Just a few quick links today to point out a few short reviews of mine over at Manga Recon this week. First of all, I checked out volume eight of Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom for a bonus edition of Manga Minis on Tuesday. With the huge advancements in character development made over the last two volumes, this volume pales a bit in comparison, but it’s still a solid end to the Fall arc, making way for the possibility of something greater than what the series has offered up to this point. If Nora and Kazuma really can change their fate, that will be an exciting goal to pursue and will hopefully keep the series on the upward track it discovered a few volumes back.
I came in to Nora a bit late as a reader (something that is suddenly very much related to a recent Twitter conversation on the question of whether or not individual volumes of manga can/should be able to bring a new reader into a series at any point) and one thing I must give the series credit for is just how easy that was to do. The story’s characters are always exactly themselves–no more, no less–which not only makes them unusually hospitable to newcomers, but also makes it all the more thrilling to watch them grow. I look forward to seeing more of that as the series continues.
Also, in today’s installment of On The Shojo Beat, I review the latest volumes in two series, the first being volume nineteen of NANA, a long-time favorite of mine as you all surely know. This was a rough volume for me emotionally, thanks to my strong identification with a particular character and the serious pain she’s got waiting on deck for her right now. I’m struggling to avoid spoilers here (I even tried a bit in the review itself, though it was pretty rough) so suffice it to say, “ouch.” There’s a strong sense of impending doom for everyone in the series at this point, one way or another, but Yazawa always avoids that hopeless soap-opera rut in which it is obvious at all times that nothing good can ever really happen for anyone. Along with the sense of impending doom is a small voice suggesting that perhaps, after everything has exploded and the dust has finally cleared, it might actually be a better world for the survivors of this little universe. The story may be dramatic and filled with tragic misfortune, but its characters are ultimately in charge of their own destinies and there is never a complete lack of hope for any of them.
Lastly, I review volume three of Rasetsu. I was a bit harsh on this volume, I’ll admit, but I really feel strongly that if it is going to survive on its own, independent of the series it spun off from, it’s going to need to cut the cord–the sooner the better, as far as I’m concerned. Though Yako is certainly doomed to carry around sadness over the loss of his first love for quite some time, it’s more important to develop the story’s new characters than it is to come back to that issue over and over. It can’t be allowed to drop, of course, but there are much more subtle ways of handing it than what we see in this volume. I have some level of fondness for this series so far, so I’m really rooting for it to come into its own. Hopefully we’ll see that happen over the next few volumes!
So, check out these reviews and more over at PCS’s Manga Recon!