by Keiko Takemiya
published by Vertical; $13.95 US
To conclude my participation in the May Manga Moveable Feast, here are my thoughts on the third and final volume of this series. If you want to follow my comments so far, check out my reviews of Book 1 and Book 2.
As this volume opens, Keith’s career has been advancing, with numerous promotions. He’s been working his way up the ladder in order to get answers to his questions about the true purpose of the Mu, obtained when he finally becomes important enough to confront the main computer. The sequence is both dramatically and visually impressive, with a combination of tech fetishism (the mechanical backgrounds) and psychedelic blurs symbolizing revelations.
Meanwhile, the Mu have taken the battle to the humans, surrounding their educational planet and threatening the children and beyond that, the methodology that raises them. The art of the spaceships arriving and the resulting battle is similarly exciting. I may have tired of waiting for Takemiya to get us to this conflict, but there are some beautiful images to make up for the delay.
That’s most of what I took from this book. Various showdowns with elements new to the reader left me cold, but the images were stunning. (Except for some of the costumes, which looked a lot to me like Legion of Super-Heroes outfits, bodysuit with white chestpiece and even a logo in some cases.) This was especially true of the ending.
Early in the book, an anti-computer thread begins, which I found late to the story. It should have been introduced earlier, although it ties in well with the validation of the “good old days”, “things were better then” nostalgia of the series. Once the controlling machine is destroyed, magically, things begin instantly improving.
Strangely, one of the tables has turned. Where previously the Mu seemed threatened and physically inferior to the humans, in danger of being wiped out when they directly confront each other, now, the humans are the ones in danger of being subsumed into Mu. It’s an odd reversal, one that I didn’t think had enough prior grounding in the story. While the Mu want to coexist, previously, the humans thought them to be freaks and didn’t like the idea; now, we’re told that the idea is impossible.
To follow up on one of my previous criticisms, I was happy to see another woman with a speaking role in this volume. The Mu have a hit squad, a group of young, tougher mutants that they send to do most of their dirty work. One of them, Artella, is female, although she also gets tagged with the plot role of questioning whether they’re doing the right thing because she hates the fighting.
I wish we’d learned more about Makka, a Mu collaborator working on the human side, and what drove him. I wish Tony had bothered to remember that Keith was responsible for his mother’s death when confronting him. Mostly, I wish this story had been set during World War II, because then we wouldn’t have had the supercomputers coming out of nowhere.