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Review of Ad Astra: Scipio to Hannibal

Ad Astra does not start very well because it presents Hannibal with an almost supernatural fated image and aura about him, a manifestation of the spirit of his country of sorts that can even intimidate a way older war general and although the raw GAR energy of it can be very appealing, in terms of writing is kind of too much to take.

Thankfully that is only for its first chapter and from the second and until the end there is no element nor moment like that ever again, and the manga becomes 100% a political war epic full of on field, tactical and mental battles and debates, political struggle both between the two enemy countries as well as for each one on their own, as the manga bothers to also cover the internal issues they had at the time both in their political systems and societal classes and even between the generals themselves.

And unlike other political war epics, Ad Astra does not really suffers from rule of cool, there are a lot of very strong and imposing manly characters but it never feels like what they are able to do defies the rules of their world, like Huo in The Ravages of Time. Plus there are explanations for everything to at least make it seem like everything makes sense, and the setups are explained before the plans and tactics are put on motion in battle, they are not thrown in nor explained as they are happening, thus they do not feel ass-pulled at any time.

The manga is also fair for both sides in the sense that every major character has a moment to shine and even when defeated and during their last moments they can give the winners a hard time or have a badass and cool end.

Unlike other series like it, Ad Astra is also not hard nor very heavy to follow, the dialogue is about complex topics and well-constructed, but never really to the point that is hard to grasp and need a second read, nor becomes tiring for the mind.

The length and pacing are also really good, just look at the number of chapters, and the plot moves forward at every moment.

In terms of characterization, it feels like the manga does something similar to LOGH with its own Yang and Reinhard. It is true that after the first chapter and a big time skip, Hannibal is presented mostly as serious and focused on the war without relaxing moments nor flashbacks to flesh him out more, but he is explored through his relationships with other characters and all the difficulties he had to face. Plus the realization of the consequences that his attitude leads to and the way it comes to bite his ass at the end is a great moment to behold, you feel like everything up to that point was made deliberately that way just for that catharsis.

Scipio on the other hand gets most of the focus, as he learns and grows mostly from his number one enemy and uses his own strategies and tactics against him, you can even say that there is point in that, in how they were not very different in the end and that eventually, in a sense, Hannibal was his own downfall. Scipioโ€™s sad ending is also really something to behold.

Other secondary characters are also fleshed out in the same way, whether by getting the right amount of spotlight, or through flashbacks, or by getting their own development through gains and hardships in battles.

It is also interesting to see how even when they are sworn enemies, the characters from the different countries show respect for the others exactly because of the things that make them stand out.

The artwork is solid all the time, with good backgrounds, movements and special effects, and the only issue for me are the designs, which by going for realism (mostly), ended up becoming kind of repetitive and hard to tell apart, even more when they are in the battlefield.

As for the negatives, there are some minor secondary characters that are plain one dimensional rapists and murderers that are an unnecessary edgy addition that takes away from the overall seriousness and level of the manga, but luckily they disappear from the story almost as quickly as they are introduced.

The manga also has some comedy and just like is the usual case in anime and manga, it sucks. To its defense, at the very least it is not present at all during serious moments.

Honestly, at the end of the day there are very few things I can complain about it, the exaggerated supernatural elements and the inferior minor characters disappear completely from the story and the comedy, although awful, is never used in a way that ruins the tone. Thus I find just a few and very little issues in the manga, which is why I reflect that in the rating.

Added by Fernando Leonel Alba
3 weeks ago on 2 April 2024 03:12