A reader requested that I review some volumes of the Rurouni Kenshin manga. At present, I’ve almost finished the series and can almost review the antepenultimate volume of the series–i.e. volume twenty-six. (Yes, I could not resist using the word antepenultimate.) Now appears a good moment to look back on the series and why I enjoy it so much. This manga is such a delight that I obtained the complete series in the original language in order to translate it from the original.
After reading the first two volumes in English, I purchased all of the tankobun volumes. I must say that the level of Japanese stood far above Inuyasha, which counted as my first exposure to manga and even to translating foreign works. (Later, I would read Latin poetry, but it required three years of high school Latin before I started reading excerpts of Classical literature. Conversely, two months of Japanese sufficed for me to plunge into Inuyasha.) With Rurouni Kenshin, I soon developed a fear of running into boxes of historical digression written in kanji. Having watched the anime previously, some of the long monologues were much easier to deal with; but, in Rurouni Kenshin, unlike in Inuyasha, most of the fight is cerebral. Cases where one can sit back and admire pages of action with interjections here and there are seldom found in the pages of RurouniKenshin.
This volume of the light novels vindicates my hope that the series would improve after the preceding two volumes. The eighth volumes covers the first part of “The Town of Strife” story arc. Our heroes become plunged into a vortex of intrigue involving the church, pagan relics, a horn of immortality, rival guilds, and Eve, the femme fatale who almost cost Lawrence his life in addition to his money. This novel manifests all the reasons people love Spice and Wolf, and I am looking forward to the next book and this story’s thrilling conclusion.
Of note, the banter between Lawrence and Holo has lessened compared to the previous novels, and most of their conversations tend to be serious. This novel is the most plot-centered of the series thus far. Much of the dialogue is between Lawrence, Eve, and particular guild heads as he tries to work out a safe and profitable position for himself. I greatly enjoyed this focus on the plot, especially after the last two novels. But, don’t worry: Holo and Col still get plenty of print too.
Usually, I have more manga than this to recommend. However, good manga is hard to find. This will be a very short article indeed, but I hope that you’re willing to try out one of the following two recommendations. For a change, I’ve given ratings for content after each review.
No! I promise that I really did find only two manga worthy of recommending!
The twenty-third volume of Rurouni Kenshin forms part of the Jinchuu Arc and distinguishes itself for its two duels: Saito vs. Yatsume (Literally, “eight eyes,” but typing it out in English makes it look like “the damn guy.” xD) and Kenshin vs. Enishi. Yatsume is one of the assassins who originally tried to kill Kenshin in the trap set for him by the Tokugawa gov’t during the last days of the Shogunate, but Yatsume fled after Kenshin thrust a wakizashi through his hand. He felt disappointed not to fight Kenshin first, but you can be certain that Saito was more than a match for him–a very exciting duel indeed. We learn about the origins of both Yatsume and Enishi’s prowess; though, I could not help but feel underwhelmed with the “pirate martial arts” of which Enishi boasts. After all, English pirates beat Wakou in one famous encounter. Perhaps, George Silver’s English martial arts is superior to both Watou-jutsu and Hitenmitsurugi-ryu? Anyway, you can tell that I’m annoyed with this made up martial art. Let me continue with the article.
Saito, the most awesome character in manga, levels insults almost as well as Alucard.
There is only one problem with buying manga from Kinokuniya in New York City: the plastic wrappers sealing the book make each purchase of an unknown manga a risk. The description on the back cover still strikes me as hard to read. Actually, I only understand “…her beloved gun will today also silently fan [lit. blow] a flame.” The the artwork on the cover shows a beautifully drawn woman and a well-detailed M1991 with a silencer. On that day, I was in the mood for a manga featuring a femme fatale. Perhaps, Silencer by Shou Fumimura could be another Noir?
In this series, I have started out with something easy: the first volume of Nanatsu no Taizai in the original language. The level of the Japanese ranks even below Inuyasha in terms of difficulty. Inuyasha happens to be the first manga I recommend beginners for testing their ability to read Japanese. In Nanatsu no Taizai, the only thing remotely amusing about the Japanese is the name of Meliodas’s pet pig, ホーク or hooku–the closest the Japanese can transliterate the English word “hawk.” However, I had no idea the author was going for “hawk”; instead, I took it as a play on the way one would transliterate the word “pork”–ポーク. As you can see, the same characters are used, but the latter one has an accent marker to tell you that the character should be read “po” rather than “ho.”
Pardon my desk lamp.
Now, I should give my opinion on the story as one sees in volume one. Many of my dear readers likely remember my prior remarks on the show, and I shall try to embellish on them here. Volume one of the manga begins with Elizabeth convincing Meliodas, our hero, to seek the members of his gang, the Seven Deadly Sins, in order to oppose the Holy Knights. Then, the hero fights a few battles (admittedly well done) against a Holy Knight and some henchmen before he meets Diana of the Seven Deadly Sins and the manga ends on a cliffhanger. One already sees the common trope of the heroes wearing black while the villains wear white. This is a fine trope which reminds the audience that they must always look beneath appearances in order to perceive people’s true intentions. However, one needs to be as skilled in using it these days as Victor Hugo in Les Miserables, Richard Donner in Ladyhawke, or at least Akimine Kamijyo in Samurai Deeper Kyo. (The last author happened to take the trope too far in Code: Breaker, and the reversals became silly.) When the reversal of the usual symbolism lacks subtlety, it grates on the viewer. Then, the concept our heroes going on a journey in order to find lost comrades and to overthrow the organization which has usurped authority in the kingdom has been done many times before.
Here is the first article to derive from my Candlemas Resolutions. You might expect the article on C. S. Lewis’ The Discarded Image soon, which shall meet another of these resolutions. By the way, comment not only on the manga, but if you feel like there’s a better way for me to write these recommendations. I’d like to make these posts as interesting as possible now that I’ll be doing them on a monthly basis.
This stands as the only horror anime on my list. Certain elements of the manga remind me of Bleach, but it has a darker mood than that popular show. Evil demons/monsters/youma/youkai/whatever-you-prefer named kuzure (Never heard of them before) are intent on devouring human beings. Our hero, Kei, and a childhood friend suffer the misfortune of meeting one of these monsters while exploring a grave site. But, within that graveyard is a grave protector named Yukifusa, with whom Kei makes a contract in order to save the life of his childhood friend. Now, Kei becomes tasked with the mission of destroying kuzure lest his powers deplete, which will cause his demise.