Writer: C.S. Pacat
Artist: Johanna the Mad
I’ve been a fan of anime and manga for as long as I can remember. I’m especially a sucker for slice of life and sports anime. As much as I love Western comics, I have to admit that when it comes to these genres, I almost always prefer the works that come out of Japan.
This is why Fence is such a pleasant surprise. Fence‘s influence by modern sports manga is so clear in every page and panel. C.S Pacat and Johanna the Mad are a marvelous duo. Together, they have created a series full of fun-filled drama and engaging characters. Pacat successfully ensures that even readers with little exposure to fencing (Like myself) can understand the game. Readers will find themselves curious or even invested in fencing after a reading each issue, which is the mark of a successful sports series.
There is an impressive amount of character development for both Nicholas and Seiji in just one issue. Nicholas grows throughout his match against Jay, a giant of a fencer. As you read this issue, you can almost hear the inspiring music as Nicholas taps into that potential his former coach once mentioned. The sequence is exciting and builds momentum that that never relents through the rest of the issue. Nicholas and Seiji’s relationship also gets a some time to develop between the matches. The chemistry of these characters shine, especially due to Nicholas’ charm.
Throughout this issue, artist Johanna the Mad takes the lead. Most of the story and emotions are told through art, with minimal narration. The fencing itself is intense due to a creative arrangement of panels. The characters and their relationships are also enhanced by the art. The use of chibis during lighthearted moments seals the deal, adding extra charm to each page.
Fence is doing what most western comics are unable to do. For some reason, slice of life isn’t too successful in the medium, with the exception of series like Archie and Giant Days. The addition of compelling sports drama is what makes Fence special. Fence #6 takes everything that makes this series fun and makes it better. This is a series that does not get enough attention and it is unfair. You are doing yourself a disservice by not reading this title.
Fence #6 successfully does everything that makes sports manga successful.