In the midst of a war torn world, a mysterious race known as the Nephilim lingers on the edges of society and of extinction. Legend has it that these ethereal beauties conceal an enchanting secret, by night the young males transform into delicate young women.
However, the Nephilimís blossoms of femininity conceal a deadly poison, for it is said that to gaze upon their nocturnal splendour means certain death for the onlooker. Widespread fear and persecution of these "Deathbringers" forces the Nephilim to lead secret lives veiled in mystery.
Our hero, Guyfeis, is an Imperial solider charged with the mission to save a lady of his kingdom, the noble mistress Lia. This devil may cay cad has his work cut out for him, however, when he crosses paths (and blades) with a young Nephilim named Abel.
While Abel is determined to destroy the man who discovered his secret, Guy plays with the fierce fire of the young Nephilim, hoping to tame Abelís will and capture her heart.
Nephilm engages with the gender bending theme in a way that is moderately entertaining, if not especially original. Perhaps Hanamaki was hoping to appeal to a wider audience by capturing the hearts of both yaoi and shoujo readers. Despite the thematic wildcard of gender subversion, Nephilim plays it safe in a socially unconstrained setting of an exotic a magical universe.
The Swashbuckling Guyfeis is amiable enough as a lead and has some dimension to his character. He is devoted to his cause and the carefree demeanour belies the underlying sincerity he harbours to both his charge and to young Abel.
The delivery of the story lack finesse and the art is a little clumsy from time to time but this improves as the story progresses and the pace quickens.
The strength and charm of the manga lies in just how much Hanamaki invests in her two characters, Abel & Guy (something that she elaborates upon in the omake). Abel's female incarnation is suitably stunning, lending a real authenticity to her enchanting allure. The visions of beauty that the hail the transformations of the night, of the Nephilim's flowing flaxen locks glimpsed at moonlit pools makes for beautiful compositions and classic romantic aestheticism. It is during these interludes that the manga really shines and Hanamaki demonstrates the peak of her skill.
One distinctly trying aspect of the story lies in the specifics of Abels transformation from male to female, as it also incurs a degree of enfeeblement. This is something that may grate with many readers as it seems a little archaic and insulting, undoing a lot of the fantasy with restrictive sexual stereotyping.
Encouragingly, Nephilim vol 1 departs on a brink of another adventure to entice readers to discover what might unfold in the future of Guy and Abel.