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Nabari No Ou Vol. #14 Manga Review

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Nabari no Ou Vol. #14
Nabari no Ou Vol. #14

Miharu has made his choice, and the world will have to live with the consequences.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Yuhki Kamatani
Translation/Adaptation: Alethea Nibley & Athena Nibley

What They Say
His forgotten memories now returned to him, Miharu Rokujou takes the throne as Nabari no Ou, ruler of the Hidden World, with unwavering resolve. This choice is made in part to reclaim the “someone” who was his other half-the half ripped from him. At long last, two souls torn asunder are about to be reunited…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This is it, the final volume of Nabari no Ou.  

This has been an interesting series, one that started off looking like many of the other companion series running at the same time.  Defying expectations, it took an entirely different path in the story it wanted to tell.  Rather than descend into long story arcs about ninjas struggling to become stronger, it was about one boy’s quest to not use the ultimate power that he’d been given.

Taking the road less traveled has it’s own challenges.  In the beginning Miharu was an unsympathetic character.  His personality quark that made him indifferent also had the effect of driving off readers.  Likewise, once he met up with Yoite another segment of readers may have been driven off by their close relationship.  This story about ninjas and politics soon coalesced into a story about finding it in yourself to not give in to playing god at the expense of other’s happiness.  Especially when dealing with a force that had been the cause of so much pain when it could’ve been used for good.

The final confrontation in this volume closes up the loose ends with the power struggle of the Hidden World.  The old leaders’ time has passed, and the shinobi villages will continue on with a new generation.  There is one remaining surprise which explains why the Kasa entered the story so late, one which I can honestly say I didn’t see coming.  Their lack of development now makes some sense, and even if their existence feels like an abrupt addition, at least it’s a forgivable one.

Most of the action of the last crushing battle is between Kotarou Fuuma and Tobari.  We’ve known for a long time that Kotarou was not to be trusted, and we found out how deeply the gang misplaced their trust in him last volume.  With everyone’s memories of ten years ago returned we get to watch the last choosing of sides.  The conflict has never felt as personal as it does in these final pages.  There’s no more running, just in your face strikes which connect in emotionally and physically brutal ways.  Characters in this manga have never shook off injuries, there have been many trips to the hospital for this group and missing limbs to show for it.  When Tobari goes down for the count, we simply don’t know if he’ll ever get up.

Of course, the true conflict has always been Miharu’s ultimate decision.  Miharu finally confronts the Shinra Banshou, and we find out what she really is.  Faced with the same sort of life and death decision his mother was stuck with, he makes his choice.

Yen went the extra mile to include the color on the pivotal scene at the climax of the finale.  It’s a beautiful scene, although it will probably leave some readers slightly confused or annoyed at the resolution.  It’s a nice bit of closure for Miharu after all he’s been through.  I think it was the only outcome that you can hope for without betraying the whole point of Miharu’s struggles.

As for the fate of the other characters that made the journey with him, things get a little murkier.  It’s hard to say if the two immortals had a happy ending.  Not everyone makes it out of this conflict unscathed emotionally or physically.  The pace of this last volume is quick, but it feels complete.  There are no loose ends, and the epilog shows just how much Miharu has grown on his long journey.  He’s a far more likable kid now than he once was, and that kind of character growth is sometimes forgotten in series like this.

In the end Nabari no Ou has been an enjoyable series.  It could have dragged out longer, but the author chose an appropriate moment to close out the story.

In Summary
Nabari no Ou ends of a note of hope.  It may not be the ending that some readers wished for, but it’s a logical stopping point for a series that was never really about ninjas and secret worlds, but the characters trapped within it.  Readers that were looking for ever escalating power battles probably left long ago.  Those that stuck around were rewarded with watching Miharu turn into a character that you could root for.  The supporting cast sometimes out shown it’s star, and some unlikely characters soon became favorites of mine.

Like many series Nabari no Ou had a shaky start.  The art was a bit strange and the humor a bit off.  Over time all of those elements worked their way out and found their place.  The artwork cleaned up and some of the climax chapters of the story were absolutely beautiful.  I think that any reader looking for a slightly different take on ninja power struggles should go back and take a second look at this series.  Miharu might just win you over to his way of thinking in the end.

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

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
MSRP: $11.99

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