Manga-ka: Natsumi Ando
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2011
Synopsis: “Twin sisters, Arisa and Tsubasa, are separated by their parent’s divorce. But, after her sister’s suicide attempt, Tsubasa is determined to go undercover and unravel the conspiracy behind the elusive King. But, right now, the King’s wish granting abilities may have fallen into the wrong hands…. and the results may prove to be deadly to Tsubasa and Class 2B!”
I’d never found DelRey’s cover synopsis writing useful for determining what to expect in a particular volume. It’s one of the more frustrating attributes carried over to Kodansha Comics. Take this volume’s description, for example, which could be stuck on the back of almost any of the series’ books. Sure it keeps things vague for those who may not have read volumes one to four, but I think each subsequent book should really be for the readers reading them – don’t you? Class trips, stolen phones, a paralysed student, and Manabe’s past all await us in volume five of Arisa.
The opening scene takes off right where the previous volume left us. Tsubasa runs into Shizuka who she discovers now has all the phones that the King could allow a wish to be granted from. Shizuka is dead-set on getting revenge against Arisa who she believes is responsible for the events leading up to her legs being paralysed. A class trip to a mountain lodge proves the perfect backdrop to her first open act against Tsubasa, who she believes is Arisa. The King may continue to work from the shadows but the bluntness of his methods ensure things remain tense. Why bother over-complicating what a heavy rock to the skull can accomplish?
When you stop and look back, not a whole lot has happened considering we’ve read around 1000 pages. Volume five is a good example of how it manages to keep us interested by balancing events in the present with inklings of events from the past. It’s especially interesting seeing Tsubasa’s understanding of her sister come primarily from the bits and pieces she gleams from others. She has faith that her sister is another victim in this whole mess but even she can’t deny that Arisa played a great role in it all too.
We learn more about both Shizuka and Manabe in overlapping flashbacks. Where Manabe’s true alliance lies still seems a little shaky, but now we know why in better context. A character who bothers me though is Midori, Arisa’s boyfriend. He feels so flat whenever he comes on the page, like he’s only there to remind readers that under its simmering suspense plot, there’s the potential for a love quartet between Arisa, Tsubasa, Manabe and Midori. Or maybe he could be something more…? No character with a name has proven anything but relevant to the King’s plot eventually.
No one proves more trying than their peers though – a mostly nameless collective of classmates who’s fickle nature and occasional cruelty is hard to watch. The story may build a strong sympathetic angle for some but does little to alleviate my hope these background characters get what’s coming to them. Even Shizuka, a character who I was convinced I’d despise for her headstrong and selfish sadism, still managed to warm my heart. We learn more about her home life, plus see her open up to a new friend she finds in Tsubasa. I also like Tsubasa a lot more in these situations, both in attitude and appearance, where she’s being herself over trying to imitate her sister.
Talk about cliffhanger endings though. A grinning shadow, a kidnapped adversary and a lead character on the extreme offensive. It’s too bad that the short preview included of the next volume takes away the impact of this particular scene. Either way, the plot may not have progressed all that much but it’s certainly thickened. I’m still in it to see how and when the original mystery of the King is solved and Arisa (we presume) will suddenly awake at just that right moment to bring everything together.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Book bought from Strange Adventures