So, the plan today (In no particular order) is to write, put up this review and the review of volume 7, and post regarding the changes I’ve made to the Shining Armor cover (which still have to be fully worked out), based on feedback I’ve gotten. And somewhere in there, I have to read a bit more in Deryni Rising, which, on the whole, doesn’t seem to be a bad book. More later on that.
(One last thing…I think this review below is the closest I’ve come to criticizing Pandora Hearts.)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have to admit, I had a couple problems with this volume. First, it tries to cover a lot of ground. Usually that works. Here, it feels a little bit of a reach.
Second, part of it takes place in a school. I cannot begin to tell you how tired I’ve grown of school settings in fantasy manga. Thankfully, the point here is not the school. It just happens to be the place where a few necessary characters are, and nothing about the plot suggests that it’s going to become a recurring setting. But it still grated on my nerves.
So then, why did I give it five stars? Well, there’s several reasons, but the first has to do with its theme: sacrifice.
You know those women who decide to become stay-at-home moms?* All the ones I’ve known who haven’t been broken by it have gone through a phase where they have to realize that they can’t sacrifice themselves. If they do, they put an enormous burden on their children, which is the exact opposite of what they’re trying to do.
Volume 6 makes the same point, but in a much better way than I just did. First, it looks at Break’s sacrifice when given the awful choice between Lady Sharon’s life and Alice’s memories of the past. We see Lady Sharon do the usual manga-girl thing of getting upset at his noble sacrifice, etc., etc. (BTW, I loved his response to Sharon.)
And then Mochizuki contrasts this with Oz and his tendency to sacrifice himself. She does this in two ways. First, she has Oz get in an argument with a guy who totally ruins a series he’d been reading by telling him what happens to the characters. Then, later, when Oz is in serious trouble, the same argument comes back, this time with the philosophical spin that makes you realize what sacrifice is not.
By the time all’s said and done, the notion of sacrifice has been expanded and turned on its head.
Other reasons I gave it five stars:
* Break’s re-gained memories and a return of the person I’ll call Noble Break…for now. *big grin*
* Echo-chan. I’m hoping she’ll become much more than a puppet in the future.
* We find out why Gil wanted his hat sooooooo very badly. Hee, hee.
* The return of the Baskervilles.
* Jack. Oh, my. Jack. (Is it wrong to have a crush on a manga character?)
* Break is a liar. But only in the best sense. (I may have a crush on Jack, but Break is still my favorite.)
Next up, Volume 7.
*Edited to add a disclaimer: I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years. Realized what I’d written sounded disparaging and that wasn’t my intention. It’s just raising kids is not for the faint of heart.