I hope that everyone is having a good week, even if it is just more of the daily grind.
Things have been going fairly well here, now that I have my desired moment of peace, and I can do what I like.
Recently, a title that I had preordered a while back finally arrived, and, after a little inconvenience that cropped up, it is time to get things out of the way.
Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 10 by Kore Yamazaki.
As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.
With the incidents surrounding Cartaphilus seemingly resolved, things appear to go back to normal, as Chise decides to go to the college where the alchemists reside.
However, things seem to be brewing in the background, as multiple parties start making moves and take an interest in both Chise and Ainsworth that might cause the duo more grief.
While the previous volume did not do so well, mainly because it relied too much the knowledge of events from the prior installment, it was not bad enough that I would want to give up on this series, but it did remind me of why I try not to go so easy on things, even if I am dealing with a series that I consider a favorite series.
And after reading this, I have to say that I really liked it.
From the moment I opened up this volume and started reading it, I found myself so engrossed with it that I did not want to stop reading it for any reason.
As I have said countless times before, one of the most important things in a work of fiction is how things begin, because the beginning is supposed to bring readers and consumers of mediums used to present fiction in another world, thereby giving people the temporary escape they desire and making it so that they do not recognize the most minor of flaws.
While this can be done in many different ways, depending on the kind of work and the medium used to present it, manga series like this usually see first publication in a serial publication, which means that things need to pick up at some point after the previous volume in a way that makes sense.
In the previous volume, this was a big issue because it gave the impression that something had happened between when Chise left Ainsworth and where we saw Chise voice her disgust with him, which is why I had felt so lost when I read that volume.
Here, however, the first chapter starts off with Chise and Ainsworth at the college and talking to the person they met at the end of the previous volume, with some hints already that stuff will happen, before showing a small flashback of Chise deciding to take up the alchemists on their offer to attend the college.
By starting things off like this, I was reminded that Chise and Ainsworth visited the college and the end of the previous volume, and allowed me to feel like I was actually seeing things through their eyes, instead of feeling like an outside like the previous volume had done, and even did not lead me to be confused, by thinking that I had missed something like the previous volume did.
Seeing as Seven Seas is releasing the volumes every six months or so, due to it not being as far behind the Japanese releases as Viz Media’s Detective Conan releases, this is how I would like to see every volume of this series start off, because neither the newcomers nor the loyal fans of a series should ever feel lost, especially works that are published in serial publications.
If either Kore Yamazaki, who makes the chapters of this series, or Mag Garden, or whoever they have put these volumes together, had started things off any differently, I would have most likely been disappointed, because almost every other possible way that the first chapter of the volume could have started would have probably been just as bad as the one found in the previous volume and caused further problems with the volume.
Fortunately, neither Kore Yamazaki nor Mag Garden, or whoever put this volume together for them, did anything quite as bad as what was found in the previous installment, which makes me want to give them a big round of applause for both starting off well and making sure that the audience would end up feeling confused.
Hopefully, the future installments will be able to start things off just as well as this one did, if not do better, because I, like many other fans of this series, would like everyone to see why this series is so good, but seeing as there was a little hiccup in the previous installment, I know I need to be ready for the possibility that I would have to tear into Kore Yamazaki and the others responsible for bring us this series.
I also liked how magic is the world of the series was explored a bit and why mages are not that common.
In the beginning portion of the series, we hear from Ainsworth and a few others that mages are a dying breed and Ainsworth seems to have been chastised for not having an apprentice, due to how surprised everyone seemed to be, which it seem like mages were more common, though not common enough to really recognized and that the problem was due to lack of interest, and it was possible for people to become mages as long as they were able to see the creatures that Ainsworth referred to as neighbors, as they all seemed willing to help out everyone, though not always so easily.
However, in this volume, when we find out that Ainsworth has gone to the college with Chise as a temporary instructor, to watch over Chise, he holds a class where he teaches the fundamentals of magic, how it differs from the world’s alchemy, and, most interesting of all, that the neighbors can determine if somebody has the aptitude for magic.
