“BASTARD!! – Destroyer of Darkness”: A Pioneer of Fantasy Manga
In the 1980’s, science fiction was the mainstream genre in Japanese manga, however, works with fantasy themes are more common nowadays. There was “Record of Lodoss War” among others that pushed fantasy manga into mainstream as it is today. This time we would like to introduce one of such fantasy manga; “BASTARD!! – Destroyer of Darkness”.
“Dark Schneider”, the grand wizard, had instigated a war that split the world into two, but he was defeated. Once died and reborn by magic as “Luche Renren”, he was living with “Tia Noto Yoko”.
The kingdom of Meta-Likana, where the two were living, was invaded by Dark Legion, and the story starts when Yoko breaks the seal to revive Dark Schneider.
The story is divided into a few sections. The book of “Dark Legion Revolts” depicts battles with Four Lords of Havoc who conspire to resurrect the god of destruction, “Anslasax”.
In the book of “Requiem in Hell”, fierce battles are depicted with the last of Four Lords of Havoc, “Kall Su”, the wizard of ice, and then with the god of destruction, Anslasax.
The book of “Crime and Punishment” is an Armageddon story in which they battle and save the world against angels that have descended to announce the end of the world.
In the book of “Immoral Laws”, the battle continues in a devastated world after “Crime and Punishment” against demons and angels that contemplate world domination.
The first story was published in 1988, and the series is still continuing in 2016.
1. Dark Schneider
He is the protagonist, and called as “D.S” in short.
He specializes in flame magic.
His personality is selfish, even egotistical, and originally he was responsible to have started a great war in order to rule the world.
When he was defeated in the war, he revived as Luche Renren, but was sealed by Yoko’s father.
2. Luche Renren
He is D.S’s incarnation.
Completely opposite of D.S, he is innocent and somewhat dense.
3. Tia Noto Yoko
She is a daughter of the great priest of Meta-Rikana, and she is an apprentice shaman at the beginning of the story.
She grew up with Luche like a sister and brother, and perhaps because of this influence, D.S cannot go against her.
4. Kall Su
He is one of the Four Lords of Havoc, who once had served under D.S. He is a wizard specializing in magic of cooling and ice.
Like his magic, he is collected and calm with little mood swings.
Currently he is aiming for the hegemony in the world, scheming for the resurrection of god of destruction, Ansla Sax.
5. Arshes Nei
She is a dark elf with dark skin and one of the Four Lords of Havoc. She is a magical sword master specializing in lightening magic.
6. Gara, the Ninja Master
He is one of the Four Lords of Havoc, and he leads Ninja Corps engaged primarily in undercover assignments and assassinations.
Another of the Four Lords of Havoc, he is a necromancer and uses zombies.
One of the appeals of this story is its depiction of destruction, images drawn with overwhelming mastery techniques of the creator, Kazushi Hagiwara. Depiction of explosive flames and fierce destruction caused by magic of Dark Schneider, the wizard, was a new expression never seen before in manga.
Also, the world background of this story is conforming to the style of fantasy, such as “The Lord of the Rings”. Many of the settings are closely following the roll playing games “D&D”, and names and appearance of monsters were changed in the book version, to avoid copyright infringement.
By closely following the style of such fantasy works, this story has successfully achieved profound realism.
There are 27 volumes published in the book form in Japan as of December 2015. Though the series is still ongoing, it has become irregular due to the poor health of the author. It is feared to become one of the masterpieces that might end without completion, together with “Hunter x Hunter” by Yoshihiro Togashi and “Berserk” by Kentaro Miura.
As we explained at the beginning, we could say this manga was influential in spreading fantasy in Japan. Many Japanese boys came to know and were enthralled by orthodox fantasy through this work. A story with a quick-tempered wizard as protagonist is perhaps rare, too. We highly recommend you to give it a try when you have a chance.