It’s Manga’s Greatest Hits in Betrothed 1

By Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

If you like reading manga you will probably enjoy Betrothed 1, and if you like Betrothed 1 you will probably enjoy reading manga.

That’s obviously a broad generalization, since manga is a medium, not a genre, and there are many different stories told within that medium, but as a lapsed Weekly Shonen Jump subscriber, I’ve read enough breezy meet-cutes and hastily staged fight sequences to comfortably state that Sean Lewis and Steve Uy’s Betrothed 1 is a solid effort at a Manga Tropes Greatest Hits Collection.

By my count, such hits include:

  • A spiky-haired male protagonist
  • A hot-tempered female protagonist
  • High school hijinks
  • A sequence where our underaged protagonists’ nudity is chastely obscured by the eminence of light
  • Interdimensional conflict
  • Two warring, martial arts-trained factions
  • A muscle-bound anthropomorphic spirit beast

And since there’s no shortage of manga and anime influences, how easily Betrothed 1 goes down will depend on your familiarity/tolerance for the specific breed of adolescent fantasy it’s selling. The breakneck pace of the issue leaves precious little time for explanations of who characters are or what motivates them outside of the broadest generalizations — exposition boils down to hoary nuggets like “It’s meant for us, isn’t it?” and “It was a promise made long ago”.  Bethrothed 1 aims to dazzle rather than engage.

If you’re already used to the sugary concoctions of Weekly Shonen Jump and its ilk, Bethrothed 1 will be like drinking a store brand; not as good as the real thing, but decent enough in a pinch. It’s harder to recommend for those with a less high tolerance for manga nonsense.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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