Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Yun Kouga
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
It’s like an RPG without the hefty price tag.
All of us in this office love Yun Kouga.
In fact, we said it directly to Kouga-sensei herself during AX 2009 in Los Angeles when she was one of the guests of honor at the expo. It’s true since all of us have been touched by her work at some point whether it was picking up the first volume of Loveless! or even Earthian. Even the boys in this office love her character design work for the hit anime, Gundam 00. So, as you can see, we were excited about Volume 1 of Gestalt. Unfortunately, it’s not her best work but it does have something about it that makes it worth reading … good characters, great artwork and some sincerely funny moments.
Gestalt tells the legend of a Demon God that has managed to anger the other Gods in such a way that this Demon God was cast out and his name never to be spoken again. The Demon God took refuge in a far off island that has become legendary because of a rumor that says that anyone seeking this Demon God and makes the journey to the island will have their wishes granted. Many have made the journey and were never heard from again and very few people even make an attempt … until now.
Father Olivier of the Church of Vasaria has left the order to go to the island named “G” that is said to be named after the Demon God. This, of course, causes quite a stir in the church as Father Messiah has ordered a Dark Elf to bring the missing Father back to the safety of the church. Having traveled far already, Father Olivier shows the innkeeper he’s staying with a small miracle (by way of magic). It’s an act that tickles the female innkeeper so much that she gives the handsome priest a gift … a beautiful young slave girl who also happens to be a mute.
While the good priest doesn’t accept the gift because it‘s wrong to own a human being, the girl named Ouri makes it quite clear that she could be sold to somebody that would mistreat her. Seeing no choice, he takes the girl and even tries to break the spell that had turned her mute in the first place. When he does manage to break said spell, he finds Ouri to be quite a lively, quick-tempered and flirty girl who quickly takes a liking to the priest. She’s cute, sexy and plays up the fan service in the series quite well. Normally, I would have rolled my eyes at this description but Ouri is actually quite likeable and funny. She’s the type of girl that smacks a big brute around and – without much though – was cheerfully going to step on the brute’s neck if the priest hadn’t stopped her and told her it’s wrong to kill people.
After having revealed that Ouri is actually a sorceress when she defeats the Dark Elf named Suzu that was sent to bring Father Olivier back to the church, the pair make it to a city where the King had set up a fighting tournament. Little do they know that it was the Queen that had bent the rules of the competition that has the losers of each battle go up against a monster known as a Carrion Worm. Ouri doesn’t see it as much of a problem and asks the big brute – named Harlaown – to join her in the arena to fight the giant beast. This draws out a handsome young fellow who has a special connection with Ouri and reveals a secret about the pretty slave.
Even with the truth about Ouri, Father Olivier still takes her along on the journey to the place Ouri called Gestalt. Suzu, the Dark Elf, makes a return and decides to travel with them seeing as she can’t bring the priest back home by force thanks to Ouri’s incredible strength and magical abilities. Joining them for reasons that aren’t even explained is a fortuneteller named Shazan (that looks way too much like Father Olivier). In the final chapter of the volume, the priest is captured by somebody that Ouri knows. It’s a trap, alright, but something about Father Olivier makes it clear that none of these characters are what they seem.
It is the characters that make Gestalt worth reading and even more so thanks to Ouri who is mysterious and actually quite funny. Strangely enough, the character introductions look like they came straight out of a role-playing game. Do we really need to know how much MP a Magic Arrow spell costs or what level each character is at when introduced. There’s even mention of leveling up! As a gamer myself, I think Gestalt would have made an interesting RPG but this is a manga.
Gestalt, Volume 1, certainly isn’t Kouga-sensei’s best work but its not entirely bad either. As a fan of her work and art, I found myself liking the first volume’s sense of humor and I do see the possibility that this series might just get more interesting in the next volume or two. If you’re a Yun Kouga fan, you might want to give this a try but just don’t expect this to be in the same league as some of her best work.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Father Olivier leaves the church on a journey to find an island known only as “G” in order to see if the legends are true. Along the way he is given a mute slave girl named Ouri who turns out to be something else completely different. Their adventure leads them to dangerous lands and they meet new companions along the way as Ouri’s true identity puts them all in harm’s way.
I always admired Kouga’s light and beautiful artwork that makes the action and the scenes flow naturally. I also love her character designs, although Father Olivier and Shazan look way too similar to each another.
Simply put, Volume 1 of Gestalt has its good points that make this a decent story worth following if you’re a true Yun Kouga fan but then again it certainly lacks in all the things that made Earthian and Loveless! so brilliant. I’m of the believe that this story and its characters would have been better suited to a console-based role-playing game instead.