When I first started reading Reign of the Seven Spellblades, a manga adaptation of the light novel series by Bokuto Uno, I had this nagging feeling that I knew this art style from somewhere. Then I realized that the artist of this manga is Sakae Esuno, the creator of Future Diary! Man, it’s been a good long while since I’ve read any of their work; it’s nice to see something new by them!
At Kimberly Magic Academy’s opening ceremonies for the start of the new term, there is a terrible accident! A troll suddenly goes berserk and a first-year girl mysteriously looses control of her legs at the worst possible moment, causing her to wind up directly in the path of the rampaging creature. Oliver Horn and four other first-year students jump in to help and manage to save the day by working together.
This experience helps to forge a bond between these six students, and Oliver unexpectedly finds himself with a bunch of potentially troublesome friends. Studying magic, even at the prestigious Kimberly Academy, is a dangerous journey, and not everyone who starts down this path is prepared for what it entails. Oliver has come to this academy with a mission and can’t afford to get distracted, but with this motely crew of good-natured comrades who he feels obligated to look out for hanging around, his life is guaranteed to get much more complicated.
With the main characters all attending a special boarding school to learn magic, the comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable. The way that Reign of the Seven Spellblades sets itself apart is by having the students learn a combination of spell and sword techniques in class. Battle training is also a heavily emphasized part of the curriculum, and part of the reason why their schooling is so dangerous. I can tell that this series is going to be an action-packed adventure, given all of the combat and trouble our heroes have managed to get caught up in so far! The story has also included some exploration of the darker parts of this magical society – like the mistreatment of many of the demi-human species, such as trolls.
Our cast of young sorcerers-in-training consists of six students who’s characteristics fall neatly into established archetypes. Oliver is our cool-headed hero who can’t help but step in when he sees someone else in trouble, despite his better judgment. He seems to be keeping a secret and it’s unclear what his motivations for attending the academy are, but he’s definitely there on a mission. Next there’s Nanao, a warrior from a far-off land who’s been recruited to the Academy due to her immense potential. She’s a fish-out-of-water in this strange new kingdom, but she’s also brave, straightforward and kind. Of the main group of friends she has the most battle experience and her sword techniques are deadly. Rounding out the rest of the cast, we have Pete, the quiet intellectual, Michela, the spoiled rich girl who’s responsible but arrogant, Guy, the down-to-earth farm-boy and Katie, the gentle and sweet girl who loves animals. These are all pretty common character types, but their familiarity allowed me to feel like I knew this group of kids right away and I was immediately invested in their struggles at the school.
Having gone through a harrowing experience together on their very first day at the academy, the main characters bond quickly and all trust each other right away, leading to a group dynamic that I found quite compelling. It’s cute to see Nanao and Katie acting like gal pals and Michela trying to look out for everyone. They all seem to especially trust Oliver, who came up with the plan that defeated the troll and has proven himself to be quite reliable. This makes it all the more interesting that Oliver is holding something back from the group. I’m curious to see what Oliver is up to, and I’m greatly anticipating the reveal of whatever it is to the rest of the cast. Will it ruin their friendship or make it stronger?
In addition to the mystery surrounding Oliver and his motives for attending the Academy, another intriguing puzzle presented in this volume is the issue of the spellblades. The legendary spellblades are secret techniques that apparently allow you to defeat any opponent within a certain range. There are supposed to be six spellblades and, since we have six main characters, I’m assuming that each of our core cast members will end up acquiring a spellblade at some point. This raises the question, since the title of the manga refers to seven and not six spellblades, who will have the seventh technique? I suppose it’s possible that one of the characters will acquire more than one spellblade, but I think it’s more intriguing if there is an additional, seventh character waiting in the wings. Perhaps a foe that our heroes will need to defeat? I’m looking forward to finding out!
While I enjoyed what I’ve read of the story of Reign of the Seven Spellblades so far, I do have one worry. Throughout the course for this volume, kind-hearted Katie is horrified by the way that their society treats magical animals and demi-human species as disposable commodities. The troll that went wild during the opening ceremony was viewed as nothing more than a work animal by the majority of the school’s staff and students. What’s more, adorable animals are callously used like props in spell training and killed without a second thought when a failed spell causes them to transform into something dangerous. There are a lot of things about this world that are cruel, and I could see all of this baked-in injustice facilitating a very exciting story, if our leads wind up trying to change their world for the better. I’m a little worried that the narrative could head in a more cynical direction, however. I’d hate to see Katie’s optimism and sweet nature ground down by all this casual cruelty, but it’s much too early to tell which way the manga will go. I’m currently hopeful that this won’t wind up being the case, and that the rest of the manga will continue to be as entertaining as this first volume was.
I found the ensemble cast of Reign of the Seven Spellblades to be appealing and the story to be exciting and full of drama and intrigue. Oliver is an enigmatic hero whose secrets I’m looking forward to discovering, and the rest of the bright-eyed teens who make up the main group of friends are fun and endearing. I hope these kids can stick together and manage to make it through their dangerous school-life together!
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.
For more information on this manga, visit Yen Press’ website.
What did you think of this manga? Are there any fans of the light novels out there who want to weigh in on how this manga works as an adaptation? Let me know in the comments!
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Man, if life is that busy and full of fighting for them just in the academy, sounds like they’re going to be worked to the bone once they actually graduate!
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Right?! If my school was this stressful, I’d have dropped out day one and got a job at McDonalds or something.
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