Arata Volume 5 I think I’m really hampered from fully enjoying this series due to my familiarity with Watase’s other works. Modern Japanese Arata still is putting together the pieces of his quest in a fantasy world with an imperiled princess, while the Arata he switched places with is back in Japan navigating the difficulties of modern school life. Watase does do quest storylines very well, but there’s not much new here to someone that’s already read the piece/people collecting narratives of Fushigi Yugi and Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden. I continue to me more interested in the other Arata’s adventures in Japan, and in this volume he gets an unexpected ally when a classmate sees through his disguise. What disappointed me was the plot twist at the end, which seemed so reminiscent of the whole Miaka/Yui dynamic in Fushigi Yugi that it didn’t carry much suspense or dramatic tension for me.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Volume 3
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan continues with its well-executed story of a boy who happens to be the heir to a clan of demons. Nura confronts the rebellious Guyki, and comes up with some clever maneuvering with clan politics when his grandfather announces his intention to make Nura his formal heir. Nura’s classmate Kana is menaced by yokai, and when Nura’s older and stronger form comes to her rescue a little bit of a Lois Lane/Clark Kent dynamic develops when Kana suspects that her classmate and the powerful yokai boss might be connected. The volume wrapped up with a story where Nura’s grandfather meets the powerful exorcist Yura, who attempts to defend the old man she assumes is human from a yokai assassination attempt. There’s plenty of action in this manga, which is enlivened by all the off-kilter character designs used for the yokai. I think this is one of the more solid recent shonen manga series from Viz.
Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac #27
My favorite of this recent batch of shonen manga was by far Knights of the Zodiac. I don’t collect every volume, but I’m always happy to read it when I come across one. The over the top manly shouting and endless battles between gods ensures that it isn’t too hard to just pick up a ransom volume and enjoy it, without worry too much about the ongoing storylines. Basically I read Knights of the Zodiac for two things: crazy battle shouts and ridiculous moments of insanity. The Bronze Knights are about to battle the henchmen of Hades, but there are horrible complications that might prevent them from being effective in battle. Awesome battle cries were in evidence from the first few pages as Dragon fights a trio with their “Grand Axe Crusher!, Blood Flower Scissors!, and Annihilation Flap!” No! Not the Flap! The craziest image in this manga occurred when Thantos was describing to Seiya how he trapped Athena in a vampiric urn, which slowly turns red as it absorbs all of her blood, thus killing her. Athena is shown sleeping with her head sticking out of an urn, tendrils of hair spread out everywhere. Phoenix shows up, as does Seiya’s long-lost sister. Everybody is gearing up for the final battle in the next volume, which I am going to have to get. I certainly hope Athena manages to escape from her vampiric pottery prison.
Review copies of Arata and Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan provided by the publisher.