The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
Banished From The Hero's Party
What's It About?Despite being the bearer of the powerful Divine Blessing of the Guide, Red has been banished from the Hero's party. Listless, he decides to head to the frontier and hatches a plan to spend his days working an easy apothecary job. Thus begins his new life!
Banished From The Heroes' Party is based on the light novel by Zappon and Yasumo with English translation by Dale DeLucia. The manga is drawn by Masahiro Ikeno and Yen Press has released its first volume both digitally and physically for $6.99 and $13.00 respectively.
Is It Worth Reading?
There's nothing very urgent about Banished from the Hero's Party, which makes perfect sense given that protagonist Red has decided to lead a quiet life as a country apothecary after being forced out of his sister the hero's party. It's also probably for the best, given that Red's more than a little bit naïve and gullible – it's very clear that it wasn't his sister Ruti who wanted him gone, but rather Ares, the party's sage, who saw Red as a problem. Even before we hit the final image of a blood-stained Ruti speaking to her absent brother, Ares is about as sneaky as your average four-year-old trying not to be noticed. Granted, Red may have been feeling useless due to his unconventional “blessing” and Ares just seized on that in order to manipulate him, but when you pair Red's willingness to just believe someone who practically has “I'm Malicious!” tattooed on his forehead with his total lack of understanding about best business practices, he comes off as looking like someone who's been so wrapped up in his blessing being off-brand that he hasn't bothered to learn all that much about how real-life functions.
That's not precisely his fault, of course – the poor guy was born at level thirty-one thanks to the “+30” stat he has, so his normal has never been anyone else's normal. It also has to be at least a little demoralizing to see your younger sister be the hero, and while Red's clearly done his best and isn't stupid, he's also not had much chance to just be a regular person. In that regard, Ares may have done him a favor by removing him from Ruti's party, because in the rural reaches of Zoltan, Red's finally able to simply exist and use his various skills in ways that best please himself. Then Rit, an old acquaintance who clearly wants to be more, shows up to help him with the business of learning that he's really just fine the way he is, and that there's nothing wrong with just running an apothecary. It's all very sweet, although this volume feels like it's mostly set up. It also has a lot of flashbacks, which are much wordier than they strictly need to be, and I do think that overall this story works better in its original light novel format, which just has better pacing in general. But it's a nice enough, very middle-of-the-road volume with appealingly soft, rounded art, plus it has the added bonus of not being isekai. If you're just looking for a pleasant time, this should cover it.
Banished from the Hero's Party, I Decided to Live a Quiet Life in the Countryside is another manga adaptation of a light-novel, and it really shows. Two whole chapters of this volume are dedicated to flashbacks from the character's past: protagonist Gideon and his love interest Rit sitting down at a table and talking about two separate adventures they had. And it wouldn't be so bad if the story itself was interesting, but it's just bland and dry. Gideon used to be a member of an esteemed party formed around a heroine, Rute Ragnason. Gideon used to be the most reliable member of his team... but in this world, characters are born with a “blessing” that determines all of their abilities in their life, and Gideon was blessed as a guide: he has no unique skills outside of “a high experience level”. So one of his party members throws him out of the party (and doesn't let him keep his equipment). Gideon becoming an apothecary in the countryside works because he's mastered all the “common” skills people have, and it's here where I check out because it's another fantasy story that uses JRPG mechanics as the framework for their fantasy world.
Dialogue is clunky because everyone has to talk about experience points and skill points, and the cosmology of Banished is dull because everything is so deterministic. You're born with bar brawling skills, you're destined to become an angry drunk. There's a good idea for a story here with Red and Rit being a live-in common law marriage in spite of themselves as they manage an apothecary, akin to a low-stakes Maoyū, but characters can't shut up about their skill points long enough for that to happen. The art's functional, but I don't see much merit to Banished unless you really, really liked the other versions of this story.
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