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Manga / Im: Great Priest Imhotep

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Im: Great Priest Imhotep (Im~イム~ for short) is a shonen manga created by Morishita Makoto, which was serialized in Shonen Gangan from 2015 to 2018 and compiled into 11 volumes. The manga is licensed in English by Yen Press.

The story revolves around a young Egyptian priest named Imhotep, who lived a solitary live back in ancient Egypt 3.000 years in the past until tragic and traumatic events cause him to be banished unto the future; our present day. Now, stuck in this present day, he is forced to end the reign of the terrible king of the Magai and his former best friend, Djoser. But that's easier said then done, if that terrible king of those horrific monsters is your first and very best friend.

In his journey, Imhotep meets many different people, including a girl named Hinome who had been living a solitary life as well until meeting him. At first, they clash, but soon enough grow to care deeply for one another as chaotic event after chaotic event transpires. They're the best of friends, you could say. And that, perhaps, makes a certain king quite jealous...

Im Great Priest Imhotep contains examples of:

  • All Myths Are True: In all versions including the one-shot and pilot chapter, there are many and accurate references to Egyptology that range from religion, medicine, beliefs and even magic (to a certain degree). But it's not just Egyptology that appears in this series; there are also clear references to youkais. In the pilot chapter, there are a few references to even some Greek mythology.
    • In the manga, all creatures of this type are called Magai, which is based on the term magaimono which vaguely translates to imitation. And this is made clear why as the story progresses; the Magai are imitation gods. This is more clearly the case with Magai Seth.
    • Urban Legends: This is discussed often in the series, especially early on. In most cases in this series' canon, the Urban Legends are caused by the Magai. Though not always as proven by Hinome.
  • Almighty Janitor: In the present day, Imhotep is a low rank Priest due to his crimes in the past together with his three-thousand year banishment. Despite this, his skill in magic and his knowledge are unmatched and nearly on the level of one of the gods he used to serve. He is able to cast magics no one else can and is often even over powered and quite the show-off. He knows how skilled and smart he is.
  • Ancient Egypt: The story is centered around Ancient Egyptian history and mythology, and a number of the characters are from this era; Imhotep, Djoser, the Ennead, Cleopatra, Ramesses II and Akhenaten.
  • Animal Motifs: Quite a few, even aside from the gods, who are, of course, associated with animals by their nature.
    • Imhotep is associated with the ibis, which makes sense considering Thoth was the god of wisdom and knowledge. It makes even more sense when it's revealed he's the reincarnation of Thoth.
    • For Hinome, it's the lioness, representing her bond with Sekhemet.
    • Harguo's associated with the bat, with his manifested ka taking such a form.
    • Sed is associated with dogs, regarding his firm obedience to Khonsu, who even refers to him as his "dog".
    • Cleopatra's associated heavily with snakes, wearing snake themed ornamentation, and her magic personifying itself in snake-like shapes.
    • Ramses is heavily associated with lions, to include his design. In his introduction, he's even juxtaposed alongside lions.
  • Artistic License – History: Imhotep and Djoser were actual people who lived in ancient Egypt, and had a similar relationship as they did in the manga, as Grand Vizier, and Pharaoh respectively. However, they lived over 5,000 years ago, rather than the 3,000 years ago like the manga characters. note  Two-thousand years after his death, Imhotep was deified, as his level of knowledge and skills was what many thought to be close to god-like. There is a statue of Djoser that bears Imhotep's name on it.
    • A somewhat more minor example, but while Heliopolis was certainly an important city in Egypt, it was never the capital, and at the time of Imhotep and Djoser, the city of Memphis was the capital.
    • Another minor one is most of the ancient Egyptian characters are depicted with full heads of hair; it was Egyptian custom for both the men and women to shave their heads, with young boys having a braid on the side of their heads.
    • In addition, the real Cleopatra did not have a Burial at Sea, and was buried with Mark Anthony somewhere near Alexandria, though the tomb has not been found in the present day.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Every person is now born with a fate ordained by the Ennead, to serve the greater purpose of maintaining order in the world. It is possible to go against these gears of fate, but the bigger your role or gear is, the more disastrous it is when you fight against your destined role. The main and clearest example is Imhotep trying to save Djoser. They did this in part because they decided there wasn't anything they could do for humanity at this point (with Apophis seed now planted in them), they decided to commit their time to protecting the world on a whole, instead of dealing with humanity on an individual level.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The heroes successfully defeat and seal Apophis, but the damage he did to the world - both spiritual and physical - is too great for the weakened Ennead to undo. On top of that the Ogdoad are still lurking in the void, threatening to consume creation. To that end, the gods elect to permanently leave the mortal realm, and Thoth decides to use Damnatio Memoriae one last time to rewrite the world; remaking it with the sole rule that the gods never came in contact with the humans. Unfortunately, that means none of the characters ever meet each other, including Imhotep and Hinome. However, Imhotep and Djoser live full lives back in Ancient Egypt, and all the other characters are able to lead normal and happy lives of their own.
