I and my family went through a little bit of stress last week due to a relative’s emergency. All is well now, but it kind of shook up our world. I’m going to try to catch up on all the reading I’ve promised others I’ll do, not to mention fit working on my latest novel in there somewhere. Oh, and I’ve gotten back part of the edit for my other novel. Ouch. Lots of rewrites gonna happen there.
Why? I ended up with a stupid heroine. Ironic, given my last post here. So, I have to re-examine and begin fixing as well. I may end up taking a small break from this blog if the rewrites turn out as big as I think they might be. I’ll post if that’s the case.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Volume two of this series is even better than the first one. One of the things I love about this manga is that the mangaka really tries to stay true to how people from Japan’s past might respond in a modern setting. Kagetora’s emphasis on honor in volume one, his lack of hesitation regarding killing others (until Beni gives her order), and his sense of station are all very well depicted, as well as the complications they cause (or might cause). That same attention continues in volume two.
In this volume, Beni and Kagetora are aware of how they feel toward each other. They see each other as equals. However, Kagetora’s earlier promise to her father, that he knew his station and wouldn’t rise above it, comes back to haunt them. It seems Beni has been promised to a guy named Rihito who attends the same school. And he’s creepy, folks.
But Kagetora’s honor and sense of station kick in. He won’t stand in the way if she’s already been promised to someone else. After all, he’s just her bodyguard. A servant. He won’t even touch her now and apologizes for his rude behavior in the past (i.e. kissing her). Eventually, this attitude leads to one of the most intense scenes in the volume when Rihito attacks her at school and Kagetora…doesn’t move. It’s exactly what I would expect from someone in his position in the past. The fact that he’s in agony while he hears what’s going on and the fact that he discovers a compromise in time doesn’t do much for Beni’s anger at him. She still expects him to act as a guy in modern times would if they saw the woman they loved being threatened.
Personally, I was amazed he did anything at all to help her. After all, in his mind there’s no chance for them to be together, ever, and she might as well belong to Rihito. I’m especially happy that he overcame that to any degree since it means there’s a chance he might fit into the modern world.
There’s some beautiful moments in this volume and the comedy is also pretty strong, in spite of scenes like the one described above. The tone of the plot definitely becomes darker in this volume but never so dark that the tone dramatically changes. It’s similar in style to the change between volumes one and two of FullMetal Alchemist. In other words, the plot really takes off in volume two.
Kagetora is really amazing in this volume, both in how he’s adapting and how he’s not. His affection for Beni still runs very deep and we get a small glimpse into his childhood, which explains some aspects of his personality, including his acceptance of what life gives him. He’s happy with whatever he can have.
And, of course, there’s awesome ninja stuff, both from him and his enemy.
Beni is still a lot of fun in this volume. Her affection for Kagetora is really helping her open up emotionally. I also like how she does what she can to fight against the obstacles life puts in their way. I’m hoping in the next volume (3) that Kagetora starts fighting them as well.