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Mayumi Azuma most certainly welds an illustrious pen when it comes to artwork, but she can also put together an action-packed story. In volume one of Erementar Gerade (also known as Elemental Gelade in English) readers are introduced to a sky pirate, named Cou.
At first readers see him peeking curiously into a human-sized box and then this over zealous boy makes a smashing entrance as he catapults his way into a mansion. Only a few pages in and already Cou has proved himself to be worthy of reader’s attention. The rest of the characters met along the way also become delightful entertainment.
This first volume is an excellent beginning to a series. Character personalities are just beginning to develop alongside the action of a protection team known as Arc Aile and the mystery behind the both childish and beautiful edel raid, Ren. Cou is the only main individual in the manga so far that seems to be set in his ways and not have an underlying purpose for helping Ren. The leader of Arc Aile, Cisqua, Ren, and some of the minor characters along the way all on the surface appear to want to help the edel raid, but have a more selfish reason for doing so.
There are also key themes throughout the manga that suggest Azuma may be trying to get a larger point across. Nearly all the characters, except for Cou, refer to the edel raids as human weapons and view their purpose as a commodity to sell or a means to empower themselves. Ren herself even wonders at her purpose, but Cou refuses to see the edel raids as anything other than human.
The idea of having weapons that are in human form with human characteristics, such as innocence, determination, and rage is captivating. These “weapons” are not robots that drone on and on and obey their masters every whim. They have minds of their own and require just as much up keep as a friend does.
That is why when a relationship is created with an edel raid and they are lost or hurt it effects the master just as finding our a friend has been injured or been kidnapped. Ren, in particular, is accomplished in the art of deception, but soon learns that she needs to keep the emotions of those she cares for out of these schemes.
The artwork of Erementar Gerade deserves four stars and I give the story itself a three because it still needs a bit more development, but the next volumes may fix this. Overall this is a fascinating first volume and well worth the read to find our the secrets of the edel raids.
OVERALL GRADE: 3.5 out of 5