I can’t help but think that I wrote something like this before, but I’ll go a little further in that this will be a full review/analysis rather than a paragraph in some ramble that I tend to write.
The Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
is magical realist comic by Satoshi Mizukami and is my favorite manga series of all time, and did for me what life changing moments usually do for people, namely, change my life.
Now I usually know when I fall in love with something and that is, I won’t stop talking about it. Personally, I feel it unhealthy to keep making small asides and oft hand comments about why you should read this comic.
I’m writing this so that I can accomplish two things. First, get more people to read this comic. Second, so that I can clearly define what it is about the series that I love and hopefully relinquish my need to continue mentioning the series and write some sort of cathartic release whilst avoiding the simple sentence “because it’s awesome.”
The premise is simple enough as well as a throwback to the old superhero team shows I watched as a child. Even the character titles are in power ranger generalities. There is the ‘Dark Mage’ who uses his golems and his doomsday machine ‘The Biscuit Hammer’ to try and destroy the world and there is the ‘Princess’ and her ‘Beast Knights’ who fight the mage to protect the world. Oh and after they defeat the mage, the Princess wants to destroy the world herself. That’s not even a spoiler so I have no problem writing that into the review.
Now if it was a clever love letter to old generic 90’s era super team shows then I’d still find it enjoyable, but for the better, the author uses his love of this specific genre to write a story about justice in a modern world, childhood innocence, and what it means to earn power.
A key story element is the relationship between adults and children. This is a coming of age story but rather than the beginning of adulthood as most of those stories center around, this takes place when a person matures into an adult.
The difference between starting on the path of adulthood and becoming an adult is an important distinction. The realization of what an adult is and the beginning of that journey is to let go of some childhood ideals and expand the horizon of the world and essentially come to the realization of how large the planet is. The story instead focuses on the act of becoming an adult, that is the characters are no longer children, but have no notion of what it means to be an adult. Similar to when a person was in high school and the seniors seemed so mature, and then one became a senior and for some reason doesn’t feel like anything has changed. The characters are in this sort of phase where they are old now, except nothing feels any different. What one does at this point and how they will live their lives is how this comic takes the idea of maturation and approaches it from a different angle.
Justice is the other major idea explored throughout the comic. Why should one fight is the question asked and answered. Because of Justice.
The series isn’t about morality. It doesn’t say because it is “right” rather than “wrong” but because it is for justice. And justice is subjective.
The Justice League, the Justice Team, the Blah of Justice. The word is thrown around so much that it becomes synonymous with the “right”, but the author rips tears away the word Justice from Moral to examine its nature more closely and to avoid spoilers here I will just say that Justice ends up being Justice….That sounded much deeper in my head.
I think what I liked most about the series was its straight forward presentation. The story is clearly about Good vs. Evil, Strength vs. Weakness. It deals with loss and death in a way that holds real weight and it touches on humor with equal parts 4th wall breaking and slapstick. The drama is heartfelt and the comedy is gold. I may or may not have been close to shedding tears. The ending is one of the best I have ever read and everything could be potentially finished in 1-2 days. The action set pieces are cool and intense and its characters are all lovable and human. It pulls off everything it tries to be with ease because the the story is simple in its premise and deft in its execution.
(Yes...that's Parrot Man. Villain)
I don’t write reviews for either a living or as a hobby so please forgive me when I throw in thoughts such as this: This manga is pure, fantasy story telling and an amazing one at that.
The series can be read here
(I've imported the series from Korea just to own solid copies. Knowing other languages really does help!)
(Unless they begin merging accounts, this will not go on Japanator)
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