Sun Fish Moon Fish
By Morag Lewis
When the Royal Family are murdered in this latest Manga from the UK’s Sweatdrop Studios, suspicion immediately falls upon Court Mage Anciarin, who doesn’t help matters for himself by immediately disappearing following the deaths. But everyone familiar with this type of tale will realise that in Sun Fish Moon Fish, Anciarin, disguising himself as the Minstrel Ember, is the innocent hero in all this.
Thankfully Iashar, special agent for the Royal Guards, is more willing to question both the events surrounding the murders and those very powerful men involved with them, and his investigations will peel back layer upon layer of political intrigue and as you may well expect reveal that all is not well in the Kingdom.
There’s a lot of promise in Sun Fish Moon Fish, with a sweeping historical story full of almost Shakespearian qualities; a Royal saga, a murder mystery, a political thriller, full of Magicians, Minstrels, Royal courts, courtesans, and exotic locales.
And the greatest strength of Sun Fish Moon Fish comes with the political intrigues and Iashar’s investigations early on, with Lewis doing a great deal right in scene setting for the remainder of the tale.
But the promise of the story, the political intrigues, the questions of conspiracy and cover-up that work well in the first section are rather lost in the middle and finale of Sun Fish Moon Fish. Too often the story jumps around in too clumsy a fashion, making it both too simplistic and confused – too simplistic in the way we’re walked through the mystery and intrigue involved, but confused in the manner in which Lewis occasionally seems to shorten sequences, resolve issues too quickly and without seeming good reason.
In addition to all that, the art, whilst light, open and very typically Manga styled, is often a little too vague about the characters, and I spent too long deciphering the characters identities and actions where I should have been wrapped up in the ongoing storyline.
Part of the issue of identification in Sun Fish Moon Fish comes from the art, where I found the characters too similar, too difficult to immediately distinguish, again taking me away from the storyline. A simple case in point for this to show what I mean – I genuinely thought the lead character of Anciarin / Ember was female until it’s specifically referenced as otherwise on Page 45:
Generally there seems a sense here of the overarching storyline being very good, the promise great but the execution leaving a little too be desired, indeed it may simply be a case of too much too soon. There’s the signs of something very good indeed here, and Lewis certainly shows promise. But this is too flawed to fulfill that promise.