Daemons of the Shadow Realm 01 – April Graphic Novel of The Month.

From the creator of the bestselling manga classic Fullmetal Alchemist comes a dark new fantasy series –  Daemons of the Shadow Realm. In a remote mountain village under the watchful eyes of two stone guardians, the young Yuru contentedly lives off the land while staying close to the only family he has left – Asa, his precious twin sister. Asa, meanwhile, carries out a mysterious “duty” on behalf of the village while locked in a cage. Why is Asa a prisoner? And what other secrets does Yuru’s otherwise idyllic home hide?

Hiromu Arakawa is somewhat of a legend in the manga industry. Her hit series Fullmetal Alchemist has been a gateway series for new manga and anime fans for many years now, not to mention having a ton of tie-in media and merchandise to go along with it. She followed up that series with two more hits in the farming life comedy Silver Spoon and a manga adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan light novel series. Daemons of the Shadow Realm sees her revisit the fantasy genre at full force.

Arakawa is well versed at world building having created vast alternate worlds packed with different lands and politics. She puts those skill to good use in this opening volume with a village steeped in tradition and intrigue. We get a small introduction to some of these traditions such as Yuru and Asa being fated to control daemons upon their birth as a result of their being born as twins.

Similarly, sibling-based storylines is something Arakawa is well known for with brotherhood being the driving force behind Fullmetal Alchemist. The brother/sister bond between Yuru and Asa is also a key driver in this series. Yuru stands by Asa whilst she is imprisoned as part of her role appointed by the village and promises to not abandon her like their parents apparently did. But Yuru’s duties are made more demanding by the whims of nature and his promise is looking to be a hard one to keep.

The art is dependably fantastic. Arakawa has a very distinctive art style that is easily recognisable, and you can tell she is excited about sinking her teeth into a fantasy series once again. Her character and monster designs remain highly creative and have a suitably epic feel. Not to mention her tremendous ability to flit between deadly serious to zany comedy with ease.

Daemons of the Shadow Realm is looking to be another fantastic fantasy manga if this opening volume is anything to go by. Hiromu Arakawa has another winner to add to her strong body of work.

Daemons of the Shadow Realm 01 is out 27 April from Square Enix Manga (9781646091867, p/b, £12.99)

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