Long ago, angels and demons engaged in a fierce war; and to keep humans safe, angels built the city of Ilvia. In the center lies a walled sanctuary where special children must live until their fourteenth birthday, at which point they graduate and leave for paradise with Amalda, their angel caretaker. Akira, Yuno, and their friends are about to turn fourteen, and their curiosity leads them to sneak outside of the walls for a peek of paradise, not realizing the horror of what awaits them...
Godspeed’s setup sees a group of children are raised within protective walls, but seek to understand the world beyond them. Once they reach a certain age, they “graduate” and may “ascend to paradise”. Those who ascend are never seen again, and it’s likely this ritual, and the angels who care for the children, are far more sinister than they appear. This concept is not wholly unique, fans of the Promised Neverland will find this plot hook is familiar. While The Promised Neverland released after Godspeed, I find it executed this concept more successfully. Despite Godspeed’s weaker story and characterization, it isn’t without merit. The manga has some incredible artwork, particularly in its fight scenes and horror concepts, and it is a short read. So, if the concept of a story similar to The Promised Neverland, but with far more action, a faster pace, and an aesthetic based on angels and demons interests you, I’d recommend giving it a try. If you’d like my full thoughts on the manga itself, read on for further detail. I will keep story spoilers to an absolute minimum. Story(4/10): As stated in the opening, Godspeed has a fascinating, if not wholly unique concept. This iteration of a walled city sheltering children from a dark, mysterious world does have strong aesthetic sensibilities, and it had the potential for strong, unique worldbuilding. However, much of the manga’s story, worldbuilding, and character development suffer from the story’s pacing, which is far, far too fast, particularly towards the end. The rush glosses over potentially deep and interesting concepts such as the nature of the creator of the world and the relationships between angels, demons, and the protagonist. A longer run with a slightly slower pace and more stops between the starting point and destination would have greatly improved the world building and characterization, more on that later. Art(9/10): The art in this manga is certainly the highlight. The world is rich with unexplored detail, the angel designs are varied and creative, and the action and horror scenes are a delight! The action in particular is creative, energetic, and richly detailed, so any lovers of beautiful manga fight scenes are in for a visual treat. While the character designs are overall varied and beautiful, I find some are a bit busy. The overall panel structure is improved from Enaga Takabatake’s earlier works, making the action and story beats significantly easier to follow. Characters(5/10): The characters themselves aren’t particularly bad, but there is so much missed potential here. This is again, in part, due to the fast pace of the manga, though the weak dialogue does little to help. Characters like Aqua, Oliver, and especially Amalda suffer from rushed character arcs. This leaves them feeling as if they suddenly altered themselves because the plot demanded it, rather than due to personal growth over time. This fast pace also leaves many characters in the dust. For example: several of the protagonist’s friends are built up in the first chapter, but play no role in the larger plot, and the identity and persona of the “creator” are never well explored. This leaves the series with even more unexplored potential. Additionally, though the world building is interesting, the dialogue is far less so. That only served to exacerbate the lacking character development. Overall, while the characters have good concepts and the potential to be interesting, they are let down by poor pacing and meh dialogue. Overall(6/10): Godspeed is a manga with gorgeous art and a rushed story, leaving it with far more style than substance. Overall, in spite of its flaws, I do urge those who are interested to give this manga a try. If it’s your cup of tea, I do think it will serve as a quick, enjoyable read. This story would have benefited from a significantly longer run, though it will sadly never be expanded on, following the tragic death of the author in 2017. I sincerely hope Enaga Takabatake rests in peace.
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