Stravaganza delivers action, character, erotica, and fantasy in three epic volumes.
Readers who come for the fan-service will stay for the story.
Stravaganza: The Queen In The Iron Mask is an erotic fantasy trilogy by Akihito Tomi and published by Udon Entertainment. The series follows the exploits of Queen Vivian who disguises herself as a commoner to go on adventures. Throughout the trilogy, Vivian will have to face giant monkeys, travel to distant lands, battle an entire army of bloodthirsty orcs, and fend off a horny thief.
Bikini armor in fantasy is often met with an eye-roll followed by a sigh of exasperation. Many readers picked up books based on an alluring cover only to be thoroughly disappointed by the contents within. To be blunt, there’s a lot of junk out there, so many assume that the ecchi genre isn’t worth exploring. However, Stravaganza, where so many of its peers fail, delivers empathic characters, thrilling action, an epic world, and enough fan-service to make a dragon hot under the collar.
The narrative in Stravaganza alternates between high stakes battles and more relaxed vignettes. It’s these self-contained episodes that offer an alternate flavor to the world and showcase a different dimension to the characters. These funny and sometimes tragic stories show us the world through Vivian’s eyes and allow the reader to build a connection to her eclectic supporting cast. It’s this attention to empathy that makes all the erotic and violent aspects of the saga impactful.
Given the pin-up style of the cover art, I was surprised at how dark and bloody the series became. Tomi’s fight choreography strikes the right balance between clear cinematic presentation and abstract dynamism. The battles utilize the comic book form by employing cliff-hangers as part of fight moves. Who has the upper-hand in a fight can change with the turn of a page. The series doesn’t shy away from blood and it’s clear that humanity as at the bottom of the food chain.
Tomi excels in his larger-than-life character designs. Each woman is uniquely beautiful and sharply dressed in extravagant fantasy outfits. The monster and creature designs are also top notch with the giants being my favorite. The giant men look like a blend between the cartoony proportions of One Piece and Asterix. I’m sure that certain readers wouldn’t mind getting stepped on by the giantesses.
Stravaganza: The Queen In The Iron Mask is one of those rare stories that surpassed my expectations and gave me a newfound appreciation for the ecchi fantasy genre. Also, as someone who values complete stories with endings, Stravagaza wraps up in three hefty volumes. From its art to its storytelling, this series is at the top of its class.
All three volumes of Stravaganza are now available from Udon Entertainment.