Hello and welcome back to Manga Talk!
Today we are going to be looking at the first volume of the manga Mythical Beast Investigator, and as usual there are going to be MASSIVE SPOILERS for this volume, so please read the official source if you are able.
I should also say, please review and like if you enjoy this, I have not been very good about asking for that when I should be.
Let’s get started!
We begin with a young woman walking through the forest following a bat that she calls Trow, as the two are heading toward a village that seems to be having trouble.
That trouble turns out to be a wyvern, and as the creature attacks the woman, Ferry is her name, she is protected by a rabbit man wearing fancy clothes named Kushuna.
When the two arrive at the village, she reveals herself to be a mythical beast investigator, a government sanctioned position that documents where mythical beasts roam and deals with ones that are more problomatic.
When Ferry asks the villagers what the wyvern has done, it is revealed that while the wyvern has in fact caused property damage and damage to food supplies, no one has been explicitly injured or killed.
We also learn that most wyverns are registered and protected by someone, with the protector of this particular wyvern being known as “The Ribbon Maiden”, who was taken by bandits some time ago.
It is believed that the wyvern is reacting to the fact that it is maidenless to an extreme degree, because while wyverns are not the most intelligent members of the dragon family, they still feel and process emotions similar to humans.
Ferry and Kushuna manage to stop the wyvern, as Ferry deduces that the wyvern had not immediately gone to attack the villagers, in the hope that the Ribbon Maiden would one day return, or that the villagers would make a bid to save her.
However, since that didn’t come to pass, the wyvern became angry and started to attack the humans.
As Ferry is trying to convince the townsfolk to not kill, butcher, and sell the parts of the wyvern, Kushuna reveals that he is not bound to the rules, self imposed or ones coming from the organization, sets the wyvern free and tells the wyvern that instead of taking his anger out on the villagers, that he should go out and get the bandits.
With their tasks complete, and the chapter ending on the implication that the wyvern managed to save the Ribbon Maiden, Ferry, Kushuna, and Trow make their way to another village with a severe monster problem.
An old woman in the village has a one hundred percent accurate fortune telling rate, and has foretold that a basilisk will be born in town soon.
With the day fast approaching, the villagers become anxious as a basilisk is an extremely dangerous creature that could easily kill everyone in the village.
Ferry and Kushuna arrive and after asking a few questions, they find the basilisk egg, ready to hatch.
The villagers freak out, but Kushuna wraps the eggs up and keeps it away for safekeeping. Ferry then tells the villagers that while a basilisk is a problem, if the first thing a basilisk sees is a human, then the basilisk would die.
The village celebrates and gives plenty of food to the group as they head over to a coastal town.
Here the beast of the day is a mermaid, and a young man who is drawn to the mermaid. The other townsfolk make fun of the young man for relying on the boon of the mermaid and not working for himself, but Ferry says that it isn’t an issue is a mythical beast is giving their blessing to someone who is nice to them.
While noticing that there are more sick people in the town, Ferry asks the mermaid for help because mermaids have knowledge of healing herbs. The mermaid, who had earlier called Kushuna the King of Darkness, said that she will help them if they find a “sweet egg of the land”.
Not knowing what she means, they ask the guy that she is fond of, and the guy reveals that she is talking about the apples that grow. he then goes on saying that his father and grandfather had also interacted with this mermaid and that they had all been given the blessing of the mermaid, namely fish basically just jump into his boat.
Ferry says that it isn’t a bad thing to accept the blessing of a mythical beast, but it is common for people who are blessed to fall into despair as they lose their own self respect.
The guy then goes to the mermaid, giving her the apple, and saying that he will be leaving on a fishing boat soon, so they won’t see each other again.
While the mermaid gets angry, when the guy leaves, the mermaid says that the guy will have good fortune while at sea, settle down with a wife and have a family because that is what happened to his father and grandfather.
The family seems to be drawn to the mermaid, but they always leave, which is always difficult for the mermaid to accept. The mermaid does say how to help the sick townsfolk, and swims away, while Kushuna waxes poetic on why she and the people are drawn to each other.
