Manga-ka: Yuu Watase
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: March 2013
Synopsis: “While Takiko learns the terrible truth behind the prophecy that set Uruki against his father, King Temdan, the country of Bêi-jîa faces both civil war and foreign invasion. Takiko’s final hope lies in reuniting the last two Celestial Warriors, the twins Urumiya and Teg. Can she mend the rifts between brother and brother, father and son?”
In this second-to-last volume of Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden, the plot is clearly getting ready for the conclusion as major plots begin to wind down and loose ends begin to be tied up. Focused on here are the conflict between Uruki and Temdan, and the reunion of Urumiya and Teg. Both plots reach their conclusion in this volume, to mixed success.
Volume ten really amped up the stakes in the Uruki/Temdan conflict, showing that the prophecy which started it was, in fact, false. Unfortunately, Takiko is the only one who knows this and she gets to spend a fair amount of time in this volume trying to find either Uruki or Temdan and tell them. All of this leads to the moment the series has been setting up from the very first volume: Uruki and Temdan in the same room, trying to kill each other, with Takiko trying to make them stop.
What happens next is some parts expected, some parts unexpected. And, ultimately, I felt that it was actually a little anti-climatic, given all the time we have been waiting to see this happen. Still, the conclusion is a good one, even if I feel that the execution is somewhat lacking. It is definitely not bad but Watase has done better.
Similar execution problems can be found in the other plot, though for entirely different reasons. Part of the reason that Uruki/Tamden plot suffers is because it has been building for so long. The reason the Urumiya/Teg plot suffers is because its development has not been given enough time.
The problems here do not actually involve the reunion itself, as that is actually quite well done and is the emotional climax of this volume. However, before that can happen a romance is introduced that could have been built up over a number of volumes but really hasn’t been. This does connect with an issue that I have had throughout this series, where characters get lost in the forest that is this series’ cast. Managing such a large number of characters is always a challenge and again, Watase has done better.
However, problems aside this volume is still very enjoyable and the last chapter brings with it the light and happiness that this series could use as it draws closer to the conclusion, and Takiko’s condition continues to deteriorate to the point where she cannot hide it anymore. It also continues to stick very close to its themes of sacrifice and the bonds of family, giving the series a good sense of cohesion. And, even though the focus is more limited here on those two plots, the rest of the supporting cast does make small appearances and those were all very well done and highlighted their personalities. So even if I tend to be harder on the volumes of these series than others, I still absolutely love and recommend it.
This volume is action-heavy and builds things nicely for what I will expect to be a mostly character-driven finale, though the end of volume eleven makes it obvious that there is still some action left to be had. There does not yet seem to be a release date for volume twelve but definitely keep an eye out for information because I am certain it will be one heck of a ride.
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