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Bamboo Blade Vol. #10 Manga Review

4 min read

Were you getting bored with Bamboo Blade? Shake it off! The final arc begins in fantastic fashion!

Creative Staff
Story: Masahiro Totsuka
Art: Aguri Igarashi
Translation/Adaptation: Stephan Paul

What They Say
Up-and-coming TV personality Ryouko Toda is an ambitious young woman who’s willing to use any means necessary to claw her way to the top. For Ryouko, image is key, but it’s tough for this cutthroat celebrity to maintain her cool on-screen persona when she’s forced to appear alongside ditzy costar Erina Sawamiya on Burnish Academy, where silly, simple Erina manges to best Ryouko in every single sport! To defeat Erina in sports and in the ratings game, Ryouko must call upon her skills not as an actress, but as a master of the kendo ring!

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Volume 10 starts off the final story arc of Bamboo Blade. The main plot of the arc centers around the girls possibly being featured on a TV show called Burnish Academy, which is a huge favorite amongst the girls. However, the spot hasn’t been guaranteed yet. The volume begins with the news that Burnish Academy is interested in seeing the girls’ team thanks to Reimi sending in a picture of Miy-Miya (without consent of course) to the the TV station. In extremely standard, and cute, fashion; the girls become extremely excited to meet their favorite actresses and to be featured on TV. It’s time to begin the journey to TV fame! Right?

The bulk of this volume however doesn’t have the girls being auditioned for the program. It doesn’t even have them finally being featured in the show! In fact it doesn’t really feature our favorite Kendo team at all for the most part. Instead the volume changes focus to Touryuu Academy and Kendo coach Teramoto. Coach Teramoto has also approached the local TV station to have one of his girls featured for Kendo as well. The problem is, his girl, Sakaki, has given up the sword and refuses to practice Kendo anymore. The rest of these chapters follow Coach Teramoto as he recalls Sakaki’s past and how brilliant she was at Kendo. Teramoto, upon failing to convince Sakaki herself, then goes to her house to convince her father into forcing her to participate in Kendo again.

These chapters are where this volume really shine. Sure we haven’t seen of heard from our Muroe HS girls at all since the second chapter but the chapters with Coach Teramoto at Sakaki’s house are hilarious! They not only make the drastic change in focus OK…they elevate the series to heights it hasn’t quite been able to reach lately.

The first half of each of these chapters are of a TV program featuring a mysterious hero called Black Duran as he goes forth on his final mission to save the world from the Demonic Devil Army. These scenes come across as basic nonsense at first as there is no bearing on the plot whatsoever. We are given absolutely zero lead-in as to what we are looking at, who Black Duran is, or what it is even doing in the story. During the first of these Black Duran scenes, I was waiting for it to show Tama watching it on her TV. But no, the scene simply finishes and we go back to Coach Teramoto. Then the next chapter starts and we’re back to Black Duran! It may sound like this was confusing and bogged the book down but it did the opposite.

Both the Black Duran scenes and Teramoto’s scenes are extremely refreshing as Bamboo Blade as a whole has started to stagnant a little bit. The series has kept up the humor and the Kendo action so far but how much longer can we just watch the same scenarios over and over again until we become bored. By introducing Sakaki as a new character, one that appears to have an important role later on…maybe…we are given a breath of fresh air. I won’t spoil what is revealed about her character but I will say this….she is a sick and disturbed girl! But it made me laugh! That’s what’s important here. I was able to laugh and enjoy reading these chapters and feel as if something new was happening with the series. Sakaki is extremely creepy, which exciting given what’s to come later, and both the artwork and pacing (as well as the Black Duran scenes) help excite me as to where the series is going.

In Summary

The atmosphere in this volume is much more frenetic than the series has been for the last couple of volumes. It feels as if we are going back to the crazy , hyper comedic roots of Bamboo Blade and I welcome the change with open arms. I never stopped liking Bamboo Blade; I was just in a comfortable place with it and it was comfortable in its place. This arc, and volume, shake everything up and make the series feel alive again! If you’ve been wavering with the series, volume 10 is a must read as it can re-assure you that the series hasn’t died just yet. Sadly, this part of the series was never animated; an injustice I hope will be remedied with time.

Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 20th, 2011
MSRP: $11.99

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