07-Ghost by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara
|Author:||Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara|
|Publisher(s):||VIZ Media LLC|
|Genre(s):||Fantasy / Science Fiction / Manga|
|Release Date:||November 13, 2012|
Creators Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara deeply remind me of George R. R. Martin – they love to kill off beloved characters, and torture their fans by not letting go of this bad habit. Furthermore, they are exceptionally talented at creating a complex and appealing world with its own rules, gods and kingdoms. Should this not be enough, 07-Ghost can even boast an edgy, energetic art style, which is extremely detailed, when it comes to buildings (cathedrals for example), wings, costumes and the seven ghosts themselves. Bringing me to the point of describing the story in more detail, since essentially these are the most important motives of the manga.
Despite coming from a troubled background, Teito Klein is the best student of the prestigious Barsburg Empire’s military academy. The former slave (or as in the manga: “Sklave”) is a gifted user of the rare Zaiphon technique, an ability, which lets him turn his life energy into offensive attacks. However, our amnesiac protagonist keeps having unusual dreams about places and people he doesn’t know, leaving him puzzled from time to time.
The night before their graduation exam, Teito and his best friend, Mikage vow never to abandon each other, and to remain friends forever. The following day, Teito overhears a conversation about him, and suddenly remembers an important fragment of his past. In his rage, he attacks Chief of Staff Ayanami, one of the most powerful people of the Barsburg militia, resulting in further chains and prison for his actions. However, with the help of Mikage, he manages to escape, but ends up wounded and unconscious somewhere near the 7th District, the District of God. Here he is found by three bishops, who carry the injured boy to their church, and help him find his way back into life – in other words, opening up the world to him.
Meanwhile, the Empire is after Teito, given how many secrets he carries, even though at the beginning he is oblivious to this. As it turns out, he possesses the Eye of Mikhail, an important gem, which contains the history of the Raggs Kingdom, right up to the date it was destroyed by the Barsburg Empire. This, and an encounter with someone precious to him, results in his quest for revenge and throws him into a power struggle between the Seven Ghosts and Verloren, The God of Death himself.
While we are speaking of Verloren, I suppose this is the best time to talk about the religion of 07-Ghost. According to old myths, Verloren committed a terrible sin, namely, killing the daughter of the Chief of Heaven. As a consequence to this, he had to escape to the earth, where he created the Kors: demons, who attempt to steal people’s souls by throwing them into despair. The Chief of Heaven couldn’t just stand by and watch this happen, so he sent the seven heavenly lights to create a balance between evil and good. These are the Seven Ghosts, who are the guardians of every living being. Though Verloren was said to have been sealed just when Teito is brought to the church, strange signs start indicating that he might have awakened once again.
One idea I absolutely love about 07-Ghost’s religion is the concept that when someone is granted life from the Chief of Heaven, that person gets to make three wishes. They then strive to turn their dreams into reality during their life, however, without remembering what their original three dreams were. Once they have fulfilled all of them, they are sent back to the Chief of Heaven, and become reincarnated (with their new wishes).
Another thing to note is the fact that the manga is full of German words and references. The names of the Seven Ghosts, many other characters (including Teito having a surname such as “Klein” – a nice pun on his reoccurring problems about his height), and most of the military terms are in German. Same goes for the chapter names. They are always replaced by “Kapitel”, which is not too surprisingly the German term for chapter.
Because the manga comprises three parallel stories (Teito’s growth as a person, the history of the Raggs Kingdom, and the renewed battle between Verloren and the Seven Ghosts), it takes some time to see everything clearly. However, don’t let the heavy plotlines and the originally somewhat blurry connections between them discourage you! It is true that it might take some time understand, but that goes for most well-constructed works, as well. There is a good reason, why the current fanbase is so loyal to the underrated title – which definitely deserves a lot more attention.
Even though the story is pretty dark and serious, it doesn’t get gloomy. The character interactions keep things colourful and sometimes quite insane, and there is a fair amount of touching moments, too. At the same time, nothing is black and white in 07-Ghost. You might find yourself becoming attached to the dodgy members of a certain military organisation (the Black Hawks) instead of the bishops guiding Teito.
The manga was originally released by Go! Comi in English, but luckily after dropping the title, Viz Media picked it up and they have published two out of fourteen volumes so far. There are also German translations available thanks to Egmont Manga & Anime, and these are almost completely up to date with the current volumes in Japan.
An anime adaptation by Studio DEEN has also seen light with it twenty-six episodes and mixed reception. Even though it is not a bad piece in its genre, the manga was not yet completed (in fact, it’s still running), when the anime was released, so the ends are loose, untied, and fairly messy. It doesn’t compare to the manga in terms of pacing and complexity, but at least the battle scenes are easier on the eyes – in the manga, the visualization of fights is usually hard to follow. The anime’s strengths also include a very fitting and dramatic soundtrack, plus a more relaxed attitude to the story, meaning it’s pretty slow, and probably easier to comprehend.
It’s quite hard to define the genre of 07-Ghost. While it’s a military story with a religious undertone, I’m generally not too much into either of those, and yet I was still blown away by it. The story can be labelled under fantasy and a tiny bit of sci-fi. Interestingly enough, there is a dispute going on about whether it’s more meant to be for the male or female audience – I suggest you read and/or see it for yourself.