The Tenth Prism Volume 1 – Review

The Tenth Prism:

Volume 1

Guess the author couldn’t decide which era to go with.

Synopsis: Prince Tsunashi has been raised since birth to be the saviour and restorer of the kingdom of Karan. Karan was once a happy and peaceful country but the aggressive attacks from the kingdom of Guu have ravaged it into a sad shadow of its former self. Despite the best attempts of his trainers and advisors, Prince Tsunashi is reluctant to fight, finding more happiness reading books than chasing a prophecy but as the danger of a new war looms on the horizon, Tsunashi soon finds that he can no longer hide or avoid his destiny.

Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Over my months and years of reviewing manga and anime, I’ve come to find that anything that has more than a couple of genre tags can tend to be a bit chaotic when it comes to telling its story and The Tenth Prism seems to be headed in that direction from me. Right from the start, there are several time skips, ones that give you a glance of a particular scene then jump into another time period and completely different situation. This occurs repeatedly in the story and what makes them feel so jarring is how disconnected these jumps feel. While a first volume can be forgiven or even understood for introducing more intrigue than resolution, in the case of The Tenth Prism, it does so much more wrong that it becomes an glaring flaw. It doesn’t do the best job of establishing its cast and characters, failing to really sell what drives these people or what makes them worth rooting for. It chooses to slap on some general cliches, in fact on some level, it even makes it cloudy as to exactly why Tsunashi dreads training to be the prince. One could speculate from a few random panels here and there that the reason is him being just generally overwhelmed by the thought of having so much responsibility thrust on him and feeling like a failure already for not being able to activate his prophesied special power. But the story never makes that come off as convincing, making Tsunashi come off as a rather weak protagonist, one who’s chosen to just be whiney and an escapist over facing his responsibilities. That could have still worked and made him relatable to the readers as who hasn’t atleast once chosen to avoid a big problem or responsibility out of sheer fright or dread. But the story then has him quickly changing his colours, and turns him from a whiney protagonist to a cliche prophesied warrior hellbent on saving his kingdom, neither options being particularly winning characteristics and keeping him limited to being a weak protagonist.

Ah, the old skipping classes by hiding out in the library trick.

Moving on to other characters, the first volume uses visual cover art to show who will most likely be big players in the story, but for now, doesn’t really go into depth into giving any of them much of a personality or background. This isn’t that surprising considering how little character exploration even our lead, Tsunashi gets in this volume but it will certainly disappoint anyone who likes more fleshed out character introductions. Besides Tsunashi, this volume also showcases Yui, Tsunashi’s sword master who also may be hiding some major information about his own true identity and abilities.Then later on, we get introduced to Appun, someone who is presumably going to be Tsunashi’s new partner in crime and adventure, and someone who seems to come off as a dunce more than anything else. While Yui earns some points for his intriguing secrets, Appun just feels like a poorly executed slapstick companion for now despite being initially introduced as a seemingly capable fighter. There’s some hope that Yui could potentially make the story better once it features him more but the thought of having to sit through several chapters of Appun and Tsunashi’s journey isn’t the most appealing thing. The two of them seem to be on completely different wavelengths, one that makes them seem like they’d be better apart than together and no,they do not work even as an odd couple shtick.

Remember kids, songs are NOT meant to be a reliable source of historical accuracy.

Going back to my original complaint about how the story keeps skipping and jumping between periods and locations, it really makes the story feel disjointed and jarring, as we keep jumping between such contrasting vibes. One second, Tsunashi is a reluctant bookworm, the next he is suddenly a skilled fighter. Then he is back to living in obscurity. What makes all these changes so jarring is how the story rarely ever gives us convincing reasons for these changes, often just dumping us into the new set up, left to figure out answers on our own. This could potentially entertain those of you who hate being spoonfed information or too much exposition dumps but it’s also more than likely to frustrate a more casual reader as they keep having to reset themselves with the story changes and be left fumbling for answers.

That’s what he said.

With all those complaints out of the way, here’s what you MIGHT enjoy about The Tenth Prism. It has some decent action filled panels and combat. The mechanical/ mythical soldiers in it have interesting designs and the mangaka devotes several panels to really selling their might and intimidating prowess. The lack of answers means that if you like your action adventure tales with a lot of mystery, The Tenth Prism might feel like an escalating page turner as each page introduces more and more questions and more lenient readers should be happy to devour page after page chasing for those answers. The first volume even offers up a cliche but still potentially moving dramatic moment that helps to offer some character development and twists that the story is sorely in need of. And finally, The Tenth Prism is a completed series so that’s always a nice bonus for anyone looking to binge read some manga and not be left hanging and waiting for the next chapter release.

You’re lucky he isn’t screaming his lungs out already.

Ultimately though, The Tenth Prism has too many problems within its first volume to make me eager to recommend it to anyone. The complete and utter failure to really establish and sell its characters combined with the chaotic story telling style that lacked convincing developments seem like flaws that might continue to plague the story throughout. It’s hard to get invested in a story that keeps changing its lead character’s personality and circumstances while throwing in random new characters and development that seem to barely connect to each other at all. If you have plenty of time to kill and like tales of revenge and drama set in a fantasy world, you could still give this series a chance but if you’re on a tight schedule and are more picky with what you choose to read with your limited free time, it might be best to give this series a pass.

The Tenth Prism is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.

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