Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Raqiya: The New Book of Revelation
GN 1 & 2
Seven years ago, Luna's family was driving from Area 51 to Las Vegas when they encountered a strange old man with wings tattooed on his arms. Her father stopped to help him and called an ambulance...only to need it himself moments later when an out-of-control semi crushed the family car, leaving only Luna alive. Bereft and confused, Luna crept into the morgue to see the bodies of her parents and brother, and there she met Abraxas, a supernatural being who promised to restore Luna's family for seven years in exchange for something, because Luna, she said, is the Daughter of Norea. Now seven years later the time has come to pay the price, and Luna finds herself orphaned again. She is sent to Japan to live with her uncle's family, but the wheels of a malicious Christian cult are turning, and they aim to take Luna and make her their goddess...
Raqiya: The New Book of Revelation, titled after the Hebrew word for “firmament,” is one of those series that simultaneously sounds semi-plausible while still causing you to emit short bursts of laughter at some of its plot points. Based on a somewhat bizarre understanding of Christianity and Gnosticism, it tells the story of teenage Luna Hazuki, a girl who has lived more than her fair share of tragedy and yet is able to glide through life with a beatific expression on her perfect face. She is coveted by any number of men, some because they physically desire her, others out of an overwhelming urge to protect her, and still more because they believe that she is the child of Norea – a daughter of Eve and sometimes wife of Noah – and will help them to see/become/find the True God. She, it must be said, is much less confused by all of this than the reader, which is saying something since we have much more information. The first two volumes of Masao Yajima and Boichi's collaboration is largely taken up by people discussing their insatiable need for Luna, while she herself plays a much more passive role.
The story begins when Luna is a little girl. She and her family, who live in California, are on a road trip in Nevada. Having seen Area 51 (her father's work apparently won them the invitation, although we don't know what he does), the group is headed to Vegas when they have a chance encounter with an old man on the side of the road. Mr. Hazuki tells him that he shouldn't just wait to die, because people are meant to help each other, a comment that will prove important later on. The family hops back in the car only to pull over a little later so that Luna can empty her bladder. While she's out of the car, an out-of-control semi runs it over, pulverizing her family and ending up in the shape of a cross in the road. (It was carrying pipes, which is how that was accomplished.) Luna understandably freaks out, and later she crashes the morgue so that she can see her (mangled) family again. When she opens the drawer, however, a naked, very female beast with horns emerges. The creature is Abraxas and she offers Luna her family back for seven years...assuming that later Luna will help her with some sacrifices. The next thing we know, Luna's living a happy home life with her family until she steps outside after a shower and another semi crashes into her house, immolating her parents and brother once again. Now Luna's off to Japan, where she will become the target of a Gnostic cult and be protected by a young, hot, Catholic priest-in-training. Oh, and she meets the Wandering Jew, because at this point, why not?
The major difficulties in reading Raqiya are two-fold. The first is that so many Gnostic and Catholic terms are tossed around that if you are not familiar with either of those religions, you will feel the need to have an encyclopedia on the table next to you so as to understand fully what everyone is talking about. Those who have some background in Judeo-Christian beliefs may have an easier time (if you speak Hebrew well, for example), but very little is really explained in-text. One Peace Books does not provide any liner notes or glosses, which in this case is a real shame, as it could have greatly improved comprehension for those readers who get antsy about not fully understanding everything that is going on. The other issue is that the story is broken up by random bits of light-hearted banter and the hijinks of Isa, the boy who has a crush on Luna. The humor is not inserted into the story well, mostly serving to take us out of the moment abruptly.
Those who have read One Peace's translations before will be pleasantly surprised by the increased professionalism of these books, however. There is one typo (to instead of too) and one odd translation choice – calling the Wandering Jew the Wandering Jewish Man – but otherwise this reads very well and is devoid of major errors, putting it leagues ahead of their translation of Whispered Words. There is no rating on the book, but it would almost certainly be an “M” by most publisher's standards, as there is a lot of graphic violence, moderately explicit sex, and we get a clear shot up Abraxas' crotch that has enough detail to see what's what. Boichi's art is both dynamic and beautiful, and the attention to detail on the lined faces of older men is really impressive. Luna, unfortunately, wears pretty much the same expression all the time, but she is very nice to look at.
Raqiya's first two books are a bit of a conundrum. They are clearly telling a fast-paced story about a Gnostic cult trying to undermine the Catholic church and the secret group within that church that defends against it, but there is so much unfamiliar terminology being thrown around – and some imagery that the more religious may have an issue with – that it is difficult to fully follow or invest in that plot. It is crowded both in story and in page layout, and Luna plays a very passive role in what is ostensibly her own story, which may decrease the appeal for some. Perhaps it is my own background making it difficult to understand the story, but even with research I felt like I was missing something important in the plot. In the end, Raqiya is an interesting title but not, perhaps, the most accessible.
Overall : C+
Story : C
Art : B+
+ Dynamic and attractive art, fast paced. Interesting plot...
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