Final Fantasy Reishiki is set within a place called Oriens, which is divided into four nations: the Suzaku Fiefdom of Rubrum, the Milites Empire, the Lorican Alliance, and the Kingdom of Concordia. Each nation has its own emblem (a phoenix, two tigers, a dragon, and a turtle, based on the Four Symbols) and is blessed with a crystal that grants them unique powers: Rubrum controls the Suzaku Crystal containing the power of Magic, Milites controls the Byakko Crystal containing the power of Weapons, Lorica controls the Genbu Crystal containing the power of the Shield, and Concordia controls the Sōryū Crystal containing the power of Dragons. The Crystals have the ability to mark humans as their countries' servants. These servants, called l'Cie, are branded with a symbol and are given a "Focus"—a task to complete. However, while blessed with long life, l'Cie are cursed to lose their memories over time.
A peace treaty is supposed to be in effect with the world's four countries, but Cid Aulstyne has sent his l'Cie soldiers to war with the neighboring countries. Conquering Lorica for its crystal, the Milites military focuses its attack on the Kingdom of Concordia and the Suzaku Fiefdom of Rubrum. However, for reasons unknown, the Suzaku crystal that kept Milites at bay at Rubrum shatters, leaving the nation vulnerable to attack and is forced to surrender to the superior nation. However, still possessing the powers the crystals gave them, the students of Class Zero refuse to surrender and proceed to fight back.
Final Fantasy Reishiki was first released in English when bundled with the Collector's Edition of the video game Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. Yen Press published the manga as Final Fantasy Type-0 on September 22, 2015.
Let me preface this by saying, "Yes. I have played the game."
Final Fantasy Type-0 is a relatively interesting manga when you first look at the foundation it is built upon. Both the artist (Takatoshi Shiozawa) and scenario writer (Hiroki Chiba) had virtually no experience in the art of manga during Type-0's creation. In fact, apart from Shiozawa's incredibly obscure 2008 manga "Full Moon," the two hadn't even scratched the surface. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean the manga is doomed from the get-go. I mean, plenty of mangaka out there have had their initial creations take off. The thing is, most of those creations didn't attempt
cramming an incredibly convoluted story into just four chapters. So, if you go into this manga without any knowledge of the story in the Type-0 game, you will have an exceedingly difficult time trying to figure out just what the hell is going on. That being said, though, this manga was aimed at the pre-established fanbase and was not meant to be a standalone title...At least I hope not.
At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to the very general plot of the Milites Empire essentially deciding that they want to take over the world, resulting in their capturing of the neighboring Alliance of Lorica. This being a huge issue, the other two factions of the country Orience rise up against the Milites Empire and try to show them what they're made of. However, the Milites being the most militaristically advanced nation of the four isn't having a hard time fending them off and continuing to capture ground all over the country. That is until we are introduced to the 14 students in Class Zero. With each one sporting their own unique weapon archetype, as well as a plethora of magic abilities, Class Zero's roster is the most advanced combat unit in all of Orience. But are they going to be able to take down an entire empire?
The Milites Empire eventually moves the concentration of their forces to the town of McTighe, not far from Class Zero's home and school, Akademia. Rubrum and Concordia do their best to fend off their attackers, but it comes to no avail and the cadets must be summoned in as a last resort. Obviously knowing about Class Zero, the Milites have a plan of their own and activate a colossal magic barrier, nullifying the abilities of the teenage super-soldiers. After a few more drawn out and confusing battle scenes, several of the cadets manage to somehow nullify the barrier and the day is saved...Or is it? No, I'm really not sure. It kind of just ends right there after the battle is over with the Milites commander shouting, "I'll get you next time, you rotten kids!" The cadets then pass around smiles before solemnly stating, "Oh man, I wish fewer people died. Good thing we're still here."
If that summary seemed a little frantic in terms of pacing, that is exactly what the book felt like. You have backstory literally tossed at you so quickly that it becomes way too hard to take in all of this seemingly vital information. Even the introductions of the characters are so quick that people not already familiar with them will have essentially no idea what their names were or what their personalities were like after the manga's end. I can't even remember if Trey had a line or not. It feels like some of the characters were just written into frames just so that people could think, "Oh hey, there's that one guy with the brass knuckles!" or something along those lines. It really becomes unfair to the players/fans of the less "Important" characters. The only ones with substantial amounts of dialogue are Ace, Machina, and Rem -- and even their personalities are hard to recognize without preconceived knowledge of them. The whole thing was just way too fast and unmemorable.
Even the elements that shaped a truly remarkable experience in the game seem underwhelming and unimportant. One of the biggest aspects, as far as this goes, would be how Orience is a land where the dead can not be remembered in any way, shape, or form. Yes, this is present in the manga (And actually mentioned quite a few times) but it always feels like an afterthought. The frantic pacing makes it less dark and depressing and more "Oh well. Let's move on," and it ruins something that was once so interesting and unique.
