Marry Grave | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐.25
"In a world where demons run amok on earth, Riseman Sawyer had managed to find love and happiness with his wife, Rosalie. But she died, and Riseman now carries her coffin on his back while searching for the ingredients to the "Deadman's Recipe." The spell is rumored to be able to bring someone back to life—a rumor that Riseman knows is true, because Rosalie used it on him, making him an immortal "undead" at the price of her life.
Gathering all the spell's ingredients won't be easy, and the world is still full of plenty of despair and death. Can hope and love possibly be resurrected?"
Marry Grave is a manga series written and illustrated by Hidenori Yamaji, this was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 2017-2019. It culminated with 52 chapters collected into 5 tankōbon volumes.
First of all, I read this for an ongoing challenge I am doing where I read cancelled manga to see if they had potential or were worth the read. (If you want to check that out you can find it here). As such, this series has indeed been cancelled, so if you wanted to read it keep in mind that you will not get a complete story.
Now, I really, really enjoyed this series. The story was interesting, the magic system was developed enough, and the characters were fleshed out and really easy to connect with. This one hurts that it got cancelled because I would have liked to continue reading it.
Let's get into the details.
First order of business is that there is no official English translation of the series (sadly). There is a German one and a couple of others, but no English and there probably won't ever be one.
Secondly, this is a lot longer than I was expecting it to be. All of the other series I read so far barely made it past 25 chapters if that. This though has 52, so at least there is a good amount of content.
As for the art, I thought it was rather good. Some of the character designs for the demons were rather unique and interesting. There was one character, for example, who looked like he was wearing a helmet but it turned out it was the character with his actual mouth pulled back to show his bearing teeth.
The art really shows off when there is a lot going on on a page which could be chaotic if not done well but it was nicely done. There is also nudity though so be warned if that bothers you.
The first chapter may seem a bit odd considering this a story following a character looking to resurrect his dead wife, but it set up the story rather wonderfully considering that. The story starts off with a single page of two characters getting married to each other. Again that may be confusing because that panel is shown out of context from what comes next, but once you get the context the pieces start to fall into place.
In this series, we follow Riseman Sawyer as he journeys around the globe in search of ingredients for the Deadman's Recipe, a recipe that has the ability to bring someone back from the dead. Riseman is the man from the first panel, and the woman he married is quickly found out to have died and is the one he is hoping to bring back. This is made all the more tragic when you learn that Riseman was actually the first person to die after their wedding was interrupted by a hoard of demons, and she actually brought him back only to lose her own life in the process.
This kind of setup was effective because it immediately brought me into the story and made me start to care for the characters. We then follow Riseman on his journey, the same journey that Rosalie took, as he encounters new friends and foes. The story, thankfully, doesn't end up formulaic and flows rather well with more context and plot occurring naturally along the way.
The plot isn't linear though, as well do eventually end up in the past in order to see how Riseman and Rosalie met as well as to get more content about their individual backstories. This plotline was also done extremely well and made me a bit emotional at times. The only negative I have to say regarding this though is that there is a time skip, so we don't get to see too much of them when they are younger and see them interact with the characters as well.
As we follow both Riseman and Rosalie throughout the many years, along with their allies, we become no strangers to tragedy. Of course, we know right from the beginning what happened to them to start the story, but there are several little tragedies that end up getting to you. The author did a really good job at making you care for the characters and their journey and knew how to elicit certain emotions from you.
One thing I liked about this series was its commentary on life and death. Similar to Sousou no Frieren, another manga series, although Riseman is on this journey for a purpose, you can't help but contemplate immortality and all its loneliness. Another character we meet along the way who also experiences the same feeling questioned 'what is the point of living forever when all you experience is the pain of saying goodbye to the people you love.'
Finally, we have the ending. Thankfully, although the story wasn't able to properly end due to its cancellation, the author did include a compilation at the end which quickly sped through all the events that would have happened should the story have continued. While it is sad that we didn't get to actually read about it, being able to know how the story ended is a blessing.
Unlike the other manga I have been reading for my challenge, Yamaji knew exactly what to do in terms of the world and magic system. We are given the needed context right at the beginning, as we learn that in this universe humans and demons used to co-exist until the demons started to mass exterminate the humans. What is left now is a small remnant of humanity. The world in this is very small, but it works for the story because we get to explore small places as we follow Riseman.
Like the world, the magic system isn't overly complicated as well. While demons have their own magic, humans are only able to temporarily use it by borrowing it from materials. It even shows you exactly how which is nice because it is then easy to grasp. I also like how the author automatically built-in limitations in that depending on how strong the material is, the harder it is and the longer it takes to extract the mana to use.
The author in general did a really good job at giving context as, whenever a new creature or object appeared, there would be a little piece of parchment on the page giving the needed context. The only complaint here I have is that a piece of information regarding the magic system should have been mentioned earlier than it was.
I have already talked about the characters a bit in the last section, and how I ended up getting attached to them and even got a bit emotional because of what was happening. Needless to say there that the author created some really good characters.
Starting with Riseman, our main character, at first he seemed like more of a one-tone character. He is always happy and smiling and goofing around a bit, but he has such depth to his character given his backstory. Despite all he has gone through, and the fact that he is on this journey alone and has been for 40 years until the start of the story, he is still optimistic. He does have his moments as well where he succumbs to emotion because it can be overwhelming at times. Also, tiny Riseman was utterly adorable and must be protected.
Rosalie is a bit more complex of a character given that she is currently dead, but we do get to know her through the flashbacks. Oddly enough, I didn't know how to feel about her when we are introduced to her younger self because of how she acted, a bit haughty, but she also went on the same journey as he did also alone as her feelings for him never wavered. I rather liked the parallel between their journeys, as well as their devotion to each other.
As for other characters, we do get a few who join Riseman along the way. We first meet Zel, someone who claims to also be looking for ingredients but ends up being far more antagonistic than Riseman expected him to be. He is a very prominent character, but he does appear every once in a while which I was happy about because I actually liked his character. Sadly though, we don't get to know too much about him.
Then we meet Jean, a dark fairy whose story I won't go into too much detail because we meet her a bit later on in the story. Jean though is someone who sees part of herself within Riseman and is the one I mentioned earlier that contemplated living and immortality. Tiny characters always end up being a bit annoying for some reason, but her backstory does get delved into a bit so her attitude makes sense because of the context we are given.
Finally, we have Dante, a character we meet in Riseman and Rosalie's past. He was probably my favourite character out of everyone. Again I can't go into much detail because you don't meet him for a while, but his personality and dynamic with the two were fantastic because of his reluctance to actually showed he cared about them (even though he did).
This was a winner for me. There was just so much this story gave as it had so much depth to it. There were comedic moments and action-packed moments and emotional moments that all formed a wonderful story.