Mania Grade: C+
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- Story and art by: Shin Midorikawa
- Publisher: Del Rey
- Rating: Teen (13+)
- Price: $10.95
AVENTURA, Volume One
By Nadia Oxford
November 19, 2007
AVENTURA, Volume One by Shin Midorikawa
© Del Rey
It's easy to look at a magic-themed manga like Aventura and write it off automatically as a Harry Potter ripoff, but that's not really a fair gesture. Aventura is certainly inspired by Harry Potter and it has its flaws, no doubt, but at the end of the day there's little here that's derivative of the boy wizard beyond the clichés that are common to all teen-oriented comics and literature.
And therein lies a big problem with Aventura: For a story about a magic school and its fantastic inhabitants, it's pretty basic. Lewin Randit is a hot-tempered orphaned boy who is invited to attend the Gaius School if Witchcraft and Wizardry. He's initially confused about the invitation because he doesn't think he wields any sort of magic ability at all, and in fact gets into trouble with the academy's bullies because of his impotent abilities. Ah, but it seems Lewin might be destined to be the greatest magic-user the world has ever seen, and with the help of his two new friends, he attempts to discover what he's capable of--
Okay, so Aventura is a lot like Harry Potter after all. But at the same time there are noted differences, and unfortunately it's these notations that drag the manga down. In one instance, Lewin goes to the infirmary to get a minor wound treated. He asks the nurse why she treats him with conventional medicine instead of just zapping his wound away. She launches into a speech about how Nature is the source of magic and one shouldn't be neglected for the other except in dire emergencies, etc etc. The reasoning is good but presented badly. Lewin is supposed to be an undiscovered prodigy; he should understand the basic properties of magic even if he's not especially good at it (yet). All that the nurse's self-righteous lecture is missing is a final, "So take that, Madame Pomfrey."
But Aventura has its interesting bits, too. Unlike Hogwarts, Gaius is split into two major classes: One on magic and one on swordplay. Here the manga gets a little confusing, but it seems as if the two sides, for whatever reason, interact very little. Lewin is interested in learning magic, and shows a natural talent for it (yet he's never entered the school's library for some reason), but something--he can't remember what--pushed him to choose swordplay over wizardry. Lewin makes friends with two wizards and discovers some of his magical powers, but he's really put to the test when the three of them unwittingly release the hordes of the undead in the school hallways. No joke.
If you've been dying for some Harry Potter-themed action since Rowling packed her quill (for now), give Aventura a try. It's not as special as you'd hope a wizard-themed manga might be, but it's not without its charm. Volume 1 retails for $10.95.