Monday, August 17, 2020

REVIEW: Gestalt (manga, vol. 2) by Yun Kouga, translated by Christine Schilling

Gestalt is a fantasy manga. It's licensed by VIZ Media. I got my copy of this used.


Warning: this review includes spoilers for volume 1.

Although Takara wants to beat Ouri, she doesn't want it badly enough to risk the death of her beloved Raimei. Ouri arrives and manages to save the day, although Dark Olivier's appearance is neither explained nor 100% dealt with. Then it's time to figure out the next step in the party's journey to the island of G. It turns out that there's a boat that leaves from Diohaan to G, but landmark gold pieces are the only things accepted as payment for that trip, and Ouri unwittingly sold the group's only landmark gold piece. Luckily, there's a way to get another one: a tournament that's only held once every five years, and that conveniently happens to be starting soon. The winner gets a landmark gold piece. Unfortunately, one of Ouri's siblings is also in the area and trying to get a landmark gold piece.

Gestalt still hasn't finished filling readers in on its characters' backstories - this volume gave us Shazan's backstory and ended with a little of Suzu's, so I figure one more volume and then the story will really get going. 

Still, I've gotten used to the series' old school feel, and the overall energy and mix of action and humor aren't bad. And even though I prefer Kouga's more recent style, I've adjusted to the artwork - the flashback to Suzu and her siblings as kids was lovely. The world is very generic, though, and I'm still not sure where Kouga plans to go with all of this. Part of me says "two more volumes and then I'll know how I feel for sure." But two more volumes puts me at halfway through the series - it turns out that Gestalt is only 8 volumes long. Why not just read the whole thing, then?

Under normal circumstances, I'd probably finish this series up with ILL requests or in one great big chunk via my parents' local library while visiting them. But due to the pandemic I won't be visiting them this Fall, and I'm also not sure whether the book lending portion of my library ILL service is currently working. That leaves buying the rest of the volumes (expensive considering I don't think this series is going to be a keeper, plus I'd still have to deal with postal service issues) or just setting aside my two volumes and giving the series another go sometime in the future.

So I'm probably just going to wait. While I'm curious enough about this series to at least want to know what direction it's going to take once all the character backstories have been established, at the moment this is a pretty solid 3-star series that probably isn't going to end up on my keeper shelves.

Of course, that 3-star feel could fall apart pretty quickly. I'm already having issues with some things, like the way everyone just accepted the fact that Father Olivier had a scary powerful Dark Olivier inside him. Literally no one in the party talked about it or had questions or anything. And when did Ouri tell everyone his (her?) secret? Takara called Ouri her brother and Ouri quickly corrected her, but I don't recall any scenes where Ouri explained the situation to the whole party. Even so, later in the volume Ouri casually objected to Suzu's insistence that he go to the women's side of the hot springs rather than the men's: "I may have a female body, but I've got the soul of a man. Do you really wanna go bathing with me?" (129) Suzu was flustered but not particularly surprised by this news.


A character list, a quick "the story so far" box, five pages of character sketches, an author afterword with new sketches of Ouri and Father Olivier, and three short bonus manga throughout the volume. The first bonus manga is a flashback to the start of the contest between Ouri and his siblings, and all the limitations that were put on Ouri (although I'm a bit annoyed that "being turned into a woman" is presented as a limitation). The second bonus manga is New Year's themed, while the third bonus manga is about February, love, and Valentine's Day.

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