Knights, Vol. 1
by Minoru Murao
DMP, 202 pp.
Rating: Young Adults (16+)
I’m not a huge fantasy fan. Sure I’ve enjoyed the odd fantasy movie and novel and I loved AD&D back in the day, but it’s not a genre I’m really that hardcore about. It’s also a genre that has a hit or miss record when it comes to sequential art. There have been a few well done fantasy comics from the American industry, but oddly enough the manga and anime take on the genres seem to click with me a bit more. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of Dorothea and Orfina, and really loved what I’ve seen of Berserk and Slayers, so when I stumbled across Knights from DMP and Emanga I was quite curious to give it a look see.
Set in a fictional medieval European country, Knights tells the tale of a small group of warriors dedicated to protecting those persecuted as witches, and to defeating the super powered soldiers of the Church known as Saints. There’s not a whole lot else to the plot at this point as the first volume is comprised almost entirely of the two leads doing the above. Speaking of the leads, they consist of Mist, a highly skilled swordsman and squire, and Euphemia a scantly clad witch. At this point Mist is the most interesting of the two, with several flashbacks hinting at a rather traumatic incident in his past which drove him to protect witches and presumably led towards the fairly militant atheist attitude he’s sporting. If having a militant atheist battling the evil minions of the Church while defending witches wasn’t interesting enough, he’s also one of the rare black leads in a manga! Euphemia, for her part, is bubbly and seems to exist solely for fan service reasons. One of the major problems with the story is it’s structure. Most of the book consists of the Mist and Euphemia rescuing witches from the Church and then, suddenly in the last chapter we get a massive info dump regarding the Church and their superpower minions, the Saints. The shift in gears is sudden and comes off feeling bit disjointed and clunky.
I’ve never encountered Minoru Murao’s work before, and while his plotting may be a bit iffy, his is solid with exciting and easy to follow action scenes. Murao certainly knows how to make Mist look cool and heroic and does so at just about every opportunity. There are some lovely two page splashes of Mist in action or posing heroically which just ooze cool from them. The costumes, while detailed, are of your typical feudal/fantasy stock consisting of armored breast plates, puffy upper sleeves, and the like. The major exception to all this is Euphemia. Her outfit is just off the wall crazy and was clearly designed with fan service in mind. It’s made up of a skimpy metal bra fashioned into the shape of tiny hands which clutch her rather large bosoms while leaving much of them visible. There’s a second set of tiny arms and hands which serves as a belt piece for her loin cloth and I’ll leave it to your imagination on where those hands are placed. She also has a ridiculously large hat that seems to be flashing us the victory sign. Her appearance is actually a bit jarring, since the outfit feels so out place given the rest of the character designs and costumes in the book.
The first volume of Knights does an ok job at introducing us to the main characters and setting, and is generally entertaining throughout. There are some interesting and intriguing themes kicking about, such as religion, faith and the desire for power which causes people to pervert, corrupt and exploit them. They give me hope that Knights might grow into something interesting. It’s got potential, but right now it feels like they’re just being used to add flavor to what is essentially a fighting manga.
Knights, Vol. 1 is available now at Emanga.com. Review copy provided by the publisher.