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Manga Series Recommendation — Kieli volumes 1 & 2

by  in Comic News Comment
Manga Series Recommendation — Kieli volumes 1 & 2

Way back when (late April) I reviewed the first volume of Kieli, noting that it was a fairly thoughtful entry into the whole “girl who sees ghosts” genre, but that the real strength of the volume was the interpersonal dynamics between the protagonist, Kieli and her companion, Harvey.  After reading volume 2, I can offer a very strong recommendation of this series, which reaches surprising emotional and narrative heights in its final volume.

Kieli is surprisingly good for such a short series — volume 1 sets up the characters and the fairly complicated world they inhabit, while volume 2 watches them struggle to resolve what appears to be the impossible in order to put certain things right that never should have been wrong in the first place.

As a girl who can see spirits, Kieli is isolated and incredibly lonely, so much that her only real friends are spirits or others who are also isolated from mainstream society.  Volume 2 sets the main characters on a quest, but their journey never ever becomes formula, as Kieli and Harvey work together to put an old soldier’s spirit to rest (the solider just happens to haunt a radio so that Kieli and Harvey can communicate with him throughout the journey.)  Harvey is a manufactured soldier, “the undying,” who has been hanging around so long, he’s watched everyone he cares about die and, therefore, struggles to take care of Kieli — perhaps by beating the scene altogether — while also struggling with the simple fact he cares for her.  Danger is always near at hand because of Harvey’s long, violent past as a soldier and protecting Kieli from both that danger and that past is always on Harvey’s mind.

Kieli is the emotional center the of the series and it is through her pain but also her struggle, the reader can understand an otherwise overly complicated backstory, involving war and manufactured soldiers who can’t die (except for the one way that they can).  After all, we might not see ghosts but we certainly understand feeling that we simply don’t belong in the world.  At least not in the way we feel we should.  The art is clean and crisp, finely detailed when needed but also cinematic in scope.  Train scenes, action scenes, ship scenes — all of it is rendered quite beautifully here.  In addition, Kieli’s lovely face is a study in various states of emotional turmoil but also affection and kindness.  

For me, the story is about the strength of friendship and that faith in others can be our salvation.  The supernatural plot dressing is just that – a backdrop that allows the creators to tell a beautiful story about overcoming loneliness, fear and isolation in order to love freely in spite of all the bad things we experience.

 

Review copy provided by Yen Press.     

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