“My Own Testament” – Testarotho (manga) – 4/10 Snowballs

Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud.  I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth.  I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.  ~Charles Sumner

Mangaka: Sanbe Kei

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Spiritual/Shounen

Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes/ 4 Volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by CMX.

Art: It has the artwork of a more recent series, with little shading and modern character designs.

Summary: The young Capria has completed her studies at Arsenal and has begun her internship with the Elysia Unification Council under Father Garrincha. School lessons, though, couldn’t have prepared this sheltered novice for the outside world. A world where rebels battle against the dreaded “Testarotho,” heretics are tried and burned at the stake, warring religious factions battle for power, and the common people live a miserable life in feudal servitude. Cans he bring a spark of hope to a world filled with destruction and madness? Maybe if she lives long enough! (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: Sometimes you come across a manga that has great potential to be something- it just doesn’t know what it wants to be. Testarotho is one such manga. Religious zealots roam the land, burning everyone who doesn’t agree with them, causing suffering in the lands that they rule over as they don’t distinguish between friend and foe. Seen through the eyes of Capria, someone who is shocked and brought to tears by the violence and harm that’s being done, and naïve of why such things would occur, it at first feels like a story about the Middle Ages, a warning against returning to the days when one had to watch everything they did in order to escape persecution.

This story quickly wavers from that, though, turning into a tale that focuses on the Testarotho’s best gunman, who’s own tortured past highlights the trials he goes through when he kills. It delves into political intrigue, where people are warped on the inside and factions indiscriminately destroy each other. It shows the horrors of war well, the images horrific, the people at risk often the most innocent. And then it changes from that, into a story of why people kill in the first place, giving a glimpse into how they are drawn together and made to destroy each other.

Testarotho does several of the themes right when it focuses on them. Unfortunately, with four volumes, the theme shifts far too quickly for its own good. The characters are intriguing in their own rights, with many having tragic pasts, or appearances about them being deceiving- good characters often come in the most unlikely forms. Many are killed or disappear at the drop of a hat. This is also an incredibly incomplete story. There is no definitive ending, having been brought to a conclusion before a major battle occurs. This leaves many plot lines hanging, from a potential romance between Capria and the gunman, to how the war is brought to an end (if it ever ends).

There is a footnote at the end of the series, where the mangaka ‘talks’ to the readers. The mangaka’s stated goal is carried out indifferently in the manga, since it’s only really focused on in one or two volumes. For this, I consider Testarotho a failed story, but one that had many intriguing things going for it if it had been allowed to run longer.

Overall, the blood and gore can obscure the good points of the story, while the weaknesses in the story detract even further.

Recommended: 18+. This is no-holds-barred violence- people are killed graphically, at any age, from children to adults. There is a lot of blood, and some gore. The women often have their clothes ripped off, so there is some partial-to-full nudity every volume, not all of it Barbie-doll.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Drifters (manga)

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Fate/Zero’s Blasphemy as Praise, Gnosticism Among Penguins, and Snowy Weather Yokai «

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