  • Central Theme: Thanks to friendship and those who love you, you can learn and heal from the hardships you have endured. And even though you might not remember them, true friendship remains in your heart.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: A particularly weird one where the Amen Priest Society's Egyptian branch decides to throw a Japanese style festival complete with kimonos, fireworks, and Japanese games and dishes. The only real reason that's offered is that the Magai rampage that happened earlier wrecked the area.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In this series, nearly every character has lived through a dark or traumatic past.
    • Hinome's mother, Himawari, died shortly after she was born. Eight years prior to the story and meeting Imhotep, she became cursed by Magai Sekhmet, which caused her to burn everything around her whenever she spoke. During the events of the series, she considers herself to be constantly unlucky due to just wanting to be a normal girl.
    • Imhotep has always lived an unlucky life, even if he had first not considered it to be the case. After meeting and becoming friends with Djoser, however, he was given a whole differen perspective of the outside world. However, thanks to that different perspective and becoming the best of friends with Djoser, Imhotep was determined to save him and his cruel fate of becoming a Human Sacrifice that's supposedly to save the world from doom. Due to people working against his plans, however, said doom escaped and turned Djoser into the Big Bad of the majority of the story. This is the start of the cruelties the Magai would bring upon humanity.
    • Djoser has always been seen as less than human by his own father, locked up within a dark room to wither his days away until his soul of the sun was needed to quell the miasma within hell. After meeting Imhotep on the fateful day he tried to escape, he lived a happy life, unaware of his cruel fate of being a Human Sacrifice. Ever since the fateful day of the sacrifice, Djoser has been the puppet used by Apophis's hand, his face being used for his cruel and inhuman deeds for 3.000 long years. Locked up within the snake's consciousness, he is unable to fight back when he finally has the will to do so.
  • Egypt Is Still Ancient: Actually averted for the country itself. Egypt itself is otherwise modern, and Im is even seriously off-put when he arrives there, and notes how completely unlike it has become to his old home. That being said, there's basically a miniature country within the Egyptian desert that's ruled by the Amen Priesthood, and is very much a hold over from ancient times, albeit with modern technology, and certain modern sensibilities.
  • Gratuitous Latin: For some reason, Thoth uses Latin for his most dangerous spell, "Damnatio Memoriae", which means "damnation of memory". The rest of the spells are seemingly in romanticized ancient Egyptian with the English translation beside it.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: It turns out Djoser has been under the control of Apophis, the Serpent of Darkness, who seeks to destroy the world, as an act of vengeance against those who scorned and vilified him as a monster. By the second-act of the story, Djoser is firmly shoved to the side, and Apophis becomes the new Big Bad.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half of the story is set in Japan, and focuses mostly on Im dealing with various magi, who take the form of specific Egyptian gods, with Djoser being the primary villain. The second half, however, shifts the story location to Egypt, marks the introduction of Apophis, and the magai are mostly sidelined, with Djoser himself being otherwise eclipsed by Apophis.
  • The Heartless: The Magai, beings that seek to destroy the world by various means (usually through Demonic Possession), are demonic, malformed beings and imitation of gods. Their goal is to bring as much despair and bloodshed unto the world for the sake of chaos and their hate for the true gods. It is later revealed that the Magai are actually humans mutated through strong, consistent negative emotions and the miasma from Hell. They cannot be cured from this.
  • Historical Domain Character: Aside from Imhotep and Djoser, we are also introduced to Cleopatra VII, Ramesses II, and Akhenaten as the story progresses. Moses is also mentioned by Ramesses on occasion in his flashbacks.
  • Jerkass Gods: The 9 gods that shaped the world, the Ennead, are generally apathetic to humans as individuals, taking them as hosts so they can interact with the mortal world, and assigning them strict, and at times cruel destinies. That said, this is less out of cold malice, and more because they concern themselves more with the fate of the world at large, and don't have the time to think about humans on the individual level. Set is an outlier, being the only one who's actually concerned about humanity on a personal level. At any rate, the alternatives, namely Apophis, and the Ogdoad, are far worse, since the Ennead aren't actually seeking humanity's destruction anymore. Im even notes, that despite all their flaws, the world still needs them, because they are literally the only ones preventing the world from literally falling apart.
