Manga-ka: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: September 2012
Synopsis: “Takiko has returned to the Universe of the Four Gods! As the Celestial Warriors search for the scroll of the Four Gods, Takiko uncovers the truth about the prophecy that turned Uruki and his father into bitter enemies. But while they begin a new chapter in their adventures, Takiko struggles to conceal a terrible secret about herself from the Celestial Warriors…”
It has been almost three years since the Genbu Kaiden drought began but finally it looks as though it’s over. Volume eleven even has a release date for next March, which hopefully won’t turn out to be a placeholder. If it is indeed real, then Fushigi Yuugi fans everyone have lots to rejoice about.
Naturally, after said rejoicing is done, the question to ask is was this volume worth the wait. The answer to that is … maybe.
One of the most challenging parts of Genbu Kaiden up to this point has been keeping track of the characters, something which is made that much more difficult by the long time between these volumes. About half of the cast is memorable enough, some being very much so (in particular our lead couple, Takiko and Uruki), while others have not left a lasting impression. Given that almost all the established characters appear in this volume, it can make things confusing at times.
As mentioned, Takiko is one of the standouts and once again she shines in this volume. She has always been a very refreshing character to have around and certainly is the heart and soul of the series. At the end of the last volume, it was revealed that she contracted tuberculosis, as well as discovered what will happen to her if she summons Genbu (in case you forgot, it involves being devoured). The fallout from these revelations takes centre stage in this volume’s plot. Sadly however, even with Takiko’s involvement, this main storyline is another place where things begin to fall apart.
In this volume there are many secrets, namely the fact that Takiko is dying. However, since the readers know this secret, it becomes frustrating to watch her try and hide it, especially from Uruki, whom she claims to love and certainly trusts with her life. It is a plot that we have all seen time and time again and it just isn’t engaging anymore, assuming it ever was. All the secrets and small revelations really make most of this volume seem like mid-story padding.
There is one final saving grace here however, which comes at the latter half of the volume. A mainstay of not just this volume but the entire series is the relationship between a father and child. Since the last volume ended with Takiko and her father patching up things between them, it is now Uruki and his father, Tamden, who are the focus. Tamden in particular is developed much more than before through flashbacks, though there were times when I think his portrayal was a bit too saintly, given what we know about the man. However, the end of this part of the story contains the one good surprise, which also provides a major cliffhanger for the volume to end on.
All and all, this volume is a solid one, with some great moments and some not-so-great ones. The strength of the series, at least for readers of the original Fushigi Yuugi manga, has been that it takes a completely different approach to the same initial set-up and that continues here. The problem really comes down it being just okay, rather than spectacular, and after the long wait I really wanted more. I do still recommend this book for fans of the series, though I would also suggest that people revisit the earlier volumes, or at least volume nine, before jumping into this one and also don’t expect their minds to be too blown away (until the last big reveal anyway).