I didn’t really grow up reading manga. I did read a lot, but it was mostly western books. However, I really liked watching anime and that is how I got my first taste of Konjiki no Gash Bell. When the Zatch Bell anime came out I was in middle school so the goofy start to the series didn’t really bother me, but the ending to the series is what threw me off. The anime lacked closure which is something that I experienced when I watched Shaman King. It wasn’t until high school that I realized these series didn’t actually end where the anime stopped. Both Shaman King and Konjiki no Gash Bell had more material in the manga and my interest in these serires is what sparked my love of manga. Although I had problems with the way that Shaman King ended in the manga, Konjiki no Gash Bell showed me something that I truly wish got a chance to be animated.
Stop me if you have heard this before, but the time has come for the demon world to choose a new king. Well, there is no reason for the humans to miss out on the fun. So, here is the plan. One hundred demon children will be teleported with a spell book to the human world. Once they arrive, the demon children must find a human partner that will read the spell book and fight alongside them. Sounds like a straight forward shounen doesn’t it? Well, let’s take a closer look at what this competition has in store for its competitors. There are two ways for a demon to be knocked out of the tournament. The first is to die. Yes, you can die and if that happens to you in the human world, then you are gone for good. The other is to have your book burned. This is the most common method of knocking someone out of the tournament because it is very direct. Demons are not easily killed. However, a demon cannot burn their own book. You may be asking yourself why anyone would want to do that because the winner gets to be the new demon king. Well, you must remember that these are children. The demon children that are participating in the battle were forced to compete and some of them were not prepared for this. Imagine being thrown into a fight for your life at the age of ten. It is because of this that the weak demons suffer. Unable to protect themselves, the children are cannon fodder. Some avoid finding partners because they do not wish to involve anyone else in a fight that they have no chance of winning. The partnership brings much hardship to both members of the team, but not every demon feels this way. There are strong and evil children. Ones that prey on others and use humans as tools for their own means. Conversely, there are humans that see these children as a means for their own gain. You can try to form alliances to protect yourself, but in a fight where there is only one winner, how long will this pact last? How do you know that you are not just another pawn that is being used by those stronger than you? Circumstances like these bring out a person’s true colors. Unfortunately, these children are thrust into a world where trust is a word that is rarely used. What kind of monster would force this upon the two worlds and its inhabitants? Is there anyone in this tournament that stands a chance at becoming a kind king? Well, what would this story be if the kind candidate wasn’t our main character? A pretty interesting one possibly, but this story is still pretty good. Kiyomaro is a genius that rarely attends school. He is very conceited and antisocial which worries his parents. Well, one day a young boy crashes into Kiyomaro’s window with a purpose. Kiyomaro’s father sent Gash to help straighten out his son. However, Gash is just some kid with amnesia so what exactly is he supposed to do for Kiyomaro. Well, we soon learn that Gash is no ordinary child and now the two must start figuring out the secrets behind Gash’s odd powers and lack of memories.
This manga is three hundred and twenty-four chapters long so there is no way that I will be able to cover all of the characters in this series. So, I decided to cover the important characters. Wait, that won’t work. There are too many important heroes and describing any of the villains would be a spoil. Yeah, the main villains are all secrets that get revealed by Gash and friends. Dammit, even talking about some of the good guys would be a spoiler. Alright, let’s go with describing eight of the characters in detail and mentioning three others without giving anything away. Kiyomaro is the main human in this series. Although he is very antisocial at first, he begins to come out of his shell in the beginning of the series. As a human partner, Kiyomaro’s great intellect is quite the asset in his quest to make Gash the demon king. Gash is our main demon. He uses lightning powers, but passes out every time a spell is cast. Unfortunately, Gash spends most of his time in the series with amnesia so he has no knowledge of the tournament that he is currently a part of. The main duo is very kind-hearted and have the goal of bringing a swift end to this war. Megumi is a pop idol in Japan who is not really prepared to handle a demon war. Although, I don’t know of many people who are ready for that. On her travels, Megumi found a lost girl named Tio. However, this little girl seems very distant and gets angry at Megumi for touching her book. Tio is a demon that knew Gash in the demon world. However, Tio’s powers are of a support style which makes her decently weak in a one on one fight. Tio has a tough outer shell, but she cannot always hide her weakness. Megumi and Tio have been burned early on in the tournament and are on the run from one of Tio’s former friends. Trust issues aside, the deceptively tough idol and her partner are very good allies of Gash and Kiyomaro. Did you think we were done with celebrities? Well, we aren’t. Folgore is a star in many forms. The European celebrity seems like an idiot, but he is actually quite reliable. His partner is Kanchome who was also Gash’s friend in the demon world. His powers are mostly illusions so he struggles in his fights. Even though Kanchome lacks power, Folgore keeps his spirits high and the pair is quite tenacious. Folgore and Kanchome are allies of Gash and Kiyomaro. Sherry is a rich girl from Europe who is extremely tough. Early on she lost her best friend to the horrors of the demon tournament and that pain drives her growth as part of one of the strongest demon pairs out there. Brago is Sherry’s partner and he is one of the nastiest demons around. His gravity powers are extremely strong and difficult to counter. The pair has their minds set on winning and they are opposed to forming alliances. Although they are not bad, their methods are not always nice. Brago and Sherry are the rivals of Gash and Kiyomaro. Umagon is a horse demon that cannot communicate with others. The majority of the series is spent with the little guy looking for a partner. Umagon is an ally of Gash and Kiyomaro. Dr. Riddles and Kido are a pair that basically get things going in the series. Dr. Riddles shares his knowledge with Kiyomaro and friends in the attempt to form a big alliance against a group of evil demons. We obviously meet many more demon pairs, both good and bad, but this is starting to get pretty long. In the beginning we meet some of Kiyomaro’s classmates, but they get less important as the series gets more serious.
Konjiki no Gash Bell is one of my favorite manga series. I specifically say the manga because the anime leaves out the final and most ridiculous arc in the series. If you give up in the beginning because of its comedic style, then you are going to miss out on a great series. It doesn’t last very long in all honesty, but not everyone gives a manga enough time to define itself. There is very serious emotion in this series that is displayed by the various hardships that face the demon children. The fights are very nice with a mix of high energy action and a unique battle system. A lot of moral questions are asked and, contrary to popular belief, the series is very deep.
Konjiki no Gash Bell is a fantastic series. The mix of action, drama, and comedy make for a very well-developed experience. Fans of the anime should appreciate the real ending to the story that they have grown fond of. New fans should appreciate the depth of the story. Unfortunately, the manga was discontinued over here in the states around volume twenty-five which means that you can only own so much of it. Luckily, the internet does exist so you should be able to find some scans. I can recommend this series to a lot of manga fans. Fans of action will obviously enjoy it, but people who don’t normally enjoy shounen will find things that they don’t normally get from the genre. Konjiki no Gash Bell is a must read in my opinion and I hope that you like it even half as much as I did.