As a result of the to-read list I published not so long ago, I finally decided to give March Story a second chance before selling it without even reading it trough to the end. Here, I am talking about a manga I bought four years ago, back on the days blogger was full of recommendations of brand-new volumes of titles just licensed in USA.
When an inanimate object gets impregnated with strong human emotions a demon called Ill possesses it. It doesn't matter whether it is an art piece or a pair of worn shoes, if anyone gets seduced by the whisperings of an ill, he or she will find a bitter and untimely closure. In order to stop them, there are some gifted people who fight the ill and annihilate them, they are called the Ciste Vihad. March is one of them although his mysterious hood may hide some thorns... are those the same that characterize the ill?
As if they were an ill themselves, I was allured by the gorgeous covers of this manga... only to get disappointed by the simplistic characters and the ambiguous plot. March Story is the typical procedural series where most of its chapters are independent from each other with a background story (March's story actually) that gets slowly developed in the first volumes only to become the main plot at the end. I don't really enjoy this kind of stories where dozens of characters are briefly introduced to be dispatched in a few pages ahead since the authors tend to play with extreme caricatures of over-exploited clichés as the rich evil psychopathic tyrant, the spiteful women obsessed with eternal youth or the jealous lad grieving from unrequited love.
On top of that, all of the stories share something in common: endless cruelty and suffering for all characters involved. There is no balance, no rest, no justice... Even the happy endings are bittersweet at the very least. Very appropriately, an explicit content alert is printed in all covers as blood, violence, torture and nudity are all explicitly portrayed in all volumes, with some really sadistic scenes.
March and Jake being the main characters, they are the only ones with some (very tragic) background stories so the readers can feel pity about them but other characters which I'd say are protagonists as well (or very important characters at the very least, like Rodin) have no development at all... with some really abrupt revelations at the end of the story that felt as meaningless as the side-stories of non-recurrent characters. As I said, everything's so utterly sad, the enormous amount of suffering can only render the readers unfeeling.
Talking about character development I am jumping to inner coherence and plot development as well, as the issue of the ill is so vaguely introduced and poorly addressed. Ill are presented as blood-thirsty demons that only want to make people suffer and die but there is quite a bunch of these demons that are clearly kind-hearted and akin to humans and there is no explanation whatsoever about why there are such remarkable differences between creatures of allegedly identical nature... which honestly feels like a deep plot hole to me.
Although, as I've already introduced, it was the art style which firstly encouraged me to buy this series, I was fairly disappointed by the inner drawings as they are irregular and disproportionate with some really nice close ups but with so many characters where it is obvious that the artist didn't care too much... clearly illustrated by the ridiculously enormous design of Jake who is supposed to be a charismatic character but whose dimensions were distracting me through her whole story. The artist seems to be influenced by several places and studies, with a kind of European setting, with castles and so on, characters and scenes that strikingly resemble some famous productions from Ghibli Studio too; this random mix makes me wonder how inexperienced was the artist when creating this story as everything seems so arbitrary. He gets so lost with precious objects and their details although, when thought about it, they are just unpractical. Furthermore, battle scenes are so difficult to follow and always end prematurely with remaining scars as the only testimony that any damage was done (mostly scars that don't fit the actual weapons used in the battle...).
|Air dancing by Sophie and Howl set in Venice|