Hello! My name is Alkyone and in this article I’m going to explore two indie comics. Both of these comics are supernatural and they take place in Japan. The first comic is also action and terror and the second comic is also historical and has elements of romance.
So, let’s begin with the first comic, whose title is Honor and Curse.
The story of this comic starts off with a shinobi, who is being persecuted and as he can’t find any way to escape, he chooses to perform harakiri (and for those who don’t know what that is, Harakiri or Seppuku is a form of Japanese ritual suicide, that was used by samurai as the only acceptable alternative when they faced defeat, or dishonor). So, after this image, we are taken nine years ago when a wealthy, if I’m not mistaken, family is being attacked by bandits. The two young sons manage to escape, and among them is the shinobi we saw in the previous pages.
Afterwards, we come to the present… as our protagonist has been awoken by his nightmares and he’s getting ready to go to his training as a shinobi, without having enough time to ponder on what his dreams are trying to show him.
This is the beginning of the first chapter of Honor and Curse, and it is more than enough to give us a taste of what’s going to follow. In addition, when Genshi, our shinobi protagonist, was being chased in the first few pages, he appears to be listening to a voice in his mind telling him that he and the voice are “one” and then urging him to stop resisting and to finally accept his fate!
The story plot is very interesting with an undeniably outstanding execution since both the lineart and the color are incredibly beautiful and there’s a lot of detail, making each scene very atmospheric. I also really like the SFX, and the speech balloons are nicely placed in each panel, guiding the eye from one balloon to the next.
There’s a smooth story flow in the first chapter and we gradually get to know the personality of our protagonist. If I had to say one negative thing about the characters of this comic would be the fact that Akemi (Genshi’s forbidden love) made a really bad impression on me. Although I can’t say that we learned about Akemi’s personality or background story in depth, I must confess that I am overall very cautious when I see female characters in comics like this one, as the time always comes when that character will become our badass protagonist’s vulnerable spot, resulting in him losing a battle, or getting close to defeat. Subjectively speaking though, Akemi hasn’t acted in any repulsive way to make me dislike her… I just have had a bad experience with this type of characters.
Finally, in regards to the updates of this comic, insofar this comic has published six chapters, which you can buy as single issues, or you can buy the first volume (that contains all six of them) and the seventh chapter is expected to come out in 2020!
And, let’s go to the second comic, whose title is Beneath the Clouds.
This comic takes place in the 11th century Japan, and the story begins with a young woman who appears to be very sick, and she’s surrounded by her relatives who are mourning and waiting for the arrival of two exorcists, who are going to take this situation into their hands. By performing a certain ritual, the young woman is healed and the spirit that possessed her calms down and departs from their world. So after completing their job, the two exorcists (who are father and daughter) sit outside for a while to rest, and they appear skeptical over the fact that that spirit was so strong, it could have endangered the daughter’s life – who is actually not as strong or as young as she used to be.
While father and daughter are discussing over the choices the woman has in regards to her life, an exposition takes place that reveals us that the father was exiled from the capital. As our two protagonists decide that they still have some time ahead of them to think about the woman’s future, a guard from the capital suddenly appears and desperately asks for the exiled monk/exorcist’s help, as the emperor’s life is in danger and despite their numerous attempts, no one’s able to bring him back to his senses. Now, what the father decided and what kind of turn things are going to take – is something that you will discover by reading this comic!
I overall really liked the story flow of this comic. Although there were moments when there was no suspense or intense situations going on, the scenes were very interesting and the dialogue always revealed a lot – not just about the historical background of that era, or about the characters’ background story, but also about the different personalities of each character, as well as their unique mindset. I can honestly say that this comic gave me a sense of “movement” even at the panels where there were only landscapes – and I am quite sure that the artstyle played a major role in this.
The artstyle is quite simple, with flat colors and a few highlights. This kind of artstyle helps in increasing the speed of reading it but it also gives the illusion of movement, even when everything appears to be static. Of course, despite its simplicity, the characters’ expressions and emotions are crystal clear throughout all of the comic’s scenes. The characters are also well-developed with noticeably unique personalities and ideology; a fact that makes this story even more interesting!
Finally, in regards to the updates of this comic, the main story of this comic has been completed as of January of 2020. However, the creator is still creating some side stories with the characters of this comic and she updates a new page every Monday and Wednesday.
That’s it with today’s reviews! If you wish to read these two comics or to follow the creators on their social media, you can do so by clicking the links below.
Don’t forget that all the comics I’m exploring, are also uploaded on my website www.exploringcomics.com.
HONOR AND CURSE can be found and bought at MadCaveStudios. You can also follow the writer on Twitter and Instagram, or the artist (penciler) on Twitter and Instagram accordingly. Finally you can follow the colorist on Twitter. Mad Cave Studios can also be found on their YouTube Channel.