The Shadow World - the most catastrophic existence humanity has faced in history. Desir Arman is one of the six remaining survivors of mankind within it. The six attempt to clear the final level of the labyrinth but ultimately fail, and the world comes to an end. However - when Desir thought he would meet his demise, what is revealed before him is the world... thirteen years ago?! Desir is returned to the past, back to the time when he enrolled at the nation's finest magic academy - Havrion. He is reunited with his precious friends, and is prepared to change the past to save the world and his loved ones!
I would split up the current storyline into three story arcs. The first arc (chs. 1-8) largely serves as an introduction to the world and some key characters. We are introduced to Desir's primary fighting style: using strategy alongside his ability to quickly analyze and manipulate his opponents' magic circles. We are also introduced to his attitude towards other students. He cares more about mentoring them toward even greater strength than winning against them. The second arc (chs. 9-38) focuses on the discrimination set up in the Havrion Academy. Talented nobles are sent to the alpha class while commoners and untalented nobles are sent to the beta class, which is given much less attention and help. Desir forms a party which includes a few trusted people in beta class and trains them to be even stronger with the intention of showing that people in beta class can be just as strong as people in alpha class and that they shouldn't be pushed aside. The climax of this story is a tournament between parties. Once again, we see Desir's ability to strategize, but at this point we also see his ability to bring the most out of his teammates. The current arc at the time of this review (chs. 39-56+) has its focal point be the first excursion into the Shadow World, which is the phenomenon this manga has set up as the ultimate problem which humanity must somehow overcome. As this is just the first excursion, it doesn't yet have the weight of saving humanity, but it can still be seen as Desir and his party finally fighting a more serious fight. Unfortunately, in the current arc there are times where the optimal strategy would include involving people other than Desir's party, but instead suboptimal scenarios are pushed probably because it allows the author to keep the story focused on the main characters, but at the expense of writing the best story. I very much appreciated Desir's initial reaction to being sent back in time thirteen years--despair. It isn't until he overcomes the initial shock that he is able to think more pragmatically and work towards making the future better than the previous timeline. And the fact that he's lived a previous life involving countless life-threatening situations gives him an understandable sense of confidence and calm. This is definitely a story revolving around him. He is supporting and raising up his allies to fit in with his plan for this new future. As such, the other characters often feel like a supporting cast, though I wouldn't necessarily call them weak characters...Well, actually let me think about that. Would I be interested in a story about any of these characters that didn't involve Desir? Though she's stoic to the point of being emotionless, I do like Adjest Kingscrown's humility and straightforwardness--her willingness to follow her own path without getting bogged down by such things as pride. And even though he has over-the-top hatred and is narrowminded, I also think Donovan Hound is pretty interesting. But honestly, I don't think the other characters would be interesting on their own. They do an excellent job as supporting characters though. The art is often good, with character designs being appealing and easily distinguishable. But at times, it looks two-dimensional and half-heartedly drawn. [Reviewed at chapter 56]
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