At their next destination, Ferry sees a funeral procession, where the only remaining piece of the deceased, a child, is a liver that washed up from a nearby lake.
Immediately Ferry knows that the creature is a each-uisge, a water horse that convinces people to ride on its back, only to drown them in a body of water, kill them, and eat them while only leaving the livers behind.
The group go to the father of the girl, who has a grim, a black dog often associated with guarding the dead, and those two are off to kill the each-uisge.
While Ferry is hesitant to let the man do so, not because she doesn’t think that they should kill the creature but more so for the safety of the man, she and Kushuna tag along.
While Kushuna is confident in his abilities to kill the beast, Ferry says that he should stay away and let the man deal with his emotional trauma, otherwise they could end up as his targets.
The man readies his iron hooks, and the giant water horse approaches, ending the volume.
The best thing about the manga is the distinct and gorgeous artwork.
The character designs stand out, where even the side characters have unique little details about them and that there are plenty of beautiful backgrounds to look at and action scenes on display.
Kushuna, being a rabbit man, is very much the best designed character of the series, and the little details on his clothes make him stand out, especially since he had black fur.
There are plenty of moments that allow the story to breathe and take in the scenery, with the actions scenes also being dynamic and well drawn.
I do like that the story takes a look at some well known creatures and some lesser known creatures, and following some of the actual lore behind some of the creatures.
While the Harry Potter franchise has made a basilisk a giant snake, a basilisk is often traditionally not a giant snake and more often an amalgamation of a bunch of creatures.
Using a each-uisge is also a nice touch because that is a creature that a lot of people probably don’t know, which is great.
Of course a wyvern is a type of dragon and a mermaid is a mermaid, but I do like that the story has the additional layer of going a bit into the morphology of the mythical beasts, like mermaids are part of the fairy family of creatures and wyverns are part of the dragon lines, but not as intelligent as a dragon.
That is a bit of neat world building that I can appreciate.
What is not great about the story is the characters.
Ferry comes across as a generic wanderer who seeks knowledge but doesn’t want to cause harm, while Kushuna is a overprotective super powerful creature that, for some reason, has taken a liking to Ferry.
Most of Kushuna’s dialogue and actions revolve around him doting on Ferry, protecting Ferry, or arguing with Trow, who doesn’t like the rabbit man.
While we do get a bit of a hint of Kushuna’s past, with the mention of him being the King of Darkness and how he finds humans to be weak and selfish (with the exception of Ferry), he isn’t a compelling enough character to like.
Ferry has the personality of a block of wood, only having some “bratty” characteristics when Kushuna is being too overprotective.
What also confused me about Ferry is her willingness to let the man who lost his daughter to the each-uisge to potentially die because he needs to process his grief. I mean yeah, it sucks that his daughter died and the dad feels guilty about it, but this mythical beast is dangerous enough for Ferry to not put much of a fuss in killing it.
An each-uisge is a dangerous creature and it is irresponsible of her to let the man try to kill the creature and potentially get killed, and for her to be willing to not get in the way. I’m sure that will get resolved in the next volume, but that was a weird way to deal with that interaction.
What is also annoying is the faceless organization that Ferry is a part of. There are plenty of these organizations in fiction, and this one comes across as fairly generic. There are members mentioned, but we have yet to see another member other than Ferry, which makes the organization less interesting in my opinion.
There is no one directly telling her where to go, no mention of a leader, not even a rival member who Kushuna has a problem with. There is nothing about the organization, other than those passing references to other members and the process that the member of the organization have to deal with.
I would recommend this story if you want to see some beautiful artwork, some interesting looks at lesser known mythical creatures, and some cool action scenes.
I had high hopes for this series when I saw the cover, but unfortunately nothing in the story compels me to give the rest of the series a shot.
On Friday, we will be taking a look at a classic manga. Get your motor running because we are going to do some drifting, we are taking a look at the first volume of Initial D!
So until then,
Heiwa to sayonara!