Written by Togo Goto and drawn by Kento Matsuura, “Weekly Shonen Jump’s” new manga “Phantom Seer” focuses on a girl named Riku who attracts dangerous phantoms and a shaman named Iori.
It opens beautifully, drawing in the reader with three haunting color pages that showcase the protagonists, the key components of their characters — such as the ornate key that dangles from Iori’s wrist — and the kind of enemies they will face.
These opening pages, cast in shadows from the twilight sun, hint at the hidden nature of our protagonists’ lives and the intrigue that entangles them.
The story then proceeds into exposition, where we learn about Riku’s motivating factors and her supernatural ability to sense incoming danger. Then comes Iori, who we discover to be a shaman — a psychic who deals with dangerous phantoms — that goes to her school.
I can’t really overstate how similar of a story this is to others featured in “Jump” recently, but that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have merit.
The art is often charming, and the characters who you presume to be reserved are eccentric and zany. That’s not necessarily a good thing for people who more often enjoy serious characters, but it works as comedic relief from their otherwise ominous demeanors.
Riku and Iori are foils of one another. Where Riku seeks to help others despite her proclivity to draw in danger, Iori is wholly self-centered regardless of his talents as a shaman.
This is where the message of the chapter comes into play.
There are those who desire a certain path in life, but their talents would suggest them to do something else. Should someone seek out the life they want to live even if they’re best suited to a different life?
Riku wants to help others and Iori just wants to be a normal boy, but the circumstances of their lives continue to get in their way.
I have to say that I enjoyed reading this first chapter. It does an excellent job of introducing the reader to the world, characters and magic system. However, the triggering of the climax was contrived and existed only to serve the author’s narrative rather than making sense of what has happened in the story.
It’s biggest flaw, however, is the redundancy of its story concept.
As I said before, there are many stories currently running and recently cancelled in “Jump” that have similar characters, plots and magic systems, so much so that to read another version of the same story is exhausting.
Having character duos that foil each other in this way in motivation and purpose — a protector and the protected — is an exhausted trope at this point, and lifting “Jujutsu Kaisen’s” magic system (at least in appearance) doesn’t do it any favors.
All this does is force manga authors to compete within the magazine to win over readers rather than providing readers with a variety of different stories for them to enjoy.
If “Phantom Seer” turns out to be brilliant, I’m not going to complain. Regardless, outside of Kento’s charming art and amazing battle sequence, Togo’s writing doesn’t allow for the series to stand out from the masses, so I can’t give the chapter more than an average rating.
I’ll continue to review this manga in my weekly reviews and am excited to see how it progresses.