Hitting the stores this month, Mitsu Izumi’s The Magus of the Library is a new fantasy adventure manga that shows the magic of the written word is even stronger than you could imagine. In the small village of Amun lives a poor boy named Theo. Theo adores books, but because of his pointed ears and impoverished life, he isn’t allowed to use the village library. As he endures the prejudice and hatred of the village, he dreams of going where such things don’t exist: Aftzaak, City of Books. But one day, Theo chances to meet a Kafna – a librarian who works for the great library of Aftzaak – and his life changes forever…
The first thing than jumps out at you in Magus of the Library is Mitsu Izumi’s vibrant art. This is a creator who has jumped full on into the fantasy genre. With a visual style that clearly takes cues from the One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights and character designs reminiscent of Fullmetal Alchemist, Izumi creates a world that would be just as much at home in a children’s fantasy adventure than it is in a manga. The extra effort she goes into with the non-human elements of the world she created (especially regarding the horses, sea creatures and Theo’s canine like companion Kukuo) is truly impressive and is just one example of the imagination on display. The characters themselves are also highly expressive and engaging with Theo in particular anchoring the story with his enthusiasm towards literature that sucks the reader right in.
Izumi’s storytelling also deserves praise. Whilst it is somewhat surprising that someone would be singled out for having pointy ears in a fantasy world, its execution creates a universal theme that plenty of people reading would have experienced. Theo is a relatable character whose plight is one all too familiar – singled out because of your hobbies and how you look. His treatment at the hands of the other villagers early in the volume is quite harrowing, but his continued devotion to his hobby and optimism that the hero he imagines from his literature will come to save him keep you wanting to follow him. Likewise, his eventual journey into the books he reads along with librarian Kafka makes for a refreshing adventure that offers plenty of possibilities in future volumes.
Mitsu Izumi has created a fun fantasy manga that will not only be enjoyable and relatable for people of all ages, but also one that promotes the value of reading in a refreshing way. This is both a series and a creator worth following.
Magus of the Library is out 11 July from Kodansha Comics (9781632368232, p/b, £10.99)
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