Manga Village

Angelic Runes Volume 1

December 15, 2009

Brave Sowil wields the power of mysterious runes that can bend nature to his will and even fill his pockets with unlimited riches.  But can the cryptic tiles help him unlock the many secrets surrounding the identity of his long-lost father?  He’ll have to contend with both angels and demons as he winds his way through desolate deserts, a hidden spring and shape-shifting forests on his quest.  Who will help Sowil discover his lineage…and legacy?

Angelic Runes 1By Makoto Tateno
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Age Rating: 16+
Genre: Fantasy/Drama
Price: $12.95

Angelic Runes seems like your typical “on-a-quest” story with the usual “monster of the week” challenges and a search to find a long-lost father.  But with delicate art and well conceived and written characters, the story becomes something more and well worth the time to read.

The basic story is straight forward enough. Sowil is a mage of sorts.  He uses an ancient magic that has been all but forgotten in the world.  He is searching for his father to find out how and why he has this power.  In the first chapter, he comes to a village that is about to sacrifice to children in an effort to save themselves.  The children are orphans, and were born with the power to hear the voices of angels and demons.  Sowil saves these oracles and they accompany him on his quest, as the angels and demons are intrigued by Sowil’s strange powers.

The first half of this first volume is filled with your typical “save someone and show off Sowil’s powers” chapters.  The second half delves into the mystery of who Sowil is, teasing just enough to without really telling you anything, and leaving you hungry for more.  This balance keeps the story from falling into a rut of “find person in trouble, defeat monster, everyone is happy.”  And while the characters are enticing in and of themselves, the mystery of Sowil really draws you in.

The characters are the real masterpiece of this title though.  Sowil is instantly likable.  Drawn to be tall, willowy and handsome, he is kind and helpful.  He is always ready to lend a hand, and uses his powers to help others.  Though he could use it create unlimited riches, he only ever makes enough to allow him to keep traveling.  He is also brave and intelligent, never backing down from a fight, and always able to find his way out of a jam.  I really liked Sowil.

But I liked the Oracles a lot more.  Of the children themselves, we don’t hear much of.  Most of the time they are speaking for the angels and demons they are mouthpieces for.  They are usually calm and reserved, showing little emotion.  You almost forget they are characters themselves as the angels and demons show their personalities through the children.  The angels and demons are filled with questions and comments for Sowil and they really were very entertaining.  They are the ones that really made this title for me.  The three of them together make a perfect team.

The art is beautifully drawn, especially Sowil.  Tateno’s delicate lines make for some really good-looking characters.  And unlike other artists, the characters are still different and distinct beyond hair and clothes.  In both art and story, this is a volume that’s easy to pick up again and again.  If I had any complaints for this volume it’s that it ended too soon.  Angelic Runes is a an entertaining title that fantasy fans will love.

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About the author

Lori Henderson is the writer and reviewer for the manga blog, Manga Xanadu. She also keeps a personal blog at Fangirl Xanadu, and a writing blog at Muse of Xanadu. She contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. As the mother of two teen daughters, she needs all the escape she can get, which reading and writing about manga gives her.

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