Manga-ka: Hotaru Odagiri
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: February 2013
Synopsis: “Though the Zweilt are together at last, the calm before the inevitable storm of battle lingers. With no sign of activity from the camp of their sworn enemy, Reiga, Yuki and his allies are beguiled into a sense of peace. But even the distraction provided by a retreat to the Hidden Springs of the Giou to rest weary hearts and souls will not prepare Yuki for Sairi’s revelations about the brave but terrible end met by the Light of God through the ages…And when Takashiro is called in to investigate a pair of suspicious deaths, the winds of war begin to pick up in a frenzy…”
In the beginning The Betrayal Knows My Name was a shojo action manga with the occasional fan service scene. It’s since become a shojo manga with lots of fan service and the occasional action scene. The series has always coasted by on its pretty art, but with this volume it feels even more vacuous than ever.
For such a big volume (it’s about 340 pages) not a lot happens. The first story arc involves part of the cast going to a hot spring. This gives the artist lots of chances to draw the characters in yukatas, and also in nothing at all. Ostensibly the characters are there to solve a mystery: someone or something has been scaring away visitors, and the cast want to see if it’s duras (aka a demon), but mostly they just hang out. While it’s a typical fluffy, filler story, there are some interesting parts. The two lead female characters, Tooko and Lia, get a lot of page time for once, which is nice since usually it’s the pretty boys who are front and centre. Also, in this story arc we learn Tachibana’s back story. Up to this point Tachibana has just been a minor comic-relief character, but his back story not only makes him more interesting but also adds layers to the manga’s setting.
After that it’s pages and pages of the characters lounging around the Giou mansion or going to school. They have the same conversations over and over. Mainly they talk about how calm things have been lately, which you would think would be a clue to the creator that maybe the story is getting dull. When even your own characters notice that nothing’s going on, you’re in trouble.
Eventually, near the end of the volume, things start happening again. A series of bodies turn up in a local park, and Takashiro (the leader of the zweilt) believes it might be the work of the Duras. Meanwhile, Tooko and Shuusei are attacked while on their school trip to Kyoto. Could the two incidents be connected?
It was a relief when the dead bodies started showing up as it meant that the cast had something to do other than whine endlessly about their convoluted relationships. I especially liked the parts of the manga that focused on Tooko and Shuusei. They haven’t interacted much in the past, but here they talk about how the zewilt are expected to marry either each other or at least someone from one of the ten houses dedicated to fighting the duras. It’s one of the few times the creator is able to give information to the reader while also revealing more about the characters. Also, we get to see Tooko and Shuusei fight a new villain, and it’s nice to see some action in this otherwise staid volume.
For such a boring volume it still manages to end on an interesting cliff-hanger. I know that it’s going to be a bait-and-switch, that once this fight is resolved it will go back to being pure eye candy, but I can’t help but hope that The Betrayal Knows My Name will return to its action roots and remember that there is a plot propping up all the pretty pictures.
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Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes