It’s ridiculous how long i have been reading this manga. At 60 something chapters, i expected to wrap it it up in the first week i acquired it. Yet for some reasons i encountered certain problems that eventually slowed my progress, despite this manga’s addictive flow of events. None the less, after finally wrapping up all 60 chapters, i can safely say that i have never encountered a manga like this before.
Rygart is an ‘un-sorcerer’. In a world where human beings are born with the ability to use magic through the manipulation and control of quartz, Rygart arrow stands out as a human being incapable of using magic, which has largely made him both unique, as a human that is basically disabled in a world of magic, as well as an outcast that is looked down upon for his lack of magic. This not only limits his actions in terms of what services he can or cannot access, hence making his life more difficult and dependant upon older more fossil fuel based technologies, but it restricts him from using Golems, giant mecha that, like all technology in this world, are operated by the armies of the land using magic.
None the less, despite his disability, Rygart’s kind pacifist tendencies endear him to Hodr and Sigyn, his best friends as well as king and queen of the kingdom of Krishna, along with their best friend Zess, younger brother to the secretary of war of the Athens common wealth.
Having left the kingdom and his three friends to embark on a journey of adventure, Rygart returns to Krishna years later to find a wholly different world. The kingdom of Krishna is at war with Athens, and not only has Athens declared war on Krishna in apparent self defense, but their former best friend Zess is leading the charge against Hodr and Sigyn.
Rygart, pro peace and opposed to non diplomatic forms of resolution finds himself caught in the middle of a crisis the likes of which is bound to change the political landscape of the continent, standing between a king and queen determined to protect their people from conquest whilst fighting back Athens's conditions of unconditional surrender and annexation. Zess, on the other side is hellbent on fighting what seems to be a plot to destabilize his home land of Athens through Krishna’s recent treating with Athens’s great enemy, the empire of Orlando.
Neither is willing to set a step back and the deeper Rygart analyzes the situation for a peaceful situation the cloudier the events get. Despite Zess’ assertions that his homeland seeks for a peaceful surrender of power by Krishna followed by very amicable and fair talks, he is shocked by the underlying conditions of the surrender, revolving around the complete purge of the upper echelons of government, including Zess’ own friends Hodr and Sigyn.
Yet the reputation that Krishna and its king and queen hold in Athens is one of barbaric slaughter, cannibalism and inhumanly torturous acts against any and all foreign persons found to trespass in their land. Nothing is as it seems and as both forces ride into the surrounding waste land, clashing in mighty battles between golems, Rygart stand alone, seeking the most peaceful resolution that, no matter the eventual fates of both kingdoms, will see all three of his friends escape the oncoming war alive.
Rygart’s solution lies in the Difringe (or Delphine, i am not sure), a recently discovered Golem so ancient that their are no records of its existence to be found and so unique in build that it cannot be operated by magic, instead powering on and off in a seemingly random manner, during which its power is like nothing that has been achieved by magic.
It’s in Rygart’s un-magical hands that this powerful machine is placed by the discovering Krishna team led by queen Sigyn, and it is in his hands that Rygart must decide which part to play in the war. No longer can he turn his back on events, as he initially attempts to, and hope that his three best friends will eventually work things out. Political forces are moving way above any of their heads, motions that will not settle until blood is spilled and one of two empires is destroyed. It is in Rygart’s hands that the fate of three kingdoms lie, and no matter what decision he eventually takes, it will eventually dawn onto him the truth that he has been avoiding for so long, that he must choose a side; and which ever side he chooses, he will have to raise his sword against the other and strike to kill…
I have come across a number of mecha series in my anime watching life time but never in a manga form. This break blade manga was something completely new to me. You could say that it was that element, along with the title break blade which immediately captured my attention, that attracted me to the manga. I have never read mecha series before and i was curious as to how it would translate on paper. And i must say i wasn’t disappointed. I will admit that i expected the worst, i simply couldn't see how someone could create convincing and entertaining mecha related situations in manga. Fortunately for me, Yunosuke Yoshinaga proved as skillful a Mangaka as was required to create and draw a unique mecha story in manga.
The Story; break blade strikes me as a fusion of sci-fi and medieval fantasy, specifically with the way it is set. The world has an ancient medieval feeling to it, with the way people dress and the buildings are constructed, yet the signs of advanced technology least of which is the golem technology are ostensible without being meretricious as in ruining the magical feel that can be found in each situation. It is an interesting setting to place the story in and it compounds on the intrigue created by the manga in simply creating an air of mystery, as each new chapter is a chance on further investigate the new world and work out just how the political, social and economic structures work and in which part of the world the story is set.
The names and physical structures of the characters scream Europe but some of the names of cities, kingdoms, even the names given to the golems scream Asian mysticism and culture. That aside the story is captivating one. We are placed in between a rock and a hard place which is the perspective that Rygart is facing. As a simpleton who was brought up on a farm with his similarly magically incapable brother, Regartz, Ryagrt’s father rejected and repudiated all forms of quarts and magic on the farm despite his magical abilities in an attempt to not make his sons feel left out, going on to work them as hard as possible in order to transform them into strong youth capable of compensating for their lack of magic through physical ability, despite the difficulty it placed on him as a magical user.
