Alpi the Soul Sender Vol. 1

Writer / Artist
Alpi the Soul Sender Vol. 1
Alpi the Soul Sender Vol. 1 review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Titan Manga - 978-1-7877-4130-0
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2018
  • English language release date: 2023
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781787741300
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Fantasy, Manga, Period drama

Rona’s opening two pages explain the essence of her series, noting spirits as manifestations of god’s power in animal form. When alive their surroundings become fertile, but the process is reversed when they die, and to prevent lasting damage a ritual involving the Soul Sender must take place. The remainder of the opening chapter shows how that works, with a few minor setbacks along the way.

That opening chapter sets the generally lighthearted tone with the young Alpi exaggeratedly enthusiastic in a manner designed to appeal to young girls, and just a tinge of tragedy as she’s susceptible to harm herself. She’s carrying an injury when we first see her, accompanied by adult advisor Perenai, knowledgable, but unable to perform rituals himself. In addition to her duties she’s hoping to re-establish contact with her parents, also Soul Senders, whose correspondence has stopped.

As is quite commonly the case in Japan these days, creator Rona prefers to retain their anonymity, leaving the work to speak for itself. It’s a tidily drawn series, some pages concentrating on figures, but opportunities taken to present landscapes and decorative temples and page borders. Alpi is large-eyed compared with the remaining cast, and her reactions are those of a young girl, although one kind-hearted and dedicated to a task to which few are called. It makes it all the more shocking when we’re shown what’s referred to as a purification ritual, which involves a painful purging of the putrefaction absorbed from corrupt spirits.

Over five chapters Alpi and Perenai wander from town to town in well crafted sequences. There’s always drama, but not necessarily a threat, which keeps things fresh, as does Rona ensuring each town’s concerns differ from the last. Along the way readers learn more about Alpi’s techniques and position.

It’s the ethical decisions accompanying the soul sending giving weight to what might otherwise be standard fantasy. Vol. 1 is a confident and appealing start, that gradually tones down the comedy exaggeration in favour of consideration, drama and torment. It should be more than enough to hook readers into Vol. 2.