In her moment of despair, a little girl wishes to have the happiness stolen from her returned. But there’s a catch – in seven years, she will have to help destroy the world.
A SEVEN YEAR WAIT
Ok, so right out the door I want to warn readers that this series is for mature readers only. There is graphic violence and nudity, and a rape scene.
Promises made in the heat of the moment don’t tend to end well. And like such promises, Luna didn’t think it’s something she’d ever have to do. In fact, the stakes were so high that she pushed it completely out of her memory.
The story starts simply enough. A scientist from Japan is driving with his family to Las Vegas, celebrating his recent transfer to the States. Shortly after meeting a man on the road in the middle of the desert, the family pulls the side of the road for a minute. Luna gets out of the car to walk around, and then her family’s car is engulfed in a massive explosion.
The story then cuts to seven years later, with Luna’s family alive. But it doesn’t last, as Luna’s past is rapidly catching up to her.
I’ll admit that I don’t have a lot of experience in Apocrypha, as well as other interpretations from other denominations of Christianity. I was able to catch a few references to stories that my church did not consider canon, and in fact the volume opens from a quote from the Gospel of Thomas. So I can’t speak of how much it draws on it, but it certainly has that feel. It was well done, from either the angle of incorporating existing ideas or weaving in new ones.
The cinematic nature of the storytelling drew me in quickly, and I found myself immediately caring about Luna and her two friends. And without ruining some of the better gems in the story, I was pleasantly surprised at how several tropes involving characters were turned on their heads.
I was surprised with how little this volume suffered from “start of the series” syndrome, but perhaps because it’s a short series it knows it has no time to lose. And as I got closer and closer to the cliffhanger at the end, I wondered if there was more than one group of villains.
MAKE WAY FOR THE PROPHECY
The moment I saw the cover to this book, I knew I wanted to read it, if only for the art. And on art alone, this is one of my best finds in a long, long time. I’m tempted to buy all five volumes of the series on the art alone.
When I first started reading, I immediately thought of Masayuki Taguchi (who drew the Battle Royale manga), and wondered if it was the same artist. It’s not, and when I compare the art side-by-side I can see obvious differences, but they have enough in common that I wonder if Boichi was influenced by Taguchi.
The art is simply incredible. It is detailed in such a way that even the “ugly” art is beautiful in how expressive it is. It leans more on the realistic side of the manga art spectrum, and I later found out that Boichi has had experience in shojo manga. That is apparent, especially with how gorgeous Luna and Toshiya are, as well as all the loving detail in the scenery. The art is cinematic and clearly inspired by the movie industry, but it doesn’t try to be something it’s not, either. It fully embraces the medium in which to tell this story.
I’m not too sure of what to think about using the scale of beautiful to ugly to denote the ideas of good and evil, as well as “plain” being used to point out the people in the middle. It’s a common trope, but it’s one I’ve seen countless times before.
I also found out that the artist has experience with hentai, and this is also obvious. He self censors the most explicit images, but it leaves very little to the imagination. There aren’t very many scenes in the volume that are graphically sexual, but the few that are are shockingly so.
And this is where I come to the thing that bothers me the most about the book. It bothered me so much that I thought off and on for over a day if I wanted to continue reading the series. I understand that everyone has their own kinks, but it is implied that the body and the blood of the demon that is to be Luna’s servant was taken from her own family. In that context, I have difficulty excusing that as a kink, and there are three different frames that were drawn to titillate that I believe is in extremely poor taste. I understand that there has long been a connection between horror and sex, and the three instances that bother me are incredibly horrifying as well as disgusting. But I believe that a similar effect could have been done without that shock value. The poses that were used were purposeful, and Boichi is too smart of a choreographer to not know what he was doing.
I think that it speaks volumes that those three shots bothered me more than the short rape scene at the end of the book, or any of the violence throughout. With the way the girl being violated looks so much like Luna, a part of me wonders if it’s actually real, and maybe the villains are seeing a vision of something they want to do. Or, worse yet, they’re practicing. The scene is short and the explicit parts are obscured by shadow, and almost as soon as its on screen it’s off again. (Very much walking in on it, and then walking out.)
And while the issue of taste could be debated in the most extreme examples, there’s no question that Boichi can do the more subtle horror well. His cinematic style and the way he lights his characters dramatically adds to the tension, and can instantly make one suspicious of a character they previously thought was good.
BOTTOM LINE: OH MY GOD
If you’re someone who buys comics for art, I strongly suggest you at least give the first volume a look. It’s difficult to tell how the violence and nudity/sex will escalate, since this is volume one, and I will definitely pick up volume two to see if this story is one I wish to continue pursuing. But for the art alone, I have no regrets buying this book.