Story and Art: Yoshinori Natsume
Translation/Adaptation: Camellia Nieh
The battle with Suguri comes to a head as Suguri’s careless output of energy gives Zakuro the chance to temporarily release himself, using Mikito’s body. The need to have the child-sized creature imprisoned becomes apparent as Zakuro makes short work of the creature who had beaten down the special hunters. Mikito has no memory of the event, but notices the next day that he did not see Zakuro in his sleep, instead having a normal dream.
As Gogyo, Kugai and Mikito recover, they’re visited by another group of hunters – but lucky for them these are Gogyo’s teammates, the White Claw. Seeing, as Kugai does, that Mikito could be important, Gogyo tries to enlist his teammates in the quest to find out more about these ogre-eaters, even though it will mean going against the higher ups. While a couple of the new comers opt out, most decide to stay and see where this thing takes them.
Mikito is understandably nervous as the group sets out again, as he’s now surrounded by a slew of ogre hunters. But that becomes the least of his worries when they bring him to an old hunter training ground. If Mikito wants to survive this whole ordeal, he’ll have to make his way through a cave of trials so he can become strong enough to control his power and fight. Mikito is left with two little girl hunters, while the rest make their way to headquarters to dig up some secrets.
Once at headquarters the group finds a secret entrance into the lower levels. The team is forced to split into groups of two, and both soon come into trouble as they run into members of another elite hunter group, The Black Thorn. In order to move forward Kugai and White Claw will have to defeat them, but their chances of success dwindle when it becomes clear Black Thorn is toying with them.
Rather than bring back some of his established characters, Natsume has decided to instead introduce a bunch of new faces. Coming in as a group prevents any of these new comers to really develop as characters, so that we either hardly care about them or are confused by their actions, like when female hunter Nazuna harshly tells Kugai “You aren’t needed here.” The rush of new faces also causes some of our current heroes to fall to the wayside: Kugai does nothing of import in this volume, and Mikito is all but forgotten after being dumped at the cave. And even the titular character, Zakuro, is lost, with no one seeming concerned when he fails to reappear after the fight with Suguri.
As the plot continues to fumble in this manga, the main thing holding up the interest were the characters we’ve come to care about. But as the story zeros in on Gogyo and his gang seem to have lost their importance, and even their ability to affect anything that happens in the plot. The plot has already begun to thin out as Gogyo and the others go on about information the “higher-ups” know. As we lose touch with our main characters we also lose the last emotional tie that pulls you into the story. I still hold out a glimmer of hope for this manga, but at this point it would seem like a lost cause.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: VIZ Media, LLC
Release Date: May 10th, 2011
MSRP: $9.99 US