Monday, March 17, 2014
SHIKI TSUKAI VOL. 1: REVIEW
While I plan to read further in the series simply because the art is pleasing, there's nothing original in this manga. There's an "everyman" young hero who's being trained in an arcane mystical discipline, and there's a beautiful young comrade who helps him while not being very shy about taking off her clothes at embarrassing moments. There are scheming villains and an overbearing, comedy-relief instructor (the brunette at the far left, above).
Only two things make SHIKI TSUKAI moderately interesting. First, the author builds his system of magic around the Japanese seasonal system, resulting in panels like this one:
Although Japan has no shortage of routine space operas and martial arts epics, SHIKI is noteworthy for elucidating the differences between Japan's traditional calendar and the adoption of the Gregorian standard. It's too early to tell if manga-creator To-Ru Zekuu will develop this into a consistent fantasy-mythology or not.
The other point of interest is that SHIKI TSUKAI is one of many manga that flirts with Oedipal issues, albeit in a very distanced manner. Hero Akira Kizuki lives with his mother and father, but his father's gone part of the time and the first thing we learn of his mother is that she looks too young to have a high-school age child. In addition, the aforementioned comedy-relief instructor flirts with Akira outrageously, probably with no serious intent. But it caused me to wonder about the etiology of the manga fascination with the "older-woman/younger-man" trope. While I'm not an expert regarding manga, it seems to me that it's been on the rise in the past two decades. It doesn't always eventuate in a romance as such, as seen in HAPPY LESSON (1999-2002), and I suspect that the trope's role in SHIKI TSUKAI is incidental in nature. In comparison I've only rarely observed the trope in American comic books belonging to the adventure-genre, or even in works of comedy. Film and television media have used the trope much more in respect to comedy, but in American adventure-stories overall, the most popular trope might be "older-man/younger-woman."