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Three Exorcism Siblings Volume 1 Review

Three Exorcism Siblings Manga Volume 1 Cover Art

Publisher Summary


In the mountains above Japan, Mamoru Yamaemori spends his days tending to his family shrine, fighting Tengu— monsters who feast on human flesh—and, making sure his two younger brothers will never have to pick up his mantle. Unable to escape the life forced upon him by his parents and a dark ritual involving Tengu blood, all he knows is that his existence is a curse: he is destined to die young in the service of others.


But to fight monsters, Mamoru must dance that line between loving older brother and mindless beast – or else he risks becoming that which he is sworn to destroy.


Translation: Mokoto Tamamuro & Jonathan Clements

Lettering: Tom Williams


I received Three Exorcism Siblings Volume 1 as an Advanced Review Copy from Titan Manga in exchange for an honest review.

 

Background


Three Exorcism Siblings released on Coamix's Comic Zenyon platform in 2021. The series ran for seven volumes with the last volume releasing in Japan on September 20th, 2023.


On September 22nd, 2023 Titan Manga announced they will release the manga in English on April 16th, 2024.

 

Review


Mamoru holding up a bloody hand taunting the tengu beast

Set in the mountains of Japan, there are monsters called the Tengu who are becoming a rising threat to those inhabiting the land. These creatures prey on humans for food and gain their intelligence with each successful hunt to become stronger beings. To prevent this from happening, different families around the mountains have sworn to combat the Tengu to ensure peace throughout the land they control. This is when we're introduced to our main character, Mamoru, of the Yamaemori family. We find him on patrol before he encounters a Tengu feeding on their latest catch. In an effort to save whoever is left, Mamoru baits the creatures towards him to gain the upper hand. While it seems like an unfair match-up is about to occur, Mamoru exorcises the Tengu in a series of flashy attacks and brings the survivor of the attack to the local authorities.


Kei and Yu sitting in a family room getting ready for the school day

As Mamoru returns from his latest patrol, we're introduced to the two younger brothers of the Yamaemori family: Yu and Kei. Unlike their older brother, who spends his days exorcising Tengu, these two live your standard young adult life when Mamoru is on patrol. Yu is a free-spirited character but gets serious when the time comes. Kei puts up a more serious face up front, but when he's around his family, he lowers his guard to do his part in helping with the chores around the house. When the three settle down and begin eating their meal, the brothers get into an argument regarding the "Yamaemori Curse.".


Mamoru's father injecting a vial of blood into Mamoru's arm

We learn that the Yamaemori family is infamous for their "Curse,"  which is described as "The Fate of Early Death." We get shown this dark ritual through a flashback in which Mamoru was forced by his father to ingest Tengu blood to help become a "stronger shrine guardian." After going through this traumatic experience, Mamoru swears to himself to never allow Yu and Kei to ever have to go through the same torment he did.


Mamoru protecting his brother Yu as he's surrounded by tengu creatures

Later that day, we see Yu sneak out to visit their parents grave to give an update on how the family is doing before getting surprised and attacked by a group of Tengu. As Mamoru finishes his rounds, he gets a call from Kei about how Yu hasn't come home yet, which sends Mamoru into a panic, He later finds Yu in the middle, about to get eaten by a group of Tengu, and unleashes a series of attacks to bide time for Yu to escape and call for backup. As things get grimey, the Tengu blood he ingested during the dark ritual activates and powers up Mamoru into a half-human, half-beast creature. While he takes out each monster with no difficulty, he soon realizes that he's not in full control of his actions and starts to hunt for human flesh. He then turns to Yu and attacks him, but stops himself, trying to resist the beastly urges, before getting knocked out.