Rygart’s obstinacy is revealed by the fact that he would choose to attend Assam military academy despite his disability, where he meets Sigyn, Hodr and Zess, comrades with whom he would wile his school years away in complete dalliance. Despite his seeming determination to shrug his disability aside though, Rygart eventually reveals his insecurity over his lack with his eventual rejection of Sigyn’s love because of what he saw as the hostile and unfortunate ridicule she would receive as wife to an ‘un-sorcerer’ eventually choosing to leave the academy to travel and see the world.
Rygart is clearly a fish out of water with regards to the current situation in the land. He is incapable of internalizing the political strife buffering the three nations and is even more confused by what seems to be an escalation of blood shed in between Athens and Krishna. What drives break blade are the decisions he makes with regards to the war. He clearly has a stake in all three parties and would at any one point in time raise his golem to fight by the side of and destroy the enemies of either of his three friends, except that in this case it is these three friends that are at each other’s throats.
He clearly cannot choose between them and will seek to save all of them despite the cost. But he cannot deny that a solution without bloodshed, or at the very least violence is impossible. Break blade more or less focuses around Rygarts attempt to overcome his opposition to violence and determine to carry out his duties as Krishna’s heavy knight as mercilessly and one mindedly as possible, quickly learning from his mistakes that the fairy tales of old, where chivalry ruled the day and showing mercy to the enemy, even opposing the death of his enemy and choosing to settle for their defeat, are unsustainable when both sides are so fired up against each other.
That also plays a major part of the story, and is in fact the major draw, that both sides feel justified in their actions and are doing nothing more than maintaining justice. Clearly someone on one of the sides is lying, but it is understanding that even those that seek to kill Hodr and Sigyn are doing so to eliminate what they see as an evil entity hell-bent on destroying their own nation that makes Rygart’s decisions so hard. There are basically no heroes or villains, merely soldiers protecting their home country, and it is this knowledge, and barrier, that he must overcome in battle, for no matter how innocent the motives in play are, Rygart, through out the story, quickly realizes that an indecisive heart to strike at the enemy, not merely to maim but to kill, will instead result in the death of his own side, soldiers dedicated to following him and depending on his sword to protect them.
It is an interesting conflict, sort of reminding me of that movie Troy, where you know that someone must die and yet, each side seems to make a compelling argument in trying to destroy the other. You can thus sympathize with Rygart and his predicament. Someone has to die but the question is who, because either way, it will be his hand that does it. That is the only means of achieving peace in his heart, because if any of his friends killed the other, he would seek out revenge against the perpetrator, no matter how legitimate their reason for killing the other. He must be the one to end the life. And that fact makes for compelling reading.
Rating: 5/5, this story is more drama than action, with all sorts of political scheming and backstabbing, with the middle men, the common people, the soldiers, left as the only innocent party, allowed to believe that each of them, on either side, are fighting for the right reason. it is basically slaughter on a large scale, among the innocent, for the sake of the few, the kind of situation that incites righteous anger in you against those responsible.
THE characters: the characters in break blade are designed to provide a view into every facet of the conflict, with characters on each side both opposing and supporting the war and its outcome. This story is specifically one of war and its consequences and break blade does a good job of presenting as many ideals and view points as possible, though most act as patriotic members of their nations who would do anything to see their mother land succeed despite any and all suspicious events and ideas in play.
Rygart, Hodr, Sigyn and Zess stand out as the primary players, having a strong history with each other and around which the entire conflict seems to center. Each of them reveals a willingness to do whatever it takes to uphold their beliefs, yet on the several occasions each proves unwilling to go the extra mile to harm the other. It makes for compelling drama, especially Rygart’s relationship with Zess as the only members of the group that actually go out on the field of battle, as as well as Rygartz relationship with Hodr and Sigyn, in light of Sigyn’s feelings for Rygart and the amount of time she spends with him after he returns.
There are times when the characters blur into each other though, specifically the extra cast such as Narvi, Cleo, Nile, Erekt, Loquis and the rest. There are times where i cannot tell whether we are still in Athens or the story has shifted to Krishna. The problem is partially to do with the art. There are times the characters start to look alike, especially when out of uniform, and even the use of their names doesn’t help until later on when you have an idea of which soldier belongs to which side.
This is worsened during the action scenes during which you literally cannot tell who is who, which can sometimes suck because you then do not know if you should cheer because a character has been defeated spectacularly, or growl because the side your support has lost what would have been an awesome victory against impossible odds. Which is why it took me forever to finish this manga; stopping for several seconds at a time to try and figure out who was who meant that i only read one or two chapters in a seating.
