Title: The Guin Saga Manga: The Seven Magi Vol 1
Story by Kaoru Kurimoto
Illustrated by Kazuaki Yanagisawa
May Contain Spoilers
A devastating plague has descended on the land of Cheironia, leaving scores dead in its wake. Resorting to folk cures, the populace murders loved ones to bathe in their blood, believing that this gruesome act with ward off death. Guin, the leopard headed king, is desperate to find a cure for the plague. Seeking the help of sorcerers and those that practice the black arts, he’s swept into danger and mysterious alternate dimensions. Is he really the cause of the misery that’s preying on his people?
This sword and sorcery tale has lightning fast pacing, and is gorgeously illustrated. The mysterious Guin is brave and heroic, and he’s willing to sacrifice himself to ease the suffering of his people. He’s an intriguing character, better at brandishing a sword than words. Snubbed by his beautiful wife because of his beastly guise, he longs for acceptance, as well as the safety of his subjects. The Guin Saga reads like a Conan story, featuring the same stilted speech-patterns, and a hero who can’t really relate to women. Secure in his own strength as a warrior, the gentler arts of conversation are beyond his humble skills. There’s also little background given to anchor the events in to the story to Guin, who remains distant and disconnected from the reader.
The secondary characters of Valusa and Als don’t really seem to serve much purpose. Valusa the prostitute does a fine job running away from monsters and looking terrified, but otherwise is just window dressing. She makes a feeble attempt to seduce Guin later in the book, but since he comes across as having no clue how to react to women, it’s just a wasted effort on her part. Als has the bad fortune to choose Guin for his victim, planning to murder him and steal his blood. Instead, he, too, gets to look terrified while he’s dragged along on Guin’s quest to save his kingdom.
The story may wander off in a disjointed collection of magical mumbo-jumbo, but the art is always clear and intricately detailed. Each panel is elaborately rendered, and Kazuaki Yanagisawa brings painstaking detail to every illustration.
Beautifully illustrated but confusing at times, The Guin Saga: The Seven Magi will appeal mainly to heroic fantasy fans.
Rated for 16+
Review copy provided by Vertical