I’m probably back to graphic novels for a bit both because I’m getting a little behind with a few series I follow, and I’ve got some stress going on both at work and elsewhere for the next week or so. Nothing serious, but lightening the reading sometimes helps ease the unease. So, I picked up Wizard’s Blue vol. 2 off my TBR shelf; it’s been there a while and I was hoping it might be not too dark; thankfully it wasn’t. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it balances the dark stuff with lighter stuff. The basic premise that this is the world of The Ancient Magus Bride, and the same general premise of inhuman mage and human bond over something, and then start getting to know each other and each other’s worlds. The human in this case is an aspiring young artist named Ao who has some alchemical or magic abilities, and Giselle the mage whose magic is not totally clear but she’s certainly powerful and she looks kind of draconic (reasons start being presented in this volume). Ao and Giselle are on the trail of some kind of criminal or at least anarchist organization called Flamme, and find out that Giselle and the suspect Albert have a connection. Albert looks like other Albert mage characters (why do they all seem to look alike?) and he’s got that ambiguous good/bad guy quality which is probably meant to suggest he can never be trusted and will often be a source of trouble whenever he might show up again.
There’s also some hinting at political problems to come with Giselle noting probable tensions between two alchemist factions, and confirmed by a scene with Albert and some Flamme messengers (who look like Harlequin dolls, why do the bad guy group messengers always seem to use that look? The masks?). The political/probable fight set up isn’t nearly as interesting as one of the main alchemists likely to be involved since this person has been referenced in at least different capacities but only shown in a dark from behind profile.
Ao as a main character has little personality beyond getting attached to Giselle and wanting to help everyone he runs into who has a problem feel better by doing a painting for them. Giselle and most of the other alchemists are considerably more interesting because they have at least a little more complexity to them. I do kind of wish there could be a hero of this kind of story who was more interesting than “friendship/love will solve anything/save us all!” or “I can do it all myself without help from anyone else!” or “only teamwork!”
The world and art isn’t as obviously The Ancient Magus Bride, and there’s virtually no connection in terms of plot or character, but the general familiarity with the mage concept is there, and here we get more detail about the alchemist world than in the main series, so that helps keep things interesting too. There’s also considerably less mythology or folklore used as a basis here, so there’s room for plenty more world building, especially the alchemist side of the magic-alchemy dynamic. Even though one some level this is almost a retelling of the main series, it’s enough of a twist that I want to see what happens next.