Godchild is a manga gothic mystery series set in Victorian London. This emotionally driven story focuses on a nobleman Cain Hargreaves, who only recently becomes an heir under suspicious circumstances after his father, the previous lord’s “death”. He solves various mysterious crimes that suddenly seems to happen whenever he is around.
To the public, Cain Hargreaves is a playboy and carefree lord with a lot of women trying to woo him. But behind this carefree mask, lies a sad, dark brooding and somewhat tragic figure. The newly minted Lord Hargreaves is the illegitimate spawn of a nobleman and his sister. He was abused by family members as a child and this has left him emotionally stunted and suspicious. The only person close to him is his butler Riff. His bizarre fascination with poison makes him an eccentric to the posh nobility around him.
There is a lot of interesting character dynamics and interactions between Cain Hargreaves and Riff. Riff takes very good care of Cain and the two share a special bond. Cain is extremely reliant on Riff and he is the only one sees Cain’s scars and can touch them. Riff on the other hand has nothing but respect and kindness for his eternal master.
Another notable relationship in the story is Cain’s overprotective relationship with his alleged half sister Mary Weather. She feels that his love is genuine but despite this, Cain’s overprotectiveness makes her feel suffocated. Her carefree spirit contrasts a lot with the sheltered nature of a noblewoman in Victorian London.
All of the characters are deeply flawed in their own personal ways for both good and evil. Cain is clearly no hero as he sometimes does things that would be considered immoral at times. He is obsessed with protecting his half-sister and this causes some friction in their relationship but Cain has the best intentions. Overall, the main characters are generally likable and well written.
Each story is part of an overarching narrative of Cain Hargreaves finding out more about how these series of bizarre murders and other kinds of strange cases are connected to a mysterious organization called “Delilah”, that is focused on necromancy. Cain also learns more about his father’s involvement with Delilah and secrets hidden from Cain’s own past as well. The motive behind each crime is different but appears to be all part of the same end goal.
Symbolism is another aspect notable in the story. A lot of references from the bible is shown throughout the story. Cain for example, is named after the alleged first murderer Cain. Many lullabies and nursery rhymes are used in their actual meaning instead of what they are normally portrayed as such as “Black Sheep”. There are many different themes covered with the narrative from suicide, incest and the darker side of how love affects anybody. In addition, the manga takes a psychological look into how abuse negatively effects the victim and how it drives them into becoming a darker version of themselves.
The story is very immersive from start to finish and plot twists can occur from one panel to the next. Characters have complicated back stories but these all form part of the mysterious nature of Godchild. As the story progresses, you learn more about the motivations of characters and their pasts. However, the story becomes more complicated as well. Characters could be killed at any moment and no one is safe. No one can be trusted and betrayal is a recurring theme in the story. Violence and mature themes are ever present as well.
The gothic art style for the manga is highly detailed and each backdrop for the location is highly faithful to Victorian London. The character designs were distinct with Cain Hargreaves being the standout. The story atmosphere is very disturbing and grim and it works well with the overall storyline. The action is secondary and the story telling and mystery are what drives the plot. Humor is not really that common in this manga and would be out if place given the dark tone of the story.
There are a few drawbacks in this manga. As much as I like the highly detailed art style, it makes the pages look unorganized and messy. The story meanders sometimes and murder mysteries can become predictable at times.
Overall, I really enjoyed Godchild and highly recommend it. Fans of Gothic Victorian London, murder mysteries and even Black Butler fans could find this series very enjoyable.
It gets 4 stars out of 5.