Title:Centaurs Vol. 1 Author: Ryo Sumiyoshi Publisher: ABLAZE Comics Language: English Format: Digital Pages: 176 Genre: Fantasy, Battle Publication Date: June 27, 2023
Centaurs and humans once lived in peace. The centaurs used their wisdom to advise the humans; however, one day war broke out and the humans began to use the centaurs as mere tools. One day, a hunting party comes across a famous centaur that they refer to as The Stone Tiger. Another centaur is part of the hunting party and helps to capture him. In fact, The Stone Tiger allowed himself to be captured so that his son, Gonta, could escape.
Once they bring The Stone Tiger back to camp, the centaur that helped capture him, Kohibari, tells him that his plan is to escape and only aided in his capture because he needed his strength to carry out his plan. Trust doesn’t come easy but The Stone Tiger starts off by imparting his true name, Matsukaze.
After Kohibari’s plan succeeds, they run to the mountains in search of Matsukaze’s sister’s home which is where he instructed Gonta to run to. The journey is perilous; however, they brave the elements; however, escape doesn’t come with a price and they realize that they are being chased!
For the first volume, there are really only two characters that have a spotlight placed on them, those being Matsukaze and Kohibari.
Mastukaze earned his nickname through his uncanny wisdom and unmatched toughness. There are tales of him moving mountains but he actually writes those stories off as being old. While he is very gruff, it’s not because he’s stubborn or aggressive… it’s merely his wisdom and experience speaking. He has seen way too much to blindly walk into a trap which is why trusting Kohibari takes some time. Still, his fighting instincts combined with his knowledge lends authenticity to his nickname. Despite that, it’s also his weakness. Because he has a sense of pride and protection, he has martyr syndrome. Whether it is allowing capture to protect his son, or inconveniencing himself to protect Kohibari, he will always put himself in harm’s way. Sometimes it’s avoidable and sometimes it’s not but it seems he’s the type that will, sometimes foolishly, stand by you rather than make a tough decision.
Because of that, Matsukaze carries nobility to him. It shows he is loyal to those who stick with him but again, that’s a weakness as much as it is a strength. It still makes him a great main character and someone you can find yourself getting attached to.
Kohibari, on the other hand, is an idiot… but it’s not his fault. His village was attacked and destroyed by humans when he was just 6 years old. He has been in human captivity ever since. He never got to experience the world for himself and, therefore, is very inexperienced in just about everything… especially food. However, he is smart enough to know that Matsukaze is a strong centaur and also smart enough to come up with and execute a plan that leads to their escape. After that, though… everything is off the table when it comes to knowledge about the world with him. This is also an endearing trait because while he is a full-grown centaur, he still has the mind of a child that is discovering things for the very first time.
He’s the kind of character you can laugh at, laugh with, and feel attached to. At first, he seems like nothing more than a burden for Matsukaze; however, I think Matsukaze truly realizes what Kohibari is and feels obligated to become his protector. He realized that despite his appearance, he’s still a child and needs protection. This causes the two of them to play off each other rather well. As the volume goes on, you can see the friendship form between them which is nice!
The story for the first volume is rather simple: escape human capture and make the journey back home while avoiding recapture. The magic happens with the growth of Kohibari and Matsukaze’s friendship on that journey. Their development even causes the main plot to seem as if it’s on the back burner for much of the volume which is fine. It’s a simple enough story to not be at the forefront on every single page. In fact, letting the characters breathe and develop was the right call here as you learned about the world through them as they established themselves in the story.
A good first volume will always hit the three biggest aspects: story establishment, world-building, and character development. Centaurs hits all three very well and by the time you finish reading the first volume, you have an excellent grasp of the world, the characters, and where the story is heading.
I really enjoyed seeing Kohibari and Matsukaze grow as well as their personalities. Of course, every first book should end on a cliffhanger and we got exactly that. It makes you want to see what happens next and that’s how a volume of manga should end. If you’re looking for a good fantasy-type story that doesn’t take Truck-kun to get you there, then I would highly recommend picking this up. It was a very enjoyable first volume!
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