While many tend to think of manga as being strictly a strictly Japanese medium of storytelling, others would argue that it’s more about the method of storytelling and art itself. It’s safe to say the way a story unfolds in manga (and anime) is unlike that of any other medium out there. It’s unique in it’s presentation and holds a instantly recognizable style that almost beckons imitation.
Non-Japanese creators creating manga isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. When it was still alive and kicking, Tokyopop had an OEL (original English) manga initiative called The Rising Stars of Manga which saw artist Felipe Smith eventually serialize his own manga, Peepo Choo, in Japan.
Similarly, French comics artist (or dare I say mangaka) Tony Valente took his love of anime and manga, including Dragon Ball, Berserk, and Naruto, and created Radiant, which follows a young sorcerer by the name of Seth whose goal is to become the best sorcerer he can be, and destroy the nest of the monsters terrorizing the world.
Radiant went on to catch the eye of Eyeshield 21 and One Punch Man illustrator Yusuke Murata, who supported and helped Valente bring it over to Japan, which was released under Asukashinsha’s Euromanga Collection imprint, and even caught the eye of Fairy Tail’s Hiro Mashima, who was happy to see a similar type of fantasy story being explored. To this day, nine volumes of what Valente hopes to be a 15-volume series have been released in French. VIZ Media is releasing the manga to English-language audiences starting on September 11th, 2018.
This French manga was so well-received in Japan that it garnered a two-cour anime adaptation helmed by Seiji Kishi (Assassination Classroom, Asobi Asobase, Persona 4: The Animation, Yuki Yuna is a Hero) over at Lerche, with veteran voice talents such as Aoi Yuki and Romi Park, and theme songs by incredible Japanese rock bands 04 Limited Sazabys and Polkadot Stingray. To say this French manga’s adaptation has a powerhouse team behind it would be an understatement, but what about Radiant resonated so well with Japan that allowed it to become the first shonen anime made by a French mangaka?
Radiant blends many well-known facets of shonen anime and manga with a wonderous and enigmatic world inspired by French fantasy and architecture. Main character Seth is a headstrong go-getter who, despite the prejudice thrown at him, strives to surpass his goals and protect even those who denigrate him. While magic (known as Fantasia) is often looked upon with the same set of fearful eyes as the Nemeses that plague the world, there’s a rich culture of sorcerers atop a floating isle which set out to do good.
Seth has no interest in simply being an incredibly powerful sorcerer, or even destroying the Nemeses that plague the world. Like any good high-achiever, he sets his sights for the Radiant, which legend says to be the home of the Nemeses. Destroying it won’t only bring peace to the world, but will show everyone that sorcerers are nothing to be afraid of.
The supporting cast is very much rooted in shonen staples as well. Doc is the smart, yet bumbling fool who finds his skittish self in anxiety-addled situations. Mélie is the aloof female lead who lives to make friends, though stuck with a curse that changes her from cute and bubbly to frightening and foul-mouthed. Alma, his guardian and master, is a no-nonsense witch who disciplines him for his own good despite truly caring for him.
Alongside the sorcerers are The Inquisitors, who are the epitome of the shonen antagonist group. They’re not fans of magic, let alone those who use it, and use their power to try and control what can and cannot be done with magic. Even with no magic of their own to use, this is not a group you want to mess with, as Seth and crew will soon find out.
As a fan of the manga myself, I’ve often thought of Radiant as Tony Valente’s as his love letter to everything shonen. But the more the story moves forward, as we’ll see with the anime this Fall, it’s much more than that. It’s a strong contender for one of the best shonen series out there.
Have you had a chance to check out the Radiant manga? What are your thoughts? What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming anime? Sound off in the comments below!