The first volume of Frau Faust was an interesting start, if a little too short for its own good. With the second book out, let’s take a look and see if things got any better.
Thankfully, the second volume does feel like a step in the right direction in some ways. We have more adventure and mystery going on here, along a dive into Faust’s backstory. The opening chapter is an excellent start, showing Faust in her early years before making the deal with a demon, why she made it in the first place, and the true horror in her curse. It gives stronger motivation for why she is trying to put the demon back together and what the stakes are if she can’t do it. It also raises some questions about why people are hunting her in the first place and why they keep talking about her as if she was a guy, which are legitimately interesting mysteries that have me curious.
The rest of the story is no slouch either, as Faust sets her sights on retrieving the right leg of Mephisto. After she cuts ties with Marion, she enters a holy city, meets with an old colleague of hers, and goes into investigating both how to get into the church housing the leg and figuring out what the cause of all the recent disappearances is. There are some good plot developments here that expands both the world everyone lives in and the side characters, but it also brings in an element that I wasn’t thinking about at all: a demonic threat. I mean, it’s not like Mephisto is the only one of his kind, so actually exploring and facing another force like him is a route that feels like the right direction to go in. However, like with the previous volume, I feel this book could have used a bit more content since it ends just as it really heats up. Hopefully future volumes have a bit more to dig into.
Stupid scientists with their stupid interest in science!
On a character level, I thought there was some good development all around. Faust still continues to be the best character in the series with her enjoyable attitude towards the world and her passion for knowledge — the kind with actual substance, as she puts it. Her backstory was pretty good and the reveals within actually make sense given everything we learned, like why someone as smart as her would make such a deal in the first place. Marion is still not particularly interesting, though I do like the brief flashback with him regarding reading and talking with an old classmate. It helps build the idea why he is so determined to continue following Faust around, even if it puts him into particularly dangerous situations. The scenes with Lorenzo and his partner helped to strengthen their bond as partners, since they really didn’t spend a lot of them together in the previous volume. Of the returning cast, I felt Nico was the most shortchanged, because she really didn’t get to do much outside of getting hurt again.
The new characters aren’t bad at all either, even if most won’t be sticking around for much longer. Wagner is the great grandson of the man who created Nico and as he puts it, is a scholar of magic. He is very inquisitive and curious about Faust, even pushing boundaries at some points, but is still very respectful towards her and her abilities. He doesn’t really get to do much here outside of putting Faust onto the missing persons cases, but I suspect we’ll be seeing more from him in the future. Then there is the bishop and his young daughter, who have this air of tragedy to them; one that is understandable (reminds me a bit of Faust in some fashion).
We also meet a mysterious nun who appears towards the end of the book, who is very creepy and for good reason. She appears to be a demon herself given the implications and she has her own motivations, making her the first demon we’ve seen besides Mephisto and first real threat in the manga. Before we can really learn anything about her, the book abruptly ends, so hopefully we get some more background next time.
The artwork looks just as lovely as it did in the previous volume, capturing the haunting beauty of this world. The characters are drawn well (though many suffer from having the exactly same faces as each other at points), having a strong emotional range of expressions that brings out the mood and inner conflict going on in each scene. For instance, there are some great bits with the bishop and how he interacts with others, including his daughter that captures this pain he has exceptionally well. The layouts are put together expertly, making things easy to read and follow along with. There are great, mysterious, and unnerving panels and scenes that are crafted so well, including the final pages of the book. I feel the only problem here is that the backgrounds can be very sparse at times, making the world feel empty. It definitely stood out during this festival scene where it looked like barely anyone bothered to come out to this supposedly big event.
Frau Faust Vol. 2 was a step up from the previous volume, building up its cast and diving into intriguing, fascinating plot developments. While the book is definitely a bit short on content for its size, I think the manga is starting to show its strengths more and making itself into a worthy read, especially for fans of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.
Frau Faust Vol. 2 was a step up from the previous volume, building up its cast and diving into intriguing, fascinating plot developments.