Now, some of you guys would not be surprised by this, seeing as the neighbors are attracted to people like Chise, who builds magic to dangerous levels, but it came off as interesting here because it is the first time we see the neighbors refusal to do anything for somebody and how they could be dangerous, as well as why some people are incapable of using magic.
While the explanation given in the volume is not entirely pleasing to me, as the way things are worded makes it sound like one has to be completely entrapped in a cycle that has been planned, or, in the case of our society, is the expected norm and how we need to just accept things, which leads to apathy, it does make me want to know more, like what is the significance of the reason why a neighbor refused to help a newly introduced character that even went so far as asking Chise to teach them magic, thereby making me want to go out and get the next volume right now, even though it does not come out until September, according to the product page on Amazon.
Other than the humor and how Ainsworth and Chise grow over the course of the series, what really impressed me about this series was how Kore Yamazaki puts her spin on things and gives explanations for things, allowing for some real world building, as opposed to just introducing new things to make the world seem bigger, which is something that plague both the anime adaptations and the original novels of A Certain Magical Index.
If Kore Yamazaki either suddenly started expecting her audience to understand how things work or, like A Certain Magical Index or Harry Potter, or wanted the audience to stop thinking and just accept things as magic, after learning things along with Chise for so long, I would have been really disappointed because this series would have lost some of what makes it feel like a unique experience, which is way more important than trying to come up with something completely original, and I would also feel like an outsider, rather than feeling like I had left this world.
Thankfully, Kore Yamazaki remembered that we are following Chise’s adventures and made sure that we learned something new.
Hopefully, this aspect of the series does not disappear from the series anything soon, as there are still questions to be had and that will make sure that Chise and Ainsworth’s adventure and journey stay interesting up until the end, but I do not doubt the possibility that Kore Yamazaki could mess up really badly again, so I have to be ready for the moment that I may just have to abandon another ship.
The thing that I liked the most though was how I got the feeling that something was about to happen.
While The Ancient Magus Bride has never really felt things have gone too slow, unlike Detective Conan, where fans end up waiting years for something significant to happen, and has introduced some sort of conflict or incident quickly, things seem to only occur when Chise and Ainsworth are asked to look into things, such as the incident with the dragon back in volume 7, which made things give off the kind of peaceful feel that one would get from a slice of life series.
Here, however, moments after Chise and Ainsworth enter the college, which was first mentioned in volume 4, and talked to a few people, there seems to be stuff happening behinds the scenes, with hints that people might do something, with warnings about a group called the seven shields, secret meetings between faculty at the college, who speak of another presence on the campus, other than Chise and Ainsworth, and other events.
Even though some of these events are not really that intriguing, like a member of Simon’s church coming to ask Simon why he seemingly stopped doing his job and threatening to have him replaced, which ends up closing out the volume, I keep wondering what is going to happen and I am anxious enough to find out what happens next that I really want Seven Seas to make the next volume available for preorder on Kindle right now, instead of making wait for what a very long time to be able to reserve my copy.
If Koe Yamazaki did not have things like this happen, I would have been disappointed, because Ainsworth explicitly states that he would prefer Chise to stay away from the college due to the fact that those interested in her are those who lack hesitation and any moral code, like himself, and if things like secret conversations, warnings, and the like were not present, I would not have really gotten why Ainsworth would not be happy about having Chise at the college, especially because Kore Yamazaki does not normally beat around the bush, and would have really considered putting this series on the chopping.
Fortunately, Kore Yamazaki did not forget about Ainsworth’s reservations and started acting upon them, to keep me interested in what is going on, which makes me want to give her a good round of applause.
Hopefully, things will pick up in the future volumes, because I really want to see what will happen next, just like many other fans of the series, but if Kore Yamazaki makes a mistake somewhere, I am ready to pounce.
Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much as the things that I talked about.
Because the book was able to capture my attention quickly and hold it, by having a beginning that was way better than the last installment, magic was explored a little bit, through an actual class and some conversation between familiars, which piqued my interest, and that things seem to already be happening behind the scenes, this was a pretty decent read.
