This manga is an adaptation of a children’s series by Emily Rodda and is told in a classic children’s story format. The Kingdom is in darkness, there’s only one hope (our hero), and he comes, he sees, and he conquers. In more detail, the kingdom of Del has been overtaken by an evil force. Lief, the protagonist, is tasked with the quest to collect gems for the Belt of Deltora. These gems are hidden in the most dangerous places in the land. However, Lief has no combat training whatsoever and isn’t the smartest guy either. To make up for that, his travel companion, Barda, is able to train him. The first volume serves as a preface to all this conflict, pinpointing how it all started.
This isn’t a direct adaptation, it was a book first, then an anime, then this manga. Unfortunately, it didn’t translate very well on the journey. In this manga, I found the pacing very uneven and, even worse, it just wasn’t subtle at all. This includes the pacing of the actual story and the character development. The first volume was especially too fast paced, as it was trying to show the main conflict’s backstory all by itself. The main character’s learning curve was very uneven, meaning that he could barely pick up a sword, let alone fight with it, and then in the next volume he was suddenly able to use it to attack a powerful sorceress. Unless he had a bunch of training sessions we didn’t know about, this is a highly unrealistic feat, even for a fantasy story.
There are typical shounen themes here, such as courage and friendship. However, I found the way the writer introduced these themes to be too forward and obvious. When I say obvious, I’m talking about when the character announces the importance of never giving up or when he emphasizes that his friends are the best things for the third time in a volume. There’s no tact nor subtlety to it, making it just more speech bubbles being filled, more pages being used, and, ultimately, extremely predictable outcomes to situations.
Finally, the last problem I have with the writing is the lack of settled minds. Characters who are not Lief tend to change their minds pretty quickly and easily, so either they’re all extremely fickle, or the writer just wasn’t able to smoothly write in a transition. Secondary characters give up much faster than others, and there’s one main character (Barda) who is a repeat offender of this ‘give up and change my mind immediately’ sequence. This makes for uninteresting arguments and situations you know the outcome to and characters who all have one trait in common. Younger children will certainly not mind most of these things, but older children and definitely teens will.
The art style is more western than manga. There’s generally not as much detail here than in other shounen manga, such as BLEACH and Naruto. A big problem is posing, as you may see some characters attempting some crazy double- or triple-jointed stances and other things that just don’t look normal for a human body to be doing. The manga is presumably set in medieval times, and the character designs reflect this. There is one character who outshines the others, but except for Jasmine, the designs are unmemorable and drab.
Age and Warning-
Younger children may enjoy this title, as they won’t be bothered as much by how unsubtle and forward it tends to be. It’s a classic formula that will be familiar to them, with characters that will appeal to them as well. People who think they’re too old for the formula may want to back away and pick something else up. There’s lots of action like sword fighting and magical attacks, but generally no one’s injured too much. There’s one instance of a witch character who’s supposed to be alluring and mystical until she turns into a prune-like hag.
Delotra Quest, vol. 1-6
by Emily Rodda
Art by Makoto Niwano
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9781935429289
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9781935429296
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9781935429302
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9781935429319
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9781612620114
Vol. 6 ISBN: 9781612620121
Kodansha Comics, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: T (13+)