When he wakes up, Mamoru finds himself tied up and sees someone he's not familiar with. Before getting a chance to speak, the stranger poises the question as he points his sword at Mamoru. "Kill yourself as a human, or be killed by me as a Tengu."


an image of the Yamaemori family shrine

This manga's strongest aspect would have to be its art. The detailed forest backgrounds help give specific scenes a "claustrophobic" feeling as we go through each Tengu encounter presented in the manga. The paneling of the action sequences is also one to praise, as it's easy to follow Mamoru's attacks against the monsters, whether it's just a single Tengu or a group of Tengu on the page. Then, when we get to see Mamoru manifest his powers into the Half Human/Half Beast being, it reminds me of titles such as Choujin X and Tokyo Ghoul, where there's emphasis on the "transformation" itself as a character begins to "lose" their human form for something hybrid. As much as I enjoyed the art of this series, I am disappointed in the actual "Tengu." Each time they're on the page, they all look identical to each other and don't leave much to the imagination. The only real difference between each one is maybe their headwear or their mask design. But given how we're told these Tengu are supposed to be "dangerous" the more they feed on humans, the Tengu we do see up to this point doesn't reflect that.


Mamoru turning into a beast

The next aspect of this manga that's solid is its three-brother dynamic. Mamoru, Kei, and Yu are presented in a way that you can easily get behind their motivations and tell that this family really cares about each other and will do anything to protect one another. For example, at the beginning of chapter 2, we learn that the reason why Mamoru is tied up is because both Yu and Kei stood up for him against the stranger, who clearly could easily take out both of them. And towards the end of chapter 2, the two brothers take up the responsibility of watching over Mamoru on the condition that if he can't control his Half Human/Half Beast form, they swore to execute their older brother, no questions asked. Chapter three gives us a look at the tension created by the situation between the three brothers trying to process the information, which helps ground the events that just transpired. So you think with this groundwork you are going to have a strong family narrative, right? Not really


The major issue I have with this manga is the choice of dialogue. There are multiple cases throughout the story where the character dialogue simply does not match the tone of what's happening on the page. First off, Mamoru's dialogue has completely taken me out of the story every time he says a sentence, as his lines read as if he's trying way too hard to sound "edgy" for

Mamoru grabbing a beast's attention

For example, in the opening chapter, we see Mamoru attempt to bait out a Tengu away from the sole survivor of the attack; the paneling sets up the narrative point; and the forest environment sets up the Claustrophic feeling that one wrong move could end Mamoru's life, which is supposed to be this tense moment, right? well that all the buildup gets tossed out the window when our main character opens his mouth to say, "Hey, You God, Damn Tengu" and "There's no way you goddamn tengu are ever going to become human, huh?" So okay, this issue only happens with Mamoru ,right? This issue continues throughout the entire manga, with all the characters shown in this volume.


Mamoru threatening the beast


Mamoru and kei arguing before kei punches Mamoru in the face

For example, Chapter 3 takes us back to the Yamaemori Family Shrine, where all three brothers meet up for the first time after the events that transpired. Like before: the artwork sets the tone of the scene pretty well, and the paneling showcases all three of the brothers in frame to create this tense moment between them. But again, the dialogue rears its ugly head again when Mamoru speaks, and immediately all the tension that was created for that narrative moment is gone. "Do you have any idea what this will do to you?" and "I don't want to put either of you in any more misfortune" just read off as stiff and do not match the intensity of the argument that we're supposed to be experiencing in this moment of the story. It also does not help that the story's pacing chose to resort to fast forward in chapter four instead of showing how the brothers hunt in a group. All these things combined made this book a chore to read through, and I felt disappointed as I flipped to the final page.



 

Final Thoughts


While I appreciate this manga's art and three brother dynamic the narrative attempts to set up. The dialogue of all the characters in this story just didn't match the context or tone of the multiple scenes that the storytelling attempts to build. This results in a "okay" narrative if you can look past the dialogue of the characters. But I found this manga to a chore to read through and will not continue this series.


Verdict: Pick It Up On A Sale


Three Exorcism Siblings Volume 1 from Titan Manga is now available at all retailers


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