Interested in seeing my review for Levius? You can find it here!
Levius may have had the fight of his life against AJ, but the real fight is yet to come! With Levius/est, volume 1, we begin to follow the young fighter’s long and grueling journey to secure the top spot among the legendary Grade I fighters. With a brief primer on Levius’ past, and the introduction to story elements and characters that were included in the recent Netflix anime, Levius/est kicks things off strong!
Synopsis (Here Be Spoilers!)
Following Levius’ victory over AJ and securing his spot in the upper echelon of Mechanical Martial Arts, the road to healing and recovery has been long. A year after the climactic clash between Levius and AJ, the young fighter continues to struggle for his life as his uncle and trainer comes to terms with a world that has rapidly changed during his own coma.
The various countries of the world have reacted with mixed feelings over the return of the technological powerhouse known as Amethyst. The threat of war looms larger with each passing day, though with the the M.M.A now around, the concept of traditional warfare may very well be tossed out the window. Bill makes the case that the various countries may instead use the Grade I arena as a means of waging a Proxy War.
Zack is alarmed at the development, but even moreso at AJ’s fate – she survived…but appears to have no memory of who she was, including the younger brother that she sacrificed so much for.
Still, knowing that AJ was living a life of peace following her hellish ordeal, Zack is moved to emerge from his hospital bed and seek her out.
The two chat over lunch, but AJ is distant and quiet…unfamiliar with this strange man who is talking her ear off. Zack becomes strangely emotional near the end of their conversation, which appears to awaken something within AJ. While her memories haven’t returned, the bubbling animosity she’s been controlling for nearly a year begins to emerge as she wonders aloud why there are so many guards and everyone treats her differently. She demands to know more about her past – which Zack gladly agrees to do. He revisits her father’s cruel fate and her role under Dr. Clown Jack Pudding. He reminds her of her brother. He reminds her of Levius.
As he recounts the battle that she and Levius had, AJ makes a final demand.
Her wish is granted, though she doesn’t like what she sees. Poor Levius is howling through his recovery, even a year later, as his nerves are slowly regenerating and causing him tremendous pain. The recovery process would kill a lesser person, but Levius’ willpower had seen him through to this point. AJ has a brief recollection and offers Bill and the medical team suggestions on easing his pain, and soon enough Levius rejoins the land of the living properly.
After being caught up on the state of the world, Levius goes to visit Hugo – the former champion of Grade II that was set to be Levius’ rival. It’s revealed that he had died in the year following Levius’ fight with AJ, and in a somber moment, Levius expresses his regret that Hugo wouldn’t be around to see him enter the Grade I arena…but makes him a promise –
As he exits the site, AJ apologizes for the repercussions of their bout, and specifically expresses regret about killing Hugo. Levius offers forgiveness, and gratitude at having discovered a new level within himself thanks to their fight.
Meanwhile, buzz is growing around the Timor Gym, whose chairman, Edgar Brown, has reportedly signed Levius on to his facility. With the increased notoriety of the gym, upstarts flood the gym and begin fighting each other – though one stands apart from the rest.
Natalia is revealed to have been involved with Zack’s gym and Levius some time ago, but after her romantic feelings for Levius turned into getting family-zoned, she hit the road.
Now, Natalia is delighted to be back with Levius again…although…who’s this? A new girl at his side?
Natalia and AJ briefly exchange blows before the volume comes to a close, setting up a rivalry that’s sure to be entertaining in the chapters to come.
Levius/est is a fantastic continuation of the engaging story and intriguing world that sucked me in to begin with. Following my rapid consumption of the Levius anime, I couldn’t help but notice some pretty major characters that were nowhere to be found in the original volume, namely Natalia. I was delighted to revisit some of those story elements, particularly Zack and AJ’s time in the “classroom”
All of the characterizations continue to be endearing, with a level of striking detail in the facial expressions that really helped the series stand out to begin with.
As a volume that is setting the stage for the broader arc to come, Levius/est does a great job with pacing. While some of Bill’s monologues around geopolitical intrigue could seem dry, they are impressively concise and effectively manage to help the readers catch up just as much as Levius and Zack need to.
There’s not too much action in this first volume, save for some brief tiffs here and there, but if prior work is of any indication, then I think we’re all in for a treat once Levius starts going toe-to-toe with these otherworldly fighters that belong to Grade I.
Volume 2 is landing very soon, so look forward to our review then! In the meantime, pick this up – you won’t regret it!