Shounen – Action, adventure, fantasy
1 Volume of 4 Volumes (complete)
Gruesome monsters known as ogres roam the lands, forcing humans to live underground. Sierra and Torin are siblings living in one of these villages, and one day they stumble upon a boy — a boy who came from above the surface, where it’s rumored problem children come from. Holo slowly warms up to the two of them, but their time together may be cut short when an ogre attacks their town.
OK, one volume, this will be short.
Like many manga, Ayanashi started as a one-shot and reworked into a full series. The first chapter in this case is one of those where we meet some people, but the protagonist moves on by the next and is unlikely to ever return to that location. So right now, Holo is traveling and ends up meeting a young girl, who follows him as he reluctantly tries to help her keep away from the ogre attacks.
I felt like there was a disconnect between the opening chapter and the rest. Based on what Sierra says, it doesn’t seem like average people know much about ogres or ayanashi. What’s an ayanashi? Well, it’s someone who can fight the otherwise unbeatable ogres. It seems like that’s a fact that would make ayanashi revered, not feared. In fact, we later learn that there’s a whole organization in charge of gathering info and assigning missions. Even in a backwoods town, it seems odd that this sort of information isn’t common knowledge: “If you see an ogre, an ayanashi will save us.” Other important info would be that ogres can only be attacked with short-range weapons (no spears or guns), and being near fire is a good way of staving off the miasma ogres emit that can corrode the body.
I get that ogre attacks may not be common, but seriously, people? You don’t teach these tips to your citizens? Life may be more like the 1800s in this manga, but still, geez.
Unlike other protagonists in “extinguish the monsters” manga, Holo is not interested in helping people. In fact, he can’t even stand to be touched by them, which led to him being an outcast. He’s a curmudgeon with one goal in mind: avenging his brother’s death. He’s searching for information on his brother’s killer, but Holo has to undertake other jobs or his superior will nag him and not divulge any relevant info. Right now, he’s helping a little girl named Aura while dealing with the rise in ogre attacks.
That’s about it so far. This may be a normal slow setup for such an action-adventure story, but there are only three volumes left to go. Holo is hot on the killer’s trail (or is the killer hot on Holo’s trail?), but I don’t know what Ayanashi can do in three more volumes to make this a standout series. Surely he’s not going to gain a bunch of allies in a couple of volumes. Yet with Aura around for two of the first volume’s three chapters, I wouldn’t call this an episodic story about a roaming warrior.
And for those concerned, I don’t think helping little Aura is going to turn out to be Holo’s purpose in life. So four volumes in total is not a lot of time for someone to change their personality, like becoming a people person instead of a rude misanthrope. He hates being touched so much that he ends up hitting an 11-year-old. The first chapter, like in other similar stories, probably has his biggest step forward so far, but he’s still got a long ways to go.
The art is kind of rough too. Kajimoto comes from the video game industry, and we see his talents in designing the monsters and the setting. But the action scenes are a bit hard to follow, especially since deep slashes with a small weapon aren’t exactly the splashiest of attacks. Plus, fight scenes are often taking place in dark areas, meaning there’s limited brightness and whitespace. Characters also look on the young side. Holo and Sierra’s faces look closer to that of 12-year-olds than 16-year-olds. This isn’t a bad manga debut, but since I know the art isn’t going to have a chance to improve a lot with such a short series,
No honorifics are used.
Ayanashi may have some cool ideas like forcing combatants to use short-range weapons instead of turning to guns, but I doubt the manga is going to show a lot — if any — uniqueness with its short length. The fact that Holo needs to open up to people is also likely to take up much of the page count as he searches for his brother’s killer.
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