Story/Art: Etorouji Shiono
Translation: Caleb D. Cook
What They Say
When the black blade roars, all who stand in its path shall be torn asunder…!
What is it that Koinzell, the mysterious young boy who wields the sword with such exceptional skill, desires?
The fight against the “Lances of Betrayal,” who were thought to have been defeated by the Seven Heroes, begins – and at battle’s end, only the shocking truth will remain amid the pools of blood…
The front cover here is a straightforward portrait of Koinzell, staring straight at the reader with an imposing facial expression. The back on the other hand is more or less a plain background with a summary, along with some very rough, purposefully simplistic images of the Seven Heroes. A few color pages, some notes about the world, and translation notes are all included as extras. Text reads smoothly, though the heavy German takes a bit of getting used to, paper quality feels solid, honorifics aren’t used, and sound effects are left in their original format and subtitled.
The art style here is rather nice, if not particularly exceptional. The characters are of course properly defined from one another, and the backgrounds appear when needed and can get quite fantastically detailed at times. And of course the monsters have a nice, intimidating feel about them. The highlight, however, is the action. It really packs a punch, is full of some nice, well done gore, and even has a good sense for when to throw in a spread shot. It’s also worth noting that the sexual nature of the book ventures into some rather rough territory, with the main character having the body of child, plus at least one seeming reference towards bestial rape. Be warned that it’s definitely not for those with sensitive stomachs, though fortunately it’s actually not that terrible visually, more conceptually when it comes to the rougher stuff.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When it turns out that a hundred of his men were wiped out by a single man with a scar over one eye and a black blade, the massive Kfer is none too happy, to say the least. It is then that we meet our hero, a young boy named Koinzell who does indeed have a scar over his eye. Kfer’s men almost write him off but decide to kill him anyway, at which point our hero falls over a cliff and we learn the important bit of backstory, in which fourteen warriors departed to save the land on orders from the emperor. Three died, four betrayed their allies and were branded the “Traitorous Lances,” and the rest returned as the mighty “Seven Heroes,” inspiring the people to this day. It is these Traitorous Lances, seemingly revived, who are now leading a revolt that is devastating the lives of the people. Under the order of the Margrave, a soldier named Rigles has been sent to look for a hero who defied Kfer, and he concludes that the recuperating Koinzell is that man. When Kfer comes to destroy our hero himself, those suspicions are confirmed when the young boy uses his powerful black blade, a strange weapon that emerges from his body, to lay waste to his enemies.
From there, Koinzell continues to wipe out the rest of the four “Traitorous Lances,” with the last of them utilizing the corrupt Margrave. As he fells the final one, he reveals that he is the true Ascheriit, the Blatt Meister who controls the mighty Black Wing, and one of the true Traitorous Lances. Once he takes his anger out on the fakes fully, he reveals that the Seven Heroes were the true traitors, as they were cowards who killed the Traitorous Lances once they completed their mission in order to grab the glory for themselves. However, our hero was mysteriously revived in this new young body, and with it he intends to get revenge against the Seven Heroes for their grave treachery.
With the second half of the volume, we get a large story of Koinzell trying to break through a border city in order to get at the Heroes. However, the border is heavily monitored by a corrupt monastery who executes stowaways. Will Koinzell be able to bust through with the help of some new allies? Or will his twisted enemies and the influence they hold prove too great? And just what secrets related to his past are hidden beneath the city?
This strangely numbered volume kicks the series off to an unusual yet intriguing start. With its complex history and world (not to mention the deluge of German words), it can take a little time to get settled into the story. And of course the more sexual content can just plain uncomfortable with where it goes, which is more than a little distracting. However, when you get past all that you’re left with core story with some bite to it, with a very conflicted and surprisingly human main character. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the action is also fantastic, with some absolutely great fights contained within the volume. It’ll definitely be interesting to see where the story goes as Koinzell gains worthier opponents, as well as just how his character will grow. But for now, this remains a fun read that definitely helps to drag you into the world of the story, dense as it can be.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 28th, 2014