Adrenalin-Packed, Anime-Style, Science Fantasy
“The tricky thing about living in history is surviving it.”
Fionn should know as the legendary Greywolf and his Tempest Blade have lived through a fair chunk of history. Yes, Fionn, Gaby and Alex are back and there are new faces too like Kasumi and Joshua, trying to shape the world for the better despite history, monsters and supernatural incursions.
The heroes are preparing for the Triannual Chivalry Games held in the heart of the Kuni Empire – called ‘games’ but these are also an alternative way for nations to settle their differences without resorting to war and there is also a major diplomatic event going on in the background. But things happen at the games that have dramatic consequences and suddenly our heroes are back on track to have to save the world from the eponymous cursed titans.
This is science fantasy in the pure sense of the word – a high-tech futuristic setting combined with magical powers – such as the Gift – and magical, sentient weapons such as the Tempest Blades themselves. It is high adrenaline action, manga/anime style and yet it has deeper currents too. There is an exploration of depression as Alex suffers it terribly, showing how it can feel from the inside and how it impacts those around someone they care for suffering with it. It also shows how sometimes what others see as a disability can be an advantage as Kasumi’s profound deafness actually protects her when others fall.
I enjoyed this book a lot and thought the characters interesting and diverse, although I will admit I found the writing a little lumpy in places and the ‘cool’ dialogue (and monologues even) for me were sometimes just a little over-contrived rather than cool and witty. There were other aspects I struggled with too – people who are described who were clearly cartoon characters in appearance just shattered my reading immersion. But then this book is aimed at those who love Japanese comic book culture, where such is the norm and the expectation.
If you enjoyed Tempest Blades: The Withered King then you will love Tempest Blades: The Cursed Titans. If you love manga and anime and want to read books that encapsulate that in the written word, pick up either of the Tempest Blade books, but I’d suggest starting with The Withered King so you can begin your journey from the beginning…
First admission, I’m really not the target audience of this book at all, as neither manga nor anime really float my boat. But I’m always game to give anything a go and I did enjoy the first outing of this little gang of superheroes…
So. The Cursed Titans?
It’s not easy being a superhero, particularly when you are Alex who is both bored and plagued by depression. The chance to compete in a sort of superhero Olympic Games could be his saviour. Or his nemesis? You’ll need to read it to see.
Me? I found it mostly very readable, if occasionally a bit clunky grammar and vocabulary wise. The action comes fast and furious and there are plenty of baddies to boo.
Overall this is a brave attempt to look at real world issues through the medium of comic-book characters with amazing superpowers. And mostly it does precisely what it sets out to do, hide a message in a strong story.
If you love your manga and anime grab this book and dive in.
A solid four stars.