Elan Palatinus Manga Review
Elan Palatinus :
Chapters 1-13 (Completed)
Synopsis: After failing to defeat the enemies in a drawn out crusade, Kallen Kaslana, the mightiest Valkyrie in the Schickshal church’s army begins to question her purpose and reason for living. Returning home, she soon learns that the true enemy may not be who she thought they were all along.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Let me get the obvious out of the way: I had never played or heard of Honkai Impact 3rd, the mobile game that this manga, Elan Palatinus, is based on before writing this review. This review will not be dealing with exactly how it relates or adds to the game and its lore but rather in the vein of my CrunchyCrawl series, how approachable and enjoyable it is to the average reader. That said, let’s dive into the review.
First up, everything good. Elan Palatinus boasts of solid art and colour pages, making it a visual treat. Being complete at just 13 chapters, it also makes for a quick and easy read. The story is thankfully pretty straightforward so even as someone who has no Honkai Impact 3rd knowledge, it was easy to follow and get into, even with a few terms and references that clearly held more weight and meaning for a fan of the game. Elen Palatinus is really just a classic story but with just a hint of a twist. Instead of a victorious warrior returning home in glory to discover that their achievements on the battlefield have done little to nothing to aid their fellow countrymen, we have a disgraced protagonist following that same path. It’s a minor tweak but it gives off enough of a novelty factor to help the story avoid feeling too cliched from the start. If you enjoy the classic hero’s journey of awakening to a new but unavoidable truth and taking up the cause of the common people, Elan Palatinus hits all the right notes. However, this is where my praise for the series ends and my critique begins.
Elan Palatinus is clearly based on the Holy Crusades and the crimes of the Catholic Church but don’t expect it to be all that deep a thematic connection, it is after all based on a mobile game. What is truly aggravating is that the manga is clearly begging to be taken seriously yet adds in comedic and idiotic moments that undermine its own efforts. For example, when Kallan first starts to notice the crimes of the Church, she then immediately gets distracted when her trusted friend and companion, Otto Apocalypse, brings up food. Even the panel is drawn in a chibi-like style making it feel like the series thinks its pertinent the audience don’t miss out on how ‘adorable’ she is even during a heavy moral moment. And while Kallen is hailed as the mightiest and strongest warrior in the army, she is also quite idiotic. Once she decides to be a secret vigilante for justice, she spends several panels trying on new costumes with a mask but doesn’t do a single thing to cover her hair to hide her identity. Why is this important and why does this make her come off rather dumb? Because she is immediately recognized by her hair when she goes on her first big heist. It doesn’t even seem to be played for comedy so it begs the question that if her hair is so recognizable why wasn’t it one of the first things she covered or changed? Not only that, for someone who wants to hide her identity, she seems to take off her mask rather often in the middle of her heists.
While I did praise the series for starting off with a bit of a nuance and novelty, the rest of it is bog standard and predictable. Unless you are very new to this kind of stories, Elan Palatinus will fail to surprise you with most of its big twists and reveals. Betrayals and evil conspiracies are the name of the game and the story even throws in a devout zealot into the mix; all things most of you probably have come to expect in a story with a controlling and power hungry religious body. Even the character journey and reveals that Kallen and Otto end up going on are easy to predict. Otto’s journey has some pretty heavy foreshadowing (his last name is literally APOCALYPSE) so I give it that it might not have been meant to be all that surprising when things take a dark turn but at the same time, again it doesn’t feel all that unique or deep. It shouldn’t be too surprising that a short manga, one of SEVERAL created by the game’s publisher, specifically to expand the lore of its mobile game feels like bonus content instead of a deep and complex tale. It even wraps up in a somewhat open ended manner to then assumedly lead into the game. These aren’t exactly complaints per say but something I think could be a reason to avoid the manga for those who want a fully wrapped up tale.
Ultimately, Elan Palatinus reads like something best appreciated by the fans of the original game. It offers in depth familiarity with a character that might be otherwise at best be a cute animation in the game itself with just a smattering of backstory and a few voiced dialogues to give them personality. For those intending to try the series, my research shows me that Elan Palatinus is actually the starting point and earliest in the series of stand alone manga for Honkai Impact 3rd so it is the perfect spot to dive into the lore. The added history is sure to make the game feel more deep but as a standalone for someone with no interest in or knowledge of Honkai Impact 3rd, there’s a low chance that the story will leave much of an impression thanks to the predictable plot and uneven tone. While the solid art, short length and classic/cliche tale of a hero’s awakening to the plight of the poor might still appeal to some, it’s definitely not a series one would call a must read without some interest in the original game it is based on.
Elan Palatinus is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.