ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:00 - 13th April 2013, by Tim Clare

Culdcept 1

Culdcept stars Najaran, a Cepter with the power to summon creatures, spells and objects from a variety of magic cards. Once, these cards were held together in a book called the Culdcept, created by the Goddess Culdra when she designed the universe. If someone were to collect all the cards, they could recreate the book and gain divine power.

The resultant storyline follows the tried-and-tested formula laid down by rabidly popular series like Pokémon, where an initially naïve but spirited youth travels the world, battling and slowly honing their powers. In the first volume, Najaran leaves her master, and sets off for Soron City, an ex-fishing village that holds an annual Cepter tournament. Though apparently more interested in sampling the local cuisine than proving her mettle in combat, Naja inevitably gets sucked in and ends up taking on the competition's many weird and wonderful contestants, some of whom refuse to play by the rules. Serving as her chaperone is a crotchety talking staff called Goligan, who occasionally manages to get her to listen and imparts a few words of sage advice in the heat of battle.

Culdcept is not the most original of manga universes, but despite that, it manages to be a very enjoyable read. There's a great deal of pleasure to be had in familiarity, especially when it's delivered with this much zing and humour. We know right from the off that, despite her relative inexperience and penchant for slacking off, Naja's abundance of heart means she's destined to end up punching well above her weight, earning the respect of her peers and righting wrongs along the way. It means that, as a reader, you're free to kick back, switch off your brain and enjoy the story.

The artwork is never less than snazzy - Shinya Kaneko does a great line is cool fantasy inventions, mixing nineteenth century alchemist hoodoo with classic steam punk riffs and a liberal sprinkling of out-there magical weirdness. In particular Goligan, the talking staff, is the source of many sight gags. Chuck in some nice info pages explaining the game mechanics, and the brooding threat of the mysterious Black Cepter cabal, and you've got yourself a volume spilling over with fun. Don't expect Culdcept to win any awards for breaking new ground, just grab your favourite snack and get reading.

SCORE: 4/5
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