Kieli, vol. 1

Kieli has always been able to see ghosts. This ability has made her less trusting of the hypocritical teachings of the church, the main power in her world. When she stumbles upon a young man named Harvey and learns that he is an Undying, an immortal soldier created to fight in a terrible war and then banned from existence and hunted down by priests, they find themselves on a journey together to discover their places in a dangerous world.

Part science-fiction, part horror, part shojo cute girl story, Kieli is an interesting mix of genres. What makes this mish-mash work is the appeal of the main characters. Kieli is both worldly and innocent. Her supernatural abilities leave her doubtful of the mainstream teachings of the church, but her sheltered existence as an orphan in a girls’ boarding school makes her innocent of the wider world around her. This dual personality plays nicely off of Harvey’s jaded outlook, the weather beaten attitude of a man who knows he was meant as cannon fodder.

Teshirogi’s art fits well with the story. The female characters, especially the girls, are cute and sweet looking, but also seem the age they are—middle school. Harvey’s young looks might seem to be a jarring contrast to his old man personality, but actually the contrast makes sense considering that his body doesn’t age, but his mind has seen over eighty years of life. Teshirogi inserts blood where needed, giving just the right amount of horror and action to the tale, but it’s not needlessly graphic. Yen Press has come to a nice compromise in how they have handled the sound effects. The Japanese effect is left alone. Next to it is the Romanized sound effect and then in parentheses is the meaning of the effect (for example: paa {beam}). It’s a nice touch that both retains the Japanese elements and helps explain things to American readers.

This adaptation of Kabei’s novel series is strong, even though Kieli and Harvey’s story doesn’t really take off much in this first volume, whose purpose is more setting the stage and introducing the main characters. That doesn’t make volume one less interesting, though, and readers will be left wanting more of their story and wondering where their travels will take them next.

Kieli, vol. 1
Story by Yukako Kabei; Manga by Shiori Teshirogi
ISBN: 978-0-7595-2851-2
Yen Press, 2008