Freya is an overly-emotional (re: crybaby) country girl living in Tyr, trying to get by and get enough food for her sick mother. A visit from her adopted older brothers, who are both knights serving the Prince, leaves Freya worried about Sigurd, the neighboring kingdom, invading. When she overhears of a Sigurdian plot to kill her older "brother," Freya rushes to the palace to warn them. Here, she learns the true reason her knights came to visit - the prince is dying from Sigurdian poison, and Freya resembles the prince almost identically! She agrees to take on the persona of the prince, but how can she hope to embody a confident, cunning prince when she can't stop crying?
Illustrated by Sando and Misaki
Lizel finds himself in a strange place that feels very similar to his home. He immediately pawns his sword and sets about finding himself a local guide. He stumbles upon Gil, and adventures nicknamed “Single Stroke.” Lizel, an obvious noble by his stature and demeanor, decides he wants to become an adventurer too! He charms the attendant at the Adventurer's guild, provides critical insight to a team trying to solve a labyrinth, and takes on his first quests to level up.
This story opens up with Chise being purchased for an insane amount of money. She is immediately whisked away by her new owner, Ainsworth, who is an ancient mage and plans to train Chise as his apprentice. Ainsworth reveals Chise is a "Sleigh Beggy," a human who can absorb and use vast amounts of magic. Other magical creatures are drawn to Chise, and she learns of faeries, dragons, and other mythical creatures. Chise's tragic background has given her some major trust issues, and she can't believe that Ainsworth and his few friends actually treat her well. She decides to learn as much as she can from Ainsworth and try to make him proud of her, but she's also waiting for her comfortable life to be ripped away from her.
Lord Tae Jun, the second son of the Fire Tribe General, has decided to go under cover to find out if the mysterious lady he heard is, in fact, Princess Yona. When he enters Katan Village, he finds sick elderly, hungry children, and some members of the bandit gang he’s after, The Hungry Bunch gang. Tae Jun learns that the measures of his father, the general of the fire tribe, have left villages desolate, without young able bodied men to do the work of planting and harvesting, and sicknesses have ravaged the land. His main goal is to make Yona happy and proud, so he decides to invest his men and resources into setting up a countermeasure headquarters in the village. This brings able bodied men to fix buildings, and doctors to treat the sick.
Illustrated by Sonia Liao
Disclaimer: This graphic novel is part of the An Ember in the Ashes series, I haven’t read any of them, so I went into this completely blind.
Helene, Elias, and Tavi are part of an elite group of soldiers-in-training sent on a mission to steal an extremely deadly poison from a remote island. They aren’t the only team there, as the Blackcliff Academy sends teams to this island as a rite of passage. The island is well guarded, and the leader there expects the onslaughts because the Academy often sends students on this mission.
In the Forest of Silence, where magic doesn't work, the girls meet a mysterious swordsman named Ferio, who seems to also want to become a Magic Knight. Fuu strikes a bargain with him that forces him to escort the ladies to the Spring of Eterna in order to obtain the legendary mineral, Escudo. The Spring is nothing like they all imagined, and the trial to obtain Escudo is more challenging than they were expecting. Ferio lets it slip that only those close to the princess know of the legend of the Magic Knights, but he fails to say how he came across this information before he disappears into the wild blue yonder.
Satoru is a 29-year-old man trying to make it as a manga artist but stuck delivering pizza instead. He can’t get to the deeper emotions his characters need because he’s bottled up so much tragedy from his childhood. Then, his pushy mother shows up and invites herself to live with him. Satoru has these inexplicable occurrences he calls “revival” - he relives a moment 1-5 minutes prior and has to figure out who he’s supposed to save. Sometimes it’s a runaway truck, sometimes it’s kids playing in abandon buildings. When tragedy strikes close to home, he begs revival to send him back far enough to fix it, and he’s sent back much more than five minutes! Now, Satoru has to figure out how to change enough to prevent several murders.
After gathering all the dragon warriors, Yona isn't quite sure what to do next. She isn't ready to go back to the palace and challenge for her throne, so they decide to see a bit more of the kingdom that Yona was sheltered from. The gang settles in the Fire Tribe lands, and finds villagers living in desolation. Sickness is rampant, the Fire Tribe taxes the people mercilessly, and there's hardly enough food to go around. Yona decides she must help the people as much as possible, so they form the Dark Dragon and the Hungry Bunch Gang to do sort of a Robin Hood act - stealing from officials and the Fire Tribe army, and redistributing resources as much as possible to the villages. This onslaught brings attention to the gang as the Fire Tribe tries to find them and stop their exploits, but at every turn, they are thwarted by the powerful Hak, Gija, and Jaeha. We also get to see just how powerful Sinha is for the first time, as he is put in a hard place defending Yona without the stronger warriors.
As with many series of my childhood, Rayearth has been republished in a hardback anniversary edition with enlarged pages and beautiful covers. In honor of the 25th Anniversary, I will be providing reviews of every volume. I have also reviewed this 6-volume series previously in one review.
Rayearth begins with a mysterious young girl praying for the Magic Knights to save her world. We then join several schools on a field trip to Tokyo Tower. Three girls - Hikaru, Fuu, and Umi - from separate schools are singled out and pulled into a magical realm known as Cefiro (previously published as Cephiro). These three ladies careen through the sky of a land that is very clearly not Japan. They are rescued by a sorcerer, Guru Clef, who explains to them that the Pillar of Cefiro, the kidnapped Princess Emeraude, has summoned them to the world to become the legendary Magic Knights and save them all. Clef bestows upon them magical armor and points them in the direction of a weapon-maker, just before he is overtaken by evil minions. The three find out from Presea, the weapon maker, that they will need to adventure to obtain materials for their individual weapons, and all of this will culminate in awakening the Rune Gods in order to save Emeraude and Cefiro.
Falaina is reeling from the recent attack of soldiers who look and act just as Lykos did when they first rescued her. Chakuro uses his control over thymia to protect himself and the body of his fallen friend. Ouni convinces the Vigilante guard to free him so that he may protect the Mud Whale, and Ouni single-handedly captures many enemy soldiers and figures out their plans. Suou is named the new mayor of the Mud Whale, and learns that they are the descendants of banished criminals, forever hunted. Suou is tasked with carrying out the final wish of the Council of Elders - to sink the mud whale into the sand before the army comes back to kill all of the residents of Falaina.
I've been reading Manga and comicbooks for years. Now, it's time to share my knowledge with you.
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