Story/Art: Hiroshi Shiibashi
Translation: John Werry
What They Say:
The battle against Nue heats up as Rikuo and members of the opposing clans move to Mt. Osore, a holy mountain where spirits of the dead are called into battle. Will a reforged Nenekirimaru, the renowned yokai-killing blade, work to defeat the legions of the undead?
Content: (please note that the content portion of a review may contain spoilers)
After his battle with the Hundred Stories Clan, Rikuo and company start the volume on a journey to Mr. Osore, where they plan to retrieve the now-fixed sword Nenekirimaru. On the way they’re sidetracked by the Tono yokai, though they do learn of the Gokadoin clan, Seimei’s (a.k.a. Nue) descendants who are working towards his revival. Convenient, since their departure is soon followed by a battle one of the Gokadoin, Taisei.
A couple of things happen once this fight is completed. First, despite everyone knowing his true identity now, Rikuo returns to school, mostly, it seems, to invite his friends to his house — for real this time, with yokai out in the open and everything — so that he can thank them for their help during the battle in Tokyo. It’s a sweet bit of story, but that barely lasts a chapter before things get more serious. Rikuo has invited every yokai clan in the country to discuss Seimei’s return and the planned “purification” that would mean the end to the yokai. While most of them are resistant, looking upon Rikuo as weak for requesting this help, the compassion, determination, and humility of Rikuo’s human side wins them over. And just in time — as a messenger reveals that the Gokadoin’s purification has begun.
Shiibashi’s story loses some of the flow it had in previous volumes. This is partly due to some filler bits, like the random bit of training Rikuo is subjected to when he stays with the Tono yokai, and the moments he has with his human friends (despite how enjoyable those scenes were). There are also some weird jerky moments, like the leader of the Tono interrupting his own story because his blood sugar drops and he needs food, and Rikuo weirdly not being able to find his sword so Itaku can jump in and save him. Things get better when Nenekirimaru is retrieved and Rikuo holds his meeting with the other yokai, so hopefully Shiibashi regains his footing for the rest of the story arc.
One nice thing about the gathering of all the yokai is the return of some familiar characters. Tamazuki, the tanuki yokai who challenged Rikuo and his clan ages ago in the Shikoku arc, fills the as yet unfulfilled promise of his return as one of Rikuo’s allies. There are so many characters that it’s a bit of a relief to see some already established ones cropping up, but that unfortunately is drowned out by an influx of new villains with the Gokadoin clan. There are quite a few new names and faces to get familiar with, and with only a handful of volumes remaining it’s a worry that the story will get cramped with characters.
Thanks to some shaky storytelling the volume was not as engaging as it could have been, and dragged a bit more than some of the other recent plots. Characters like Rikuo’s human friends and the tanuki Tamazuki make some satisfying, if brief, returns, and Rikuo himself makes a good showing of the ability of his human self to draw people together and get things done. With all the new villains, backstory, and an inevitable slew of fights, it is a concern that this last story arc will feel too rushed and cluttered, so we’ll see how Shiibashi chooses to pace himself with the start of the next volume.
Content Grade: C+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: August 5th, 2014