Story and art: Shinobu Ohtaka
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Shounen
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: At age 10, best friends Musashi and Kojiro sat in excited silence as Kojiro’s father span tales of evil demons who preyed on the innocent, and the warriors who defeated them. Practicing swordplay, the two swear an oath to become the strongest in the world. But as they grow up, Kojiro turns cynical, and Musashi comes to realise that he can’t turn back 150 years of demon rule on his own. He’s being called a prodigy with a pickaxe, and he’s almost ready to settle for a life of labor. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that he still has a responsibility to act… and, soon, the injustices of his world will force his hand.
Publication date: 26th January 2021
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Musashi and Kojiro are childhood friends who have grown up with a shared dream to become bushi – warriors who are tasked with ridding the world of evil demons. Bonding over their shared dream, and spending all their free time training to achieve their goals, the pair realise that bushi are not the revered warriors that they’ve always imagined, and are actually outcasts in their world.
Musashi begins to train to become a miner; allegedly the most esteemed occupation in their world. Musashi and Kojiro begin to drift apart as their lives move towards separate points, but events cause the two to converge again and their dreams align once more.
Though the majority of the story is current time, the manga is peppered with flashbacks to Musashi and Kojiro’s childhood, showing their training and their school lives. It’s really cool to see how their different backgrounds had an impact on the two characters, and how they were both influenced differently by the same events.
Orient does seem like a pretty generic shounen manga at this early stage and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to shounen tropes. That said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Orient does drama well, and the battle scenes are really exciting to read and have you rooting for the characters.
There are some really interesting titbits peppered through the manga, none of which I want to spoil in case it ends up being a bigger point than I anticipate at the moment but it definitely adds a layer of intrigue that makes me want to check out future volumes.
For a first volume, Orient does a fantastic job of world creation and getting the reader invested in the plot and the fates of the characters. It does often feel like too fast-paced and that too much is crammed in and one thing is happening after another in rapid succession without much time to process what has just happened. Though this does feel like an issue at times, it does also work for the manga because as at the end of the volume you do feel fully invested as a reader.
NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.