Time is of the essence for Miharu, but you definitely get the feeling that we readers are getting rushed as well.
Translation/Adaptation: Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley
What They Say
Who is friend, and who is foe? Kouichi and Shijima once fought alongside Raimei and Banten, but now they cannot see eye to eye with the revived Shimizu clan, whose top priority is the nullification of the secret art. Is it the unavoidable destiny of two old friends to take up arms against each other? As the lines of alliance blur with conflict, the story of the Shinra Banshou reels wildly on, with Kotarou Fuuma, the Nabari realm’s biggest power player, smiling to himself knowingly, while pulling all the strings…
Content: (please note that content portions of this review contain spoilers):
With Miharu growing and opening up in the last few volumes of Nabari no Ou, there was really no where left for the story to go except back into ninja politics. With Tobari closing in on a method of removing and destroying the Shinra Banshou, it was time for the key players to start making their moves. In a particularly sloppy fashion that’s exactly what happens in this volume.
Shocking to our leads, although not too shocking once you realize just how sketchy he has been throughout the series, Fuuma-san is revealed to be a traitor in cahoots with the Grey Wolves. What about all of the lower ninja that died during the course of the series? Perhaps Fuuma simply didn’t care about his subordinates, as he’s shown to be driven by a lust for knowledge. Sadly, that revelation causes an about face for Kouichi and Shijima, who apparently go way back with Fuuma and made a deal with him long ago.
With Kouchi and Shijima’s desire to end their own lives overpowering their pledge to erase the Shinra Banshou, they come to conflict with Raimei and her brother. Raimei refuses to waver in her duty as a protector of balance, but as a friend and perhaps wishing to be more, she spends much of the volume pleading with Kouichi to stop and find another way. It’s hard to tell who is being more selfish in their desires, Raimei or Kouichi, and both are too stubborn to give into the other’s desires.
The conflict should have had more emotional punch, but the timing of the exchange is rushed. It happens at the same time as a few other events in this volume and as such is broken into two parts. We don’t see most of the what must have been a particularly vicious fight, it’s simply not shown, probably to save time. We cut back just as Raikou is taken out by Shijima. It’s the aftermath of the fight which creates the most interesting situation in the entire volume, particularly in regards to Raikou’s well being. We watch as Shijima returns to Miharu’s house and is cleaned up by the unsuspecting family. She has a heart to heart with Miharu as if nothing as happened and later on Kouichi is equally closed mouthed about the state of the the two samurai. It’s both fascinating, eerie, and terribly sad.
Tobari learns of Fuuma’s true intentions moments before making a potentially fatal mistake and handing over the newly minted solution he’s worked so hard on. Which leads to perhaps the stupidest line from anyone in the series, where Miharu wonders how Fuuma knew the name of the supernatural woman that speaks to Miharu was “shinra.” Is this one of those Japanese spelling things that doesn’t translate well or what, because they don’t call it the “Shinra Banshou” for nothing!
Finally, on a moonlit night after volumes of wondering, Tobari starts to tell Miharu and some of the others about what happened ten years ago in fine flashback form. It looks like the dreadful secret of what happened ten years ago will be fully explained in the next volume as the series hurries towards it’s conclusion.
Even this late in the series, Nabri no Ou continues to redraw the lines of whose side everyone is on. Lucky for us, the truth is finally going to be revealed next volume, and Miharu will be close to making his final decision on what to do with the Shinra Banshou. Aside from a clunky and rushed execution, this volume does deliver some hard hitting emotional moments and more than a few action ones as well. The art continues to improve even now, and I’m looking forward to finally finding out what went wrong for Miharu’s parents that lead him to inheriting the Shinra Banshou.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 20th, 2012