Knight’s & Magic Volume 1 Manga Review
Knight’s & Magic:
Synopsis: A mecha otaku and programming genius in a previous life, Ernesti Echevaliar has been reborn into a fantasy world that mixes mechs called Silhouette Knights and magic to defend humanity from monsters and maintain peace in the kingdoms. Ernesti, or Eru as his friends call him, retains his memories from his previous life and is thus obsessed with the Silhouette Knights and aims to become a Knight Runner, the pilots of said mechs, combining his programming skills with the magic and knowledge of this new world in order to achieve his goal.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Knight’s & Magic is one of the more unique mech stories to emerge in recent anime and manga offerings thanks to its premise which mixes magic and mechanics/science but thanks to the recent craze and influx of ‘isekai’ stories aka stories that involve protagonists finding themselves in another world, usually a magical one where they kick ass, there’s still the slightest feeling of dejavu. Thankfully, Knight’s & Magic manages to quickly shake that feeling away by literally having our protagonist start from square one as a young child and a completely different person. That helps it stand out from other ‘isekai ‘ stories where the heroes usually find themselves in the new world physically looking exactly as they did in the real/ previous world.
The story takes its time tracing Eru’s discovery of this new world he is in, employing the trope of using him as the guide for the readers to learn about the mechanics of the story and world together. There’s also the trope of our protagonist being a gifted genius in BOTH his lives, something which seems to be standard requirement in these kind of action based stories, so if you passionately dislike that trope, you may want to stay away. Showing us how combining his previous programming skills and logic with his new magical wisdom helps to make Eru a more convincing lead, but it also does nothing to prevent him from coming off as yet another Gary Stu. In fact, even what one could call his handicap aka his adorable short stature and looks seems to have every single main female character immediately dote and drool all over him. It’s not sexual by any means though as Eru is still only in middle school so there’s that. And another small thing that helps to make Eru stand out is that he is for the most part an earnest and mech obsessed kid at the end of the day. He is mainly concerned about his ambition to become a Knight Runner, and not about saving the day or being a beacon of justice but neither is he all conniving and ruthless about achieving his goal.
The manga deserves praise for giving more breathing room to Adeltrud and Archid, Eru’s two best friends who were given maybe 30 seconds of set up in the anime but in here, we get a better understanding of not only their family and background but also their personalities. There’s also some events that occur that are triggered and centered around the two of them and even though Eru does end up getting involved, they still make Adeltrud and Archid feel like real characters and not just cast fillers and mere side companions. And while they’re shown to obviously be nowhere as skilled as Eru, Archid is shown to be quickly learning and picking up battle skills from him. Unfortunately, Adeltrud is reduced to a damsel in distress in Volume 1 itself which is always frustrating to witness as a female reader.
Going back to the positives, the mangaka does a good job of justifying and explaining why Eru was written as a programmer and mech otaku in his previous life. First off, his programming helps to explain how he quickly grasps magical skills while his mech otaku side provides a bit of a twist in the story itself. Yes, it does initially explain his obsession and desire to become a Knight Runner, but then later on it adds a bit of a mini plot development, that of Eru wanting to build himself a personal Silhouette Knight. It’s subtle, some would even say expected but it still gives the story just that extra bit of flair to help it stand out.
There are some potential downsides to Knight’s & Magic’s somewhat detailed pace of storytelling as some readers, specifically the ones who picked up the series looking forward to cool mech showdowns, will be left waiting for a while. In the entirety of Volume 1, there isn’t a single all out Silhouette Knight battle or showdown, only mere glimpses of practice matches. So if the story and character fail to capture your fancy and you’ve had your heart set on seeing some visually impressive battles, Volume 1 won’t be the best start for you.
Then there’s the fact that for those expecting a lot of detailed narration, the story doesn’t actually really show computer programming being applied to the way magic works in this world. We get rough lip service explanation about how magic in this world is performed through a combination of mana and spells that are a combination of diagrams and formulas. We’re also told that the diagrams that make up the magical script in this new world follow the same exact logical laws used in programming languages and that’s it. This isn’t going to be a problem for the average reader but I bring it up just in case any of you pick it up expecting to see the mangaka writing out magical spells in some semblance of a computer programming layout.
Knight’s & Magic is one of Crunchyroll’s more recent addition to their manga library. Some of you reading this review may have even tried the anime adaptation which was how this story first debuted in the western market. If you were less than impressed with the anime adaptation specifically because it felt too rushed and hectic, the good news is the manga pretty much solves that issue. In fact, anyone looking for a mech story with a fresh approach might want to give this manga a chance as it utilizes its partly unique, partly cliched protagonist with just enough variety to make it a promising read. The first volume chooses to focus on establishing its characters while giving you just enough information to have a basic knowledge of the mechanical and magical components of the story, balancing drama and action. Unfortunately, as stated before, the manga does move at a rather slow and detailed pace and the western translations have only reached Chapter 8 so you’ll have to be patient if you’re rooting for eye catching and impressive mech fights.
Knight’s & Magic is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.