Manga-ka: Natsumi Mukai
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “In this final volume of +Anima, the secret of Cooro’s past is finally revealed as the group makes it ‘s way to Astaria. But when they learn of the relationship between Cooro and Fry, this friendly team may be torn apart. What are those who are seeking the +Anima really plotting? And what choices will the characters make when given the opportunity to rid themselves of their animal selves… forever?”
With the characters’ adventures coming to an end, foreshadowed effects take centre stage when the travelling friends find themselves in Cooro’s childhood village. Staying in the church that raised him, Huksy, Nana and Senri all come to learn more about Cooro and that their friendship may not be based on intent as innocent as they assumed.
There were some real surprises for me in this final volume of +Anima. Seeing another side of Cooro was nothing short of fascinating, because though he acts so different than the happy-go-lucky Cooro we’re accustomed to, he doesn’t seem out of character. Everyone is finally shown a more melancholy side to the young boy, including his +Anima origins and reason for leaving the loving Church.
The character of Fry ended up being less sinister than earlier volumes had me thinking, though the extra layer he brought to the story was definitely interesting. His connection to the monarchy caught me by surprise and his intent, though as pure as it is to him, comes with some darker potentials.
The treatment of Anima as a condition over a mere state-of-being also put the entire situation in a different perspective, not to mention the personal decisions each character must come to when faced with the possibility to being able to rid themselves of their animal-features for good. Cooro’s confrontation with this tugged especially hard on my heartstrings.
Ten volumes of adorable artwork continue to await those who pick up this series with the same consistent character designs and skill-evident rendering from start to finish. I remain in love with the character proportions and their round, lively eyes that brighten a grinning face. As a final volume, Natumi Mukai made extra sure that it was full of extra eye-candy too, from especially detailed designs to really attractive chapter covers. Tokyopop also kept the full colour image-insert intact which is a colourful reminder of the series visual charm. In fact, Tokyopop’s overall treatment of the series has been a notable one, such as the attractive design job on the front and back covers of each book.
Ultimately, this final volume of +Anima lived up to my expectations. The ending will come as little surprise, which may seem rather anticlimactic, but it suits the series’ overall tone and seems only suiting after the character’s adventures. The origins of the Anima are explained a bit further, and though I feared I’d find such a condensed finale a little rushed, it actually left me feeling contently satisfied. For a cute manga that manages to subtly deal with some heavier issues, +Anima remains from me an honest recommendation and I’ll miss having future volumes to look forward to.