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January 18, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Angelic Runes vol. 1

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Angelic Runes
Author: Makoto Tateno
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Volumes: This is the first in a series of three books.  $12.95
Vintage: 2007 in Japan, summer of 2009 from Digital Manga
Genre: Fantasy shojo.  Magic, angels, demons, mythology.

In Angelic Runes, traveler and rune mage Sowil happens upon a small village just as they are about to bury two small children alive.  He rushes to stop them, and demands to know what is going on.  The villagers tell him that their land is cursed by drought and illness, and that the children themselves said the only way to end the curse was to bury them alive.  Not believing this is the only way to save the village, Sowil trades them magically enhanced seeds in return for the children, whom he agrees to take away from the village.  Once they are away from the village, Sowil discovers what made the villagers so hateful and fearful toward the children – the boy, Erudite, speaks in the voice of angels; and the girl, Allueh, speaks in the voice of demons.  The two eight-year-olds appear to be oracles.  But as a rune mage, Sowil isn’t exactly normal himself; magicians are fairly rare, and rune users even rarer.  Not even Eru and Allu’s angels and demons have heard of the type of magic Sowil uses.  With the twins in tow, Sowil sets off on a journey to find his father, whom he has never met, believing his power to use the ancient runes came from the man.  His journey will be far from simple, as the twins and their angels and demons guide Sowil into all manner of troubles.

Sowil chats with the angels and demons through Eru and Allu in Angelic Runes vol. 1.

This first volume introduces us to the rune mage Sowil, and the twin oracles Allueh and Erudite.  Sowil uses various objects (usually snapped twigs) to form runes, calls out the appropriate name, and casts the accompanying spell.  He casts a torrent of water to stop a rampaging salamander (a “gift” from the angel Michael), and his specialty, sowil (sun), to burn a pair of sand worms to a crisp.  He’s kind and cheerful, but has locked away an unknown (and presumably tragic) event from his past deep in his mind.  He knows next to nothing about himself, or why he can use runes.  His mother died when he was born, and he has never met his father; but from birth he was able to use rune magic.  His tragic birth is something he has in common with the twins – their mother also died when they were born.  Sowil feels a bit of kinship with them because of this, and also because they all have mysterious powers; he believes they were brought together for a reason.  This volume introduces a couple of other likely main characters – Sowil’s mentor Taurus, and another mysterious man named Loft who is hunting Sowil’s father.

The art is pretty simple, but it’s not bad.  Backgrounds are minimal, clothing is pretty average for a fantasy story.  There are some weird inconsistencies in the art; Sowil is shown holding an object in one hand for several panels, and then in a close up it suddenly switches hands, but then goes back in the next panel.  The band that holds his messy ponytail in place disappears randomly for dramatic flowy hair effect.  Tateno-san is a decent artist, but she doesn’t exactly stand out.  Strangely Loft and Taurus have quite a bit of design presence, while Sowil is rather generic for a hero (though the mangaka admits Taurus was originally supposed to be the main character).

There are better fantasy stories out there.  Stories like Berserk, Record of Lodoss War, Escaflowne, and Moribito come immediately to mind.  But it’s cute, it’s short (a blessing compared to Berserk‘s 35 and still going volumes), and it’s easy to follow.  If you’re a fan of magic and mythology, you’ll find a lot here, as the mangaka has drawn from several mythologies around the world for the book’s material.  The kids are adorable, but it’s fortunate this is a short series, because they only speak when the angels and demons are speaking through them, and while humorous at first, it’s liable to get old fast.  The kids are vessels for the demons and angels, and have little personality of their own.  While the banter between the angels and demons, and with Sowil, is pretty amusing, hopefully they’ll show more personal identities later.

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Review copy provided by DMP.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Mulder and ComicAttack.net, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New Bento Bako Weekly: Angelic Runes vol. 1 – https://comicattack.net/2010/01/bbwangelicrunes1/ […]

  2. I don’t read much manga, but I’m really into mythologies from different cultures. So, there’s a chance I might get into this one.
    The ‘inconsistencies’ in the art remind me of the shoddy animation from the old Super Friends cartoon. Very random and distracting if you notice it. BTW I’m following you on twitter 🙂

  3. Sounds very cool.

    I’m worried though; if I read this, will it rune my life? (sorry could’t help myself!)

  4. billy

    Burying children alive to stop a drought? Wow, that’s harsh!

  5. It wasn’t totally uncommon “back then.” What do you think the witch hunts were? In fact, they still do that sort of thing in some parts of the world.

    Art inconsistencies like Sowil’s hand aren’t totally uncommon, and I sort of wonder if sometimes a panel is just switched around for whatever reason, rather than it having been drawn that way. The problem this time is that it was so hugely obvious. He’s holding onto a monster with his right hand, and this object with his left, as he climbs up the monster. Then it zooms in on the object, and suddenly it’s in the hand he should be holding onto the monster with, in just the one panel. Then it zooms back out and it’s in his left hand again.

  6. […] How to Capture a Martini Author: Makoto Tateno (Angelic Runes) Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their Doki Doki imprint Volume: This is a self-contained […]

  7. […] Angelic Runes volume 2, b&#1091 Makoto Tateno. “Sowil continues &#959n &#1110n h&#1110&#1109 journey to find h&#1110&#1109 father, accompanies b&#1091 the two child oracles wh&#959 channel the voices &#959f angels &#1072n&#1281 demons. each encounter with a n&#1077w angel &#959r demon yields &#1091&#1077t another clue about wh&#959 h&#1110&#1109 father &#1110&#1109, &#1072n&#1281 lifts a bit more &#959f the seal th&#1072t &#1110&#1109 laid upon Sowil’s meory. the wheel &#959f fate &#1110&#1109 rotary &#1072n&#1281 it &#1110&#1109 reasonably evident th&#1072t Sowil, the children, &#1072n&#1281 the supernatural beings they meet, are b&#965t cogs &#1110n the machine &#959f destiny. Or are they? the fate &#959f the world m&#1072&#1091 rest &#1110n their hands!” June 15, $12.95 (DMP). […]

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