Yukarism Volume 4
The reincarnation shojo manga series by Chika Shiomi concludes in this fourth volume, bringing the story to a quick close. I’m a bit disappointed, but I think I was expecting something different from what the author intended.
I wouldn’t mind reading more stories about how someone living life today interpreted visiting a historical period, or vice versa, but it seems to me that Shiomi instead wanted to make points about the nature of a person’s essential character and how past influences must be transcended for someone to make their own choices.
I say that because this volume has a number of passages about choosing one’s rebirth and preventing the past from repeating itself. This message may resonate more to someone raised in a more communal culture; to an American, the idea that we’re our own person is nothing unusual, since we’re a society of rampant individualism.
Anyway, events here begin having potentially deadly results. Since the courtesan Yumurasaki is suffering a fatal wasting disease in the past, her modern reincarnation Yukari begins collapsing as well. That puts the conflict between his friends Mahoro and Satomi in more immediate focus; they’re versions of Yumurasaki’s most powerful client and her bodyguard from back then, and they dislike each other as a result. The ghosts of their past actions start forcing a potentially murderous confrontation in the present.
I found Yukarism volume 4 a fast read, because I wasn’t very invested in the philosophy or the historical drama of the courtesan’s impending death. There are romantic elements, but they take a far second place in significance and authenticity. And there’s a slight uncomfortable element of the guys arguing over how best to protect “their” woman in the bits set in the past. The message about needing to learn more about the people who care about you and being more honest about your feelings for them is a nice one, though.
The art was most interesting to me when Shiomi started drawing the historical versions of the characters in the modern school setting (since for dramatic reasons, other people start perceiving the past lives of the characters, at least visually). It’s a symbolic portrayal of the past forcing itself upon the young people, an influence they must ultimately shake off in order to grow and seek the new.
Also, don’t read the cast list or story so far pages, since they confirm a revelation made later in this book. (The publisher provided a review copy.)