Although I liked the book, there are some issues.
However, aside from things that are too minor talk about, such as typos, and something that pretty much faded into obscurity, there was only one thing that bothered me, which was how there were pages that were practically unreadable.
For a reader to really be able to enjoy a work of fiction, they must be able to read everything in it, and this is especially important when one reads comics and manga, because the text is supposed to help explain what is going on and convey how the characters are feeling, as well as help the audience feel what the characters are feeling.
Normally, this is something that each of the manga publishers here, whether it is Viz Media, Yen Press, Kodansha, or Seven Seas, do quite well because they know that people need to be able to see and read the text, which is helped by the fact that they all generally use large images, with either decent dimensions or a good DPI (dots per inch) setting, along with text that is large enough read.
However, while I was reading this book, there were two instances in which I had troubles reading the text because the images were smaller than those that comprised the other pages, which are usually around 527 pixels by 751 pixels or so, whereas these two problematic pages clocked in at around 566 pixels by 404 pixels, maybe a little bigger or smaller in the Kindle desktop app.
To give you guys an idea of what I was dealing with, here are the pages that gave me grief in the format I am reading them in.
And here are some shots from those same pages in the official Kindle client.
Even though the Kindle versions are way more readable in terms of clarity (probably not too noticeable due to optimizations I had to do), the Kindle app also does not let me zoom in on the pages, which makes the pages only truly readable, and only just barely, if I read them in full screen on my laptop, whereas the clients I prefer to use allows me to zoom in just fine.
If I had to take a guess as to why these pages are smaller than the others in the book, I suspect that it is because Seven Seas is trying to maintain the double page spread look, while trying to present them as one page, rather than splitting them up, which would have been smarter approach.
What the heck, Seven Seas?! Is this really any way to publish a digital version of a popular manga series? If so, it is no wonder I had troubles reading those two pages, whether it was my preferred way, with the poor-quality text, or the original.
If the people that Seven Seas had formatted this properly, which is what I expect from people who make a living distributing comics and/or manga, I would have not really had troubles and would have been able to truly enjoy myself.
However, because they decided to maintain the double page spread, I feel like I had missed something, and it makes me feel disappointed, though I highly doubt that this problem affects the print release too, since Seven Seas Entertainment’s print releases tend to be perfect in the area of readability.
Hopefully, Seven Seas learns from this and start focusing on making sure their digital releases are completely readable, because that will help maintain a good amount of readers, in addition to allow me to continue getting these volumes in a way that I could quickly look back on things when needed, but I kind of doubt that anything is going to change here any time soon.
Thankfully, that was the only thing that really bothered me, so Kore Yamazaki and Seven Seas can walk away with some hope.
While there was only one real issue to be found, it was the kind of problem no reader should have to deal with, and it really hurt the overall quality of the product.
Despite the fact there was a relatively big issue, the good outweighed it enough to make it worth reading.
I mainly recommend this to fans of The Ancient Magus Bride, as they will be able to enjoy this the most, though I would strongly recommend getting this in print due to the readability problems in the Kindle version.
As for everyone else, this might be worth giving a try, but I recommend reading the previous volumes first, so that it can be fully enjoyed.
If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on either Patreon or SubscribeStar, or, if you want to check out the reviewed title for yourself, buy The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 10 from Book Depository, who offers free shipping to many countries around the world, so that I can continue following a series many enjoy and possibly find other worth while reads for you guys to check out.
Also, because Google+ is shutting down in April, if anyone is following my post for The Ancient Magus Bride on there, the link for this review will be the last for the series that will be shared there.
If you wish to continue getting updates on my posts regarding this series, I encourage you do one of the following:
- Subscribe to the atom feed, which can be accessed through the means specified in the about page.
- Become a patron on Patreon (this option is not free and will bombard you with my posts not dealing with The Ancient Magus Bride, but will notify you by email, if that is what you wish)
- Become a subscriber on SubscribeStar (this option is also not free and is bound to have the same issues as Patreon, but it should be possible that you could be notified by email without having to set things up yourself, like Patreon)