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Priest Manwa review
A revenge story that follows the former priest Ivan Isaacs, a man who made a deal with the devil Belial in order to seek vengeance against the fallen angel Temozarela and his twelve disciples. Ivan's deal has turned him undead (by resurrecting him from the dead), granting him inhuman strength and durability. Unfortunately the deal cost Ivan half of his soul and throughout the story the half he still possesses is slowly eroding until inevitably he will completely lose all grasp on his consciousness. Unfortunately the series is halted at volume 16 (which is probably less than the halfway mark of the story) and has been for a long time with no sign of continuing. I'll address why that's the case for that and many other titles some other time on DREAMcast.
The story's concept even to a guy selling his soul to the devil and becoming undead to seek revenge against a supernatural force at this point is hardly original. However, the artwork is quite unique even from what I've seen of other manwa. Sometimes the artwork can look kinda cartoony within its own style sometimes, but it can also become unnaturally disturbing which is good if it's your thing.
There are more than a handful of main characters in the story, though only Ivan, Belial and Vascar De Guillon (who eventually becomes the avatar of Temozarela) enjoy in depth coloring. The brunt of the story is set in the frontier west, though it has portions involving The Crusades and Inquisitions as well as the present day. Being a western sets it apart from the vast majority of manga and anime out there, which is part of what drew me to it personally. Also different are the strong plot ties to theology and oddly enough faith. The aspect of faith in the story was interesting to me because both sides of it were portrayed and interestingly so to me: strength of as well as loss of faith. Finally, being set outside of Japan was a fresh take to me. As stated previously I don't have a thing against Japan or anything but it's nice to have a different setting once in a while.
A take on revenge at any cost as well as portraying what damnation really is like, mostly absent in manga and anime. Though I found the story sometimes gruesome and despondent, Priest was very intriguing to me particularly when speaking of its visual style of storytelling.
Originally I recorded my review of Priest for the second episode of D.R.E.A.M.cast with Donwun on the fly, but was unhappy with the result. What I discovered from that recording though is especially after the world was introduced (horrendously) to "Priest" by the flop of the movie that had nothing to do with the manhwa was that regardless, Priest is a hard sell. If you don't mind that the story is stuck partway through with no definite date to continue, then we're past the first major hurdle. The second would be that seriously, that movie had nothing to do with the manhwa other than the looks (very marginally at that). The story is a western, so let's start there with recommendations. If you want to see an eastern artist's take on a western, Priest is one of the few titles that comes to my mind. If you want to see the struggles of one man slowly losing his humanity and soul for revenge against an overwhelming, unholy organization, Priest is that story. If you're not into excessive happy-go-lucky bullshit in your stories, something more gritty and rough; Priest.
For some reason in the film they decided to make the main antagonist have the look and feel (minus vampirism) of Ivan Isaacs rather than the protagonist (Paul Bethany's character). In fact, if they had just made that guy the main character with that outfit the movie may have moved up an entire notch just by making the main character look awesome. Why they didn't do that? I have no idea..I don't know where they got a lot of their ideas for the movie from. It's like the Akira video by Kanye West just..wtf..