Yukarism Volume 4 by Chika Shiomi
I’ve always liked manga by Chika Shiomi, and even though my favorite of her works is the older title Night of the Beasts, her art and storytelling skills have progressed greatly over the years. Yukarism’s final volume is a great way to wrap up the series, coming to a conclusion with a few nice plot twists that make it not at all like a standard supernatural shoujo manga.
As this series unfolded, we’ve seen the present day characters grow more and more affected by the past. Yukari is starting to show symptoms of illness that mirror the sickness of the courtesan Yumurasaki, while Mahoro is taking on the supernatural powers of Takamura. Edo bodyguard’s protectiveness is manifested in Satomi in the modern day. Not only are personality traits crossing over to the present day, as the volume progresses the past is physically manifesting in the present. While it seems like the present day trio is doomed to repeat the tragedy from the past, Shiomi manages to wrap things up in a much more satisfying and hopeful way.
I don’t want to give too much away of the resolution of the manga, but I thought it was very nice that the inevitable love triangle in most shouojo manga was sidestepped. Most of the problems of the past centered around the trio not communicating clearly with each other and making assumptions, and in the present day the high school students manage to work things out both in their own lives and for the spirits that possess them briefly. Even situations that seem very threatening get resolved, but not without enough of a struggle that the happy ending feels unearned.
Shiomi’s art is always clear and easy to follow, but the level of detail in the flashbacks to the Edo period, combined with the way the past is portrayed as bleeding into the present in this volume makes the illustrations stand out. In the hands of a lessor artist, the events could easily be a muddled mess, but both spirit possession and the physical struggles are portrayed with clear techniques that never confuse the reader. I honestly would have been happy if this series were stretched out over another volume or two, but by the end there is resolution for each character, both past and present. There’s a depth of emotion in this concluding volume that shows how Shiomi is able to be so precise in planning out her story, it never feels unearned. Yukarism is a series that I’m going to keep on the shelves for a long time, and I’m going to look forward to reading it again.