Home Gaming NIrvana Indian Manga Review — Loads of Potential

NIrvana Indian Manga Review — Loads of Potential

Editorial disclosure: Cosmics provided copies of Nirvana’s first chapter to IGN India for this review.


Nirvana is an original English-language manga (OEL manga), crafted by the duo Abhishek Verma and Gaurav Verma under the pen name Abhirav, alongside illustrator Animesh. Published by the emerging comics house Cosmics, Nirvana seeks to carve its niche in the rapidly expanding Indian anime and manga community. But how does this venture measure up? Is this Indian manga worth your time?

Nirvana’s setting will feel instantly familiar to anime and manga aficionados — it’s centred around high school life, a staple in many manga stories. The story revolves around Karma, a 16-year-old boy embroiled in a damning rumour at his high school, accusing him of murdering his grandmother. This leaves him ostracised by his peers. But that’s not all, as Nirvana is set in a world where extraordinary powers and menacing creatures, known as raakshas, coexist. These beings attack humans, and individuals with elemental abilities can harness their aura to combat them, a practice dating back centuries.

Nirvana’s characters and story

In the initial chapter of Nirvana, we are introduced to multiple high school characters. Karma, our protagonist, is portrayed as silent and introverted due to the trauma surrounding his grandmother’s death. However, some of his classmates relentlessly bully him about this, isolating him.

Other side characters are also introduced, which seem like they would be an integral part of the story later on. However, in the first chapter, their presence is a bit fleeting for the time being.

Vedant steals the spotlight, though, with his cool demeanour and look. He’s the only one shown to have powers as well. He’s also featured on the special cover, possibly hinting at his important role as the catalyst for awakening Karma’s abilities.

Pacing within Nirvana sometimes has fluctuations. The manga dedicates an extensive portion to the initial confrontation between Karma and his classmates, which could have been condensed. However, the pacing significantly improves in the latter half, where the story truly unfolds.

Nirvana’s excellent artwork

The artwork and illustrations in Nirvana stand out the most. It has the feel of a professional manga aesthetic. The character designs are also pleasing, however distinctive elements in side characters would be more beneficial in differentiating them.

The panel framing in Nirvana makes for easy comprehension of the events unfolding before us. However, I found the background details were occasionally lacking, which means that certain scenes were stark and minimalistic. The print quality in darker scenes could also be improved, as it appears somewhat faded in the copies I have. Panelling and creative onomatopoeia usage are commendable, as they are done in many creative ways.

Balancing Indian themes and the essence of manga

Nirvana skilfully combines various influences while introducing its own unique twists. While it borrows from existing tropes, it manages to inject freshness into the storyline.

The manga’s approach to blending Indian themes with traditional manga essence is distinct. Rather than heavily drawing from Indian mythologies, it fully embraces Japanese manga aesthetics and conventions. This unique fusion offers a very fresh perspective.

Character designs in Nirvana might have incorporated more Indian elements for familiarity, but instead lean into the Japanese manga style. The school uniforms closely resemble those seen in typical manga and anime. In fact, if it weren’t for the Indian character names, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the story is set in India at all.

Nevertheless, there are relatable aspects for an Indian audience, such as the alternative ESP stream available to students after the 10th standard, which is a fictional addition to the conventional science, commerce, and humanities streams.

Nirvana has enough intriguing elements and potential to leave readers eager to delve deep into the story and characters. While it may not have strong Indian aesthetics, it offers a unique reading experience by going the manga route.

Nirvana emerges as a promising entrant in the world of Indian comics, boldly embracing the Japanese manga style while infusing hints of Indian culture into its narrative. The first chapter lays the foundation by introducing key characters and establishing the story’s backdrop, giving us a glimpse into how the world works. It’s evident that Abhirav had to condense a wealth of elements — story, theme, characters, and setting — into a single chapter. Nevertheless, Nirvana shines with potential, and the mere existence of a high-quality physical manga from India is both commendable and inspiring. This is the beginning of Indian-themed shones, and I am here for it.

 

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