Luca is a young man living in a world where seeds contain miraculous powers. The seeds are tightly controlled by a government organization called Graineliers, but Luca needs money to support himself and his shut-in father and takes up raising illegal amaranth for profit. One night, when the Graineliers come knocking, Luca winds up ingesting some seeds and falls into a coma for two years. Luca’s friend Abel watches over him during this time, and when Luca wakes up the two set out to find out what exactly the seeds did to Luca.
Graineliers is full of fascinating world-building with an intriguing mix of technology and magic, all based around seeds and plants. Much of the backstory is provided in a big infodump at the beginning of the book, but it still doesn’t explain all that much. Slowly, a bit more about the use and function of the plants is revealed, but it’s very gradual as the story gives way to Luca and Abel’s shenanigans. Abel helps Luca recover from his coma and get out of the house, and soon they discover that Luca may have the power to help plants grow at astonishing speeds. Looming in the background are the Graineliers, who discover the amaranth that Luca grew and start hunting for a human with plant DNA.
There’s plenty of material for future volumes and Graineliers promises to deepen and fruit like the magical plants at its center. The art is lovely, with a French milieu and Victorian/modern costumes. Luca and Abel, as well as the other younger characters, look fantastic. However, Takari’s art gets awkward when drawing anyone older than 20. Abel and Luca’s fathers both look like youngsters with a lot of age lines drawn on, not authentically old in any way. Still, the world is so interesting and the ideas so unique that art complaints take a back seat. Also, Takari seems to have done some homework when it comes to gardening. The manga’s information about plants, like an herbicide formula, lends authenticity to the more fantastical elements. Fans of books like Fullmetal Alchemist are likely to enjoy Graineliers. Recommended.
Publisher: Yen Press
Story and Art: Rihito Takari