Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer may just be the best manga I’ve ever read.
Every once in a while, you come across that series.The one that totally shifts how you view a plot arc, a character trope, or even an entire genre. You might not realise it at first, but as you slowly become more and more obsessed with its message, you realise just how incredible it is. Such is my experience with the manga Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer.
Yuuhi Amamiya is an average college student who suddenly wakes up to a talking lizard on his bed. That lizard, Sir Noi Crezant, tells Amamiya that the world is in grave peril: a massive hammer in space created by an all-powerful mage is going to smash the world to pieces, and Amamiya has been chosen as one of twelve knights that have the power to stop it. Now he must find the other knights as well as the Princess, who will lead them to victory.
Unfortunately, Amamiya wants nothing to do with this quest… at least until he discovers that the Princess is his next door neighbour and wants to smash the world herself!
At first, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer presents itself as a standard battle manga, and it does so fairly well in its first couple of volumes. The power system is unique and malleable, and there’s a steady power creep that keeps ramping up the excitement.
However, the series also hides a much darker, more serious subtext that becomes fully present after the first major death near the end of volume 2. The series then undergoes a massive psychological examination of its main cast throughout its run, rarely seen in this genre.
In reality, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer isn’t just a battle manga.
It’s a manga about life; more specifically, it’s a manga about dealing with life. Overcoming childhood traumas, dealing with uncomfortable family situations, coping with death: so many different aspects of the struggles of living are present here.
Death in this series does not feel fictional. It feels real, like you’ve actually lost someone you know. Some characters cope with it relatively quickly to get it out of their systems, while others take a couple days or a week or even longer to fully realise what’s happened. It’s almost haunting how realistically death is portrayed.
The characters going through all of this are incredibly endearing. There’s something almost sadistically child-like in how Amamiya and the Princess initially play out their master-servant relationship, which eventually blossoms into something more romantic.
As the story progresses, however, we can clearly see the road to maturity laid out before them, and seeing them help each other through their personal problems gets really emotional at times. The same can be said for the rest of the cast as well, from the wild and unhinged Mikazuki, to the enigmatic Akane, and even to the playfully oppressive mage himself.
As for artwork, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer has a sort of simplistic brilliance to it.
Admittedly, the art is a bit rough in the early chapters, but it very quickly takes on its own personality and a more refined aesthetic. While the character designs only have a minor detail or two to set them apart from being generic, the way they emote physically is intensely gratifying.
Moreover, the close-ups of these characters, especially the Princess, have this subtle intensity to them that makes it difficult to look away. So many of these panels have been permanently burned into my memory because of how direct and impactful these close-ups were in conveying the mass variety of emotions the characters produce.
The flow from panel to panel is fairly solid as well, and I rarely found myself getting lost in the artwork or being unable to decipher what’s happening, thanks to some stellar fight choreography. If this series ever gets an anime adaptation, I would love to see Shingo Natsume (One-Punch Man, director) handle this project with some veteran Bones animators.
While it occasionally lacks enough punch in a couple of key scenes, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is easily one of the best manga I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It combines the hype of epic battle manga with a deeper, more psychological character study that hits hard and fast. I’m still blown away by how this series handles life issues, and I think I might try applying its lessons to my own situation in the future. In any case, this might be the best manga I’ve completed to date; definitely a series you can’t afford to miss.
My Rating: 9.5/10