So today I did not really have an idea what it was I wished to speak of, but I knew that I wanted to write something. So I decided I would review a manga I had picked up in January.
My sister and I decided to go browsing for books one day with friends. When ever it is we go out, we always try to buy books to read (even though we are college students which means we cannot afford to spend money on such leisure 😦 ). Anyways, while out my sister drags me to the manga section, and I spot this wondrous manga whose cover art is enough reason to buy it. I did not think twice and spent about $20 dollars on it. I would usually at least check reviews, but there seems to be none available online. To begin with, the book only has two volumes and is based on ancient Greek gods. You would think this book would have a large variety of characters seeing as mythology in general has so many to chose from, yet there is only really three truly main characters: Hades, Apollo, and Ganymede. There also exists Poseidon, Zeus, and a man named Heinz (Artemis is mentioned but she is not really a character and young mortal girl named Iris also makes an appearance). The beauty of this book is that the author takes free range with the story. It is no longer the story of the gods as you may know them. There exists no twelve Olympians and the stories the humans believe to be real are man made. But I am getting a head of myself let us start at the beginning.
So the author was kind enough to include historical and mythological background on the characters as they are known to us in real life. She gives a brief description on how Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon became rulers of their respective realm, as well as explains the story of Ganymede. The artistry of this manga has to be one of the best I have ever seen. Even the color choices in the very front, though she uses only one color scheme or gradient (not sure how to explain), is very vibrant and gorgeous. At the very end of the second volume, Aki leaves an author’s note apologizing for her drawing’s imperfection. But they are so extremely gorgeous, I feel she has nothing to apologize for. SPOILER ALERT I really do not want to ruin this story for anyone so I am warning all readers that I am about to spoil the plot. Please keep in mind, that this book is so truly amazing because it can be interpreted in any number of ways. What I am about to say is my own interpretation, not what the author intended and surely not what you, the reader, may see. So with that let me begin.
The story opens up on the mortal man, Heinz, who is an archaeological excavator who finds the ruins of Troy. He is praying to God in the beginning, and Apollo comes down promising to fulfill his wish if Heinz helps him. Heinz wants to marry a young woman and close friend named Mina, but because he is to poor and socially below her he cannot. He wants her to wait for him until he hits it big, but she is betrothed to another man. Apollo promises to help Heinz, if he helps Apollo get rid of a young man in his garden. Apollo tells Heinz that the young man believes he cannot escape, and that he needs Heinz to bring him to the large cliff at the end of the garden. After much goes on where the reader learns the story of Heinz it is shown that Apollo was just toying with the youth and was using Heinz to do so. Heinz goes back to Earth, he does not marry Mina, but he does hit it big and find Troy. His heart is broken and that is the last we hear of Heinz with in the book. Heinz is based off of Heinrich Schliemann, one of the two men who excavated Troy around 1870’s. (Personally he doesn’t need Mina, she said that his dream was great and all but it is just a dream. That was reason for not marrying and breaking his heart.)
Then the story moves on to the interaction between Ganymede and Apollo. It also explains Ganymede’s sad story. He was a Trojan prince abducted, centuries earlier, by Apollo under Zeus’s orders and locked with in a garden for all of eternity with only Apollo to talk to. He hates Apollo who murdered his brother before his eyes and who also toys with Ganymede annoying and angering the crap out of him. The book also delves into Apollo’s story of his sudden realization of his existence and his questioning of life in general. He finds out that the only person he actually noticed, Artemis, is just a mirror of his own heart and loneliness. He then realizes that beings exist (humans) that live for short periods of time and are consumed by silly things that do not matter at all to him: such as pride, power, and devotion. He learns that these creatures created stories of the high beings and worship them as benevolent beings that intervene in their lives.
Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades are comparisons as to how Apollo could chose to exist for eternity. He can be like Poseidon who is depicted as dumb and exists as humans do: worrying and wanting power, fame, authority and so forth. He could end up like Zeus who just exists and does not seem to think, question, or notice much of anything before Ganymede’s arrival. Or he could end up like Hades. Now just a brief note, I adore Hades in general when it comes to Greek mythology. He is just so sad and he is always depicted negatively, from the past to the present he always has the short end of the stick (literally!!).
Hades had begun questioning his existence a long time ago, and grew to accept it as it was. He has a lot of influence on Apollo, opening his eyes to much of what they are. Because the two are immortal and quiet OK with the idea of ending it all, they gladly use Ganymede to get Zeus’s attention believing (because they could say it aloud) there was a chance that if Zeus noticed existence of something, it would cause the end of the world. He does begin to notice Ganymede freely making the choice to visit the garden, but the world does not end. Hades gives Ganymede the chance to exist Zeus’s domain and enter his own since “all outside of Zeus’s domain is his”. Ganymede is unable to become mortal again, nor can he die and have his soul go the normal path that others follow. At this point he can chose to live eternity with Apollo or to go completely mad, losing himself completely till he no longer exists even though his body will (deep stuff man). Ganymede was willing to kill himself before so as to escape the garden, so Hades explains that going mad is almost the same as killing himself, cause technically he would no longer exist because he would have lost himself. This situation here is the one that questions completely what it means to exist. Does Zeus truly exist if he is nothing but the wind itself not thinking or acting just being? Is death really the same as going mad, and if not how are they different in terms of existence? How does living for eternity change what it means to exist, in comparison to a short human life?
Finally Ganymede decides to continue living and keeping Apollo company. Ganymede meets Zeus briefly, who laughs before disappearing again. Apollo does not believe this since he can say aloud that Zeus would never laugh. Apollo then goes to talk to Hades because even though he said that Zeus would never laugh, he was also able to say that Zeus could appear to laugh to Ganymede. Hades asks Apollo if his quest to understand is no different to Zeus’s desire to be omnipotent and Poseidon’s desire to be all powerful. He is able to say allowed that Apollo is not like Poseidon, and then tells Apollo that he may be asking the wrong questions or the answers may not exist. It ends with their conversation and Hades saying that all truth may be relative to the person.
The book is amazing and leaves one in deep thought by the end. The Apollo and Ganymede are wondrous, and Hades is a gem of a character that seems to know all though he knows as much as Apollo. The book is very deep and most readers do not at all notice what it is trying to say. On Goodreads Olympos has very low ratings, with many complaining that they did not understand the story. Yet there is one review that I feels sums up something important (I shortened it to the bare necessities because it is long):