None the less the stories are intriguing, each designed to provide a new view on the war. Yunosuke places emphasis on characters, specifically the soldiers and civilians on both sides, showing that each side is human and that the mourning of the fallen on one side is just as sad as it is on the other side; no matte whether you consider them the villain, Yunosuke does a good job of making you realize that as soldiers they are innocent and are basically fighting on the fallacious whims of the higher ups who hold little to no interest in the goings on of war and those that die to accomplish their selfish Endeavour. indeed it makes it difficult to cheer for Rygart even as he faces off against soldiers that are just as misguided as he is, which only makes it more difficult to oppose the feelings of those that choose to seek revenge on the other side, fully knowing that even though Rygart was doing his job in killing one lieutenant here or a corporal their, he was far from right, and the other side is just as justified to seek revenge against him for what is essentially an innocent life taken.
The fun comes in seeing just how far Rygart’s innocent soul will be warped by the death he is forced to inflict. He will protect Sigyn and Hodr no matter the circumstances but how far is he willing to go for his friends. Basically the question set here is if friendship and love automatically make one’s choice to fight a just one.
I especially enjoyed Girge and his psychopathic tendencies. His antics with the anti violence Rygart were fun to watch.
The action: I would like to say superb. Indeed the golems look good rushing across the field and unleashing their unique set of weapons; i do not think i can logically complain about how awesome these machines look smashing into each other. But their is an unfortunate problem, probably rising from the fact that this is the first Mecha based manga i have ever read. On several occasions i have problems following what is happening in an action scenes. There are times i can’t tell if a golem just dodged a bullet or fired one, or whether a mecha is jumping or it has been struck back.
The golems look awesome but really, when they begin engaging with each other, i usually have to wait until a pilot leaves his golem before i can figure out who was driving which mecha and who lost. It can be irritating, reading a two chapter battle without a single idea of whose golem just lost their arm. There were moments were i spent an entire chapter cheering for the pure dominance of golem against another, until the bloody corpse of the the losing golem fell out, revealing to me that it was actually the character i was supporting that was at the receiving end of the beating.
Sufficing to say it was shocking to realize on several occasions that the person i thought was winning was actually dead.Maybe that added a certain air of unpredictability, but i didn’t enjoy some of the fights as much, not until a golem lost a piece of its body, maybe an arm, and then i would know who was who based on that lost arm.
The battles are indeed awesome, especially when the golems get acrobatic and reveal their special skills, yet it gets annoying if i do not know what’s happening. Indeed it wasn’t until General Borcurus from Athens and his blades came onto the field that i began to understand the situation, but only because this particular squad of fighters rode golems with dramatic cloaks thrown over them. Thisis another reason why i took forever wrapping this manga up. I was reading at snail pace, having to stop to study a panel long enough to figure out what had just happened
Rating: 3/5, it would have helped if i knew what was happening, especially when entire battalions are clashing; none the less the battles were drawn exquisitely.
The Art: this was one of the more surprising elements of the manga. i didn’t think it possible for a manga to assign 30 something pages of a chapter to giant mecha and still look good. Yet this manga did and it couldn’t have been easy, drawing so many golems, especially in battle scenes. Yunosuke does a good job of creating scenes that are both full in terms of designing a rich less nebulous background like most less complicated to draw manga tend to do whilst also inserting as much detail in the primary objects, especially the fighting golems.
I don’t want to say it is some of the best art i have seen in manga (though it is) because i am probably biased by the fact that i had such low expectations of a mecha manga series. I didn’t think it was possible to draw so many mechs in a manga story while still managing to apply so much detail.
Rating: 5/5, despite Yunosuke’s failings, the fact that it is near impossible (for me at least) to tell the golems apart without a special weapon or color in the play or the pilots driving them in battle, i am in awe of how much detail he manages to inject into each golem on a page.
OVERALL RATING: 4.5/5;the series has one or two of those shortcomings i mentioned above. None the less it is a masterfully drawn series and impressively written story, one i would recommend for everyone.
Highlights: Borcurus’s appearance on the field with his grey cloaked guards, the blades. Girge’s scenes with Rygart were both amusing and entertaining, especially in contrasting the soldier’s bloodthirsty nature with Rygart’s peace loving existence. Watching Rygart continuously charge into the enemy and smash them apart with his superiorly armored yet less maneuverable golem was always entertaining to read and superbly drawn.
Break blade/ Broken blade as it is also called is an ongoing 11 volume manga in the action and mecha genre created written and drawn by Yunosuke Yoshinaga and published by the magazine Shonen blood. The manga has been adapted into six fifty minute movies licensed by Sentai film works, namely: The time of awakening (2010), The split path (2010), Scars from an assassin’s blade (2010), The land of Disaster (1020), Death’s Horizon (2011) and Bastions of Sorrow (2011).
Because the manga is still ongoing, though the anime movies closely follow the events of the manga, the sixth movie had to create is own ending to wrap the plot up.