Volumes: 7 (ongoing)
‘Alexander the Great as written by the author of Parasyte’ was my entire knowledge of Historie going in. In my mind I had the image of Rider from Fate/Zero stabbing parasitic aliens that eat your face with his spear, but sadly twas not the reality. Historie is actually about a secretary of Alexander the Great, an orphan who goes on many adventures before becoming Alexander’s aid.
At least, that’s what the back of the books promise. There are seven volumes out and Alexander is still a kid and hasn’t recruited any secretaries yet. This might sound like the plot moves really slowly, but that isn’t really the case. Heck, sometimes it glosses over seemingly massive plot twists in barely any time at all. In one scene the main character has been sold as a slave on a ship, but the slaves kill their boss and taken over the ship. However in the space of two pages the author goes “and then the ship sank”, a turn I thought deserved a little bit more exploration than just a two bloody pages.
The problem with Historie is it feels very aimless. The main character references the Odyssey and how much he likes the character of Odysseus because, unlike the other war heroes who get by on sheer brute strength, Odysseus wins battles using his brain. The story does appear to be following an Odyssey-esque tale, following our main character as he thinks his way out of the situations he finds himself in. The main character is rather likable because of how much cleverer he is than everyone around him and the audacity of some of the stunts he pulls off. The story does seem to forget random other parts of his personality that I thought were going to be a big part of his story. The start introduced this idea of his struggling with his barbarian upbringing and possibly savage inner side, but the next several volumes don’t bring that side of him up again.
The main story also doesn’t seem to be able to focus on a particular side of the main character. The earlier volumes are about his barbarian upbringing and wild side. Then he goes into the Odysseus tales of valour through intellect shtick. Half of the time though things just happen to him. Sold to slavers, picked up by Macedonian King, making toys for mentally disabled kids. It all just falls into his lap with no input on his part, which I don’t feel makes a good use of the traits they were supposedly developing. Plus the latest volumes seem to have forgotten he exists entirely and have focused exclusively on Alexander, now that they’ve finally introduced this king of kings.
It’s not that Alexander’s story isn’t interesting in itself. The writing in Historie is generally very good. I just wish the author would sit down and decide what it was he wanted to this story to be about. Parasyte had a laser sharp focus with what it wanted its story to tell. Historie feels like a bunch of Ancient Greek history thrown together into a pot. Also in comparison to Parasyte, I’m starting to realise the author doesn’t have the greatest art. Parasyte was able to hide that with its bizarre and imaginative body horror. Historie is gory, but it doesn’t define the story the same way it does in Parasyte. In fact, I’m not sure what it is that defines Historie, beyond the whole Ancient Greece setting, which is exactly the problem. It’s a very well written manga. I’m just not sure what it’s writing about.