I understand that this manga was made to cater to the pre-existing fans of Type-0, but even when you put it that way, what's the point? Sice was my main character in the game and I absolutely adored her; she was present in four panels of the manga. It just wasn't worth it as far as I'm concerned. Not even the story was interesting because it literally comes at you so fast that you're incapable of building up any sort of care for it or the people of either nation. If the cadets of Class Zero weren't on the cover, it would have been hard to even tell who the good guys or bad guys were.
If you really really like Final-Fantasy Type-0, go ahead and read this, but prepared that it is most likely going to let you down. Far too much is crammed into just under 200 pages that everything comes and goes way too quickly for readers to care about it. Your favorite character from the game will not necessarily be misrepresented, but rather not represented at all. It's actually a little laughable they way some of the characters are introduced. Deuce is literally yanked into one of the frames after not appearing for three chapters and the text that accompanied her was something along the lines of "Deuce is coming too!" If this manga received more than one volume, it was definitely possible for it to be something great. But unfortunately, we have to deal with this single-volume of an underwhelming/confusing story and characters deviating from something that was once beautiful. Go and play the game instead of reading this.
Since this is my first review and I’m not a native English speaker, forgive any formal mistakes you may find. This review represents my very own opinion and contains minor spoilers.
Story – 5/10
As a huge Final Fantasy fan I couldn’t wait for this manga to be released in Germany besides the Collector’s Edition of the game (which I do not have, sadly). But I got disappointed. If you don’t know the game this is based on, better ignore the manga. Final Fantasy Type-0 is a great game but this Oneshot lacks of the good military story the game has. But let’s recap the story in
short. Chapter 1 is about what happened right before the start of the game – so it’s actually pretty interesting. Class 0 is going to war to get Rubrum back, a region of the world they live in. These soldiers use magic and different weapons but also so-called “eidolons”. A little later Class 0 gets two new members and they start to fight each other because of the sake of training. But the peace doesn’t last long because the military empire attacks and Class 0 joins the battle – at least three of them. More members of the class join right before the end of the manga. And as soon as it’s over you’re left with an unfinished story because this manga ends with a cliffhanger – a thing every fan hates. And it will only be solved in the game.
If you haven’t played the game, you’ll probably struggle with some words like “eidolon” or “l’Cie”. These are not explained in the manga, so this could get a problem since they just throw these words in and expect the reader to know these. But not everyone does and that’s the problem with that manga. It officially is a Oneshot, maybe even a stand-alone title but it isn’t addressed to every reader out there, which is a huge disadvantage. If you’re not familiar with the game, you may be surprised that the cadets don’t remember any fallen friends at all. You might be confused why it is that way. Well, play the game because the manga will not explain.
To wrap it up, the story is basically just about the war between Rubrum and the military empire. You’ll mostly read about battles but if you’re searching for a good story, better read something else.
Art – 9/10
No matter how bad the story is in comparison to other manga, the art is great. The battle scenes are very well drawn, it’s very detailed and the use of magic is beautiful in this. The characters are close to their original designs and you’ll easily recognize them. But there is one thing to criticize: the backgrounds. There are many times in the manga you’re just having a character in front of a white background as if nothing else would be there. But that’s the only thing I have to criticize about the art because in my opinion, it is great!
Characters – 6/10
I’m actually very disappointed in this one. I loved how different all the characters in the games were but they were all equally important. Not this time, sadly. There are just too many of them! You have 14 members of Class 0, some other characters of Rubrum, an antagonist, some old people and many other cadets from lower classes. How would you fit all the personalities? Well, they tried. But it didn’t work at all. Ace is well done but what about the other members of Class 0? Nine and Sice fight a little, as they usually do. But everyone else just has a panel to exist. At least that’s the feeling I have of Class 0. Same goes with Kurasame, who is awesome and very important in the game. He’s literally shown as a normal commander now which doesn’t suit him. The antagonist isn’t even really bad because he almost doesn’t appear. I’m actually sad what they did to all these unique characters. They all seem to be the same now, even though they usually aren’t.
Besides that, the deaths in this are so unimportant. Why? You, as a reader, can’t get a bond with the characters that die and as soon as they are dead, they are forgotten (which may be a concept of the original storyline but still) and it seems like they just never existed. You just can’t feel with them.
They actually try to bring the characters a little closer to the reader because of showing some flashbacks of the characters’ past but that only appeals to the people that now the game, since otherwise the past is forgotten pretty fast since it’s not worked out at all. Same goes with the character development because there really isn’t any, which is an important aspect of a manga though.
Enjoyment – 8/10
This only gets an 8 because I played the game many times and I enjoyed that. So of course I’d know what the story is about and who the characters are. The action scenes were really amazing, so this really is a thing for Shonen lovers. But if I had to think of the perspective of someone who hasn’t played the game, I’d give this a 3-4 because this simply isn’t fun if you don’t know any characters or any important words because it seems like there is literally no connection at all in this.
If you played the game, this is a nice extra for it, but don’t set your expectations very high. If you haven’t, you shouldn’t touch this manga because you will be very disappointed. But nevertheless, if you just go for battles and not for story, you should be fine with the manga of Final Fantasy Type-0.