Manga-ka: Matsuri Akino
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: August 2006
“Kamishina has never really felt like a normal boy. At school, he prefers to lay low and not interact with the other kids. But all that changes with Kamishina discovers that he is the reincarnated spiritual ruler of the little-known country of Dhalashar. And on top of that, he has an intense spiritual sense that allows him to hear voices from beyond the grave, see visions and soothe ghosts in their time of need.”
After disturbing dreams of death plague his sleep, Kamishina begins classes at yet another new school. Gifted with spiritual abilities that allow him to sense people’s true intentions, he has learned to lay low and keep to himself. Kamishina suddenly finds himself stalked by a strange foreign bird, one that transforms to a humanoid form to tell him that he is in fact the reincarnation of a powerful King from another country with more than the frequent need to switch schools to worry about.
This first volume of Genju no Seiza gives readers a lot to look forward to. Kamishina’s abilities are a mystery, both to readers and himself, and it’s interesting, and sometimes chilling, watching them come about as he puts them to use. With a feeling similar to Matsuri Akino’s Petshop of Horrors, much of the story telling is episodic as Kamishina meets different people and becomes involved in different scenarios that work to establish him as a character. Avoiding too much repetition, though episodic, the events still connect smoothly as the story is slowly revealed to readers.
Matsuri Akino weaves social commentary into the stories but it successfully avoids being patronizingly blatant by expressing the thoughts through events and secondary cast, such as an abused child. There’s also a strong spiritual aspect, a cross of Buddhist and Hindu teachings, which are woven into the story making for a unique and thoughtful read with cultural flare.
Other important elements of the series are Kamishina’s guardians, the first being the bird-beast, Garuda. Throughout the book, several others appear, both as friend and foe, as doubt throughout the spirit world over whether or not this young schoolboy is indeed their rightful King runs rampant. They’re an interesting cast of characters that help bring humour to the pages, a nice contrast to the more serious subject matter that is explored. It’s also fun seeing the different animals portrayed as humans. Another enigma that’s bound to become pinnacle to the story is the beautiful, but often expressionless, Mayu, who is confined to a wheelchair. There seems to be more to her than is immediately evident.
Matsuri Akino’s artwork continues to please and remains consistent to what readers would expect from her other works. Though the style itself is often subjective to people’s tastes, I really love it myself. The detail work on characters and backgrounds is stunning and remains that way throughout the entire book without causing the pages to look at all cluttered. Characters are distinct and expressive and the art works wonderfully with the story to set a very distinctive mood.
Overall, Genju no Seiza volume one is a strong beginning to this spiritual fantasy. It blends together elements of numerous genres making it a book I think many people can enjoy, from emotions that tug at heartstrings to the sudden fight scenes, and bone-chilling encounters in contrast to sprinklings of humour. Genju no Seiza has since become one of my most anticipated releases and I highly recommend readers giving it a go.