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Im: Great Priest Imhotep Vol. #01 Manga Review

4 min read
What happens when an ancient priest is awakened to right wrongs from centuries ago?
Im: Great Priest Imhotep Vol. #01

Someone get the Department of Antiquities on the line…

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Makoto Morishita
Translation: Amanda Haley

What They Say
From the sands of ancient Egypt to the streets of modern Japan, the newly resurrected Great Priest Imhotep traverses time and space on the hunt for the Magai, devious beings with an appetite for destruction who impersonate the gods! When schoolgirl Hinome crosses paths with this illustrious ancient, is her loner lifestyle about to change for the better…or the worse?!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I love all things ancient Egypt. Who doesn’t? It was a culture that lasted for thousands of years, despite the turnover of rulers and dynasties. The monuments to their gods and rulers have stood for centuries, their founders passing into myth and legend and becoming gods themselves.

This is not a historically accurate manga about the architect of the step pyramid. This is a shonen manga about demons and gods transported to modern-day Japan. Check your expectations at the door, because things are about to get silly.

This story starts in a way that will be very familiar to adventure story readers. There is a twin-tailed school girl named Hinome who cannot speak. If she does flames spew from her mouth and she burns all around her. Between her silence, the scarf she wears around burn scars on her neck, and her father’s penchant for collecting spooky stuff she has a reputation as cursed. At least until she meets Imhotep, the self-proclaimed High Priest of Ancient Egypt.

And yes, they meet by crashing into each other and ending up in a compromising position.

Thankfully, there’s very little in the way of questionable fanservice here. Hinome is not eye candy, she is a firebrand. The relationship between the two leads quickly turns to an odd-couple situation as Im makes himself at home in her home. (Hinome’s dad takes everything he says at face value and basically geeks out.) Im’s lack of understanding of modern society, plus his ego, makes him impossible to reason with.

So, why is an ancient priest in modern Japan? He’s been tasked by the gods to hunt down magai, which are demons that are masquerading as ancient gods. Hinome spent eight years possessed by one claiming to be Sehkmet, the Egyptian goddess of war. Hinome’s one school friend is likewise attacked by another demon, and Im works swiftly to rescue her.

There are hints very early on that Im was responsible for something bad in the past. We aren’t given the reason he was sealed for 3,000 years yet, but it was bad enough for him to be branded a heretic. Accosted toward the end of this volume another figure appears to be gunning for Im’s head, but he doesn’t come across as another villain. I expect the flashback will be a bloody tearjerker.

Imhotep often looks younger than his teenage form would suggest. Morishita’s artwork definitely has a slight cuter edge to it. Just look at Im’s Anubis hat! There’s even a tiny little Anubis that arrives as a mascot and sidekick for the adventure. Her artwork has a style that feels slightly generic and fits in well with the looks and feel of many of Square Enix’s manga series. Despite that, the action is clear and concise. It gets the job done.

As for the lack of historical accuracy? Morishita includes a page on notes at the end of the book about the real-life Imhotep, so research was clearly done. Rule of Cool is in effect for the series, and the stylized enemies and costumes are a nice play off of ancient Egyptian motifs. The translation does an excellent job of making Im’s speech feel haughty and distinct. (Hinome asks how he knows perfect Japanese and it’s not explained, but at least it’s acknowledged!)

Yen Press includes the color pages from the opening, and several pages of gag comics at the close of the volume, as well as translation notes as extras.

In Summary
What happens when an ancient priest is awakened to right wrongs from centuries ago? Apparently comedy and tragedy in equal measure. The adventure thus far is a simple one, with Imhotep taking out nasties and Hinome providing pathos and comedy in equal measure. There’s not much beyond the ancient Egyptian trappings to set this apart from any other shonen adventure manga, but the lack of sexual pandering and the surprisingly feisty female lead is promising. There is also the promise of some truly dark drama and tragic backstories, and the leads are likable enough to carry the story forward.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A –

Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: February 4, 2020
MSRP: $15.00 US / $19.50 CAN

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