Author: Yukako Kabei
Manga-ka: Shiori Teshirogi
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: April 2008
Synopsis: “…a race of immortal soldiers called “the Undying” fought a bloody way for their human creators. When the war ended, they were eradicated in the name of God… Eighty years later, an orphaned girl named Kieli questions if that God even exists. When Kieli runs into a young man named Harvery who can also see ghosts, Kieli thinks she’s finally found a friend among the living.”
Kieli is a young girl with the ability to see spirits of the dead. After the death of her Grandmother, her last living relative, Kieli is put into a boarding school where her only friend is an enthusiastic girl named Becca. Then one day she meets a boy named Harvey, who not only see ghosts like she can, but he’s also one of the legendary “Undying”.
While a story about a girl who can see spirits is nothing new, this manga manages to feel very refreshing. The story takes place in the future during a time of peace ruled over strictly by the Church after a global war blanketed the planet. During the way people called the “Undying” were created: beings who could not die through any normal means and will never age. It’s these layered elements, among some other things, that put a unique spin on an otherwise standard plot.
The main character, Kieli, is a charming girl and I really liked her. Though she’s been through a lot, and still goes through than her fair share of problems now, she doesn’t wallow in her own self-pity. She’s innocent and charismatic but levelheaded and thoughtful. I liked how through her acceptance of death and thoughts of the Church, we as readers were able to gain more of an understanding of this future world’s mentality.
Harvey, an “Undying”, is also a really interesting guy who while is occasionally prone to understandable feelings of sorrow or bitterness, is still a nicely balance character emotionally. He doesn’t feel like he fell out of a stereotypical emo-anime guy mould and thus the beginning of his travels with Kieli had me cheering instead of groaning. A spirit who lives inside a radio Harvey carries with him is also an intriguing character, though one whose temper is dangerously unpredictable.
While some year-spanning scene transitions at the beginning had me a tad unimpressed with the pacing, from there on the book had a wonderful feel to it. Smooth plot pacing, believable dialogue and a great changing sense of atmosphere really brought this story to life.
Shiori Teshirogi’s artwork is really nice. I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly it is but I thought it was completely charming! Characters’ actions and expressions were drawn with a natural charm and the panel choices gave the whole a superb flow. My only complaint is that some scenes that showed injury could’ve been a bit more gruesome. I’m not saying pile on the gore, but when readers are shown a girl who’s been hit by a train, you expect to see more than ripped skin and some blood. Then again, I suppose we never know exactly how the train hit her so perhaps all can be forgiven.
All in all, by the end of this first volume of Kieli I’d fallen in love. The girl-sees-ghosts story is taken up a notch with layered characters, an engaging plot and lovely, well-matched artwork. I can’t wait to see how this tale of death and faith develops. A definite recommendation!
Manga of the Month: July 2008