After the body dies, the soul lives on. Many spirits progress toward the world of light, through the levels of the spirit world where they study how to improve their souls. These spirits are sometimes reincarnated into the physical world, and sometimes they are sent back as guardian spirits for other living people. Guardian spirits must protect their charge's souls from the blackness that oozes up from the world of darkness below. Riyon is a very laid-back spirit, who often skips her spirit classes to fool around. To train her further, she is sent back to the physical world as a guardian spirit. Instead of following a human from birth, she is helping a beleaguered man, the Japanese Prime Minister Kasuga Soichiro, in the last year and a half of his life. After an unexpected close call with death, Kasuga gains some unusual talents, including the ability to see Riyon. Will Riyon and Kasuga together be able to protect his battered soul?
I received this manga to read from the Manga Raffle League. Out of the gate I was more or less enamoured with the main character. I certainly was not disappointed by what was to come. There will be lite spoilers, but no major plot details will be revealed during this review. I'm going to do something I generally don't do when I review things. I'm going to start with a general review of the art and characters. THe art is very good, and as we got closer to the end of the series, it reminded me a lot of Sui Ishida's Tokyo Ghoul. The art is very detailed, and lines are used very purposefully. I'm not usually impressed by art, but this definitely stood out. Everything looked as it should. Characters looked distraught when they were meant to be, the landscapes looked beautiful, and when shit was going down, the art reflected that. The art reflected the tone, and that is saying something. In terms of characters, they are incredibly well written. The series did an amazing job of branching fantasy and reality. I'll get more into that with the story review, but the characters are extremely believable and full of depth. We don't just get cliches and one-dimensional characters here. There was a lot of thougth put into how the characters would feel and react to things. As the reader, I was satisfied by the reactions and development of the characters. So, the plot is an extremely well done mix of fantasy and reality. I'd go so far as to call it Magical Realism, probably in the same realm as a Guillermo del Toro feature. Honestly, someone could probably forward him this manga and he'd probably make a movie of it. The plot is set in modern day Japan, we follow a washed up Prime Minister who is on the verge of death. By a miracle, he is given another chance by meeting his Guardian Spirit; Riyon. Coming back from the brink of death, he does a 180 and puts patriotism above all else. Despite the politics, the manga is quite well written and nothing feels beaten over the head. Everything presented serves its purpose and is presented and played out masterfully. In addition, mental health is a major component of this series. It's basically treated as the power level of the series. Your mental health is your life points and any number of things can affect it. It's really interesting how they bring attention to it. They treat it so normally, anyone can fall at any point. It's not necessarily a sickness so much as circumstance. Someone can say something to affect you and that's it, you fall. It's very real. As someone who has struggled with depression my whole life I felt a very real connection with this series. It also proved to be significantly darker than I expected. I sort of expected the series to dance around major events, but it went right for them. There is a segment of brief nudity, and as you get closer to the end of the series there are some pretty gory scenes. They don't really define the series, but they are used well. They are placed strategically within the story and serve their purpose. Overall, it's a great series. I'd highly recommend it.
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