Ankoku Delta First Thoughts



Well, as far as first thoughts go, the first thing to pop into my mind with Ankoku Delta was, “Wow, this art really reminds me of Chainsaw Man at times”, which was promptly followed up with, “Wow, this world really reminds me of Dorohedoro at times”. If it’s not obvious, both of those are really good things- especially for a Shounen Jump+ manga. Though, regardless of comparisons, Ankoku Delta quickly sets itself apart from those comparisons with a very strong concept for a world, and incredibly eclectic character dynamics.

Though I suppose if I want to praise the world, I do have to explain it a little bit. Aurora is an…. existence of unknown origin to us, and her job seems to be sucking the life energy out of humans. She does that by what you “might” be able to call a comically large syringe mixed with a blade, which she safely operates in a dimension parallel to the one that humans exist in. Of course, there’s no fun in neither dimension having contact with one another, so Alpa (the mangaka) has provided methods for travel between dimensions- thereby setting up the plot of this story.

Before we get neck-deep in story though, I do want to take the time to talk about art. Frankly speaking, it’s work expected for a newer mangaka. The aren’t isn’t always there, but you can see the foundations of what they’re aiming for all the same. It definitely achieves its goal of giving a grimy and heavy world shrouded in a layer of darkness, and the juxtaposition of Aurora’s character design against it works really well. Her character really pops in comparison to the humans, yet her proximity to a “human” design sets her apart from the denizens of that parallel dimension. Similarly, I also like Ryuji’s design for its simplicity, though I’m stuck trying to think of where on earth I’ve seen his face before. Something about it remains intensely familiar.

Also, a quick aside for those confused by the cover image for Ankoku Delta on MangaPlus, it’s the boy Aurora meets. It’s pretty obvious that they’ve eyed that angle as the character in the image has a different left eye, and the boy Aurora meets just happens to have severe damage to his left eye. There’s also the hair and whatnot, but that’s not enough to go off of. Either way, it’s really proving that Alpa has what it takes for character designs. Though, I think the a lot of their other visual work is lagging behind a little.

Their character posing is really solid, the prop design and quality is impressively good, and the details in their environments are really fun. That said, their quality and refinement of things like environment art really struggle. There’s some panels that are really well done and detailed, but quite a bit are missing feeling. They’re hollow line work without much shading, and you can immediately tell the difference that shading makes in those moments. Similarly, I think the pages and panelling read really well, but they can be a little lacking at times. Similarly, Alpa’s layouts can be almost a little too consistent. There’s pages where they’ll make use of the same styling for multiple instances in a sequence, and it comes off closer to deja-vu than anything. Though, let’s be realistic, for a Shounen Jump+ manga, Ankoku Delta does look pretty good. There’s lots of good points to Alpa’s art, but that’s also why I feel the need to point out the weak points. Improving just that bit more would really take this series to the next level.

Well, with art out of the way, let’s talk about the story of Ankoku Delta. Quite frankly, I can smell the potential from a mile away. The game of cat and mouse that the story hints at with the end of the first chapter, and the overlapping of dimensions with Aurora and the Hart, the human boy she found are great parallels. Then there’s the whole idea of human emotions being something that exist outside the spectrum for existences like Aurora, or the sort of weird technology that the other dimension possesses. It’s got itself a winning formula within the first chapter, and is supported by a wildly unique pitch for a series. It’s a bold thing to say off the bat, but I have confidence in Ankoku Delta going the distance because of that effort.

It’s got that edge that readers are constantly looking for in this day and age, it’s got the risque nature down, it has the character dynamics that allow for natural humor and comedic interaction. It has a lot going for it, and even more hidden in the wings with stuff like (probably) Hart’s transformation, and Aurora’s fascination with the human world. Ankoku Delta might not have a smoking gun signalling success with this first chapter, but I think it shows off the really strong abilities Alpa possesses that reminds readers of the great absurdists of Shounen Jump.

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