On a small island in the vast ocean of Marmundo lives an old man and a little boy, Arrabarus and Ashika. They are the guardians of a lighthouse, which stores a mystical light they call Niselle. One day, the boy rescues a young knight, lady Ruliya, who was swept off course during a storm. Promising her savior anything as thanks, Ruliya immediately regrets it as Ashika wants to become a knight as her. The little boy decides to become her squire, but first his father challenges her to a duel. While they're fighting, Niselle is stolen by the genius Alcantara, who also kidnaps Ashika. In the battle, the lighthouse is destroyed and by some mysterious connection this kills Arrabarus. Tagmec, knight of the Underworld, emerges from the sea to claim the old man, but not before Ruliya promises to rescue the boy and the light. Tagmec informs her she is embarking on a quest of destiny. He grants her Muertogara, magical blade.
Aqua Knight was published in English by VIZ Media, first in comic book format for a total of 16 issues, split into three parts, from May 2000 to August 2001, and later in tankoubon format, from October 10, 2001 to February 10, 2002.
Aqua Knight doesn't stray far from other fantasy/adventure titles in the fact that it deals with topics like friendship, courage, quests, self-improvement and the like. Yet after reading it in a single sitting you do get the sense this is unique in its own right. I for one found it a light-hearted and highly enjoyable read.
The character designs are somewhat stereotypical but only to the extent that a charicature is in portraying someone's comic identity. Therefore, the art style isn't truely akin to japanese manga, as it adopts a western approach, but all the 'manga' features are still recognisable and intact. Still as it
was published in the late 90s, the style is distinctive and brings fondness to older audiences. However, if you are somewhat biased to more 'hardcore' contemporary manga artwork this might not appease the readership in this particular category... but the other categories will !
The storyline is simple at first, with a heroine pursuing her ambitions and defeating her evil foes, but as you read on this divide line begins to blur and you come to find yourself identifying with the 'evil no-gooders' as people with their own stories behind them.
Even if people find the ending to be 'inconclusive', the moral of the story is clearly revealed come the final chapter... and isn't that the purpose of a story regardless? I however secretly habour a bittersweat feeling for Aqua Knight only because I regret it not being longer!
Clearly an under-appreciated title!
Coming into this with Battle Angel as my favorite manga, I was fearful that it would either be a rehash or failure, as seems to so often happen when someone devotes so much of his or her vision to one creation. That was not the case at all, however, with this being quite different from Battle Angel, but not at all disappointing.
This series is indeed very lighthearted, but also quite uninhibited at times, such as one of the more important characters, the Lighthouse King Arrabarus, having very well drawn, buggy eyes and screaming YAHAHAHAHAHAA a lot. It is also a much more typically shounen adventure
styled in what it seeks in the pomp it seeks to get across, and though at times it is a bit silly, it does not really detract from the work. It is childish, but not everything needs to be incredibly grim all the time.
I feel that the main problems are story and character related. The story rushes significantly toward the end, and it could have been hashed out much better with an extra volume or so. We get great dialogue like "What are those BUMPS on her chest? Ouch!" from Ashika with the response of "Only her children and the man she will take as her mate may feast upon them." from Arrabarus, the knight Ruliya is thrust into the main role and is not really very compelling. Ruliya's motivations and conflicts are pretty cliche and she never really shows any real verve after the early parts.
One more personal problem was that I really disliked the manga's obsession with (literally) shit later on in the storyline...feces have never been funny to me, but I guess they must be to others! I tried my best to just ignore it and enjoy a still great manga, but I note it for purposes of this review.
Overall, this was a highly enjoyable and fun experience. If you like typically "epic" adventure storylines, then you will absolutely love this.