Manga-ka: Shin Midorikawa
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: November 2007
Synopsis: “Since ancient days, the Gaius School of Witchcraft and Wizardary has trained the fiercest swordsmen and the most powerful wizards. Now one boy could become the greatest of them all. If he studies hard; if he is true to his friends; if he believes; if he survives…”
Aventura follows the story of Lewin, a young student recently enrolled in the Gaius School of Witchcraft and Wizardary; which offers two types of classes, one for swordsmen and the other for wizards. Lewin falls into the swordsmen category, unable to use magic on his own. He befriends two students in the magic class and thus life in Gaius goes on.
A variety of marketing schemes and other reviews have compared this book to the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, and they have some valid points on the matter. Aventura has many of the same attributes that make the other so vastly popular, whimsical settings, magical mishaps and a strong varied cast. However it also falls victim to some of the clichés often found in mainstream fantasies that keep it from feeling like anything real special.
While events and scattered fight scenes carry the story along, what holds it up are its characters. Each one comes along with several dropped hints for each of them, showing glimpses that they’re here complete with their own histories and motivations. This includes both the students and their teachers. There may not be a lot that’s immediately gratifying as a linear story but the author has left a lot of opportunities for this to turn into something pretty unique.
What really pops out the most about this book is undeniably the artwork. It is absolutely gorgeous. This is of course bringing into account a person’s taste as Shin Midorikawa’s style is very cute and shoujo-oriented. The amount of detail in each panel is stunning to behold with thin, wispy lines and complex designs. Each page can stand strong as an independent piece of artwork.
However, several downfalls come from the style when laid out as a paneled story. The artwork is so detailed that it can often become distracting and sometimes feel a bit overdone, panels not flowing along very neatly in some places. This is definitely not a book that allows for visual skimming. Added time is required to stare at the drawings to figure out what exactly is going on. Your eyes have to find what it is you should be viewing in the sea of detail. This is the kind of book that requires rereading, if not to allow yourself ample time to just stare at the artwork, but also a chance to pick up things you may have missed the first time.
Another flaw, though fairly minor, falls to the style and that’s the androgynous appearance of several of the characters. Even the main character appears like he could easily have been a little girl over a young boy. This holds especially true to the cover image that is confusing both in that regard and another, once readers have finished the book only to realize the lack of context the cover image’s crown and lion seem to have to the story. It may turn out they’re spoilers to future events, which, if that is indeed the case, seems a bit premature of the artist.
The book is well put together by DelRey, solid binding and clean translation, complete with visual glossary, next volume preview and small character extras. The first page is also a double-sided, full colour pair of images.
Aventura is a real visual treat, the strongest aspect of the book, but falls a little short in regards of story. The book doesn’t seem entirely sure what direction it plans to go in with a seemingly character driven story suddenly turned to drawn out epic fight scene by the end. It’s a book worth picking up but the series’ real worth will probably be better determined when readers get to see where it’s headed.