- Mangaka : Furumiya, Kuji (Writer); Koshimizu, Naoki (Artist)
- Publisher : Yen Press
- Genre : Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Shounen
- Published : Oct 2022
There’s an interesting trend going on in the manga world right now. If you encounter a manga about knights, witches, and magic, then chances are it’ll be an adaptation of a novel by the same name.
Some of the high profile titles that revolve around these tropes, like Goblin Slayer, The Rising of the Shield Hero, and The Faraway Paladin, are adapted from novels. And for the most part, they are great. Now, there’s another similar manga in town. It’s called Unnamed Memory. So, can it reach the bar raised by its predecessors? Well, we’ll find out through this review.
There are 5 insanely powerful witches in this world. It is said that they can level an entire continent on their own. Thankfully, they decided to live in a secluded place, away from civilization. That has been the case for hundreds of years. However, the Witch of the Azure Moon, the strongest one of the bunch, constructed a tower filled with traps and ordeals and announced to the world that whoever can climb this tower and reach the top floor will have his wish granted by the Witch of the Azure Moon herself.
Countless have tried, countless have failed. Until one day, the crown prince of the Kingdom of Farsas - a young man brimming with confidence named Oscar - shows up, and climbs the tower with ease. Solving every puzzle, defeating every monster, and evading every trap, until he finally arrives at the top of the tower. There he meets Tinashee, the Witch of the Azure Moon. Despite being hundreds of years old, she looks just like a beautiful, well-mannered teenage girl. But Oscar instantly knows that the girl sitting in front of him possesses an ungodly amount of magic power. So he begins to tell her about his predicament.
As it happens, Oscar is the last descendant of the Farsas Royal Family. When he was young, a witch put a curse on him that made it impossible for him to bear a child. Tinashee examines the powerful curse on his body, and decides that the best course of action is to find a woman with a strong resistance to the curse, so that she can be his bride and bear his child. Not one to beat around the bush, Oscar immediately proposes to Tinashee, asking her to be his bride. “Why find another woman when there’s already a powerful and beautiful witch in front of me?” he says. Needless to say, she refuses. But after hours of back and forth, she finally agrees to live together with Oscar for at least a year. So begins their thrilling life together, filled with romance, magic, and mystery.
1. Dual Protagonists
In the early chapters of the story, we see Oscar destroying gargoyles and jumping over a trap hole with ease as he climbs through every level of the Witch of the Azure Moon’s tower. After that, we also find out about his cursed body and the predicament that it has brought to the Farsas Kingdom. Since the story focuses so much on him, it’s only natural to assume that he is the main character, right? Well, yes and no.
As soon as Oscar and Tinashee go back into the Farsas Kingdom, the story begins to focus more on Tinashee, rather than Oscar. We see how she joins the ranks of the royal mages by pretending to be the apprentice of the Witch of the Azure Moon. We also see her day-to-day activity as she explores the bustling town, talks to her fellow mages, and even performs her first task as a royal mage with ease. So does this mean that Tinashee is the actual main character of this manga? Once again, yes and no.
The truth of the matter is both of them are the protagonists. Both Oscar and Tinashee have their own moments to shine, and both of them get the chance to tell their story. None of them are the typical damsel in distress who needs to be saved by the hero. Both of them are the hero. When Oscar takes the front seat, Tinashee acts as his support. Likewise, when it’s time for Tinashee to shine, Oscar is her trusted wingman. This approach creates an interesting dynamic in their relationship and also with the overall progression of the story.
2. A Mystery In Disguise
Reading the summary above, and even if you read the early chapters of Unnamed Memory, it’ll be natural to assume that it is just a simple romance story that takes place in a fantasy world filled with magic and swords. However, once you progress more into the story, you’ll encounter something that you would’ve never thought could exist in this kind of manga: a murder mystery.
Yes, amidst the flirting, the swordplay, and the magic spells, there’s a murder happening. One of Tinashee’s fellow mages who has the same task as her is suddenly found dead. Not only that, his corpse is burnt to the point of becoming nearly unrecognizable, with some of his limbs missing. They also find his severed hand that bears his signature magic sigil not long after. As someone who was supposed to work by his side, Tinashee has now become one of the prime suspects.
As you can see, that is a proper murder mystery plot right there. You’d expect to see that kind of story in a detective manga, like Case Closed or Ron Kamonohashi: Deranged Detective. Not in a romance/fantasy manga like Unnamed Memory. And yet there it is. This genre-bending approach makes the story so much more interesting to follow. After all, not only do we have action and romance, now we can also look forward to thrills and mysteries from this manga. Isn’t that exciting?
1. Slow Pace
If there’s one thing that might put some people off from Unnamed Memory, it would be the slow pace. All of those events mentioned before are pretty much all of the interesting things that happen in this nearly 200-page manga. The rest is pretty much just character interactions, mainly between Oscar and Tinashee. There’s not even that much world-building happening in this volume, which is actually a wasted chance. So if you prefer a fast-paced manga that could instantly pull you into its wondrous world, well, Unnamed Memory might not be for you.
Unnamed Memory has a lot of things going for it. Because on the surface, it might seem like a regular romance/fantasy manga, but upon closer look, you’ll find interesting stuff like the dual protagonists, or its ability to smoothly inject another genre into the story. It does have a pacing problem that ends up wasting precious pages worth of content, but that sort of issue is understandable for a first volume. We can certainly expect an improvement in the subsequent volumes. So be sure to give Unnamed Memory a try.
What did you think of Unnamed Memory? Please let us know in the comments below.