Title: Belmonde le Visiteur Genres: Historical, Shonen, Comedy, Supernatural. Author: Shouei Ishioka Artist: Shouei Ishioka Publication: Weekly Shonen Jump (Shueisha) Start Date: 2007 End Date: 2007 Number of chapters at review: 19 Number of chapters read by reviewer: 19
Originally Posted by Onemanga.com summary
The story takes places in 17th century, France. Belmonde, a son of a noble father and a deceased witch mother, was born and raised in a cloister's basement. He is the master of an underground prison and has the rights to use any means to bring out confessions from his prisoners, namely by using "torture". With his eye, he is able to see through them... That is, if they do not comply to his questions.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Painfully inconsistent is the term I reckon would best fit the art direction here. Just taking a look at the first chapter there should be something that grabs you immediately, and shows itself heavily in the appearance of Celine, the Marquis Satre's daughter. There is an immense visual difference between her 3/4 head view and a front profile of her, something that is a rare occasion in even the most amateur of shonen mangas. This isn't to completely assault the art however, as early scenes featuring Belmonde and his miraculous sword are fantastically drawn and catch your interest. It is just a shame that this level of attention to the protagonist and his abilities fails to stretch elsewhere.
Now I'm genuinely torn on this, as the early plot of Belmonde held much promise, and slowly took away the joy of it in every chapter. Whilst the first proper arc holds many awesome moments and twists, it quickly becomes repetitive, and any form of turn in the story just falls short of reviving any interest in the plot. Towards the end you just want it to be over, a grace awarded due to it's rapid cancellation.
A slight high point of the series, the execution of a fair few characters is excellent, even if they manage to avoid exploring characters much further after they're introduced. Particular ones of interest are Belmonde, Chloe and Georges. They all manage to encapsulate how the series could have approached characters, and almost make the shallow or uninteresting characters thrown into the fray forgivable. Almost.
The theme of Belmonde presents itself instantaneously, and does in fact manage to continue throwing itself unashamedly in the face of the reader: Betrayal. The emotions that betrayal creates, the solutions to betrayal, discovering betrayal, all these are basic examples of how the subject matter is approached, and in the 19 short weeks of it's serialisation it refused to let you forget this. As such I can reccomend the series on the basis of this category, but knowing that I myself found the overall saturation of this theme to be overwhelming and buried the series even further other jump series at that time.
Belmonde le Visiteur is quite original, but being stuck in the shonen genre and using some very hit or miss storytelling tactics hinders it to the degree that past around chapter 11 it feels like typical shonen fare, and you'll pretty much be able to coast by without really paying the manga any heed up until the end, indicating how truly crippled the series is under the weight of it's want to fit into the world of weekly shonen jump.
The series really attempts to make itself likable and indicate potential early on, and successfully manages to squander it within weeks of it beginning. I could only reccomend it to people looking for a short mindless read with the occasional thrill. Outside of those parameters it really is only for people who became solid fans of the series which, considering all it wants you to see, is a real shame.