My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I downloaded Orphan Blade with a bunch of other graphic novels on a whim, just because they were available on Netgalley. Plus I’ve reading a bunch of graphic novels lately, so I thought I’d continue the streak.
Anyway, the book is difficult to rate since I have no idea what it really wants to be. I started off thinking it was middle-grade or aimed at early teens – the writing is simplistic and aiming for dramatic flair. Midway through, it turned into a real gore fest with a ton of body horror thrown in and I decided it must be for older readers. But the plot was unfolding as a typical quest for humanity story, as if the author decided to condense every anime he saw into 200 pages, so I went with middle grade again. But then, the book ended with the lead couple kissing and they were not a boy and a girl. So I was left with a book that wouldn’t fit into any slot or suit any reader.
Admittedly, in this day and age, younger children could probably handle a gay couple without blinking and while the reciprocation of the romance came out of nowhere, it was nice to see this kind of subversion. If it was intended for juvenile readers, this is a good way of spreading awareness. But I don’t believe anyone under the age of 15 or so could handle those cannibalism scenes without screaming. Even I felt my stomach turn a bit. Just a bit.
The art is whimsical and cutesy. Uncluttered lines yet detailed backgrounds bring the world of Orphan Blade to life. Even the kaiju are rather adorable, and I think that’s what makes the violence even more shocking.
I have to note a complaint though: the font is incredibly hard to read. I had to keep zooming in to differentiate letters, which would lead to the art appearing all blurry. I’m guessing it’s not going to get any easier in the physical version.
So the verdict would be that this book would make a good read for younger readers, if they don’t get freaked out by blood and won’t have nightmares about various body parts lying strewn over the floor.