Just wanted to let you all know that school is now out and I am now an official bum again, much like I was in the summer (except that with a job), and that I’ll be reviewing stuff again consistently until January 😀
And first up on the list is Olympos, a two volume story by Aki.
The story revolves around Ganymede, a handsome young boy who is stolen by the sun God Apollo on the day of his coming of age festival. Brought to Zeus’s miniature garden, Ganymede is granted immortality by Apollo and is surrounded by beautiful things, however, all Ganymede wants is to escape.
Unfortunately for him, the gods don’t lie and when Apollo tells him he’s never leaving the garden, it means he’s never leaving.
As the days pass, Ganymede realizes that there is no way to escape, just as Apollo had told him from the start. Resigning himself to his fate, he loses hope in ever leaving the infinite garden of flowers, even when Apollo send one of his subjects to “help” Ganymede regain his hope.
The first thing I’d like to mention is that this story has gorgeous art. The characters look beautiful and they all wear very impressive and decorative clothing and accessories. I will comment that while the majority of the cast is male, it’s very hard to immediately categorize them as ‘male.’ I’m tempted to say they have a very androgynous appearance as you can immediately tell they’re not female, but because they’re all dressed in flowing clothes, wear jewels, and are on the slimmer side they may appear ‘girly.’
The only part where the art is lacking is the background. Just flipping through the pages at random, you can tell there’s a lot of white space on each page. For example, when Ganymede looks out at the garden (to see if he can see some kind of exit in the distance), the flower petals covering the floor are rendered simply and the sky is a blanket of black. When Apollo speaks with one of his sacrifices, the author chooses to draw close ups of the characters rather than creating details in the temple where they reside.
And when there is a scene that is zoomed out, most of the details are implied. Still, I personally didn’t mind as I was more focused on the details of the characters, especially Zeus and Poseidon.
In terms of story, this book is rather…interesting. The first volume is mostly about Ganymede being trapped in the garden and an optimistic guy named Heinz who promised Apollo he’d help Ganymede leave the garden. The second volume starts to feel more like a collection of stories that happen before and after Ganymede is abducted, and it becomes more dialogue heavy.
The second part is also more focused on the Gods and what they do to pass the time in their immortality. We’re introduced to Hades, Zeus, Poseidon, and Artemis, with Apollo still being the reoccurring figure.
The story delves into very philosophical questions about knowledge, creation, rituals, and immortality. There’s also a tension between Gods and humans, as they both struggle to understand the other. At one point it becomes almost hilarious how similar they are to one another, with the exception of Hades who seems to be almost otherworldly compared to everyone.
Out of all the characters I have to say that Apollo was probably my favorite, which is strange considering that my experience with how authors depict Apollo hasn’t been positive. My affinity to him could possibly be because he was the central figure in the story as he interacted with all the characters. I also really liked him because he just seemed the most human to me, which is funny considering he’s a god. I know at one point he mention that the Gods that humans refer to are a mystery to him, which I thought was an interesting statement.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I’d say it was above average but an actual solid score escapes me. I’m thinking somewhere in the 7s range, for an MAL score of Good, however, I’m tempted to say it can be anywhere from a 7 – 9 score.
I wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone. Personally, I had to reread quite a few sections just to understand certain things. Sometimes I found myself thinking ‘why are you asking these questions? isn’t it obvious’ and I think that’s why this felt very philosophical to me. When the characters started delving into the questions, it actually starts to make me wonder about the things that we just take for granted and never really think about.
I know in the end notes, the author tells us that we should read this casually, which I agree and disagree on. I agree in the sense that the story is just about the immortals and how they spend their time fending off boredom, pretty mundane. I disagree in that there’s some thought that needs to be put into the content that is being put forward.