I am one of those people that really enjoyed Magi. The anime at least, I haven’t read the manga. Maybe I will! Anyways, the Orient cover really reminded me of Magi so I got intrigued. Turns out it’s from the same author.
Ok so on a whim a few months ago I decided to just buy a bunch of volume 1 manga that I didn’t know anything about and figured if I found something I liked I would continue it. This has backfired horribly. Not only did I like most of the series I started but I absolutely loved receiving a box in the mail full of manga to discover and going through them one at the time in the evenings. It was like a different adventure every day!
And then, I did it again… This is not a cheap hobby by any means! I should just read digital versions. I really really should. And to kind of slightly justify it in my mind, I want to at least share my experience with you guys! And this week’s adventure is: Orient!
Why I Picked up Orient
Aside from the cover, a very quick Goggle search turned up a few very complimentary reviews. The rating isn’t amazing on aggregator sites but I learned long ago that those don’t always match my tastes o I shouldn’t bother too much with them. But the heartfelt words of actual individuals, that’s enough to get my 9 bucks.
The new shonen action manga from the creator of Magi is here! Musashi is a teenager living under demon rule. As children, he and his best friend made a promise: to become the greatest warriors in the world and overthrow the demons. But life intervenes, and five years later, he finds himself about to become a miner. Yet can Musashi truly be satisfied with a “normal” life?
At age 10, best friends Musashi and Kojiro sat in excited silence as Kojiro”s father spun tales of evil demons who preyed on the innocent, and the warriors who defeated them. Practicing swordplay, the two swear an oath to become the strongest in the world, but as they grow up, Kojiro turns cynical, and Musashi comes to the realization that he can”t overturn 150 years of demon rule on his own. He”s being called a prodigy with a pickaxe, and he”s almost ready to settle into a life of labor. Yet he can”t shake the feeling that he is still has a responsibility to act… and soon, the injustices of his world will force his hand...
My First Impression
Well, this is an interesting subversion of the traditional Demon role. I like it. It sort of throws the whole perception of good and evil into question!
What I liked
You know, I really like Middle Eastern tales. It’s what I loved about Magi so much. The setting and inspiration. The setting of Orient is different. Definitely more Eastern what with the samurais and all, but there’s still something of 1001 nights in the feel of the story.
The premise is actually pretty damn cool. Demons are worshipped by gods by humans. Not only Gods but benevolent gods at that. They are beloved. And yet we have a protagonist that wants to kill them all because of some old story he’s heard. That’s a fairly unusual way to start things off. It makes Musashi kind of an antihero as he’s essentially going against everyone but his personality is your classic shonen good guy. The contrast is unusual.
So aside from the Demon god things that look really quite rad once you see them, and the main character who calls his pickaxe a Katana and wields it as a weapon, we also have motorcycles in what otherwise appears to be a feudal society. I’m saying Orient is really weird and for now, that’s a good thing.
For all its little subversions and unusual elements, the first volume did end up feeling a lot like a cookie-cutter action shonen opener. Not bad by any means but strangely conventional. I do think it layed the groundwork for what could become a really great shonen though but for now, the premise was not exploited to the fullest and the end result seemed generic.
Part of the issue might be that the first volume felt really rushed. That could be a personal bias. I like a good long setup. Hanging out with the protagonist before he finds out he’s a wizard is often my favourite part and I think it makes everything else more impactful. Orient hits the ground running and I don’t think we get enough time to get to know the characters or the universe before we’re off to adventure and glory!
I would 100% watch this in anime. There is the potential for some truly impressive animation and visuals here. And I wouldn’t be opposed to more volumes. Orient is not Dr. Stone as far as recent shonen franchises go, but it’s got a sense of fun and doesn’t take itself seriously in the least. I’m not rushing out to buy them though.