If you haven't seen or heard yet, Crunchyroll recently opened its manga section to all of its premium members. Being a premium member, I was so excited about this piece of news that I didn't bother using the service until recently because I hated the format of how CR's manga was displayed on my laptop. I've been staying away from CR's manga service until I tried reading CR's mangas on my phone and my god it was a significant improvement from service I experience on my laptop. Being a huge fan of the fantasy genre, I immediately checked out a fantasy manga that had caught my eye, The Tenth Prism.
The Tenth Prism follows the prince of the fallen kingdom of Kanran, Tsunashi who is a rather meek fellow. Despite having the eye of oro meteor, a legendary being destined to revive the glory of Kanran, Tsunashi would rather reject his destiny and live a normal life. Unfortunately, he is forced to grasp his destiny when the Guu empire sends its forces to conquer the remnants of Kanran. During the chaos of the invasion, Tsunashi is separated from his retainers and they are scattered across the land. Now alone, Tsunashi sets out to find his scattered retainers and possibly fulfill his destiny.
The Thematic Exploration
The Tenth Prism skillfully weaves plot progression and character development with the thematic exploration of the destined hero storyline. The manga questions what is a destined hero, what moves this hero, and how that hero appears to the force he's opposing. By clearly showing the reasons why Tsunashi acted a certain way and the resulting consequences of these actions, the manga questions if Tsunashi is actually a hero, while also developing his character. What makes this so compelling is that is injects a human element to Tsuanshi's struggles as a destined hero. The Tenth Prism wants to know what a destined hero is and it leaves no stone unturned.
At first, The Tenth Prism seemed like it was following Joseph Campbell's monomyth to the T, but as the manga progressed, it began to find its own identity. The beginning of this series is literally the first few steps of Campbell's thesis in its barest form. We get a call to action in the beginning where Tsunashi's retainers urge him to fight against Guu, but he refuses the call because he doesn't like fighting. Ultimately, Tsunashi is forced into action by Guu's invasion of his hometown. By no means is this type of beginning bad, but the execution of these events was so dry because it didn't give me any insight into what drives the characters and what mechanics of the world are like. The beginning of this manga was extremely cookie cutter that I was tempted to drop it after the first few chapters, but as I got further along in the manga, the story started to become more defined.
After a 2 year time skip, the manga started to show us the world of the Tenth Prism. It shows us Guu's influence on the world and the people, while also distancing Tsunashi from Guu's conquest of the world. By doing this, the reader gets a better sense of the scale of Guu's conquest while also showing how Guu's actions are affecting the general populace. Also, distancing Tsunashi from Guu's conquest was a great move because it allowed the manga to show us more of Tsunashi's character, while also creating a dichotomy between his desires and his destiny. The later part of the manga successfully expands on what was set up in the beginning of the manga, making it much more than a bland retelling of Joseph Campbell's monomyth.
It's hard to evaluate the writing in this series because it's neither consistently bad nor good. On one hand, the manga heavily relies on exposition to convey information about the setting and characters, while at other times the writing is nuanced. Specifically, the manga tries to give the reader all of the information they will need to understand the each event in the manga. While this type of exposition isn't a bad thing in itself, the way the manga uses exposition is rather dry. Although, when the manga slows down and explains the view or actions of a character in relation to their place in the story, the writing jumps in quality because it focuses on making the reader fully understand how each character operates. Being able to understand each character's views in relation to their place in the story is great because it makes the manga feel like it's about more than just the events shown in the manga. The writing in The Tenth Prism is either hit or miss half the time due to its liberal use of exposition, but when the writing hits the right notes, it's great.
Ultimately, what keeps this manga from being good as a while is how poorly the series is paced. There are multiple instances where the manga has two events occurring at the same time, but does a poor job of showing when these events occur in relation to each other. For example, there is a sequence of events where a group of characters go to rescue another character, who is shown to be trapped in a specific location far from the group. The group takes roughly a week to get to the other character and when they get there, roughly nothing has changed about the other character's situation. It was like the other character and the area around him was stuck in some form of stasis for the entire week the group took to get to that location. What's so bad about this is that it was incredibly easy to get lost in the sequence of events. I literally couldn't tell when each event was happening in relation to each other and so I couldn't get invested in that entire sequence of events. The Tenth Prism tries to have multiple events occurring at the same time, but ultimately fails because it didn't provide enough information on the passage of time in the series.
Despite its initial appearance, The Tenth Prism is an interesting take on the destined hero storyline with some glaring faults. The way the series weaves its theme into its character development and story is fantastic because it puts a twist the genre. On the other hand, the organization of the story and the writing are nothing more than average because the organization of the events in the story lessens the impact of the events in the story and the writing is monotone. The pacing is also incredibly bad because the sequence of events in the story is unclear. As a whole, The Tenth Prism has potential to be much more than it appears to be, but the way the story is told holds it back.
I do not own any of these images. These images were taken from Crunchyroll.com and Mangahere.co.
You can read The Tenth Prism here is you're a premium member with Crunchyroll.
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