Ad Astra: Scipio to Hannibal

Alt title: Ad Astra: Scipio and Hannibal

Vol: 13; Ch: 81
3.937 out of 5 from 105 votes
Rank #5,632
Ad Astra: Scipio to Hannibal

This is the story of two of the greatest military commanders in history: the Roman Publius Cornelius Scipio and the Carthaginian Hannibal. The story follows the two of them from their early life on. Hannibal is initially shown as a strangely silent infant, who seemed like the gods forgot to put a soul in his little body. However, he soon begins to speak in a way that shows his remarkable abilities. Hannibal and Scipio are driven enemies, and their struggle shaped an era.

Source: MU

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The manga itself is heavily focused on Hannibal Barca in the first half, and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus in the second half, two of the most compelling figures during the Second Punic War. It would be fair to say that Hannibal was the main protagonist up until Cannae, and Scipio took over the spotlight immediately after. Story While the story itself has restrictions due to the historical events it was based on, I loved the liberties taken by the author in order to put more color to the otherwise bland presentations by Livy and Plutarch. While there are historical accounts that are subject for debate, those chosen by the author were properly executed, giving history lovers a new perspective to the war that was only presented as generals and their unknown soldiers. My only complaint is that my favorite battle, Trasimene, despite the tactical genius involved in that battle, occupied very little space in the story. Art The art was rough around the edges during the first few volumes, and kept on improving. It was hard to differentiate the characters at the beginning but they started to form their distinct images as the story progresses. The facial expressions of the characters sometimes do not match the intensity of the dialogue, but it was enough to convey the feel of the scene. The battles were epicly presented, and the scale of the war was given justice by using aerial perspectives similar to that of Kingdom (Hara Yasuhisa). The explainers for the battle formations were also very informative and the author did a great job interpreting the play-by-play and integrating it to the story. Characters It is very helpful that the main characters have their own set of distinguishing features, especially at the beginning of the story when the art was still a bit rough. Hannibal has his signature long hair, Scipio sported a Brad Pitt look, Fabius Maximus had a very big mole beside his nose, etc. Those who were hard to distinguish with their bare faces wore some sort of a unique costume. For example, Gaius looked like Gisgo, just with an eyepatch. On the other hand, Marcus the friend of Scipio, and Aemilius the consul looked similar throughout the whole story. Personality-wise, the author made a very good decision to keep the characters gray, with no clear cut good guy and bad guy. As the focus of the story shifts from Carthage to Rome, so did the main characters have their personality swings. Overall The whole story could easily be adapted into an epic saga, with no shortage of tactical maneuvres, politicking, and melee action. Despite being fiction, the story surprisingly manifested the human side of the characters who have otherwise been deified in the history books. An easy recommendation for people who love historical battles or even just Roman history as a whole.


TL;DR - A solid read for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction, warfare, and weak-to-strong progression Admittedly, this isn't one of the best warfare or historical manga I've read, but it was still very entertaining. The characters were a little shallow at times, and the pacing of the manga didn't really allow for full, in-depth character development. The tactics and strategies weren't all that clever - and yet it was somehow difficult to stop reading. Scipio (main character) was charming in a way that kept you reading. You were always curious about what would happen next. You wanted to root for him, and you kept reading just to see how else Scipio would overcome his obstacles. Artwork is pretty good - the mangaka is really good at drawing abs. The characters were actually somewhat accurate as well - they actually looked like the regions they supposedly came from, with only minor inaccuracies in the armor. Where the manga fell short was with the points mentioned above about development. Character development plays a strong role, but there are so many time skips that we miss out on a lot of it. There are also certain conflicts that are rather shallow - we are told about Scipio slowly becoming a monster and resorting to dirtier and dirtier tricks, but it's never fully explored, and you never really get the feeling that either he or Hannibal were as cold and merciless as the story claims. The tactics shown during the battles are shallow at best, and nothing clever or incredible really happens. It's mostly about taking advantage of the terrain, or the weather, or entrapment strategies... which is quite frankly par for the course in warfare. It was entertaining, but not really exceptional. For an example of a manga that is really good about sensationalizing and taking creative freedoms, try Kingdom. Kingdom takes place around the same time period (early 200s - late 100s BCE) far to the east in China. The mangaka takes a lot of creative freedoms here, making up a lot of characters and tweaking certain pieces of history. But the mangaka is very, very skilled at weaving a gripping story, telling of interesting twists and creative, clever tactics in warfare.


My 900th Review! The legend of Hannibal's great wit and stupendous tactical victories early in the Second Punic War is well-known, as is the anticlimactic nature of feir decline. When reading about the battles of Ticinus (ch. 5-6), of Trebia (ch. 7-11), of Geronium (ch. 20-24), of Cannae (ch. 28-34), and other early pieces of ingenuity (such as the events in ch. 14-18), it makes you want Hannibal to continue having these amazing tactical victories. Though of course, that doesn't happen since this is based on history. I didn't mind Hannibal's first decisive loss (ch. 42-43), but the events after that stopped being nearly as exciting (partially because Scipio became the focus more than Hannibal). Scipio's victory at Carthago Nova (ch. 55-57) was pretty neat, but I honestly found Scipio's victories a lot less soul-tingly than Hannibal's. And it brought the story from a 10/10 to a 9/10 for me, though I realize that's not entirely the fault of the manga since their story is somewhat restricted, but whatever. I did like the final chapter and the way it wrapped the story up. Some of the important battles (like the one of Lake Trasimene) are only minimally covered within the manga, which perhaps is for the best since it allows for the forward progression of the story. The idea of spies and people infiltrating the other side is shown to be an important element--partially for the information gathering that can occur and partially for the ability to manipulate the other sides' actions in some ways. Another theme touched upon is the idea of subordinates going against their commander's orders--because of fear or pride or some other human reason. I thought it was cool how Hannibal seemed able to predict these aspects of human nature to some degree and incorporate them within feir strategies, and I also appreciated how they made sure to emphasize how Hannibal wasn't immune to such problems (like with Maharbal). I genuinely felt like I got to know a lot of the various characters and side characters, and that helped bring the story to life for me. There were quite a few Roman consuls and leaders that we met along the way, but they each felt distinct. Even with a consul like Longus, who had very little time in the spotlight, I still felt like I understood feir personality and motives. Obviously, Fabius is probably the most influential in regards to implementing the strategy of attrition and minimal confrontation that led to Hannibal's slow, anticlimactic decline. But Marcellus was also pretty memorable, if only for feir intensity. The art starts out like a 5/10, but it does get better over time. The people can always look a bit stiff, and the mouths and facial expressions look a bit small or unemotive or just off somehow when people are yelling.

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