Can Naoto’s angry swordsmanship even come close to Campanella Fruling’s cool sword arm?
Story & Art: Shirow Miwa
Translation/Adaptation: Katherine Schilling
What They Say
When Naoto and Heine confront Magato and Campanella Fruhling together for the first time, the blades and bullets fly-but the damage wrought by a shocking revelation could prove even greater. What will Naoto do when she learns the deeply buried truths behind the tragic incident that has defined her life? Meanwhile, as Director Neubauten moves to gain control of the Below, Angelika Einsturzen finally emerges from the dark…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Now that the reader has a better idea of whom Heine is, the mangaka moves on to focus more on Naoto. Naoto may not have been genetically engineered like Heine, but she still had a screwed up childhood. Her parents were killed and she was raised by a strict man and a master swordsman. She also had an older adopted brother, Magato. Magato has popped up in this series from time to time, he’s some kind of assassin for hire, but this volume is the first time he has stuck around for a few chapters. Magato suddenly seems really interested in Naoto; but why?
Magato seems to be enjoying himself through all this. While picking a fight and sparing with Naoto and Heine, Magato is trying to remind Naoto of what really happened in her past, her real identity. It seems that her memories are a little off, and on top of that, there are things that she never knew about. But Magato is all too happy to spill his guts and watch Naoto squirm over the revelations of her true identity.
As usual, things are more complicated than they appear, and Magato is practically obsessed with fighting Heine. Somehow, Magato knows Heine has an inner demon that he keeps locked away until a life or death situation, and Magato wants to fight that demon. In the middle of all this, in walks a tall beautiful woman in a dress pants suit and a katana. Magato gets even more excited and explains how this woman, Campanella Fruhling from Below, is his older sister and this is the first time her and Naoto ever learn of each other. Alright, now this is just getting backwoods hillbilly-like with all the who’s who in siblings.
In the meantime, Badou and Mihai are still looking for, and finding, trouble in the form of Dog Soldiers. Director Neubauten is holding Giovanni captive, but for what reason? Giovanni can’t be killed, so torturing him would just be a game of sadism. And finally, some of the minor troublemakers in the area are scheming together and making truces in hopes of teaming up and taking out Heine once and for all.
I really enjoy Miwa’s art and the minimalism in background details allows the reader to really focus on the characters. I’m also glad to see this series progressing at a good pace, with Heine’s character development quickly followed by revelations if Naoto’s past here in this volume. I personally don’t care for it when that level of character development takes ten plus volumes of manga to finally get out, so this series is doing a good job with pacing. This series is also interestingly convoluted; in the way that every faction and the primary characters seem to have some kind of a connection, whether they know it or not. All this is making for a fun story with plenty of action, cool art, and an interesting cast of characters.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 17+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: December 2012