“Hey, Will, there’s a new steampunk—”
“I want it!”
I’m a fan of steampunk. The use of old tech to build modern breakthroughs is always appealing (and the look of it is always cool). It’s also an underutilized aesthetic, so I jump at the chance to read, watch, and play whatever steampunk media I can get my hands on. Recently that has been Levius, a battle manga with a good artstyle and a by-the-numbers plot.
Set in an alternate world where a breakthrough in steam-powered technology has advanced tech to the 21st century, the locations are lavishly drawn, making for a believable setting. The new tech advancement also led to a great war. After the war ended, the populace became united around the sport of MMA (Mechanical Martial Arts). It’s essentially Victorian-era mixed martial arts where athletes can augment themselves with mechanical enhancements.
One of the rising stars is Levius, our good-looking and battle-scarred protagonist. A civilian casualty of the war, the fighting cost him an arm and placed his mother in a coma. He gets equipped with a mechanical arm and sent to live with his standoffish but very loving Uncle, Zack and wise-coot Grandmother. After having an epiphany, Levius develops a hero complex and joins MMA to save his mother. You see, Levius had a dream that he was in an MMA bout on a floating island while his mother watched from the stands, so he wants to rise through the ranks and fulfill this dream. If any of this reads like Battle Angel Alita or any other battle-focused manga of your choice, that’s because it does. The manga even includes an Alita-looking character.
But honestly, that’s okay when you have such a unique artstyle. The locations are lavishly drawn, and that includes the characters. The character designs are some of the most realistic I’ve seen in a manga, and that’s a good thing. It makes all the violence feel real and gives the fighting dramatic stakes. I also like the focus on motifs; you can’t go a page or two without one panel being a close-up on an eye or flying bird. It gives each moment more thematic depth that I enjoy.
But this is a battle manga, so how are the battles? The fights themselves can be a bit hard to follow. While you can always see the end result, it’s hard to know what happened in between. The battles lack the flow that made classics like Battle Angel Alita and Berserk such a joy to read.
If you’re okay with a prototypical plot, I’d recommend this book. The art is good, the style is unique, and the story does make you feel something. The volume covers many themes that a cyberpunk story would, but the steampunk world created differentiates Levius enough to stand on its own.
It’s the 19th century, and the world has entered the Era of Rebirth, recovering from the devastating flames of war. The sport of mechanical martial arts has galvanized the nations. Cybernetically augmented fighters turn their blood into steam and their bodies into brutal fighting—and killing—machinesAdd to CartLearn More