“Despite his determination to protect his country, Van is ultimately captured and forced into labor in the salt mines. However, everything changes one night when a swarm of feral dogs brings a dangerous illness to the mine. Van and a girl named Yuna are the only ones to survive the tragedy. But what caused it? And what lies ahead for them now?” (Yen Press)
Buy This Title
You can access Amazon by clicking on the image below.
The story “The Deer King” is based on a light novel and has been adapted into two versions. The 2021 film with the same title is probably the most well-known, as the manga and light novel were just released by Yen Press. For those who have not read the light novel or watched the film, it is difficult to make a comparison between them. Therefore, this review will focus on the manga as its own separate entity, rather than a comparison to other adaptations.
Also take a look at this article.
The book’s main highlight is its pacing, which makes it a quick read despite being a larger edition with 308 pages. This is due to the use of dialogue-free or light panels. However, this does not mean that the story lacks depth. Instead, the plot is mainly conveyed through the actions and benevolence of the proud protagonist, Van, who is a man of few words. Additionally, the first volume focuses on developing relationships, so although there are some fantasy elements, the manga primarily explores themes of family and redemption.
This method will determine the general response to the release of “The Deer King,” as it deals with mundane elements and may require patience. However, those who can appreciate the mood will find solace in the deliberate pace of the narrative. Additionally, this approach effectively portrays Van’s calm demeanor, making his words carry weight when he does speak. In contrast, his young companion and adopted daughter, Yuna, exudes childlike enthusiasm and curiosity, adding a sense of innocence to the story.
The artwork evokes a sense of nostalgia, adding to the light fantasy elements and the central theme of family and Van’s journey of self-discovery. While not visually stunning, the landscapes and backgrounds are still impressive and exude a sense of warmth that complements the story. The physical release is perfect for a longer, combined edition, as the book is a quick read.
“The Deer King” is a hard title to recommend, as it kind of passes like white noise, offering a nice comforting distraction but not feeling substantive or impactful. This is welcomed for those who read a large variety of manga and will fit nicely in the rotation, particularly considering the relatively soft nostalgic visual style. Essentially, the series won’t be anyone’s ‘favorite,’ but its considered pacing and wholesome vibes set in a beautiful fantasy world is still worth checking out.