Oh my goodness, what a fun little series we’ve got going here. The Cockney love child of Heroes and X-Men, Almier could not be more up my alley, ready to take me out with a kick to the face.
We start out with a run-of-the-mill robbery in London. And it takes all of a few pages to evolve in true and wonderful Dragonball Z/Yu Yu Hakusho-style arse-kicking, with a guy standing up to the baddies and punching them out clear across the room. We find out along with our protagonist, Hakim, that the guy with the Super Saiyan punch is an Almier. The explanation for what exactly an Almier is comes a little heavy-handed considering this apparently is a universe where the existence of these people who can access and manifest the power of their souls is relatively common knowledge, and yet Hakim conveniently doesn’t understand how they do so and needs to be reminded of the details. (If it turns out in later issues he does actually possess a poor memory, then I don’t have as much of a problem with it, but as of right now it just feels like “hey, we need to tell the reader some background, let’s make our main character suddenly forget everything about his world for a couple pages.”)
Aside from that, we find out that the Almier develop their powers in different ways: realists, who draw from their soul’s energy and gain enhanced physical abilities, and dreamers, whose varied abilities manifest from a “dream,” or a strong desire. We also find out that, much like the X-Men, the Almier are not wholly liked by the community, feared because they are enhanced beyond normal humans.
Not long after this, we find that Hakim has a very strong desire himself: to not be one of the people who walks by acts of violence and does nothing about it. And he certainly does something about it.
Personally, Almier hits all the right notes with me so far. It tackles the classic idea of standing up for what you think is right, and gives power to those who might feel they are too weak to do anything about it. It’s diverse, with a mostly minority crowd, and its location of London, England, isn’t one most manga readers come across. The storyline comes off as rather simplistic for right now, but it has so much potential to grow and become something epic, as I very much hope it will!
Another reason I enjoyed this from page one is the art style. It’s clean and consistent, uncomplicated and yet still manages to convey everything clearly. Each character is distinct and unique, and I can’t speak enough about how refreshing it is to see people of color that aren’t being thrown in as token stereotypes, especially for something aimed at a younger audience.
Overall, I’d have to say I definitely recommend chapter one of Almier if you’re into the underdog taking justice into their own hands, or even if you’re looking for a manga that puts a diverse spin in its character design and uses Cockney English as its primary language. I’m looking forward to the potential character developments, so expect more reviews to come!