February 20, 2009
by: Adam Beck
Static-man is here to stay!
Shun has a unique power to electrically charge metal materials. A mysterious winged angel-like being named Air picks up on his powers and chooses him to become her partner, thus enhancing Shun’s powers. Shun soon finds out that his classmate Sanari, who he has a crush on, also has a winged angel partner of her own, named Blissful. She explains to Shun that these beings are called Nephylym, and they chose suitable humans to be their "Answerers" to help them purify evil elements (Noirs). Together with Sanari and Tsukasa (Shun’s rival in love and an Answerer as well), they battle alongside their Nephylym against Noirs that possess human beings.
Content: (This section may contain spoilers)
Nephylym is not only a bizarre name, but it’s an adventure like no other. But when I say that, I say it with poor intentions because Nephylym has to have the most vague and easily-accepting characters in any series. Sure, the cover of the novel has solid presentation value and is a bit cute, but that is all I’m seeing in this volume.
I think you get the idea where I am going with this.
I almost teared up finishing the first volume of Nephylym. Not in sadness or laughter, but over the sheer horrendousness of the story and events. Think of something being repeated over and over again, and then add in the most cliché and predictable events. Put those in a pot and throw in a lot of vagueness on top, and you have yourself Nephylym.
There are very few moments that have me interested in what characters have to say or do. The main plotline barely has a story behind it. All we know is that black crystals are bad, and apparently these “Answerers” (probably the worst name ever given to a group of heroes/heroines) are good; and that is all we are given in the first volume. Usually, a story is pretty vague during the first volume of a series, but there really isn’t any motivation here for any of the characters to move on. We get a peek into one of the female protagonist’s determination, but again, it barely tells us anything and feels like creator Rei Kusakabe is poking us and saying “look, there is some depth, but I don’t want to get into it at the moment”.
There are basically three characters in the entire novel, plus their Nephylym. Everyone else basically disappears; there is the father and a friend of the main character, but they are the only extras you’ll get to see. This world seems to be a bit empty as the only characters that populate it seems to be either the three main characters or the infected souls of the dead. It’s good to see focus on specific characters rather than an overwhelming amount, but the fact that nothing is really known about each character really is a turnoff and makes you wonder where the focus is.
Imai is the main character and he’s really the only one with any emotion. Apparently he has some sort of special ability that allows him to charge up static electricity, but there are no details why, and everyone outside the focal characters seems to acknowledge this like it’s a regular thing. It is fully established how his power will help him in the future when his little Nephylym creature (Air) appears, but the fact that we’re left guessing why his ability doesn’t bother people makes me downright confused. It is also Imia’s easily accepting personality, as when he meets Air, that annoys me more than anything. It’s not an exciting or realistic meeting between the two. Air appears out of thin air – zing, and Imia follows the three foot tall girl with wings without any question. That is basically how everything is initiated as the following characters are introduced.
Sanari is the heroine of the story, but she barely shows it. She appears at the beginning of the novel, but is quickly established as a bigger character. I really can’t see any true emotions from this girl; she smiles when people are around, and puts on her game face when she is fighting creatures, but that is about it. She seems to be the most dubious character I’ve ever read. Her appearance hinders the overall experience and offers really awkward “comedy” scenes (if you can call them that). She “tests” Imia’s abilities, but that is quickly put to rest as one word triggers this response: “Oh, she told you her name; I don’t have to shoot arrows at you anymore!” So apparently he is now able to use Air’s abilities because she told him her name; what were the attacks for, then? This is just one example of the many poorly-executed decisions in the volume.
Okay, this isn’t the worst manga volume I’ve ever read, so there are some positive points about it. For example, the scenario of Imia’s childhood friend (the only good one in the book, really) is a bit touching as it introduces a deeply tragic event, and provides a bit of detail about Imia’s character. Sadly, even though it is kind of touching, it tries too hard to establish a relationship that you can relate with or care about. This ultimately fails as I couldn’t bring myself to care at all about what happened in his past, most especially when the past is so vague for both Imia and his childhood friend.
We are then introduced to a brand new character, Aoyagi, who I thought was a woman when I first saw him. I really wish he was a woman, considering Aoyagi is the biggest asshole you’ll ever meet. He kind of reminds me of Uryū Ishida from Bleach as his attitude is completely self-centered and he boasts non-stop about his skills, yet he completely underperforms. His addition seems to only trigger the repetitious conflict to get Sanari’s attention. The two obviously like the young girl, but as dubious as the girl is, she doesn’t see it. Aoyagi and Imai would continue to bicker in the midst of battle and fight over the same thing over and over again, and it just gets repulsive. He does offer a rivalry between him and Imai, but his addition really isn’t all that of a positive thing as he continues to repeat his same old antics at an annoying rate.
© 2007 Rei Kusakabe 2008
Shun faces off against a long lost childhood friend.
In the end, Nephylym is well below average, only offering what seems like a nauseating and unexciting adventure. There are a couple moments that had me interested, but because the story is so vague, and the characters are so easy-going to accept what seems like the impossible, I really cannot recommend such a failure. If you’re looking for an interesting and appealing storyline, look elsewhere.
Artwork: The artwork in Nephylym isn’t bad, but it’s far from good. The character models and special effects are the main focus of the manga, and while they both are strong and establish an event well, there are some serious limitations. For example, there are basically only six character models that are used over the course of the novel. Two characters do change their clothes once, but their faces and character traits are pretty generic and plain. Special effects are well done and range from flames to lightning, so there is a bit of variety there. The Environments are where the novel falls flat as the entire world of Nephylym is basically empty. There are a couple decent environments here and there, but they are generally missing from the picture or are plainer than white. The artwork is decent at best, but is far from anything worthy and barely helps tell the non-existent story. What is a positive, though, is that the artwork is far from cluttered or too empty; it is mainly filled with close-ups of characters to help fill the screen.
Translation: One positive thing about Nephylym is that DrMaster has done a great job translating it with no apparent errors. There is just one overlooked sound effect on page 48 where Air gives a little “mu~” at the bottom left of the first screen. There are no errors within the dialogue – whether it is spelling or grammar errors, we are offered what seems like a complete experience. The only thing I can say about the translation that I don't enjoy is that the dialogue itself isn’t all that exciting. There is no depth to what each character has to say, and each character is way too easily adapted to the surrounding events. I would have enjoyed the manga a lot more if DrMaster just junked and rewrote the entire story and made something … I dunno, interesting.
As for extras, there is an omake at the end of the novel and a really brief “buy the next volume” page. There are additional comical strips after each chapter, but these are generally not all that amusing. It usually tries to poke fun at things or at characters, but ends up becoming a bit of a disappointment. What I really do enjoy is the first four pages are fully colored pages.
The Bottom Line: In the end, Nephylym is one of those titles to stay away from. It is a good idea in theory, but the story is horribly executed and contains some of the worst storytelling decisions you will see in a manga title. It’s vague, unexciting, riddled with awkward conclusions and way too easily accepting characters. If you were thinking paying $10 for this, you may as well flush it down the toilet as you can get a lot more excitement than this. Well, at least it makes a good fire. If you want to see a teenager swing his ruler around like it’s a sword, just ignore everything I’ve said here.