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by Kevin Cormack,

A Kingdom of Quartz

Volume 1 Manga Review

A Kingdom of Quartz Manga Volume 1 Review

The higher-ranked angels protect the white-winged Celes people of the Quartz Kingdom from demons. Black-winged Celes orphan Blue dreams of becoming an Angel one day despite the discrimination she faces daily. When demons attack the Kingdom, Blue awakens to a disturbing, dark power. Just who, or what, is she?

A Kingdom of Quartz is a manga with story and art by BOMHAT. Belynda Ungurath lettered this volume.


Sometimes, with an exceptional manga, all it takes is a few pages to fall hopelessly in love. That was my early experience with Canadian mangaka BOMHAT's first published manga A Kingdom of Quartz. I'd describe it as Witch Hat Atelier meets Haibane Renmei by way of The Ugly Duckling. Initially published (with a Japanese translation) in Japan in 2023, it's now available in the West in its original language. The author must be delighted to see their stunningly gorgeous manga on their home country's bookstore shelves.

When I picked this up to read, I had no idea of BOMHATs nationality, so my enjoyment of the book wasn't colored at all by preconceptions that this manga wasn't somehow "genuine." With the advent (and success) of French author Tony Valente's Radiant and its subsequent anime, it's clear that the boundaries of what constitutes "manga" have blurred of late. In this case, that's a very good thing.

BOMHAT's clean, detailed art is nothing short of stunning, with beautiful, statuesque characters inhabiting a heavenly fantasy realm filled with mystery and bizarre angelic creatures ripped straight from the Biblical Apocrypha. Comparisons with Kamome Shirahama's Witch Hat Atelier (one of my favorite currently running manga) are justified – A Kingdom of Quartz shares with it a nostalgic, almost John Tenniel-esque classic illustration aesthetic. I could imagine Shirahama or BOMHAT illustrating a new edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and doing Tenniel's painstakingly detailed original pen-and-ink art justice.

Although every page of A Kingdom of Quartz is dazzling, with excellent composition and narrative flow between exquisitely etched panels, there's more to enjoy than just heavenly eye candy. The Quartz Kingdom is a fascinating place, populated by angel-like winged Celes who inhabit a shining city partitioned from the darkness of the surrounding demon-populated lands. Our viewpoint character, Blue, sports a pair of rare black wings from her back, unlike everyone else's white downy appendages.

This is no perfect afterlife – Blue experiences discrimination and abuse for her "deformity," as does another one-winged character. She's also an orphan with a mysterious past, brought up by the caring nuns of a religious order's orphanage. She dreams of ascending to archangel-hood to become one of her king's elite holy defenders. When we first meet her in this volume's full-color introduction, she adorably wields a tiny wooden sword, her only valued possession, her name carved on its shaft. She is as cute as a very, very shiny button.

Although most of the volume's striking imagery is drawn from Judeo-Christian sources (there are some disturbingly Biblically-accurate angels in this. If you know, you know…), this is a world with a creator Goddess rather than a paternalistic male God. It remains to be seen what deeper meaning this has for the world's cosmology. Interestingly, it seems that the winged Celes people of the Quartz Kingdom evolved from normal humans at some point, but we don't learn if any non-winged humans are left. Unlike most religious conceptions of Heaven, this world seems to be material rather than spiritual – it doesn't seem to be a place that souls migrate to when they die.

Blue is a good-natured innocent who maintains a smile despite her struggles. Those struggles become very… bloody about a quarter of the way through as monstrous abominations slaughter most of her friends, awakening her latent powers. As much as the opening chapter is cutesy and pretty, a dark heart of visceral violence beats beneath the attractive surface. The following battles are genuinely disturbing in places – no wonder the official synopsis name-drops both Madoka Magica and Made in Abyss, as that's the kind of dark, unsettling tone evoked by the still-cute, but blood-drenched middle sections.

Blue meets Prince Cassian – a pretty boy angel and heir to the throne, who is immediately fascinated by the black-winged girl with demon-exploding powers. His offer of future ascension to her provides Blue with a goal she'll undoubtedly spend the subsequent few volumes working towards. It seems like Blue's only starting on her journey of self-improvement and discovery as this sadly short volume draws to a close. She's a sympathetic protagonist with exactly the right combination of innocence and mystery to keep me engaged in her story. Her world is dark, weird, and grotesquely beautiful. I cannot wait to read the next volume.

Overall : A
Story : A
Art : A+

+ Incredibly beautiful art, fascinating world, delightful protagonist, deliciously dark tone.
There's not enough! Excepting the bonus material, there's only 170 pages of manga here that stops just as the story is really getting started.

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Production Info:
Translation: M. Fulcrum
Licensed by: Kodansha Comics

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Kingdom of Quartz (manga)

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