漆黒の天 (Shikkoku no Ten)
Shounen – Action, adventure, ecchi, historical, supernatural
1 Volume of 3 Volumes (complete)
Momo works at a teacher at a small countryside school, trying to keep away the rumors that the missionaries of the Lunar Religion will come soon and kill everyone. One day, a young boy suddenly appears in the village, and while he can recite definitions of words, his lack of knowledge makes Momo decide to teach him what makes life so enjoyable. But their time together may be cut short when the missionaries come to town…
Pitch-Black Ten is okay, but I have a feeling that its short length means it will end up pretty forgettable.
One day, a giant tower shaped like a cross appeared in Japan. Then bulky otherworlders with exaggerated features appear, teaching that death is the way to happiness and killing everyone. Seventeen-year-old Momo is a teacher, and she is shocked when a boy seems to fall from the sky. He’s both smart and clueless, knowing what things are but not truly knowing. Momo assumes he’s an orphan, even though the boy is off at times, offering to kill a cat when it’s in pain. Naming him “Ten” after the Japanese word for sky/heaven, she decides to show him what’s wonderful in life. Then the missionaries show up, and while Ten reveals he’s one of them. But the way Momo says she wants to live a long life yet is rushing to her students when the missionary is attacking shakes Ten, who has come to learn about happiness, and he defeats the missionary. As she cries over the students who died, Momo curses the missionaries for committing genocide. Then Ten decides to kill all the missionaries to make Momo happy, and so the two set off on an adventure.
So with only two more volumes to go, there can’t be much visiting random towns and fighting off missionaries. Ten’s unsophisticated plan is to go to the tower, but since he doesn’t have much memories of being there, who knows how many missionaries there are, let alone who is leading them. Momo is also concerned that Ten could eventually turn his scythe on her. Even if Ten doesn’t need to defeat them all for whatever reason, two volumes isn’t much time left to teach Ten what happiness is and, presumably, stop the mass killings in Japan. This first volume ends in a cliffhanger, but the author’s note seems to spoil the next volume.
But what I think drags Pitch-Black Ten down is the forced humor. Ten picks up feces at one point, and he has already grabbed two women’s chests. When Momo and Ten meet someone from his past, that person gets some shocks that cause him to bend completely backward and slam his face into the ground. Momo’s surprised face looks like a chicken. It all doesn’t go well in a series where even young children are murdered. The missionaries’ powers turn their rosaries into a weapon (different for each person). While we don’t blood so much as holes in the body, these weak attempts at comedy don’t balance these depressing scenes out.
The art reminds me of Soul Eater, but if you’re a fan of manga with crazed protagonists, well, Pitch-Black Ten will probably fit into that category. The manga doesn’t say what year it is, but I’m guessing the 1800s. I thought maybe it was about the 1600s since that’s when Christianity came to Japan and thought the manga’s missionaries were allegories to that. But either way, based on the dress and the villages, it’s set in an alternative history. Sakamoto’s art is okay, but there’s room for improvement. Momo’s horrified face is very jaunt and flat, and she often looks quite different from her normal big sister-like character at times, especially in the ecchi scenes in the bath. The weapons are cool, and the plague-like missionaries are a unique touch. I think I would have enjoyed seeing Sakamoto grow if this had been a longer-running manga.
Honorifics are used. Translation notes are included, but many of them were already included as footnotes throughout the chapter.
I would see Pitch-Black Ten being an okay manga to borrow over a weekend. But I wouldn’t pay money for it. I don’t think that it is emotional enough to be a short series with a lot of impact despite the discussions of life vs death.
The Fairy Tail spinoff Happy’s Heroic Adventure, which is drawn by Sakamoto, is available from Kodansha Comics.
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