Manga-ka: Chika Shiomi
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: June 2011
Synopsis: “When the evil spirit shows up on Rasetsu’s birthday as promised, Rasetsu and her friends engage in a final showdown against it. Will Rasetsu be able to defeat her demon and live? Or will this birthday be her last?”
Speaking honestly, this ninth and final volume of Rasetsu was my first experience with the series. I never have a problem with jumping into a series mid-way – I think it can be a lot of fun prodding around the plot and characters when the story’s already in full-swing. The end of a series though is something that’s less easily justified to start and usually far more difficult to digest. One look in this book was enough to intrigue me however – a series drawn with strong lines and heavy blacks that immediately makes it stand out from most shoujo series. Toss in the fact the story is about psychics battling demonic spirits and I had to give Rasetsu a go, finale or not.
Suffice to say that it’s difficult to write a review for a series’ last volume without containing spoilers so a warning to readers who like to keep things a mystery. As a short story summary, Rasetsu is a young woman with strong psychic abilities who at the age of fifteen was cursed by a demon. Placing a rose mark on her chest, the curse dictated that on her twentieth birthday the demon would return to claim her soul. In those five years, Rasetsu needed to find the love and strength from herself and those around her to be ready to defeat the demon when he returns.
This book jumps right into the thick of things as Rasetsu and her fellow psychics – Yako, a strong psychic her age, and Hichiiru, a powerful psychic and owner of the agency both Yako and Rasetsu work for – all come together to fight the demon who has actually been possessing one of their good friends all this time.
Because the book takes place amidst the big final battle, two-thirds of the book is in the thick of mind-play and invisible forces being thrown around. It’s hard depicting a battle of psychic force in a manga without getting confusing over who’s thinking and throwing what, but it’s handled well enough here. Most of the battling consists of characters overcoming their own inner-demons, something I can only assume must be a satisfying resolution to plot points built up from the series’ beginning.
It’s a little silly watching Rasetsu get pulled back and forth by Yako and the demon but it’s evident it’s so Yako can have a chance to actually shine a bit in the last fight. You can see why as it’s their boss Hiichiro who’s using all the fancy abilities and Rasetsu’s affections for the possessed soul, Kuryu, that takes centre-stage for most of the book.
Concluding the dramatic ‘fight’ scene, the rest of the volume is the downtime after the fact where loose-ends are tied up, souls pass on and cake is consumed. The scene that really struck me was one of the series’ last – having just said their goodbyes to two of their loved ones, Rasetsu and Yako come together teary-eyed and in sympathetic need for comfort. This is also the moment most shoujo series work up to: that perfect time for two characters obviously in love to open up to one another about it. With characters having told Yako to comfort Rasetsu only pages before, I was expecting him to get up and console her and reiterate to Rasetsu that he loves her, will always take care of her, etc. To my pleasant surprise, it’s Rasetsu who gently holds Yako in her arms, consoles him and then says how she really feels. It’s nothing new to see a girl being the one to express her feelings first, but the maturity of this scene felt really refreshing.
A plot of psychics that piqued my interest and kept the pace lively, a really nice change-of-pace inking style and a likeable enough cast of characters (for the brief time I knew them) made this final volume of Rasetsu a fun read, even for a newcomer like me. It’s a shame the story ends where it does because seeing how Rasetsu the character ends up – a confident, independent twenty-year old with a job working as a psychic – is the set-up to a series I would read in a heartbeat. As it stands, I don’t know I’d like to go back and watch her go through the terrified and turmoiled phases of adolescence, but I think if I had, I would’ve been very happy to see where she ends up.
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Book provided by Viz Media for review purposes