Monks are generally known for living quiet peaceful lives offering prayers for people in need, but this is not the idea behind Heretic Monk. Instead the Heretic Monk likes taking a much more hands on approach for helping those in need. Collecting the first 5 chapters of into the first volume, what does this monk have to offer those checking out this manga?
In the very first chapter the idea behind Heretic Monk isn’t pointed out immediately, the reader is introduced to a girl seemingly in distress offering up a coin to the monk asking him to help her mother. Unfortunately, the girl is carted away by her mother’s sinister looking boyfriend, and the story goes into more information about what is going on in the household. While a little outlandish, one of the strong suits of the manga is that it does go into plenty of detail to not only to give a good idea of who the characters are, but insuring that readers are feeling exactly how the author wants about each character.
After painting the boyfriend into being a truly terrible person, the manga switches gears to delivering the moral message. The Heretic Monk shows up and details the past life of the bad guy, explaining how they died and going through carrying out the death again because that the soul has not changed its ways. While this is going on additional information is explained about specific turns of phrase in Japanese and where they derived from, generally related in some way to the past life. This is of course what makes the monk a heretic, actively killing these people to make them pay for their crimes.
This is just the first story however, the four others generally follow the same pattern, but does offer some variety throughout. Some past lives aren’t people from Japan, which provides a somewhat different insight so that those not as familiar with certain turns of phrase aren’t missing out all of the time. Likewise, the setup isn’t the same every single time either, there is some change ups in the formula even in these first 5 chapters, which is good to see else it would quickly become stale with only the short history lesson being one of the few highlights.
For the most part the art style is very dark and shaded, with a lot of use of shadow and dark lines from the auras that different characters appear with, to the very detailed backgrounds that the characters are set in. Though the more detailed backgrounds aren’t utilized a tremendous amount, as panels focused on characters speaking or interacting tend to be much lighter with as little detail behind them as possible. In some ways this is an interesting contrast, but no matter what the darker detailed backgrounds are always a treat to see.
The characters in Heretic Monk have a much more manga-style look to them, with the bad guys looking over the top villainous much more angular or grotesque, while the monk himself has the fairly standard stoic look. The women in the chapters are for the most part shown as being attractive, except in instances where they are meant not to be, but with an adult male audience in mind this is somewhat par for the course.
This edition of Heretic Monk doesn’t have much to offer outside of the first 5 chapters and a nice explanation of how to read a manga right to left. There isn’t more from the author or more information of the characters from the short little history lesson that show up during each story, but there is at least plenty of different versions of the manga for whatever readers use to read their manga.
Heretic Monk is an interesting story to story series akin to the style of Hell Girl with someone seeking justice or needing punishment. While there isn’t much for action the series doesn’t shy away from sexuality or violence, whether being inflicted to the evil reincarnates or by them. It does provide a nice perspective of Japanese culture, especially where certain phrases or sayings come from, as well as a few English ones. Those that aren’t put off by the sex and violence, who enjoy a one-shot chapter style should find something interesting and even somewhat educational.
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