While there are some manga genres with works that may seem too similar, there are always those that don’t quite fit the molds. Apple Children of Aeon Vol. 1 offers the promise of one such weird, unique tale with a poignant atmosphere.
At first, we get to know the young Yukinojo, whose parents abandoned him at a temple. Though he grew up in an accomodating household, this event still left a scar on his heart. His recurring dream is an excellent metaphor for his own life: exploring unknown waters alone and with no clear direction.
After graduation, he enters an arranged marriage with a young woman called Asahi. She lives in the countryside and needs someone to help her family with the apple farm. As Yukinojo wants an excuse to leave home, this turn of events is perfect.
The family is large, and the work is plenty. The skinny boy will have to get used to the new routine. However, it doesn’t even take too long for him to get used to the new family’s warmth. The volume depicts clearly how his sense of belonging grows with time.
However, an unfortunate chain of events leads to him finding out about a secret side to the area. While the official page lists the series as science fiction, the feeling here is closer to a supernatural mystery. A bad omen and a sense of foreboding suddenly subvert the comforting atmosphere. And, as would be expected of a rural area, the local populace is unwilling to share its secrets with a newcomer.
Soon, mysterious things start to happen because of his single mistake. A simple, innocent sin was enough to threaten what Yukinojo was growing to love. Thus, the young man tries desperately to understand what’s going on. I won’t spoil the details as getting to find out what’s going on is a big part of the volume.
The narrative is gripping, and the author has a strong sense of realism while also playing with a metaphysical side. Characters feel like believable, warm people. At the same time, the atmosphere is poignant, showing how much weight things have on the protagonist’s mind.
Ai Tanaka uses excellent metaphors, which allows the story to have an expressive poetic side. Balancing this with the more realistic side of people is a feat. It could have felt like a forced mess but, instead, both parts complement each other well.
The art style and panel composition also follow the same principle. Characters may look bland compared to the more popular manga out there, but they seem down-to-earth and relatable. Panel composition also explores nuances and feelings in a charming perspective that adds significantly to the storytelling.
Besides the main story, volume 1 also includes two omake. The first one tells the story of the writer’s trip to the Aomori region in Japan for research. The area is famous for its apples, and this inspiration was necessary for the manga to take form. The second one shows the family kids doing random things on a common day.
Apple Children of Aeon Vol. 1 is just the beginning of the mystery, and we still don’t know how the protagonist will deal with the current crisis. However, what we have so far is a solid story that impresses with its combination of poetics and relatability in what seems to be a supernatural tale.
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