There are people who see anime and manga and think to themselves, “This is cool! I want to make it too!” Pen is put to paper and Dojinshi, or self-published work, is the result. American anime fans take many cues from Japanese culture; including selling their dojinshis at various conventions. A long time ago at MangaNEXT I brought one of those dojinshis called SACRED.
SACRED follows the story of Cecero, who must contend with mysteries, assassination attempts, demons, and hordes of fangirls! He is joined by his best friend Sheko, who counts porn addiction among the minor issues of his life. They live in a world of flying brooms, potions, and magical schools. I’m sure you all heard similar stories before.
SACRED does a good job of easing you into the story’s world. The first chapter is just a normal first day of school where the characters deal with everyday life. There’s slapstick violence with just the right amount of exposition to inform without boring you. It’s practically slice of life with MAGIC! There’s also a short pronunciation guide at the beginning so you’ll know how to read the protagonist’s name. As a person who always mispronounces things wrong, it’s appreciated.
It’s sort of like Avatar: The Last Airbender in that the characters can easily control a single element like water or wind. It’s also like Avatar in that it’s a Western creation that takes a lot of inspiration from Japanese culture. The art style, writing and even the chibi use would indicated that it was made in Japan. It even reads from right to left!
If you’re observant enough, you’ll see that there are a few differences that set it apart. For one thing, the story implies that Christianity exists in some form in it. Don’t worry if that upsets you; it’s only implying. The treatment of demons in the story’s world is refreshing in an oddly old school way. They’re not mopey pointy eared girls who’ll cook a mountain of omelets for you. They’re soul stealing, body possessing abominations of horror! Demons are as scary as Honey Haninozuka when you wake him up too early.
I’m not sure what to say about the art. I don’t know whether I should nitpick it to death over minor details, praise it for generally being familiar and faithful to manga style in general, or point out that Sacared most likely has the most doilies ever put into a pictured book. I’m no art critic so I really have no idea how to go around evaluating how good or bad someone’s drawings are. Good thing the first two chapters are posted online as free samples. You can all read it and judge for yourselves here. I will say that the penis could stand to be drawn better. Wait, WHUT?
Truth be told, that threw me for a complete loop. I was like shocked for a few minutes because of it. Commercial Japanese works always cover up male genitalia through props or such. You get so use to the censoring/covering of it that seeing the real thing is like getting sucker punched. Then I noticed the little box on the back of the book that said it was rated “M” for “Mature.” I was surprised a second time.
It honestly doesn’t strike me as needing a Mature rating. Then I recalled the nudity, sexting and cursing that occurred. I guess I need to explain myself. If you read the book, it’s obvious that the author’s intention was not to be obscene for obscenity’s sake. The author wanted to portray realistic characters and realistically people do curse or end up naked. It’s all done in the context of the story. If you can’t curse when you’re in a fight to the death, when can you curse? She picked a Mature rating to have the freedom to take the story where ever it needed to go. I think it was a rating that erred on the side of caution and it feels like an edgy PG-13 to me. Most high schoolers should be fine with it.
The real question is, do I recommend it? In some ways I do and in some ways I don’t. Sacred can fit into any Manga library with little trouble and it does mix it up a bit. If you’re judging based solely on quality, then honestly you can find better. It is good but it’s not great either. Then again, would you judge an anime series by just it’s first three episodes? That’s barely enough time to introduce the characters and set the mood! One Peice wasn’t made in a day, ya know! Sacred is one of those stories that’s gonna take a while to tell, and that’s fine. If I ever see that mangaka again, I’ll probably end up buying the second book in the series.