betrayalThe Betrayal Knows My Name pairs emotional drama with an escalating battle against evil forces, featuring a number of characters with angst-ridden backgrounds. There are 52 chapters of this serialized manga available in six volumes, the last of which includes only four chapters.

High school student Yuki has been raised in an orphanage. When his strange abilities begin to grow out of control, he is taken in by Clan Giou, which is filled with powerful Zweilts, people with special abilities like him. Yuki can sense emotions, while other Zweilts use fighting skills, calling fire, magical voices, and the power of prophecy to battle demons called Duras. As Yuki is drawn deeper into the life of his new family, he discovers that he has a special power: he is the bearer of God’s Light, which allows him to heal Zweilts and give them energy. Though all Zweilts form powerful bonds and work as pairs, often reincarnating to find the same partner again, their strongest bond lies in protecting and caring for Yuki. He has no bonded partner, but instead a guardian: the Duras Luka, who betrayed his own kind to join the humans and watch over Yuki.

As the title inplies, this manga focuses on emotional bonds and betrayal. Yuki is constantly worried that he isn’t contributing to his new family, even though he takes on their emotional and physical pain and protects them, not only with his powers, but with his physical skills as a martial artist. He desperately wishes for familial bonds, but throughout the series he is confronted by revelations about the secrets his “family” is keeping from him. The war in which they are embroiled was based on a great betrayal and there are hints throughout the first six volumes of past treasons—and some yet to come. The emotional growth and backstory of the characters is centered on their tragic pasts and their struggle to ensure the safety of their partners in their current lives. The endless emotional drama is interspersed with violent battles with the Duras and the investigation of Duras-related crimes in the human world.

The artwork is fairly typical for a shojo manga, featuring male characters striking frequent poses, lots of flowing, dramatic hair, and personalities indicated by body type, from the tall and brooding Luka to the cute and naive Yuki. Some of the characters have individual characteristics that differentiate them from one another—such as earrings, scars, or tattoos—but it can be difficult to tell similar Zweilts apart, except by their behavior. This probably isn’t a good choice for a reader who has just started out in manga, as many of the panels are complicated by multiple lines of dialogue and sound effects.

The Betrayal Knows My Name will appeal to readers who are looking for emotional drama with an action plot full of world-ending dangers. Personally, I felt that the constant drama was a little repetitive: partners declaring undying loyalty and love, castigating themselves for putting their partners in danger, and then begging their partners not to leave them and saying they can’t live without them. However, a lot of manga readers enjoy this type of emotional whirlwind.

This series is rated for older teens and includes mild language like “fricking” and “damn.” There is also some violence involved in the demon attacks, mostly indicated by bloodstains on clothing and wounds that are quickly healed by Yuki. More likely to be troublesome, especially in school collections, are occasional dirty jokes, the uncomfortably close relationship of two sibling Zweilts, and a constant stream of innuendo between various partners, almost all of whom are male. There is no sexual contact depicted, but there is plenty of romantic glowering and declarations of non-sexual devotion.

The most problematic aspect of this manga is its ending on a major cliff-hanger without any indication that any future volumes will be released in the US; the last slim volume was released in 2013. I could find no information on plans for future releases, although the first six volumes remain in print. If it were still being published, I’d recommend it to manga fans who like an equal measure of angsty romance and magical action. With only a few volumes available, however, readers are likely to be frustrated when they are unable to finish the story.

The Betrayal Knows My Name, vols. 1-6
by Hotaru Odagiri
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9780316119412
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9780316119429
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9780316119436
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9780316216159
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9780316232685
Vol. 6 ISBN: 9780316243117
Yen Press, 2011-2013
Publisher Age Rating: OT

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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