Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: August 22, 2018
Price: $13.00
Creator(s): Hazuki Minase (story); Itsuki Kameya (art)
Format: 230 pgs., B&W, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9753-8090-8
Age Rating: Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

There are many manga series with the premise that "real world" characters have become trapped inside a video or computer game, but this one is a bit different.  This manga uses the longtime fascination of players around the world with Final Fantasy games as part of the basis for the story, but also for part of the story itself.

The first Final Fantasy game came out over 30 years ago, enough time for people to grow up in a world with enthusiastic players.  In this story, a brother and sister have both gotten jobs at the company that makes the game, in the hopes of someday being part of the future development of something they have loved for years.  Then, after a sudden trauma, they find themselves in a world that is almost the one they know from the game, but with just enough differences to be confusing. What do you do if you’re apparently trapped in a fantasy adventure that’s almost like something you know, but with dangerous differences?

The story set up in this first volume could keep it going for several more, but some readers will be put off by the video game setting, and the seemingly arbitrary "rules" of the game world.  Final Fantasy fans, and fans of other videogame manga series, will find an enjoyable story here, with good art.  Readers who have never heard of the game won’t lose out, as long as they understand the basic concept of a computer or video game taking place in a fantasy setting.

The book is for teens and up, with a publisher warning for language and violence.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.