A messenger of the Heavens has arrived in Zhao Ge, which has been ruled by the Shang dynasty for generations. The current emperor, Zi Zhou, refuses to bow his head before the gods, and declares to the messenger that he will no longer accept the tyranny of the Heavens. The gods do not take this kindly; and soon, the emperor of a neighboring land, Wu Jifa, leads a crusade against the rebelling Shang.
During the battle, the Shang forces are vastly overwhelmed, and just when the capital is inches away from being taken, Zhou joins the fight. Although he breaks through the enemy ranks and makes his way toward Jifa, out of nowhere a god falls from the sky, landing right before him, prepared to personally deal with the troublemaker.
Bored one evening I saw the high rating of this manga but not many reviewers so thought I would give it a try. I can't believe this manga isn't more popular.
We'll start off with the story. The main character isn't some sort of tragic hero, he is somebody that you actually start off disliking straight from the bat. His arrogance, weakness and selfishness are somewhat irritating when compared to the other characters, this however doesn't last very long.
The protagonist doesn't suffer from some cruel fate or poor upbringing and become a hero overnight. There is a long journey ahead of him and many hardships.
This is where Feng Shen Ji differs from a lot of typical battle manga, heck the only thing he has to rely on for a long time is his brain. The story develops amazingly, the narrative is extremely well timed and the authors have this down to a fine art. Each volume leaves you on tenterhooks until the next but never are you unsatisfied with the amount of information that is provided in each volume. If you do manage to buy physical copies of these you certainly won't be disappointed with the value for money.
Moving on to the artwork, each page is drawn in beautiful colour. I pay more attention to the artwork if the manga is in black and white, with this drawn in beautiful colour there is so much to take in. Each page is beautifully drawn with colours that are really catching. The battle scenes are some of the best I have ever seen, you can follow what each character is doing with ease and it is not often I can say that about manga. As much as I can't wait to see what happens next and am ready to turn each page I am always hesitant as I survey the page one last time to take in each detail as this is drawn so well.
Readability for me is important but so is the potential to come back to a series in perhaps a years time and wondering would I still enjoy it. This series I can wholeheartedly give a definitive yes in answer to that question.
Overall if the battle manga genre with a not-so-typical male lead is something that interests you then Feng Shen Ji should be top of your pile to read. It has instantly put itself into one of my favourite series and I cannot wait until more volumes have been translated.
I don't often write reviews but I was thinking of the best way of promoting this manga because this to me is a diamond in the rough.
I have recently added this series to my favorites list because I find myself craving more. This is one of those manga (in this case, manhua) that gets your attention and leaves you desiring the further development of the story line. The main character, Wu Geng, is a prime example of good character development in a story. Not to mention, the full color pages are beautifully done and add to the overall quality of this manhua.
Without delving too much into the story, we start off with a great tragedy that occurs in a young boys life. It may appear that fate is not on Wu
Geng's side as we see him encounter one hardship after another, but through these hardships we see him grow stronger and literally grow up amidst adversity. Journey along with us as we experience the tragedies and victories of Wu Geng as he battles fate and the wrath of the gods.
These days, seinen, geared towards young adult men and older, are thought of as the mature, intelligent evolution from shounen. In turn, shounen are seen by some as mindless and flashy acts of violence and softcore eroticism meant to feed young boys’ growth in testosterone. Both vast opinions have flaws, just like any opinion born from the extremely flawed mind of a human, but the stereotypes of each genre are true in some way: shounen are indeed geared toward young boys and seinen are geared towards men who want a story with more mature themes. Having this in mind, the manhua Feng Shen Ji completely
fits said expectations.
With mild gore, deaths, eye-catching artwork, and strong (almost tiring) supernatural themes such as reincarnation, the story begins with a bang large enough to keep one’s attention for one reason or another. From the first chapter, Feng Shen Ji is put across in a quick and entertaining way, leaving what seems to be room for growth but is really just lazy storytelling. There’s little explanation—and what’s elaborated on is done so in a simple fashion—because no one cares about that, right? Chapter by chapter, Feng Shen Ji becomes less like a coherent manhua and more like an uninspired, stereotypical autobiography completely lacking in depth.
