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Kieli Volume 1

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Kieli Volume 1 by Yukako Kabei, Shiori Teshirogi, published by Yen Press

Kieli Volume 1

© Yukako Kabei / MEDIA WORKS © Shiori Teshirogi/AKITA SHOTEN

The Bottom Line

Teens who can see ghosts is a pretty standard manga theme, but Kieli puts its own twist on a familiar subject by teaming up a lonely girl, a disillusioned warrior and a radio that broadcasts the voice of a disembodied spirit.

Kieli's story has a lot to say about religion, war, life and death. It gets a bit heavy, but the art is appealing and the storytelling is engaging, which keeps it from being a total downer. Kieli is more violent than most shojo stories, and more bittersweet than your typical shonen series but it'll likely please readers who crave something darker and deeper than the usual teen fare.

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Pros

  • An interesting twist on the "I see dead people" theme, stirred up with deeper philosophical ideas
  • Unusual but likeable characters that have tragic secrets
  • Nice artwork that interweaves suspense and gore with lighter, happier moments
  • Kieli and Harvey's tentative friendship grows in bittersweet but satisfying ways
  • Clear and engaging storytelling that reveals just enough to keep readers intrigued

Cons

  • Its meditations on war, religion and death can be pretty heavy at times
  • Includes some graphic violence and gore that makes it unsuitable for younger readers

Description

  • Original Title: Kieli: Shishatachi wa Koya ni Nemuru (Japan)
  • Author: Yukako Kabei
    Artist: Shiori Teshirogi
  • Publishers: Yen Press (US)
    Akita Shoten (Japan)
  • ISBN: 978-0-7595-2851-2
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $11.99 CANADA / £5.99 UK
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for graphic violence and gore
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: April 2008
    Japan Publication Date: 2006
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Kieli Volume 1

Manga characters that can see ghosts are a dime-a-dozen, but Kieli reminds us that the dead are only lingering because they have unresolved pain in their past. So pity poor Kieli, a 14-year old teen who spends her days surrounded by these sad, needy souls. Seeing spirits isn't as cool as it sounds.

Then she meets Harvey, a cynical veteran of a forgotten war who looks strangely young for his age. His youthful appearance isn't the only thing that's unusual about Harvey – he too can see ghosts. In fact, he carries one around with him: The Corporal, a disembodied spirit who talks through a portable radio. This unlikely trio embark on a journey where they encounter tormented spirits in a world that looks like, but isn't Earth.

Kieli is somewhat hard to define. It originally ran in a shojo magazine, but it's got elements of shonen-style action and violence. Is it a horror story about lonely souls seeking redemption? Is it a sci-fi tale that delves into themes of religion, war, life and death? No matter how you define it, Kieli manages to keeps readers intrigued enough to see what lies ahead for these mismatched travelers.

In some ways, Kieli's mix of bittersweet drama, philosophically complex themes, gory horror and heartwarming kind of happy endings reminded me of Full Metal Alchemist. Like the Elric brothers, Kieli, Harvey and the Corporal are outsiders who struggle to rediscover their faith in humanity and the meaning of life.

Kieli has a lot to say, and at times it can get pretty heavy -- thematically, verbally and visually. As a series that revolves around ghosts who have died grisly deaths and a soldier who has survived a horrific war, Kieli serves up a fair amount of violence and gore. Still, it's a worthwhile read for older teens and adults who crave darker, deeper content in their manga diet.

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