Centaurs is a medieval fantasy where centaurs live in Japan and are used by humans in war. Matsukaze, the protagonist, is a large, powerful centaur who is captured by humans while trying to protect his son. Taken into captivity, he soon learns that centaurs often have their arms amputated by humans so the centaurs can be better controlled. It’s a morbid but effective way for humans to work, and it brings to the forefront the cruelty that is possible in the world. A tame centaur without arms suggests to Matsukaze that the two of them can escape together.
But even once they’re out of the humans’ grasp, there are still many dangers. They could get captured again, and they don’t know whom they can trust. Matsukaze and the other centaur are opposites in many ways, and it’s not clear if that is going to be to their benefit or to their hindrance.
The manga starts out with lots of action, and while the story remains fast-paced throughout, it gets more and more of a heart as it goes on and gets more gripping. Then it’s not just fighting, but it’s characters you care about and you want to be safe. There are a few twists and turns, and by the time you get to the end of the first volume, things are really heating up.
The mythological aspect is cool, and it would be interesting if it explains more about the background of war and why it’s happening in the first place. Another aspect that stands out about Centaurs is the artwork. There are shonen-style fighting scenes and plenty of thick ink, and then there are beautiful nature scenes done with such quiet intensity, like looking at the stars overhead.
Ryo Sumiyoshi, the mangaka behind Centaurs, has been involved with design work in some of the Monster Hunter games from Capcom. The end of the book includes details on the mythology of Sumiyoshi’s own brand of centaurs.
Story & Art: Ryo Sumiyoshi
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.