Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manhua recommendation: Feng Shen Ji by Zheng Jian He

Feng Shen Ji
Zheng Jian He

The Great Shang dynasty has been in power for many years but the Gods' find fault with the new emperor. Instead of submit to their will at the expense of his people, the Emperor resolves to throw off the Gods' yolk and free humanity. However, not only the Gods but a rival, the young Zhou who submits to the Gods' will for his own purposes will face him! The fate of the dynasty, nay, the fate of all humanity will be determined by this great battle between the forces of Heaven and Earth!

Alternative names
Chronicles of the God's Order
The Legend and the Hero


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Here, Manga Reader, Eat Manga

Rosy's scrawlings on Feng Shen Ji
This manhua (Chinese manga) is just brilliant. It is in full colour and the effort that's gone into producing it is obvious right from the start. And impressive. The story of Feng Shen Ji is complex and involves characters and character stories that can't be called bog standard, as far as fantasy goes. The initial hero meets a sticky end and the one to pick up the reigns is someone you initially despise as selfish and self-centred far beyond what is acceptable. In fact, he even wishes his father would die and fails to see why he shouldn't take the eye or life of a slave at will. Let alone there being a problem with people being slaves at all.
The story of Feng Shen Ji revolves around the idea of the gods being not only real but often violently demanding and physically present to subjugate humans to their will. The gods enslave humans and force them to their will, slaughter the result for perceived slights let alone defiance. So what happens when an Emperor stands up and says "No more" to the gods? There is a prophecy floating about to make him sound all the more threatening and defiant to. What happens? The wholesale destruction of an entire country and its people. That's where the story of Feng Shen Ji truly begins, in the ashes of the old.
Feng Shen Ji is a full colour dramatic piece of the battles between gods and humans for rule and freedom. Both sides have much to lose but also a quagmire of complex situations to navigate, leading to the allegiances of gods and humans being unknowable until they act. Like any real war, the sides are nearly as well defined as propaganda makes out. This, along with many depictions of human depravity during war, slavery and turmoil, lends the story a realistic base. All good fantasy stories are built on elements of realism and here is a peak into the ugliness of humanity and humanities gods, relieved by glimpses of heroism, sacrifice and beauty.
The art Feng Shen Ji is gorgeous. It is produced by two artists: Cheng Kin Wo and Tang Chi Fai, who have great skill in combining colours and producing realistic images of the most fantastical creatures. Reds and oranges and yellows are used profusely to bring light and drama to the story even as darkness and shadow is woven in for the same purpose. The detail used is intricate and the pictures fairly glow with their own life.
And the best news: there are two sequel series to this manhua but you'll have to wait while they're all scanned and uploaded (hopefully, hopefully).

I'd recommend this manga to: lovers of high or epic fantasy, stories on gods and monsters, themes of revenge, honour and survival, play or die scenarios, and anti-heroes slowly coming good.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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