Review by C.J. Bunce
It’s rare to come across a fantasy that creates a new spirit realm so rich and detailed that it sucks you in with only a few pages. That’s exactly what readers will find in Titan Manga’s new English edition of Alpi the Soul Sender, the first volume of Rona’s 2018 fantasy manga story previously only available in Japanese, French, and German. In this new magical realm, a girl named Alpi is one of the few chosen to facilitate the journey of spirits from the world of the living to the afterlife. The divine spirits are the source of all life, and they guard the towns where they dwell, providing peace and prosperity for the environment and its people. But as all good things come to an end, so is the way of these spirits. At death a curse turns them evil, resulting in devastation to the surrounding area unless a Soul Sender performs an age-old ceremony to usher them along. But that process comes at a price to each Soul Sender.
A brilliant new world about a young heroine on a dramatic journey like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Red Sonja, volume one of Alpi the Soul Sender is coming your way in only two weeks, and you can pre-order it in an English translation for the first time now here at Amazon.
Alpi is a one-of-a-kind heroine that will be familiar to manga readers of the “magical girl” genre. At one level she’s an ordinary goofy kid, one of those protagonists you see flitting about in many a manga or anime story, wide-eyed, and always filled with laughter. When Alpi comes upon a new town, she is curious and explores it like any newcomer would. But just as Buffy the Vampire Slayer had her Watcher in the librarian Giles, Alpi has her familiar, a wise man named Perenai. He’s there to keep her in line, but like Giles the relationship is deeper.
Perenai is successful in guiding Alpi as often as he isn’t, but when he isn’t it’s because Alpi has her own wisdom. Even so young, she knows the rituals required of someone in her chosen position, and she is adept at following Perenai–when she should. She takes risks–some calculated, some not. But her guiding trait seems to be her concern for the spirits and doing everything necessary to continue to see that good conquers all.
Alpi’s journeys have a mix of fantasy elements readers of any kind of fantasy will be familiar with. One journey finds her caring for a spirit being harnessed and forced reminiscent of a popular Doctor Who episode. Her approach of wandering from town to town in search of lost parents also conjures the journey of Lone Wolf and Cub (and The Mandalorian and Grogu).
Alpi is a fantastic heroine and her first adventures are a must for manga fans. Titan Manga has future volumes slated for next year, including volume 2, available for pre-order now here and volume 3 available for pre-order here.
With artwork and story by Rona, translated into English by Motoko Tamamuro and Jonathan Clements–don’t miss volume one of Alpi the Soul Sender, coming October 10, 2023, to comic shops and available for pre-order now here at Amazon.