By Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama
TOKYOPOP, 192 pp.
Rating: Teen (13+)
This volume opens with the conclusion to Kantarou’s latest conflict with Raikou Minamoto and his underlings. Haruka arrives to save the day (and to reassure Kantarou of his loyalty) but though Minamoto’s immediate plans are destroyed, the fight ultimately ends in a draw. Things are looking up for Kantarou, however, as Haruka makes a promise to one day tell him about his past. The story then takes a break to make way for a string of short “Bedtime Stories” featuring the series’ regular characters, which provide filler for the latter two-thirds of the volume.
Though the volume starts strong, thanks to the underlying tension between Kantarou and Haruka, it quickly falls apart with the introduction of its short story series, “Record of One Hundred Goblins.” With a single exception, these shorts provide neither humor nor substance sufficient to hold readers’ attention. Fortunately, the volume’s final story, “Otoshi,” about an artist whose ability to paint youkai (supernatural creatures) has mysteriously failed him, has enough strength of its own to turn things around. Focusing on relationships between humans and youkai, this story provides one of the most poignant moments of the series so far, rescuing the volume from its flat middle chapters. “… How precious an ‘existence’ is to youkai,” muses Kantarou, having finally returned the artist’s ability to him. “… That’s why I use my writing to make them immortal and [the artist] uses his art to pass on to future generations.”
Despite its uneven storytelling and tone, the eighth volume of Tactics manages its way out of complete destruction with a healthy dose of true feeling.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.