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Knights, Vol. 2

November 3, 2010 1 comment

by Minoru Murao
DMP, 192 pp.
Rating: Young Adults (16+)

The second volume of Knights is out and the story and action continue apace. More is revealed about Mist and his allies, old foes return and the plot takes an unexpected twist towards the end.

The second volume continues to follow Nina, one of the women Mist and Euphemia rescued in the first volume, as she attempts to track Mist down. Unfortunately things don’t go well and soon she finds herself in need of the duo’s help once more. The first half of this volume is actually quite good and action packed, not to mention that it reveals more information on Mist and the organization he’s a part of and gives us a rather tantalizing glimpse into the organization of the Saints as well. The second half, sadly, didn’t really click for me. Following the action and twists in the beginning it slows down considerably as Mist and his allies find themselves participating in a jousting tournament. While it does introduce a new character and touches upon Mist’s childhood trauma some more, something about it just didn’t click. At this point it feels a bit separate from the ongoing battle between Mist and the Church but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a solid connection built in the third volume. There was also something about the tone of it that just didn’t work for me. It had a slightly lighter and more comedic tone while my appetite was still whet for action and intrigue.

While the second half felt a bit lackluster after the fantastic opening tale it’s far from my biggest issue with Knights. No, that would be Euphemia. She continues to be bizarre and fan servicey, at one point she dumps aphrodisiac upon herself and lures a group of enemies away, allowing Mist to do battle with their leader. Later it’s revealed that she, uh, exhausted them through carnal means with the exact means being depicted in silhouette . In a series full of manly men, even pretty men being manly, and running each other through with swords, Euphemia’s quirkiness and rampant sex drive sticks out like a sore thumb. Sure, she provides some comedic relief, but at the same time she’s so over the top and unbelievable that it’s distracting and pulls me out of the story.

Minoru Murao’s artwork continues to be solid and impressive throughout. The highly detailed character designs, exciting and interesting action scenes and more all help make the book shine. The amount of detail he crams into some of the scenes is really impressive and during the fight scenes he’s able to lend a strong sense of weight and impact to the various techniques and attacks. It’s really a fantastic looking book and is a worth a look for the artwork alone.

We’re two volumes in a so far Knights has been pretty enjoyable so far. While the humor doesn’t quite click with me, particularly Euphemia, it’s not enough to turn me off from this lovely looking action series.

Knights, Vol. 1 is available now. Digital review copy provided by the publisher, Digital Manga Publishing.

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Knights, Vol. 1

August 25, 2010 2 comments

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 Review copy provided by the publisher.

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