Author: Yuki Amemiya
Manga-ka: Yukino Ichihara
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “Teased unmercifully for his past as an orphan and a slave, Teito has only his best friend Mikage to ease his days at the elite Barsburg Academy – and his mastery of the magical art of Zaiphon! But even that will not be enough to save him when he discovers a horrifying secret behind the ruling Empire. Trapped in an ancient battle between a wicked God and seven ghosts, guided by three mysterious priests, Teito discovers a power that could save the world… and shed light on his own mysterious past.”
07-Ghost, named for the seven ghosts within it, is a fantasy story that follows Teito: a young man soon to reach graduation at a prestigious military academy, before the appearance of his childhood guardian’s killer appears to wrench up painful memories from the past and sends Teito fleeing to a nearby church of ancient magic, hidden secrets and a bishop prone to bouts of perversity.
My biggest, and really only, issue with this series after completing volume one was the pacing. While you’d have a few consecutive pages of smooth sailing, suddenly you’re tripped up by a wave of sudden events that deviate too far from the predeceasing tone to feel appropriate. A prime example would be the book’s beginning, which works itself up to the inevitable first plot-climax with some background of the world and its relevant-military mixed with some entertaining character banter. Abruptly, however, the entire story pitches in a different direction, hurling at readers page after page of fast-paced action with important information buried under the speed lines and multi-framed overlaps.
While this kind of sudden change of pace does add to the sense of urgency in the story, in this instance it unfortunately wasn’t handled quite smooth enough to achieve that effect without sacrificing coherency. I had to reread more than a few pages when I just couldn’t follow what was happening after one of the aforementioned ‘pitches’.
Thankfully however, the plot itself is a pretty interesting one with the myths of the world, its reigning God and the connected seven ghosts, all proving interesting hooks for me. The characters themselves though haven’t provided me much substance yet, past some energetic and snappy discussions, and the character interaction I found teeters between charming and a little overdone in the must-suddenly-express-devout-emotion-for-sake-of-advancing-plot department, but this combination makes for some scenes that will undoubtedly have an appeal for boys’ love fans looking for the possibilities amidst this almost entirely male cast.
To my delight while reading was how, despite the clunky execution, the actual delivery of the facts was pretty well spread throughout the book, making it easier to take it all in. This is especially good since there’s so much of it, from numerous characters to a summary of an entire world’s worth of politics, military, mythology and magical powers all in one book.
While the pacing was off, at least the artwork was pretty spot-on. I really enjoyed Yukino Ichihara’s style, with the cover being the selling point for my purchase. There’s a great balance between the different moods of the story, from dramatic battles involving giant scythes and cloaked skeletons, to some amusingly portrayed physical humour during the more light-hearted moments of character interaction. The confident use of black was also an appealing part of the visual look and the screen toning was well utilized (aka not overused).
Continuing on that positive note, GoComi has continued their tradition of simple but solid release work. The writing was clear, the lettering well handled, with particular kudos for some nice work on the sound effects, and the cover design maintains the look of the original which is eye-catching and, simply put, pretty darn cool to look at.
Overall, while choppy pacing may’ve put a dent in my enjoyment for 07-Ghost thus far, the winning combination of attractive artwork and plot potential will have me coming back for more in volume two. I have hopes that the manga-ka duo will find their stride and take this promising series in a stronger direction.