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.