    • This also goes for the Ogdoad, the gods that created Thoth and Apophis, though it's implied to be more a case of Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Not much fanservice is given in this series aside from Apophis in the final battle and Cleopatra, who wears quite the revealing getup and is even seen vaguely nude in some panels.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: The driving motivation of Im is to finally undo the untold damage he has unwittingly caused by his failure 3.000 years ago, so that the people of the present can live a happy and peaceful life.
  • Playing with Fire: Once Hinome re-bonds with Sekhemet due to the strong sense of wanting to help Imhotep and keep him safe, she gets the ability to use fire-based attacks. However, now her fire is more golden and doesn't burn everything around her like it used to.
  • Scars Are Forever: Played with depending on the character.
    • Hinome has suffered from burn marks on her neck which she hid under her scarf. These are no longer present when Magai Sekhmet no longer possesses her, as they were more symbolic than anything.
    • Harugo's scar on the right side of his face, which also made him lose his right eye when his father was possessed by Magai Seth.
  • The Order: The Amen Priesthood. Since ancient times they have acted on the behalf of the Ennead in order to bring peace and stability to the world. However, not all priests of the priesthood are saintly; there are also extremists who will even punish those who have only vague connections with Magai.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Despite getting most things (more or less) correct about Egyptian mythology (including some rather obscure pieces of mythology), there are a few errors.
    • In the original mythology, Anubis was the god of mummification and the protector of the dead; in this version, "Anubis" is a broad term that refers to a race of lesser gods who serve the Amen Priesthood, more closely resembling Shinto guardian spirits instead of Egyptian deities. They begin as small puppies and are trained by the priests to become fully fledged gods.
    • Though the roles of certain figures would change dramatically over the course of history, never at any point was Apophis a positive figure, or had any relationship to Thoth. Apophis did, however, have a strong connection to Ra, also a sun god, and thus by extension, Atum Ra. Even Imhotep lampshades how this information completely rewrites the entire mythology.
  • Shout-Out: A few brief examples, including one where Imhotep references The Mummy movies. This is shown more by the sketches Morishita draws from time to time.
  • Shown Their Work: There are an impressive amount of accurate details taken directly from Ancient Egyptian history and mythology. For example, a comic after the showdown with Seth alludes to Seth and Horus' encounters from the myths (complete with lettuce), and Cleopatra references being smuggled to Caesar in a rolled-up carpet.
    • Djoser's plans for his reign as pharaoh, before he knows he's just a sacrifice put Imhotep as his vizier and the architect of his pyramid, which is the role the real Imhotep served to Djoser in history.
    • Im's ability to call upon the god Thoth makes sense, as the real Imhotep was equated with him after his death and deification thanks to his knowledge about language and medicine, which Thoth is considered to be the creator of.
    • The mere mention of the Ogdoad deserves mention; for a little perspective, by the time the pyramids were built, one would've been hard pressed to find anyone in Egypt aside from a very well read theologian who even knew about them.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Invoked by Khonsu when talking about Im and Harugo's team, with Harugo being the Sword to Imhotep's Sorcerer. He likens them to being characters in an old-school RPG with a mage and sword-wielding character.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Big Bad's plan is basically this, wanting to annihilate the gods and by consequences anything that lives on the planet.
    • Also, there is a spell that can erase someone's existence and everyone's memories of said person. Imhotep knows it. Actually, he is the only person alive who knows the spell. He is, however, against using it due to the trauma he relates to it.
  • We Used to Be Friends: A recurring theme in the story, the most notable being the relationship between Imhotep and Djoser.
    • In a broader, and older case, Thoth and Apophis were also this, until Apophis pulled a Then Let Me Be Evil after being reviled as the source of darkness which humanity for ages.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 5: Imhotep is the one who created the Magai.
    • Chapter 7: Tops it. Turns out that the Big Bad is Imhotep's only friend from back in Egypt - prince Djoser. The Magai that were created in Hell escaped to this world when Imhotep failed to save Djoser from becoming a Human Sacrifice.
    • Chapter 19: Khonsu is under the influence of strong negative emotions, and Hinome's father knows more than he lets on.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Djoser's desire to destroy the gods because of his rage at his unfair fate and the supposed betrayal of Imhotep - which would entail The End of the World as We Know It for 3.000 long years. But rather than it being Djoser who orchestrated it all, it was Apophis selfishly using his body as a mask for the sake of his plans, using Djoser's anger to form a pact with him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The Egyptian monarchy basically lost it's use once Djoser opened the Gates of Hell, unleashing the worst of the miasma upon the Earth, and coupled with the fact that Cleopatra's lover, Mark Anthony, was in league with the Church of the Magai, the Ennead decided it wasn't worth maintaining.