The Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer is a somewhat misleading and underrated series. At a glance, Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer appears to be another typical action series involving chosen individuals tasked to save the world. For one thing, the premise is rather similar to plenty of fantasy cliché. However, beneath the facade of a simplistic plot is an intriguing story about how the characters learn to love the world they live in.
To describe Biscuit Hammer in one word, it would be quirky. The setting is common, but its presentation is very much unusual. The initial tone of the series can be said as being rather warped. Samidare has a hidden agenda. She is leading the Beast Knights to fight against the Mage, not to save the world, but so that she can be the one to destroy it. Hearing about this declaration, Yuuhi pledge his loyalty to her, vowing to be a demon knight to her demon lord, helping her to achieve her goal, all while deceiving the other Knights for he himself didn’t have much optimism for the world anyway. Indeed, barely a volume into the story and the stage is set for a three-way battle.
The core protagonist Yuuhi is thus also an interesting one. Clearly, he’s anything but the archetype idealistic hero, yet not quite enough to outright brand him as an anti-hero (while Samidare establish her intention as that of a villain protagonist). For one thing, while it is obvious that he is cynical, it is nevertheless sometimes difficult to discern whether he really meant some of the things he said or that he simply had a morbid sense of humour. A major theme explored in the manga is thus as such: life isn’t pretty, but through the interactions with the other Knights, the protagonists gradually learn that the world (to quote Celty from Durarara!) isn’t as cruel as they thought. And that’s only mentioning Yuuhi and Samidare. Indeed, a large portion of the manga is spent on characterization rather than actual fighting against the enemy Golems. As the story progress and the other Knights join the party, we begin to also look into the motivations that drive them to fight – some are more idealistic, some perhaps less so. As such, another theme that is prevalent throughout the story is the concept of being ‘hero’. Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer is hence, in a way, a reconstruction on the idea of ‘hero’ and this is most prominently shown through the character development that Yuuhi underwent. That’s not to say that the other characters and uninteresting. Quite the reverse, for most of them had their fair share of focus and hidden depths. Overall, the story’s comedy style is a mix of dry humour as well as conventional slapstick gags. Poignant moments are done with the right dosage, not too angsty, but sufficient drama to create the appropriate emotional impact. Or rather, the drama is portrayed in a succinct manner – no exaggeration, no long and drawn out melodrama, but to the point and to the pain. In other words, subtlety is the pertinent factor here.
The art style may not be anything impressive or outstanding, but the simplicity of the art style works well. Though, on the other hand, the unremarkable (and somewhat bland) art may be why this series doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Nevertheless, the character designs suffice and I am not expecting anything more, for it doesn’t diminish my enjoying of the story. Furthermore, the art style actually complimented the previous point with regards to the story style, which is most notably shown when dealing with the deaths of important characters.
In addition, the fight scenes may not be as energetic or explosive as most of the mainstream action series, but they are in no way inferior. I personally enjoyed the dramatic irony that is the finale with when Samidare and Yuuhi revealed themselves as the Secret Last Boss that the other Knights had to confront in order to really save the world (though not so secret to us, since as the audience, we already knew right from start what the duo’s motives were).
This leads to a final point and that is the pacing of the story, which to put it in brief would be that the manga flows well. The progress from the story’s beginning right to the end was handled well and special mention goes to the ending. Sure, it may not have a particularly memorable or epic conclusion, but a well thought and nicely executed one is certainly better than endings that fail to tie up all its loose ends or too rushed. In essence, Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer has a nice balance of fantasy elements, drama, comedy and solemn moments.
On a last note, I’d say that this manga is recommended to those who are transiting from shonen to seinen manga; it contains plenty of the idealism and elements common in shonen while infusing several more mature, more grim but not necessarily downright despairing ideas found in seinen. After all, ‘growing up’ is also a crucial theme in the story.