by Tohko Mizuno; translated by Stanley Floyd
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Things haven’t changed much since volume two. Everyone, good guys and bad guys, seem to be sitting around doing nothing. The big drama in the first half of the book is Tenma’s feelings toward Akane and whether she has romantic feelings toward him. In the second half of the book, a mysterious woman claiming to be the Dragon Priestess shows up. Has the Dragon God picked a second priestess to aid humans battle the Demon Clan? Or could she be a false priestess?
All the storytelling problems I detailed in my review of the previous volumes still exist here. The Demon Clan is in no hurry to destroy the human race, and the Dragon God is in no hurry to pick the final guardians. The first half of this book seems to be filled with petty bickering over petty concerns. It’s hard to believe there are another ten volumes of this series. At what point will the central plot of saving humanity actually start?
The second story arc in this book is actually well-written. It shows that Mizuno is capable of crafting focused stories with solid emotional content. That just makes reading the series more frustrating. It’s obvious that Mizuno’s strength is plot-driven stories and not tales of romantic angst. I wish she would play to her strengths and just make this a straight historical fantasy series. There is so much wasted space on trying to play up the shojo elements of this series.
The one high point of this book is the artwork. Mizuno does gorgeous free-form panel layouts. I don’t think there are two pages with same layout in the entire 179-page book. It’s definitely worth the time to flip through the book and see the variety. This volume could serve as a template book for shojo panel arrangements. It makes me all the more disappointed the story doesn’t lives up to the artwork.
This is the last volume of Haruka for me. There’s simply too much good manga available to waste any more time on a substandard series. I hope that the next series Mizuno does allows her to explore her strengths as a storyteller. This series is just wasted potential.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)