by Takahashi Miyuki; adaptation by Tony Ogasawara
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
I continue to enjoy this series because of the variations the author rings on the structure while maintaining the basics of character and premise. Last time I talked about Book 4, which added teen soap opera elements. This time, it’s almost a horror movie.
The lead character is still one of the world’s top secret agents, code-named Musashi. While fleeing through the woods, she’s almost run over by four friends on a vacation. They’re individually consumed by their own problems, but they all wind up in a deserted cottage being shot at by the bad guys. If they can survive until dawn, they’ll be rescued, and the physical danger will put their emotional trauma into perspective.
The way the stories are narrated by floating characters, observing our lead but never getting inside her head, keeps her mysterious. She floats in and out of their lives, radically changing them but always moving on, in the style of a 70s road drama. She often teaches responsibility through her own example.
The second story in the book focuses on a part-white, part-Japanese boy with artistic talent. He’s an outcast at summer camp because he doesn’t share the interests of the other kids. That chapter leads into the next lengthy story, where Musashi follows the boy back to his school to obtain lost evidence. It’s similar to the earlier interaction with Shingo, complicated by the presence of gangsters.
The delicate art counterpoints the grim material. The characters are distinctively attractive but strong and determined. They talk about Musashi’s mystique, a firm presence, and it comes through the images. They’re often unusual themselves, or at least feel that they don’t fit in, and Musashi gives them inspiration.