The Soul Senders are a special breed. Part wizard and part healer, they are charged with a sacred duty. Most of the time, when a creature dies, their spirit moves on to continue the cycle of life. However, sometimes the spirit becomes stuck in its former body. This leads to a curse, which blights nearby vegetation, disturbs the local wildlife, and eventually corrupts those unfortunates who live nearby. The Soul Senders have the power to send these spirits away and cleanse the corruption, though it takes a heavy toll upon them.
Alpi is a novice Soul Sender, embarking on her first journey apart from her parents. Since they are both powerful Soul Senders themselves, the expectations for Alpi are high. Thankfully, though she is apart from her family, she is not alone in her quest. Accompanied by her familiar Perenai, who takes the form of a devout butler, Alpi is determined to prove herself a powerful Soul Sender, despite her age and inexperience.
The first volume of Alpi – The Soul Sender is a wonderful introduction to the world of the title heroine. Many Magical Girl Manga tend to be overly heavy in exposition and grind their stories to a halt whenever the heroine must learn something new about her powers. Alpi is quite different. Apart from the opening text establishing the setting, there is very little in the way of information dumping. Instead, the details of how Alpi’s powers work come about naturally in the story.
For instance, the second chapter centers around Alpi’s efforts to cleanse a curse from a local lake. The curse is caused by a great fish, whose unclean death began to taint the water. Unfortunately, because Alpi’s rituals require her to draw a circle on the ground around the cursed corpse, there is no clear way for her to perform the cleansing spell. This leads to an exciting rush to action, as Alpi enlists the local fisherman to help her build a dock around the curse, though the wood begins to decay almost immediately thanks to the blight. This also showcases Alpi’s cleverness and determination.
While Alpi -The Soul Sender does little to defy genre conventions, it is a fine manga in the same spirit as Cardcaptor Sakura. The artwork by Roma is crisp and clear, with expressive faces and exciting action. This would be a fine starter manga for any parent hoping to get their children interested in comics. It is particularly well suited for those bold girls who are ready to move beyond fairy tales but not quite ready for Pippi Longstocking or Anne of Green Gables.
Titan Manga has rated this volume as being appropriate for all ages. I agree with that assessment, for the most part. There is no overt violence and no sexual content. There is a bit of spooky stuff, with the dark spirits and Alpi’s fearful reactions whenever she is cleansing herself of the curses. The comic is also based around the idea of a holy magic-user, which may be a sticking point for some families. Alpi is an entirely heroic figure, however, and there is nothing in the book that references any specific religion apart from one off-hand mention of a singular god on the first page.
Alpi – The Soul Sender, Vol. 1
By Rona Morrison
Publisher Age Rating: all ages
NFNT Age Recommendation: Easy Readers (5-9), Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Japanese