The plot, consisting of a mess of vehement creatures, divine powers, and gods, starts something like this: While chaos rages, a tragedy happens to the young prince Wu Geng, and his life continues because he somehow cheats death (this is a theme that isn’t rare throughout the manhua). He lives life and fights with one purpose: freedom and prosperity through his hardships.
The main problem is that you don’t know why. Any reader deserves a reason as to why someone does what they do—something more complex, something attributed to deeper emotions. While freedom and prosperity are all fine and dandy, it’s been done before; with nothing grittier, the characters turn into a puddle of soup seasoned with a lack morals and direction. The characters’ uninteresting personalities are stemmed from their most evident trait: a simple, juvenile mindset. The story that they’ve been placed in is no better, with the same amount of thought put into it as the amount of times the main character sounds intelligent.
Every direction the plot goes seems like its come straight out of a book called “Clichés and How to Sugarcoat Them.” (Pick it up if you’ve never heard of it.) Feng Shen Ji chose to sugarcoat these clichés with two methods: Artwork of such quality that it was almost distracting and not putting serious emphasis on anything. Most occurrences in the manhua go by dully, walking across a fun little road named Monotony. There was no true conflict or plot twists because of how rooted it was to unoriginality and even the most important events just happen, devoid of gripping themes. The question of what is more at fault—the lack of compelling characters or the plot stripped bare of complex themes—is almost unable to be answered.
In fact, it is the art that breathes more life into the characters than anything else. Its best asset is that it’s not merely black-and-white lines, but is fully colored and fitting of the manhua’s atmosphere. Muscle-bound men adorn the pages, accompanied by graceful, silky-haired women. Gods look the part of the villain particularly well. Sceneries are skillfully drawn. Every few pages, Feng Shen Ji trades its normal style for a painted counterpart meant to give emphasis to important parts of the story. Most importantly, the combat is easy to take in and understand.
But despite how the art pops with color, there is a deep sense of black-and-white within the manhua. You can tell those who are “evil” from those who are looking to serve a plate of justice to the world within seconds. Characters have little that keeps them going on, keeps them fighting, or causes them to act the way they are—they’re just that way. The enemy gods are generally taken care of quickly once the clash has been established and the plot follows a plain cycle of working/training for freedom out of a situation, conflict, and a large change in scenery.
Semblances of growth in characters are just flukes. Wu Geng, the main character, sorely lacks morals and likability from start to finish. He’s impulsive and juvenile, but if I could say one thing, I would say that he acts his age. While he thinks he has the audacity to punish others, the largest problem with his character is that his personality is not only put across in an uninteresting way, making him immediately unlikable, but he also rarely gets enough punishment for his own ignorance. The only thing that makes him different from a usual idiotic lead is that there’s little to no attempt to make him interesting besides his immature monologues. The only growth that he, or any of the other characters, have are changes in appearance and status from year to year.
Besides him, the rest of the characters blur together and are easily forgotten, seen as interchangeable by the writer. What makes them unique is the fact that, unlike many characters these days, there are no cheap, flashy spices added (the same spices that, ironically, makes them unbearable). Their personalities come from the common archetypes stripped to the bare minimum. Perhaps, in the writer’s mind, this approach made the manhua more realistic.
Little to no emphasis is put on psychological growth, and instead the focus is on the mindless entertainment quality (through gore, deaths, and a hint of sexuality) and how pretty the package it’s wrapped in looks. Still, it is a manhua with mature themes, thus it caters to an age group that can handle such themes. For those reasons, yes, Feng Shen Ji is a seinen.
First of all, Feng Shen Ji is drawn in very beautiful full color and many of the panels show are as a feast to the eyes. The battle scenes are particularly well done and are a delight to read.
The story, however, takes a couple of chapters to really kick off and a few more for you to begin to like the main character. But unlike the standard manga, the main character grows as the series goes on, becoming more mature and worldly at a steady pace rather than the random spikes and dips normally seen.
The plot is more akin to a novel or
light novel than the common manga, taking time to lay down roots. It doesn't have a lot of humorous parts or quick gags. And, while it is fairly violent, there is very little of the perverseness found in post adolescent manga.
Overall, I'd recommend it to people from 16 to 25 who like fantasy and martial arts fiction, but won't get bored with a more involved story.