Manga-ka: Rei Toma
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: June 2012
Synopsis: “Princess Nakaba of Senan and Prince Caesar of Belquat only married each other for the sake of peace between their two warring countries, so no one expected there to be love between the unlikely couple. But just as feelings start growing between them, Nakaba’s power, the Arcana of Time, shows her a vision of a young woman’s murder. Has the time come for Nakaba to harness her power to change fate?”
As the characters try to come to terms with what they discovered in volume three, Nakaba has a vision of a young girls’ death on the very swords they discovered. Mere moments later, she meets the girl whose fate she has seen – the younger sister of the King’s advisor. Now the whole group is on the road to stop multiple disasters from occurring and giving us all the chance to escape that stuffy castle for a while. Yay! Meanwhile much to the volume’s benefit, the evolving importance of other characters does wonders to round out a cast originally focused entirely of the love-triangle trio. They all serve the plot well where the Nakaba/Caeser romance continues to fall rather flat.
I enjoyed the change of scenery but unfortunately didn’t find it really added much to the story. We don’t get to see any world-building aside from a short town scene, and even then it keeps things too close to the main characters. Nakaba’s visions of the future look to have a great deal more potential for action causing and locale changes, though I’m still hoping for their kingdom to be fleshed out more. Even half as much as their relationship stuff would be nice.
The romance is what I’ve maintained my dislike for since volume one. I continue to have the utmost sympathy for Loki whose loyalty to Nakaba is rewarded with little else than continued responsibility for her well-being. While people’s feelings are something you can’t really control, and thus I can’t blame Nakaba for falling for someone else, per say, the fact that I still feel no chemistry between her and Prince Caesar makes it so frustrating. Coupled with her becoming more a gown-donned damsel and less a brave young woman of conviction makes the whole scenario even more irritating.
On a better note, Nakaba is finally starting to embrace the use of her powers. It’s very satisfying to read about someone having a power, willing it to work and having success out of determination. I was assuming we were going to be seeing at least 3-4 volumes of ‘oops, powers!’ from her. I am very pleased to be wrong.
Bringing in other characters to the forefront helped a lot. The King’s adviser, Bellinus, isn’t a difficult character to figure out. His motivations seem a little shallow in terms of development but are easy to understand. There’s something about him I found almost inexplicably charming too so I’ll add him onto the list of things I like about the series, right next to Loki, the artwork and Nakaba circa volume one. Bellinus’s sister also proved to be a nice addition. Her self-confidence and outgoing attitude is fun and it’s great having another female character brought into a story (and not as the expectant love-interest rival).
Because Dawn of the Arcana is a shoujo story, I suppose I shouldn’t be so perturbed that Nakaba and Caesear’s relationship is so front and centre, even when it’s really not what should be their main focus. I was grateful to see here that there were enough life-threatening situations to warrant setting aside their mush for a time so the story could grow in other ways. With am impending massacre, sister-stabbing and sword-hiding conspiracy brewing (all of which I hope can be avoided!), things are finally starting to look up for Dawn of the Arcana again. Alright, Rei Toma, I think got me for real this time. Now to wait for volume five…
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Book bought from Strange Adventures