Not singing praises for this one.
If pink was the manga that lit my world on fire this week, Black Bard was the one that ended up being a bit disappointing even if its perfectly acceptable as a diversion. I was expecting something more akin to Kino’s Journey and ended up with a fairly run-of-the-mill fantasy story with the obligatory random addition of some Alice in Wonderland characters. So, not bad, but not really what I was envisioning, although perhaps I shouldn’t’ve assumed.
Black Bard is about the titular Black Bard, a wandering minstrel who likes to do things that other people tell him not to – the more someone says something is a bad idea, the more enamored he becomes of it. While the first episode acts as introduction and doesn’t give an overarching plot, a slight connecting thread does surface fairly early on, as Black Bard runs up against references to the Crimson Empire, a civilization that perished thousands of years prior and about which very little is known. The question of what it was, exactly, begins to take on the role of the object of Black Bard’s wanderings as the cast expands slightly and a larger villainous group starts to surface.
Its honestly not terribly compelling stuff. The characters are perfectly fine, as is the story, but nothing stands out – low-fantasy quest stories are a pretty common thing, and the characters here don’t manage to transcend their types. I quite liked the second chapter, wherein Black Bard encounters and entertains a pirate crew, but I struggle to recall the finer details of much else of the entire story despite having only read it a few days ago.
The release here is rather lacklustre, to be perfectly honest, even if I feel a bit badly saying so – I am always in favor of having more publishers in the manga scene in North America (although One Peace Books has been publishing Crayon Shin-chan for a little while), but this was a sloppy effort at best. Common words misspelled multiple times (‘lightening’ for lightning, ‘dissapoint’ for disappoint) and a plethora of typos mar the reading experience. As a person who was considering picking up their coming release of Sasameki koto (‘Whispered Words’ for N. America), I’ll admit to being fairly put off it – I never was able to get into that series to begin with but was going to get it to support yuri releases in N. America… but I don’t really want to spend money on something I’m not terribly interested in and which is poorly done.
This is one of those titles I would suggest as a perfectly fine read for a lazy afternoon if it were available in digital, but I can’t really recommend it as something one should go out of their way to acquire.