Set in a world where every object has its own spirit, the story follows Miles, a young woman who has the rare ability to communicate with those spirits. Working as a spirit medium, Miles helps people find the objects that are compatible to them. Assisting her is a mysterious man named Gikaku who's literally not from this world. Dubbed as the "god of destruction" Gikaku wields a terrible power which, as it seems, only Miles can contain. But for how long?
I start to have a feeling that Kitoh Mohiro really isn’t “my” author, but maybe I’ll still present this manga for potential readers (I don’t see a raving crowd of competitors anyway). It is a complex case after all – it has an amazing world and pretty art, which sometimes leads to breathtaking panels, but it’s also curiously messed up, at least in my eyes.
So, yeah, the world of Owari to Hajimari no Miles is highly imaginative. Visually it’s all about air, sublime void, on which the islands people live on float, which people traverse in different, often whimsical ways, in which vehicles hang, barely
caught by straps. The latter is because they get second-hand spiritual tech from what seems to be our poor Earth. Floating cars and girls going through emptiness on a bicycle, the sense of mundanity in the crazy is what Owari to Hajimari no Miles is about and should be read for, in my opinion. And I don’t give you details, because learning them first-hand is the best thing about this manga.
The art is very nice, especially when it bothers with backgrounds, surprisingly flowy and lightweight, yet detailed. Though the designs of characters are a bit simplistic for my taste.
Two aspects especially stand out and may be to the liking of some readers.
The first is military tech. Planes, warships, tanks, cars merge in interesting ways in the unusual atmosphere and the alien laws of the new world. The manga offers military action, especially dogfights. War tech of different epochs, roughly - from WW2 to modern, is drawn with gusto and a lot of love. Owari to Hajimari no Miles may be a good find for arms otaku and enthusiasts.
The second is sex, never graphical, but always present as a topic, implied action or sex jokes. Sometimes it’s done cleverly, like with a girl carrying around special “maiden” panties just in case, sometimes it’s over the top, as with a guy, whose most cherished childhood memories end up being hardcore porn. It may be stimulating, though I am not entirely sure, what’s the point of the off-screen sex scenes, which just happen, not offering even any foreplay eroticism.
The mixed bag is the characters. Now maybe that’s me. Bokurano didn’t work for me as well – and here I see the same unengaging cast of mildly-concerned looking people, who start to have character-driven moments much earlier than I am ready to view them as relevant characters. I don’t even know who’s supposed to be our anchor, since Miles, who is the closest to the protagonist, has the least amount of features. The main couple is too OP, the secondary has issues that I don’t catch on, the rest have been statists so far.
Nonetheless they seriously clutter the story, making it slow. Two straight infodumps in 12 chapters were necessary to present the world, yet there were some scenes that were completely unnecessary, going in the rhythm of a watered-down 100+ chapter slice of life. The main character sees some old lady, the old lady says a bit about her husband, then offers the main character some buns, scene changes. What was it for? We don’t know the old lady, the fact that the protagonist is liked has already been established, we don’t see them interact, we don’t even see the buns. I admit that I may be on a different wavelength from the author, but I didn’t like this.
And when I talk about messed up, I mean that this series is obviously written by a Japanese man and in such an unreflective manner, that, if you aren’t both male and Japanese, certain aspects of Owari to Hajimari no Miles may end up feeling distasteful.
Going back to sex. Normally I am happy to see a manga, where a bunch of adult people have normal sex lives, but small details quickly started to grate. For the love of all that is good I can’t understand whether the main character even likes her sex. I mean, the first thing she does after her partner offers it, is shouting “no-o” and trying to get away. Judging by the whole composition she must not terribly hate it, but she doesn’t look satisfied after it as well… In the end, looking at other female characters, my guess is that this manga does logical rounds due to the idea that a "good" cute woman can’t openly admit she enjoys sex. The additional problematic aspect of it is that “pacifying” her charge and partner is Miles’ work, or more specifically something that is expected of female mediums (only female for some reason, not that it makes any sense). And the male creatures they have to deal with often have distorted heads or marked faces, and faceless men in sex are, eh, a highly recognizable porn feature. It’s not that I was offended, but it seemed so unnecessary limiting.
And then there’s politics. See the markings on the face of the male main character, Gikaku? They form the Japanese “Rising Sun” at some moments. I am salty over the fact that they go on and on about how the red star is the symbol of all the evil in the world you should hate murderously. Americans will appreciate an overly-confident and sexually inactive American, who is always repelled by brave Japanese elderly pilots. Now that I think about it another decent creature of Gikaku’s kind is Italian. I fully expect some rad fascists later.
You know, if you look carefully at all the components, maybe this manga is just a more classy iteration of the same old moe’n’arms, gifted by chance with an amazing world.
Apparently, it’s also on hiatus, so maybe we won’t ever know what the overall plot was to be like or see those rad fascists. Wish I knew it before picking it up and writing a review, sigh.
I hope I’ve successfully drawn the outlines of the things you may expect from Owari to Hajimari no Miles. To sum it up – it is a safe bet for those looking for unusual worlds or unusual panels, it may suit readers interested in battle vehicles, especially planes. At the same time be warned – its treatment of sexual and political topics may alienate many. And these topical criteria are all the more important, considering that the overarching plot does not yet exist.