Manga-ka: Makoto Tateno
Publisher: Digital Manga
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: July 2009
Synopsis: “A traveler in search of his father chances upon a pair of twins about to be buried by their village. The villagers claim the two are cursed but he rescues them. He soon finds out what makes the villagers fear them: the siblings have the power of angels and demons. But he has his own secrets as well…”
From the artist who brought you boys’ love detectives and romance on the superhero set, comes a western-based fantasy that sees a young mage, Sowil, and two deity-channeling twins, on a quest to discover the secret of the mage’s Father and the powerful runes that he was born with the ability to use. Angelic Runes is a light fantasy series catering to fans of pretty boys and magic. Ultimately it’s a book worth surviving the potentially off-putting pink cover design to experience the more compelling content within.
I’ve read all of Makoto Tateno’s works previously released in English and I have to say that this is one of my favorites of the sizeable batch. There’s a pleasant sense of linear simplicity to the storyline that made for a strong first volume, introducing the thus-far small but nearly-all relevant cast of characters. The artist’s designs are still lacking in originality across the board when held against any of her previous series, but at least in the context of Angelic Runes by itself, there’s no confusion over who is who.
A sucker for fantasy stories, the book had me enthusiastic at the get-go and thankfully managed to keep me entertained from start to finish. The series has been set up so it could easily continue on for a time episodically, and though I like the idea of more mythology-based characters making brief appearances, I hope the series doesn’t drag on the Father-quest too long.
The lead character, Sowil, is pretty charming for the lead, kind and optimistic, he uses his magical abilities to the benefit of himself and others without giving into the temptations that inevitably would come with them. I like that his powers seem to have no limit, as of yet anyway, and the mannered way he conducts himself in their utilization is well-rendered. Sure it’s hard to believe that a guy who can make water flow endlessly or limitless amounts of gold wouldn’t abuse the fact, but here you have it, and the humble nature of his personality is actually compelling over cheesy.
As for the adorable duo attachments he picks up after a botched sacrifice attempt, I like the twin characters, though lacking in their own personalities as they are. The two were born as channels to deities who speak through the children to communicate with humans. Both children don’t talk for themselves, but with multiple voices speaking in their minds, it’s little wonder the two are so introverted and keen to keep their personal thoughts to themselves (if they in fact have any at all). The severity, if you will, of the angelic and demonic holds on the two is made more evident near the end of the book and it’s an interesting twist to see whose actually leading who around in this fantasy quest.
Though not an especially epic, or overtly inspired fantasy piece, Angelic Runes is a still a good read for overlapping fans of manga and westernized-fantasy. The characters are easily likeable, though shallowly introduced thus far as they are, but there’s certainly promise in the premise of Angelic Runes and a lot of different directions it could be taken. I really enjoyed this first installment and greatly look forward to enjoying what comes next in volume two.