Spirit King Elqueeness: Review, Analysis, & A Plea for More

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Please like and share this post! Currently unlicensed in English (BUT NEEDS TO BE). You can see the Korean version here. According to the baka-updates, the manga has over 100 chapters out and according to me, this series deserves more attention, more love, and more translations!

I read a lot, I mean a lot, of stories, particularly of the isekai genre lately, and this by far is one of the best in terms of storyline that I’ve seen with only about 15 fan-translated chapters to go off of as of yet. It starts with tragedy, not only is our main character abused at home, he dies young in an accident. Then he finds out that all of his struggles until then (struggles to not only survive the abuse he is receiving but eventually move past the trauma to find the familial love he’s longed for all his life) has been in vain because he was never supposed to be born there in the first place. Rather, he was supposed to be born as a Spirit King instead of as the pitiable human he was before.

Chapter 4 paints a picture of how spirit kings are revealed: first one chooses from seven cards that signify the type of soul you have (elves, humans, demons, gods, dragons, dwarves, and spirits), then there is a subsequent set of cards specifically for the nature of said soul. From this, you can gather that spirit kings are specifically people(s) that choose the spirit card and one of the four natures–in this case, the spirit of water. No other spirit of that nature can be born until the spirit king arrives, which seems to mean that when the spirit king dies, so do all of the remaining water spirits left behind, allowing for them to be replaced by the next generation (the death of the remaining spirits of that nature is inferred not directly stated). The soul guides tell him that his soul must be that of Elqueeness since no other water spirit has come in the 16 years since his soul was lost on Earth.

During this time, Elqueeness is shown to be very unique. He is rarely angry, choosing instead to accept what has happened and move on. He is very forgiving I think, but that doesn’t mean that the human life and trauma won’t pop-up again or change his perception of the world now that he is reincarnating to his proper role as a Spirit King.

During reincarnation, we see his birth as the new fully formed Spirit King of Water, naive and delicate as his current appearance is and different from the former king as all of the other spirit kings note:

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In a beautifully funny way, this prefaces our meeting of the former Elqueeness–if the current Elqueeness is like a gentle stream, then the former Elqueeness was a raging storm–two different sides of a temperamental body of nature with the power to back it up.

Picking water was probably no mistake by the creator as people rarely attribute gentle behavior to a fiery temper, nor gentleness with the earth. What I mean is, think back to other representations of the four elements–earth is steady, fire is passion and anger, the wind is flowy and can cause a lot of damage but when it does, it’s often paired with one of the other four elements (like a rainstorm, sand storm, or even raging fire). Water personalities are often shown to be flexible to different paths, patient, but still very powerful.

Elqueeness acts as our interpreter of this new world of spirits and, like us, he is confused by it. Sure, he may be an over-powered demi-god but he doesn’t know it yet nor does he know how to use that power or even think that he could have such power after his treatment in the last life, which makes the story so fun to read.

Already I have a theory about this series and it is only a few chapters in, which to me is a sign of great storytelling potential. I made a note already that he was abused in his former life as a human, yet he seems to be able to mostly move past this trauma very quickly following his rebirth. Not to say that there are not some human parts still ingrained deeply into his spirit, the trauma being one of them, but that they are not nearly as impactful as another human might take them. I believe the reason he is able to overcome so much of the abuse he suffered before has a lot to do with him being a spirit soul rather than a human one, at least that might explain it to me. Of the four spirit kings, Elqueeness is by far the most “human.” What I mean by that is that while the other four spirit kings display emotions, Elqueeness has the widest range of them and is perhaps the only one longing for something beyond the realm of spirits. He’s looking for family, particularly love of a family. In some ways, the other spirit kings might provide this, but thus far it doesn’t seem so.

Of the four, the other three spirit kings seem inflexible to what they are or could be–they’re Spirit Kings, the spirits they make are just extensions of themselves, and nature is their domain, why think too hard about human struggles? Why look at the other spirits as children or anything more? (Other inferred things, not explicitly stated.) However, the current Elqueeness is interested in humans, is open to seeing his spirits as more than extensions of himself following a conversation with the god that formerly was in the same role and of the same name, the god Elrien.

Elrien also makes a note of the difference between this Elqueeness and others–this Elqueeness, our Elqueeness, is more emotional and sympathetic. In essence, a non-human individual we might refer to as more human simply because of his emotional range. But who knows? Maybe as the story progresses we’ll see more of how trauma is treated in the story, after all, just past Chapter 10 we are introduced to so many different plot potentials where rejection, family drama, and more can be expanded upon in the growing narrative.

Have I hooked you into how interesting this story is yet? Do you need more? Because I HAVE MORE ->

Let’s look at the art. Look at these two adorable and beautiful people:

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For the most part, the art is like the sample shown above, lots of bright colors paint this world when things are new, exciting, or just positive in general and when things are sad, it’s framed in darkness–ah, simplicity of color-coordinating emotional tone, thank you. BUT beyond that, the varying thickness of lines and overall roundness of the art style generally knows what it is and by that I mean that it really opens itself to moments of comedy and moments of beauty just for the sake of beauty, for example:

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^chibi forms and lacking features=comedy purposes,

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^then this ethereal entrance by Elqueeness – all in the same art style and coloring, just adjusting the level of detail slightly so that any moment can easily flow from beauty to comedy to plot-driven story elements to whatever without having to emphasize points of changing styles or dramatize them heavily in the art style to make them funny or stand out because the art allows comedy and the more serious plot points to just flow naturally between one another in this series.

BUT, you say to me, But, what else? 

WHAT ELSE? You ask?? Oh. I see, my love and devotion to art and title character are not enough–you want more–fine. Fine. More you shall get:

Here is an interesting things I just noticed in my latest re-read of the very short version I have available to me thus far via Google translate and fan-translations: the Spirit King seems to have certain peoples tied to their respective elements–for example, red dragons are associated with fire, and blue dragons with water–and it’s not unheard of for the Spirit Kings and, by extension the spirits they make (like the former Elqueness) to be biased towards peoples not of their element. It is also evident that water is the most powerful of the four, with our Elqueness being the first to have such little expression of that power so far. With how biased the former Elqueness was, it is likely that water mages or contractors of water-based peoples/spirits like blue dragons might have had a lot of political and social power prior to the former Elqueness‘ death and the current Elqueness’ 16 years missing time as a human in which nature was thrown off course. How might this development have shaped what’s going on in the story? Well, for those interested, we can already see a sliver of how much the world has been shaken by Elqueness’ absence. In addition to the disbalance in nature, such as the intensive droughts taking place all over the earth, panic and frenzy has caused untold unrest in the various peoples that exist on the spirit-run plain, even so far as using Elqueness’ name (rather, the lack of water) as the reason for killing of a King.

This is setting up a political plot around water, and given the subtext that the story has provided so far, I bet the political story will be a really f-ing good one. Plus, I just found out there is a novel! This series has so much to offer and I bet it will give us even more as it progresses.

In conclusion, it’s interesting, it’s fun, it’s unique to its genre, and it needs more love. The fan-translators are doing a great job, but without love it will probably be dropped for other series translations and will never be legally licensed with an English release. Its been dropped before (twice, I think, since I started following it) and that breaks my heart. I absolutely love this series and I hope you all will love it too. I recommend checking out the Korean version on kakaopage if you find Google translate acceptable for the first attempt at reading (I do, but it is a struggle to get things a lot of the time). Right now, the first 28 chapters are free!

So, if you’re looking for a good read, I hope you’ll check it out if you see the title!

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