Eldura is a country surrounded by high walls; flying is forbidden, and is generally considered a crime.
Knit is a spirited little boy whose life's dream is soaring across the beautiful blue sky he admires every day. Then he meets a strange creature who just might be the ways and means to make his dream come true... but he'll need a lot of courage—and a good deal of help—to achieve this wish.
Lindbergh by Ahndongshik is one of the best manga series that I've ever read in my life. It's an adventure story full of amazing characters, quick action, mysteries and emotional moments that make you feel the characters' happiness and sadness. I wouldn't say it's ground-breakingly original - in fact, it follows many classic tropes but does so in a way that's entertaining. There aren't many manga that I've read with the feeling that my heart is going to burst out of my chest, but Lindbergh is definitely one of them.
This review contains a brief summary of the entire first volume of the manga because explaining
the plot of the series is difficult without doing that. Other than that, there are no spoilers.
The main character is a young boy called Knit who lives in the country of Eldura. Flying is forbidden as a crime against the royal family, but Knit is fascinated by the sky and dreams of reaching it one day. His father was the same and used to build illegal flying machines until he died when one of them crashed. Now Knit lives alone with his best friend Plamo, a strange lizard creature. Their lives change forever when a mysterious man and his companion, a lizard similar to Plamo but much larger, crash near Knit's home and he discovers that Eldura is a flying island and that there's an entire world below them waiting to be explored. Together with the man - an air pirate called Shark - Knit leaves Eldura to see the world for himself.
The plot of the series keeps getting more and more epic as it progresses. What starts out as Knit's desire to discover new things quickly becomes a grand adventure involving air pirates, ancient mysteries, an evil empire bent on world domination and personal growth for many of the characters. There's an occasional dark edge in the story, such as when it touches on war, slavery or scientific experimenation on living beings, but at its heart it's a classic adventure story full of hope.
The series has a large cast of characters, but the two most important ones are Knit and Shark, the air pirate with a hidden agenda. The creator has clearly drawn some inspiration for these two from Treasure Island, particularly the late 70s anime version directed by Osamu Dezaki. Their relationship is similar, and Shark and John Silver share many characteristics. The other characters, most of them being either air pirates or officers in the imperial army, are also fascinating and get enough personality for you to care about what happens to them.
I have nothing but praise for the art in the series. It's clear and detailed and the characters have very expressive faces that show their shock, happiness, sadness, anger etc. wonderfully. Great care has gone into designing all the lizard creatures - called Lindberghs, which is where the name for the series comes from - that people use for flying. There are different breeds of them, all with their own physical features. The same attention to detail can be seen in the human characters. They're all different from each other, and the male characters in particular have great variety so that no two ever look the same. The female characters are fine as well, but they all have the same pretty face and slim body type, and the variation comes from slight changes in eye shape, hair, clothes and skin colour. I wish they showed as much originality as the male characters, but this is a slight complaint as they all have interesting personalities and roles to play in the story. My favourite was Loulou, one of the air pirates, because of her brash nature and how she matured as a person during the series.
The only complaint I have with the series is one that some people might see as one of its strengths. The story is very tight. Perhaps the author plotted the whole thing from start to finish before starting to draw because there's hardly a single moment that's not relevant to the plot and character development. That's not to say that there aren't quiet moments, but there's absolutely no padding. Normally, I would expect a story of this scope to take up at least 15 volumes, maybe more, but Lindbergh tells its story in just eight. The advantage is that you don't have to waste your time reading filler chapters about useless side quests or battles that last forever. The problem is that the minor characters and world get only as much development as is strictly necessary to make them interesting. I would have loved to spend more time with the characters and get to know their personalities and backstories better, and it was sometimes frustrating that the plot kept moving onwards faster than I wanted.
All in all, Lindbergh is a great manga that I recommend to everyone who wants to read a fast-paced adventure with an interesting spin on air pirates and who likes quirky and detailed art.