Title: 7th Garden Vol. 1
Author: Mitsu Izumi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shounen, Battle
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
In a time when superstition and religion still rule, Awyn Gardner works as a humble gardener for an estate where life is always good. He holds the same passion for his garden as he does the beautiful mistress who walks through it. Awyn will do anything to protect her, even if it means enslaving himself to a demon. When his village is attacked by crusader knights, he has to step up to protect the ones he loves. Can he still remain a perfect man while accepting the help of a demon?
The story here caught me by surprise. I knew nothing of this series going into it and I didn’t expect the story to be what it was. The story is about a boy named Awyn Gardner and he is… well… a Gardener. He will do anything to protect Marie(Mariphiel), the young mistress of the manor. While it sounds like a nice slice of life love story, it takes a supernatural turn when the bishop deems their village as one that defies God and orders it to be purged. Awyn is severely injured and Marie is killed, but thanks to a pact with a demon named Vyrde, Awyn gains powers in exchange for being the demon’s slave. Vyrde restores Marie’s life and things return to normal for the most part. Now Awyn must fight for Vyrde as she wishes to slay the six angels and reclaim the world as her own.
While there were some obvious tropes among the characters, the story was very interesting. The whole religious motif has always been something that I liked because it usually depicts justice and righteousness as evil and 7th Garden does just that. Those on the side of light here are nothing more than religious zealots and sends a clear message that even purity can corrupt. On the other hand, Vyrde isn’t as clean as a preacher’s sheets either which makes you wonder who is good and who is evil in this story. There is no clear cut black and white answer here as both sides are depicted of being nefarious and corrupted. That’s what makes this story interesting because it doesn’t have any clear cut answer to the whole good and evil situation with one exception which I will touch upon in the next section. It makes the reader make a choice between who they want to believe is right in their cause and not many stories offer that up these days.
Like Josh, I knew nothing about this story. I didn’t know what to expect but thought this could be something worthwhile. After the first few pages I knew that this is going to be a good vs evil storyline; however, it’s not really that cookie-cutter. The religious order is presented as blind, arrogant, and greedy. The demon, Vyrde is seductive, mischievous and… somewhat righteous? For an ‘evil’ entity, Vyrde sure does make a lot of valid points in her conversations with Awyn. You can’t pick a side just yet in this series, although I can see where this is going. I do agree with Josh that at some point you will have to pick a side, if you so choose.
This volume provides a lot of backstory that really helps you understand the story as it unfolds. Readers can appreciate how the information is delivered because it’s not done in an overwhelming manner that can cause confusion between the present and past.
Awyn, aside from having an awesome and unique first name, seems like your go to answer for the “good guy” role here, but just when Awyn is depicted as innocent and pure, he reveals another side to him that is comprised of rage. At first, he made the pact with Vyrde in order to protect Marie, but it was out of his rage that he desired to protect her. Awyn himself has a light and dark side, but both sides are aimed towards the same cause and that cause in and of itself is wholesome and pure. Awyn seems like both a typical hero and an anti-hero all rolled into one and it’s a really cool dynamic that you don’t quite see all that often. So far, his character has been fleshed out perfectly for a first volume. We’re introduced to him, we see his many personalities, we establish a cause and a goal for his character and we dabble a bit into his past which leaves the reader with more questions than answers. Everything you need to build interest in a main character here is done and done well.
Vyrde doesn’t seem all that special, to be honest. Her story is one we’ve seen before. She’s a demon who wants to kill angels and claim the world as her own and she has a tongue to aid her in swaying people in her favor, much like she did with Awyn. Rather than just sit back and manipulate Awyn, Vyrde shows that she wants to be involved and that Awyn isn’t just doing her work alone. There is a pretty cool way that the show this in the manga that I’ll let you all read for yourselves, but I think it’s a pretty cool plot device to help shape Vyrde’s character.
Marie is just a run-of-the-mill character, to be honest. Even though she’s high society, she doesn’t act like it. She has an interest in Awyn on more than just a friendship level and that’s about it. If she’s meant to be a main character then she’s the most supporting main character I’ve seen in my life. I don’t know how much of a prominent role she will play in future volumes, but so far, she seems like a plot device used to get Awyn to sign a pact with Vyrde. I’m sure the author could have picked any other reason whatsoever and Marie would just disappear and never be missed.
The protagonist of this story, Awyn, seems like a cool guy. He loves plants, is passionate about serving his mistress, and seems to have a good moral compass. This all goes to shit when he meets Vyrde, who manages to unpeel the outer layers of Awyn to reveal his true feelings about the world. Despite this, Awyyn is the ‘good guy’ who consistently tries to do the right thing. Even his pact with Vyrde has good, honest intentions.
Vyrde is a demon who makes a pact with Awyn. For me, she made this volume very enjoyable. I know we have seen this type of character before but she fits in very well with this story. Not only is she pivotal to the plot, she provides comic relief. Vyrde reminds me of a cross between Sebastian from Black Butler and Yuuko from Xxxholic. I know this may sound weird, but it makes sense in the context of her actions.
Mariphiel is the mistress who employs Awyn. She’s very generic both in personality and appearance. She’s young, attractive, well dressed, and kind. She’s everything one would expect from a gentle lady living on an estate in a small village. I can’t imagine how she will play a bigger role in the story but I certainly hope she’ll develop in future volumes.
Serras Braith is a bishop who has the protection of an angel. I’m not sure we’ll get to see him again but I think he’s worth noting. Serras is important to understanding how the church officials think and function in this book because he’s quite vulnerable. His quick demise is a preview of what we can expect from the rest of the series.
I really loved this first volume. The color pages in the beginning were just awesome and the fact that we had a “Chapter 0” to set up the main story was also equally as amazing. I was a bit shocked when I got through about 30 pages of material and then saw the next chapter marked as “Chapter 1.” Not many mangas will provide you with a backstory chapter before starting the actual manga, but 7th Garden does and it only enhanced the experience.
Conflicting sides, religious undertones, an interesting main character all overshadow a typical plot line and a generic main/supporting/plot device character in Marie. It was very enjoyable and I think a lot of shounen battle fans will like this one!
This volume was very enjoyable and stimulating at the same time. I think the setting, conflicting interests and religious theme help make a good story that can be read for entertainment while serving as a good topic for a discussion. Mitsu Izumi tackles real issues that exist in humanity while dressing the conversation up in beautiful illustrations. I think manga readers from all genres can be drawn to this series.
You can also check out other The Outerhaven reviews on your favorite social media networks:
This item was provided for review by Viz Media