen as useless by those of noble birth and power. The Black Bulls is full of outcasts, just like Asta, and their diversity is sure to make things entertaining.
Review copies provided by Viz Media.