Beyond the Clouds has some of the most beautiful artwork I’ve seen in a manga. Nicke’s drawings have a wispy, fluffy feel to them while still portraying a sense of various textures. I find that the character designs are a tad reminiscent of Precious Moments figures too. Really, it’s her art which is the real show stopper. I do wish, however, that I could say the same thing for the story.
Its set-up has all the right plot pieces: a mysterious injured girl who has only one wing, and no memory, crash lands in a junk heap and is found by a scrappy mechanic who’s got skills and has dreamed of exploring the world. While that’s a bit cliché I’ve never been one to hold it against a well thought out, tightly knit story, which Beyond the Clouds is not. The dialogue and its plot’s tendency to meander really bogs it down.
Readers learn about the world through Theo’s, our young mechanic’s, perspective. While his motivations to find other winged people are clear it’s as though he’ll never get anywhere in achieving his goal. It feels like Nicke didn’t really have a plan for the story’s finer details before she started writing and with no clear path in mind for Theo to follow his trajectory ambles. Throughout the first volume the plot’s progression is synonymous with taking one step forward and two steps back. Especially since Mia, the winged-girl, is obviously on someone’s radar; I would think there’d be danger lurking around every corner to motivate our protagonists. Yet the thrilling high-adventure antics I was expecting never manifest themselves. Also, any emotional build-up between characters which would enhance key scenes just sort of happens. I also felt like there were many repetitive internal-thoughts and dialogue which didn’t add any depth to the characters. Essentially the characters hardly feel like active participants in their own story which is the biggest bummer.
For example, while Theo promises he’ll find out where Mia belongs and take her there, their journey never really gets off the ground. (Pun sort of intended.) The duo is plagued with random-encounter-like plot-point-side-quests that don’t play a bigger role to the overall storyline from what I can tell. By the time the first volume concludes I was surprised that their journey hadn’t begun. Instead Theo’s on a side-quest on his own to get a fever-stricken Mia medicine. What happened to my high adventure?
Perhaps I’m being a bit too rough on Beyond the Clouds since my expectations weren’t met, and at this point I’m not sure the winding storyline has the clamor to keep me entranced. Maybe it’s the back cover’s declaration that, “...their quest will take them beyond the clouds, farther than either could have imagined,” wasn’t really meant to be interpreted as a journey outside the city? Overall, for those who are drawn to unique and delicate artwork Beyond the Clouds will definitely provide you with some stellar eye-candy. However, if you need a bit more than just pretty things to stare at I’d recommend Witch Hat Atleir or The Girl From The Other Side Siuil A Run as good alternatives.
Young Theo works as a mechanic, putting his knack for machines to use in the industrialized city where he lives. But when he finds an injured, amnesiac a girl with wings, his life changes forever. Her name is Mia, and although Theo’s talents make quick work of repairing her injured wing, their quest to find her home will take them beyond the clouds and further than they would ever have imagined.Add to CartLearn More