Destiny’s Hand

Genre: Action Adventure
Length: 3 Volumes
Allegiance: Seven Seas Entertainment
Mangaka: Mel Calingo (written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir)
Vintage: 2006 – 2009
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kitsune
Welcome aboard Destiny’s Hand, a ship captained by the chivalrous “Gentlemen Pirate” that is literally unsinkable. The second most noteworthy member of the crew is young Olivia Soldana, a brash sixteen-year-old that can outdo any man. An unfortunate turn of events places Olivia in charge of the ship while the Captain is ill. His dying wish is to seek out the Devil’s Eye, a relic of destructive power that the worst of the worst desire, before it falls into the wrong hands. It is a seemingly impossible task that not only requires four pieces of a map, but a certain veil, a special crystal and a reluctant scholar that hates pirates as well! While seeking these items, Olivia faces the challenge of leading a crew that doubts her authority. This lack of trust is more than just an inconvenience, for the crew certainly needs to be united in order to take on Captain Mulgrew of the Kraken, a vicious pirate also seeking the Devil’s Eye who is not merely a thief, but a relentless murderer. Pirates such as he are causing all of the cities with ports to take action to stamp out piracy once and for all, and even the moralistic pirates of Destiny’s Hand are receiving no mercy. The ship might be unsinkable, but the crew members can easily die, and it seems that many of their deaths are drawing near. Will they be able to carry out the Captain’s wish amongst all of the chaos?

Research Agent Report by: Kitsune 
Overall 7.25
(not an average)
Destiny’s Hand is a bit of a rare thing: an original English manga that is actually enjoyable. Loosely based off of Pirates of the Caribbean, it contains a bit of the icon’s magic- it surprisingly and successfully captures of the era of piracy through characters that are humorously modern. I personally find it to be one of the best pirate manga that I have read. It definitely conveys the era of piracy quite well.

Like most pirate stories, the plot flowed nicely – with the tides, if you will, as Destiny’s Hand moved closer to the Devil’s Eye.  The story began in a fast-paced manner and kept that pace for the majority of the series, so there are few dull moments. In addition, the jokes in the manga bring in more liveliness and are very witty and well-timed. My only complaints are that I grew just a little confused in a couple of places in the series due to little explanation and that some aspects of the plot were predictable. I think a few more twists in the plot would have made a huge difference.

The most noteworthy characters are Captain Blaine, Olivia, and Elias. Captain Blaine’s appearance is obviously based off of Jack Sparrow. However, Blaine’s personality is quite different from Jack’s-he is a paradoxical “Gentlemen Pirate.” He is a thief, but he is not a criminal; many of his hostages fell in love with him, as he merely took their fathers’ treasures and escorted them safely home. He is wise, even fatherly towards Olivia, and is portrayed as trustworthy, chivalrous, and respectable.  All in all, his character is nearly flawless, although perhaps not quite as memorable as Captain Jack. As for Olivia, her desire for adventure and brash, confident attitude is admirable. The three year time lapse between the beginning of her joining the crew and setting of the story makes her skills much more believable as well. However, reading about guys hitting on her left and right gets pretty old. Not that the outfit that she wears doesn’t encourage it… It’s not very realistic due to the setting either. Most male pirates would frown upon a female pirate, as women aboard ships were considered bad luck, and would therefore stay away, not hit on her. Also, a female pirate would want to stifle their sex appeal and come off as a fighter, not girl with a sword in short shorts that didn’t even exist in that era. Alone, some of this would have been okay, but all together, it was too much for my taste. Moving on to Elias, I will say that he was portrayed very well: the know-it-all kid of a governor who originally causes a big fuss when dragged onto a pirate ship, but once let out of the cage of royalty, grows excited for adventure, and yet is cowardly in conflict.  The way he is portrayed is extremely believable. Accordingly, the jokes at his expense are the funniest. Mulgrew was an okay villain, but not memorable at all in comparison with the many that I have seen. There are a few characters not mentioned who I thought were portrayed well and a few that I thought were so-so. All in all, the characters were pretty well-designed.

I think that the impact of most pirate stories is usually a bit limited, but they are certainly entertaining, and Destiny’s Hand is no exception.  The biggest theme I am able to connect to it is that of freedom.  Olivia and Captain Blaine aren’t bad people – they just want freedom from the absurd rules of their time. Olivia didn’t want to go through with an arranged marriage, so she fled to the sea. I could easily see myself doing the same, if only it would allow me to escape some of the absurdities of our time. Life at sea is simple and exciting; it’s very interesting to read about.

The artwork in Destiny’s Hand is very accomplished when compared to that of most other original English manga. However, it does not compete with the work of the Japanese at all. The way Olivia’s face is drawn really bothers me, especially at the start of the series. Sometimes it is drawn well, but it there isn’t a consistency – not to mention it looks extremely awkward in many scenes. Calingo’s females in general aren’t drawn nearly as well as the males, and honestly, the way he draws curly hair could really use some work as well. The ships do look phenomenal, however. Even with that being said, the artwork is only a little better than okay.

Destiny’s Hand is a pretty good manga to read, especially if you’re a Pirates of the Caribbeanfan. Personally, it’s my favorite pirate series next to Pirates. The storyline is quite accomplished, with its only flaw being predictability. In addition, many of the characters are memorable, the insight given to the freedom of a pirate’s life is noteworthy, and the artwork is decent.