Review Vol.1 Desert 9 – Manga

Pika Edition youth label, nobi nobi! likes, from time to time, to publish short adventure shones, which generally turn out to be good choices. We especially remember, in 2019, the excellent Astra – Lost in Space by Kenta Shinohara, or even in February 2021, the one-shot Sahara le Samouraï aux fleurs, which was impeccably camped from one end to the other. It’s a bit in line with this last title that Desert 9 is going to record, a series completed in 4 volumes, which the publisher launched in France already at the beginning of the year.

From its original name Dai-9 Sabaku, this work was pre-released in Japan in 2020-2021 in the monthly magazine Jump SQ from Shûeisha editions, a magazine that has seen or still sees the Blue Exorcist, Moriarty and Letter Bee series. This is the first (and so far only) professional work of a mangaka named Kei Deguchi.

Desert 9 throws us into a distant future (or on another planet, the debate is open), in the 31st century. For a millennium, the world has undergone a violent desertification, condemning humans to live in the 8 existing deserts. The only way for them to gather water is to fight the hydra, creatures that are literally living water, a kind of mind-boggling relic from antiquity that freezes when they die and was born a thousand years ago, to the desert of the world. The only solution to survive is to coexist with these relics, but the hydra turns out to be powerful monsters that do not hesitate to attack humans! So only water hunters are allowed to go where the Hydras are to hunt them, as these monsters are too formidable for ordinary mortals.

The young Mao is one of these hunters, and carries out his mission with talent around his city Vitruvuius, called the city with the giant tree, in the heart of the first desert. Several years ago, he learned to manage almost alone, since his father, an adventurer who was a free spirit and sometimes considered a fanatic, never returned from one of his crazy explorations. The legends of Hydra, who populate the eight deserts of the world, are actually numerous, and among them are those that speak of a mythical 9th ​​desert that no one has ever reached, or from which no one has ever returned. And as you can imagine, it is this famous legendary desert that our hero’s father wanted to reach …

Things could have stopped there, and Mao could have simply continued his work and continued to hope that his father would return one day. But during a hunt, the young boy finds a strange relic with extraordinary powers and brings him on the trail of his father, of the mythical desert No. 9 and Diamante, the king of the Hydra, who would be there. Adventurous, Mao then decides to travel the world to follow in his father’s footsteps …

A distant world full of dangers, a brave young boy thirsting to find his father, an original world to discover and explore, various dangers to face: There is no doubt, Desert 9 has almost all the classic criteria, a small fairy tale that has something to entertain and excite and there is no shortage of it! Kei Deguchi sets things in motion effectively, though he sometimes goes fast in the adventures to make sure not to lose anything in the rhythm. And the result is overall: There is no time to get bored, because things are connected correctly and see the author continue to enrich his story little by little. We would therefore appreciate (although it is sometimes too short) to discover other countries at the same time as Mao (like Littrow, the city of incense), to see him rub his shoulders with different types of tests (necessarily certain hydras, but also obstacles such as the cloud barrier), to let him give us some explanations of the hydra (how they work, how to defeat them as they consist of water …), to follow him while practicing the knowledge that his father instilled him before his disappearance (for example, orientation at night thanks to the stars) … without forgetting the rapid arrival, by his side, of a first and indispensable companion of adventure in the person of Canaria, a young girl who is both funny and sparkling in certain aspects and mysterious in others (especially her power).

Visually, as the author’s design does not show a lot of personality, it is quite attractive. the main border comes from the small battles that are not always very clear, but on the other hand there will be something to appreciate some rather complicated sets and designs of creatures, as well as the rather round, expressive and catchy designs of the main character.

In short, this first volume sometimes scrolls a little too fast, but there is enough to be caught by a small adventure without much pretension (we find there the main features of the adventure shone), equipped with a universe that is pure (but as we will like to be able to enjoy a little longer sometimes), protagonists very lively and a well-defined quest.

And to accompany it all, nobi nobi! offers a completely satisfactory edition with a paper that combines flexibility thickness, good print quality, the first six pages in color on glossy paper, a clear translation by Anne-Sophie Thévenon, who has no difficulty in bringing out the liveliness of the story, a nice graphic adaptation by Studio Charon, and a cover that stays close to the Japanese original. Finally, do not forget to take your jacket off, to see on the front page some extra elements regarding the series universe!

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