Jyu-Oh-Sei Volumes 2 and 3

Jyu-Oh-Sei Volumes 2 and 3 by Natsumi Itsuki

I enjoyed the first couple volumes of Itsuki’s Demon Sacred so much, it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read the rest of Jyu-Oh-Sei, her pulpy science fiction series that Tokyopop released in omnibus format. I read the first volume some time ago, but it was easy for me to pick up the threads of the story again when revisiting the jungle planet of Kimaera.

Jyu-Oh-Sei Volume 2

Young Thor has unexpectedly survived being marooned on the inhospitable planet, and he becomes more and more important within the tribal structure of the planet’s inhabitants with every fight he wins. The third in command of the Ochre ring (conveniently named Third) is convinced that Thor should rise in the ranks to become the ruler of the planet, the Beast King. Third sets up a manipulated challenge that leaves Thor injured but he survives and is now the Ochre Ring’s Top. The story fast forwards a few years, and Thor and his girl second Tiz are all grown up and super-hot. Thor’s held on to his position of authority but everyone is shaken up when the leader of the Blanc Ring goes on a fighting rampage. It turns out that the Blanc Ring Top is an old acquaintance of Thor’s – Zagi who guided Thor when he was first dropped off on the planet.

Thor is caught between Zagi and Third. Zagi’s brutality in battle is extreme, but he tells Thor that becoming Beast King is for suckers. All the previous Beast Kings are frozen in a space station, ruling over nothing. Third urges Thor to take control by becoming Beast King in order to make the planet better. Romantic complications are introduced when Thor falls in love with Zagi’s second, a striking woman named Karim. This does not go over well with Tiz, who is still determined to bear Thor’s children even though he tends to view her as a sister. The second volumes sets up both emotional angst and the growing suspicion that the society on Kimaera might be engineered and controlled in a way that the natives don’t suspect. Many people are invested in Thor’s ability to lead, but why is he being singled out so much?

Jyu-Oh-Sei Volume 3

The first volume of Jyu-Oh-Sei felt like it was laying the foundation for Itsuki’s unique world. The planet itself was its own character, with the unique vegetation threatening human existence wherever Thor went. The second volume built more on the societal and emotional aspects of Kimaera, with Thor finally being portrayed as a grown-up instead of a lost boy. The concluding volume shifted into action movie territory, with surprising revelations about Thor’s own nature and a race against time to save the planet of the Beast King. I won’t go into the details too much to avoid spoiling the story, but after finishing this volume I had a renewed appreciation for Itsuki’s world building. Thor finds out the truth behind his adopted planet and confronts the people who had his parents murdered long ago. He then has to lead a small group of people in an attempt to save the planet from a desperate act. The structure of the final act of the story is circular, as the strange vegetation on the planet yet again plays a prominent role in the story.

I can see how this manga might not appeal to readers who don’t appreciate a healthy amount of exposition in their science fiction books. I liked seeing how Itsuki layered her story elements and carefully plotted out the details of her unique world. While I thoroughly enjoyed Jyu-Oh-Sei, it does lack the wackiness that causes me to look forward to the next volumes of Demon Sacred with so much affection. Jyu-Oh-Sei goes on a very short list of thoughtful science fiction manga that I wouldn’t hesitate to anyone looking for manga that features stories about the future of humanity. It has much more depth than the typical sci-fi manga, and I’d rank it up with Planetes as a favorite of the genre.

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