animefringe february 2003 / reviews

Sorcerer Hunters Vol.13
Format: Left-Right manga, 184 pages
Production: TOKYOPOP / Akahori Satoru / Omishi Ray
Comments: The sexy series comes to a dramatic end in the final installment of Sorcerer Hunters.
Animefringe Reviews:
Sorcerer Hunters Vol.13

This is it. The last book in the Sorcerer Hunters saga. I have to say, I'm a little sad that this is all over. While it's not necessarily my favorite series, there's definitely some nostalgia binding me to it. A little more than a year ago, my bookstore only carried three or four manga titles. We had a few copies of Magic Knight Rayearth, some Sailor Moon, and Akira. Nothing else. And then Sorcerer Hunters arrived. I'd been watching anime for eight years or so, and I owned a few manga, so I picked it up. That was right before the flood of TOKYOPOP's "Authentic Manga" lineup, and so this series was somewhat of the advance guard for what was to come. Now, a year after I got into it, I'm done. Luckily, our store now carries hundreds of Japanese comics, so it's not like I've run out of things to read. Thus, the big question here is, of course, was it worth it?

I can safely say, yes, it was. Sorcerer Hunters is set in a world out of balance, where a small portion of the populace dominates the majority with magical powers. These Sorcerers tend to be haughty and self-centered at best, but sometimes they're just plain evil. When they go too far, threatening the lives of the magically deficient "Parsoners," it's the Sorcerer Hunters' job to step in and make things right again. Most of the series focused on the individual quests of the group, but the thirteenth volume is concerned solely with the wrapping up of the overall storyline. There are quite a few heroes in this tale, including sisters Tira and Chocolat, brothers Carrot and Marron, and siblings Gateau and Eclair. They're guided by the powerful Big Mama, a motherly figure that picks their missions and looks out for the sometimes-impetuous bunch.

This time around, TOKYOPOP has included a character guide at the beginning of the book in order to straighten out the myriad of figures that have played a part in the epic story. It's a welcome addition to the work for those of us who have trouble keeping everything straight as we wait for each successive issue to arrive. Sorcerer Hunters presents a great mix of fantasy, action, comedy, romance, gender bending, and S&M that simply hasn't been done quite so well before. The characters are all well designed, and the artist that came up with Chocolat's battle outfit is brilliant. Why wear a bra when you can just wear a set of some well-placed suspenders? There's plenty of fanservice here, but this is not horribly ecchi (perverted). In fact, most of the sexuality is either comedic or romantic in nature. I actually read this volume crammed in the back seat of a Ford Taurus on the way down to Texas (from St. Louis) next to my girlfriend's mom, so you know the content couldn't have been that naughty. Don't pick this title up if you're looking for a nudie book; there are other graphic novels that are far more devoted to "mature" action.

In this volume, we finally get to see Carrot accept his feelings for the Misu sisters...as the God of Destruction reawakens. Many old favorites show up to either help or hinder Lord Charlotte's plans to destroy the world, but in the end, everything will be decided by the bonds between Carrot and his friends. There's less comedy and more drama in this volume, but that's appropriate since we're dealing with the possible destruction of reality. More backstories are revealed, as well as an additional layer of depth for some characters I already thought I knew. In general, the story has been quirky but solid enough to be enjoyable. I'll leave the ending for you readers to discover, however.

The character design and artwork was what attracted me to the books in the first place, and they remain as visually appealing as ever. Most of the characters are beautiful (if a bit sexually ambiguous), and that's certainly a good thing since the majority of panels are close-ups of people. This series doesn't feature too much on background effects, but rather shows the varying emotional states of the characters involved. So long as you care about the protagonists, this is not a problem.

The book is a good size and price, but unlike TOKYOPOP's incredibly popular "100% Authentic" lineup, it reads from left to right. There aren't as many typographical errors as the twelfth volume had (and that seemed more like a software issue rather than an editing oversight), and the writing tells the story well. Sometimes, the fancy lettering can be annoying to read, but I read fast, so it doesn't distract me too much. The cover has a nice illustration of most of the characters from the entire series, and it'd make a great wallscroll. In addition to the character tree (mentioned above), there is also a plot summary in the beginning, which is another nice touch that ongoing series really need in later volumes. There's also the standard (increasingly huge!) list of TOKYOPOP's publications. It would be nice if they listed ISBNs for each title for people who would like to order the books and aren't able to find them by name. Other than that, looking at the back page with all of those neat series coming out...well, it makes my wallet shiver with fear. Lord knows I'll be picking them all up eventually.

If you're fond of fantasy and don't mind light-hearted fan service in the form of S&M, then this is a great series to get into. It's not as "Authentic" as some of TOKYOPOP's other publications, but it's large enough to actually be legible and still rather cheap. If you plan on visiting the Spooner continent anytime soon, however, I'd suggest starting with the beginning. You won't get much out of this series if the last book is the first installment you buy. And if you're freaking out, wondering where else you can get your Sorcerer Hunters fix, then there's an amusing TV series (available domestically on 4 DVDs) or the spin-off anime series, Sorcerer on the Rocks, to keep you entertained until something else comes along. It's a bit more edgy than Slayers and moves at a quicker pace than the incredibly popular fantasy/comedy, so it's not a bad universe to check out if you've had enough Lina Inverse for a while. There's always room for more fantasy!