Wizard’s Soul by Aki Eda
By Hannah Edgington
Wizard’s Soul is a Japanese manga published from 2013 to 2015. There’s 22 chapters worth of young love, childhood trauma, wonderful art, and the most important card game on the planet.
“Wizard’s Soul” is the name of a trading card game that is famous the world over. People watch world wide tournaments, full ride scholarships can be given nationally ranked players, and your social standing can be effected both negatively and positively by your playing style.
Meet high schooler Manaka Ichinose, who hates the game, but works in a card shop. She is a quiet girl, who loses every game she plays. When her father, a weak player, falls for an obvious scam and loses more money than the family could ever afford, Manaka challenges Eita Sakurai, a very strong player, to a best of 5 game. At stake, either all of his Dueling Points or she will do whatever he wants. Manaka wins and Sakurai takes it poorly. Now Manaka must deal with personal rivals, unpleasant memories, and finding love in a world controlled by a card game.
Wizard’s Soul should be an action packed manga, with lots of screaming, crazy hair, and gasping in shock when trap cards come into play. You know, like Yugi-Oh. Instead it is a calm story about dealing with death, the fact that your crush is a human being too, and the motivations of the different tournament players.
I like Manaka. She sees what she has to do and she does it. She tries not to hurt anyone any more than she has to, but she doesn’t back away from it either. She went into this knowing that she would lose a lot. The friendship she had with other weak players, her crush, and her peace of mind, but she doesn’t quit. I also like Sakurai. Watching him deal with his loss, and rooting for Manaka is very satisfying. He spends half of the story kicking himself for yelling at Manaka, and the other half of the story learning how to be a better player, because the girl he likes is so good. They are super cute and I am rooting for this couple.
The artwork is very detailed and delicate. Each character looks like a real person in comic form. No crazy outfits or hairstyles. The mood is conveyed elegantly and feelings are worn on the character’s sleeves. The playing cards look fantastical. I kind of want to have these cards, not to play, but because they make beautiful art. I would be one of the weak players in this world.
Wizard’s Soul is only categorized as shoujo. A shoujo story is a story marketed towards young teenage girls. It’s pretty clear why it’s categorized this way. It deals with emotions and the stress of being a teeager. I do feel that it should be part of more categories. School life, for example, because it does depict the high school experience. Or possibly slice of life, because she is living a fairly normal life most of the time. Heck, let’s throw it into the shounen category too. A shounen story is a story marketed towards young men. It deals with the high stakes of professional card games. Just because it deals with emotions and has a female lead means it’s a girl comic?
I was surprised at how much I like this story. Card game mangas are not new, neither are love stories, but together, they make a charming story. Throw in other interesting players, a high stakes tournament, and a tragic backstory and you have yourself a fun, sometimes heart wrenching read.
4 out of 5 stars