Comic Review: Art of Mana (Dark Horse Comics)

Dark Horse Comics releases the first artbook of Square Enix’s classic action RPG of the Mana or Legend of Seiken/Holy Sword series in Art of Mana artbook. So it’s finally […]

Dark Horse Comics releases the first artbook of Square Enix’s classic action RPG of the Mana or Legend of Seiken/Holy Sword series in Art of Mana artbook.

So it’s finally here, Square Enix and Dark Horse actually releases an old school action RPG from the 90s. And mostly, the Mana series is the most actual favorite video game that I’ve ever played, however, Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana are the only ones that I can think of. Even so, the story focuses on the nature of the Mana tree which contains magic and deities that ruled the world once. However, the whole mana tree almost relates of the “Tales of” series from Namco, when there are some of the stories, regarding of the Mana Tree and the whole concept between the gods and of course the Ygddrassil world tree, but we’ll explain that later, I’m getting off track. The whole point is that the whole Mana series focuses on the hero wielding the sacred blade, but unlike Master Sword from Zelda or the X-Blade from Kingdom Hearts, that sword is the essence of all life of that world.

One thing to know is that the story of the series is created by Koichi Ishii, and the story has a special toll on the fans. The story takes place in the fictional world where an unspecified period following a war for the fate of the world by using Mana to fuel a fortress. But then the hero uses the sacred sword which is the sword of mana to fight off against those who steal the power of mana. Also, it’s associated with the legends between the holy sword and to fight against evil. The front cover shows the artwork of one of the illustrations of Secret of Mana, or Seiken 2 which is illustrated by Hiroo Isono, which I can relate of one of my landscape illustrations where the whole plot took place of the Mana tree and there are flamingos flying towards the tree as if their species worship the tree because it does.

To begin with, this book specifies some of the character designs, creatures, and musical themes of every game of the series and some of the spinoffs of the Mana series. There are some of the art that contains from every concept of the game from the original to the remakes and the remastered versions of the game which actually have the characters’ designs and illustrations changes drastically. Some of the artists were illustrated by HACCAN, he’s one of the few illustrators responsible for the modern character designs of the Mana series and some several video game character designs like Fire Emblem and Legend of Heroes: Trails in the sky. What I do like about his artwork is that whenever I looked at the illustrations of Secret of Mana on the mobile and PS4 versions, it shows very drastically more realistic. And that key visual illustration of the party, it makes it so alive and they’re having a cheerful journey. The joy of those children’s faces, it just makes me want to play the game again. IT’S SO AWESOME. I just felt in love with HACCAN’s illustrations and the character designs of the girls like Primm and Luka are just so beautiful, to begin with, the look in her eyes and face is just made me fell in love, I don’t even know what Valentine’s day even is, but the designs of the girls are so beautiful. Either way, if we get the whole idea of the story, we should all shut up about it and have HACCAN draw the rest of the characters of the main series.

There are some of the cameos of the Mana series, and it included the Chocobo from the Adventure of Mana game, which actually made no sense that Final Fantasy is involved with the series in the first place, and the Hero, he looked like the Warrior pixel from the first three Final Fantasy games, no wonder why is that first game is called “Final Fantasy Adventure”. I mean the whole Mana series is like the big brother of Kingdom Hearts where every crossover comes over and takes you to a different Disney world and it includes some cameos from Final Fantasy, but this game is just something else. See if you can find some similar faces from the game itself.

Oh, I forget to mention the importance of the Mana series: the eight mana spirits, these spirits are the essence of the world of mana, which contains eight elemental spirits that make up the world, the spirits go by Wisp, Shade, Luna, Salamander, Undine, Dryad, Jinn and Gnome. They have the power to grant magic and to protect the mana tree itself. The legend itself foretold from the game of Seiken 3, the Mana Goddess forged the Mana sword and with it sealed the eight god beasts inside the Mana stones which scattered across the world, and the elemental spirits are bound to protect the stones from evil. Again, the whole concept is just like the legends of the Keyblade War that began when the 7 pure hearts of light battles against 13 seekers of darkness just in order to clash each other, in order to forge the all-powerful key in history to have Kingdom Hearts under control. Master Xehanort created a shortcut once to have Ventus and Vanitas battle each other to create that key from Birth by Sleep, it’s stupid somehow and ended up in failure. But this game is like to have to go on a journey to have the stones to contain the power to the sword, just in order to use the Mana sword mostly at the end of every game.

And we can’t forget about Flammie, the most adorable white mana dragon of the series. And let me tell you this Mana dragon makes the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and the Rabidragon were all that powerful Normal monsters in the Yu-Gi-Oh card game. The whole legend says that Flammie was created by the Moon gods, but at the end of the Secret of Mana, Flammie portrays itself as the terrifying Mana beast that once destroyed the world and slain by the mana sword. It also uses him as transportation, to travel around the world in the skies, and to use him for that you need to have some Chinese pellet drum toy to summon him. And if I were to have that drum in my possession and summon him, I don’t have to worry about using the subway because it actually drains the BS of all MTA transportation system around New York. But really, have you ever met someone in real life to use that drum toy to summon a dragon in the middle of the city? Well, I’m asking have you really? Let’s hope it does…

And of course, the Mana tree, oh god, DAT TREE. Let me tell you about this, that tree is the embodiment of the Mana Goddess and it took place in the holy land which is the Mana Sanctuary. Unlike the world tree of Yggdrasil, the tree is mostly the embodiment of all the world out there, of course, when the tree withers meaning that its roots are weakening very slowly and die on its unnatural process along with the spirits by the use of the evil energy that causes the mana tree to wither, aka the Magitech mana cannon. One of the purest women of the mana tribe steps up to become or sustain the tree, and the most powerful men of the tribe protect it from harm’s way, by what? You know, hugging it? Imagine one of the tribes is looking after the tree and starts hugging the tree from danger? Let me know if you ever see anybody doing that because mother nature needs protection.

Ok, so I’m gonna conclude this, the artbook is actually the first artbook of the Mana series that Dark Horse came up for the release. I’m actually happy for reviewing this book because I’m actually a fan of Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana. The illustrations are amazing, to begin with, however, HACCAN’s illustrations were absolutely the best. I mean, is this what been all were waiting for to put in your art collection? It’s mostly what I could get with the knowledge and the art of the game. Seeing the main characters faces smile with joy, just really makes me happy about it. If you rather want to have this artbook for your collection, then this is for you.

About Kevin Bermeo

I'm a New Yorker Artist, and I traveled a lot. I enjoy making comics, illustrations, paintings, and digital art. Besides drawing, I'm also a writer, I used to be a Gamer, and I love adventures, food, and dragons.