Here's a review of Kore Yamazaki's Josei title, Frau Faust, and her one-shot, The Invisible Museum.
Title: Frau Faust
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Supernatural
Publisher: Kodansha (JP), Kodansha Comics (US)
Author: Kore Yamazaki
Serialized in: Itan
Translation: Stephen Paul
Release Date: September 26, 2017
At some point while working on The Ancient Magus Bride, Kore Yamazaki got the go-ahead to work on a manga for Kodansha’s Itan magazine. This one involves Johann Georg Faust, a scholar who makes a pact with the devil. He manages to gain immense knowledge and worldly pleasures due to the deal, but loses his soul. This is the story Yamazaki is choosing to tell…
…Except, where it’s set in this manga, Faust is instead a fairy tale set in Germany, and the protagonist is a Faust — Johanna Faust to be exact.
Frau Faust so far spins the classic into a tale of hide and seek — at some point, Johanna and the devil Mephistopheles decided to play a game. She has to find the remaining parts of Mephisto’s body, which could be anywhere. Johanna plans on actually crushing the demon himself once she assembles him, but it’s not going to be easy — she has to not only face off against the Inquistors who desire to stop her from putting the demon back together, but she has to take care of a companion who’s young, a human, and was a thief.
..Well, Marion thankfully escaped jail time after Johanna saved him from such a fate, but after learning from her, he then adds to Johanna’s troubles by joining her quest. It’s the interactions she has with Marion, and with a few other characters, that makes Frau Faust stand out. One example is her showing affection for Mephisto (in his incomplete form) and to a homunculus, which is sweet and touching, yet also provokes an air of mystery. Is there a reason she shows her affection this way? Is it because of the experiences she’s had in her life? Whatever the case, the more the manga shows her interacting with people, the better it will be.
Another small thing that I think is cool is the behind the scenes section after a chapter. It’s a case where Yamazaki showcases the characters as actors on stage, or being filmed. She even drew them getting tired after a long day’s shoot, which is neat. I imagine that’s how you can interpret a ton of manga (of course, Tezuka was pretty famous with that for his works), and while it doesn’t affect the story, a little detail like that I can get behind.
What I can’t get behind is some of the action and the ending. Considering there are future volumes incoming it feels weird to say it had a bad cliffhanger, but I think having a fourth chapter would have been best instead of the one-shot (separately discussed below). The chapters are pretty long, but it leaves a bit to be desired to have to wait until Volume 2 to see what’s going on.
But ignoring that issue, the action is the weakest part of Frau Faust. Yamazaki’s art is detailed and nice to stare at when the characters are either joking around, chatting, or doing anything else other than fighting. But needing to have the classic “I’ll stab you in the back because I’m the antagonist” doesn’t feel like it works here. Thankfully, the battles maybe last two or three pages at best in Volume 1 — it just lets the two main characters try and do their thing.
What I am looking forward to is seeing if there’s going to be an additional challenge to finding Mephisto for Johanna. Is Marion going to be useful on Johanna’s journey? And what exactly is the relationship between demons and humans? Frau Faust certainly drops enough intrigue to keep me going, but it does need to improve upon some things, which it has the potential to do.
The Invisible Museum
Genre: Drama, Supernatural
Included in Volume 1 of Frau Faust is The Invisible Museum. This extra chapter stars Yume Asaki, a schoolgirl disliked by her parents essentially for not being as cool as her brother. Needing some money to get her own place, she winds up accidentally stumbling into a museum. She discovers initially there’s nothing there, until she meets the director who tells her all the things inside it are invisible. The director then hires her to find a butterfly.
The bad thing about The Invisible Museum is its use of dialog to tell its story in key moments. At some point, the art should be used to tell what’s happening. Needing to go the exposition route, especially to try and explain some plot points, is not great. The characters and locations are drawn well, but the story itself isn’t terribly exciting. It was fun to see the heroine dressed up as a bug catcher though.