Rago’s thinks he’s one cool cat, but like all cats, he craves attention.
Story/Art: Tsuyoshi Takaki
Translation/Adaptation: Adrienne Beck
What They Say
Inside the illusion generated by Fuyo, Jiro and Rago face off against a giant mononoke named Amagi. In the Edo period, Amagi attempted to recruit allies to fight back against the newly formed Oniwabanshu, but Rago refused to join him! What secrets lurk in the depths of Rago’s lost memories?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume of Black Torch picks right back up in the middle of Jiro and Rago’s battle against the trial monster. The fight is supposed to be against the greatest fear of the victim, but instead, it manifests in the form of Rago’s past. In that convenient twist of fate, we learn about Rago’s background and who their enemy is.
Rago may be a mononoke, but he’s a cat through and through. The reasoning for his imprisonment is both sad and understandable. His attitude is pure cat, he’s basically a tsundere character but… that’s what cats are like.
Shortly after, a borough of the city is attacked by a mysterious foe. While most of the organization is doing damage control, the mononoke team is sent in to get to the bottom of the attack. Inside are four mononoke using the city as their feeding ground. In classic shonen fashion, the group split up to take on the enemy in some action-packed fights. This manga really does have a nice style and a good sense of action framing.
The only real problems I have with this series could be leveled at most shonen series. The main team are rather simple arch-types, and many of the story beats about their pasts and motivations are familiar. Also, the one woman on the team wears short shorts and gets all of the awkwardly framed panels you’d expect to show that off, but at least she gets to fight against a man in her one-on-one battle.
This volume also gives context to the reason why the mononoke are attacking humans again after so long. Sure, they were playing the long con to get into a position of power. However, when you hear what happened to them centuries ago it’s hard to blame them for wanting revenge on humans. To go from worshipped deities to monsters to be eradicated is a depressing turn.
The snappy pacing of this series is a breath of fresh air and also it alleviates some of my concerns with this series only running 5 volumes in total. The arc does seem like it could possibly end in a satisfying manner in only two more volumes. Although it does feel unfortunate, for as generic as most of the characters are I really like Rago as a character. Plus the transformation he does with Jiro in this volume is cool as hell looking.
Viz includes the fold-out color illustration at the beginning of this volume. The only other extra is an author’s note.
Black Torch moves the story along at a quick but not clumsy pace. The truth behind Rago’s sealing is revealed, as is the reason for it and how it ties into what the mononoke really are up to. The team is confident in their abilities and are trusted in a mission against forces not seen in Japan in a long time. A nice set of one on one battles take place and Reiji comes face to face with his brother once again. The quick pace of this series makes me hopeful the ending will be satisfying, but I am disappointed this series didn’t make a splash when it was released in Japan. It’s a very well put together, although somewhat derivative, story of ninjas and monsters.
Content Grade: B +
Art Grade: A –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen +
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: November 6, 2018
MSRP: $9.99 US / $12.99 CN / £6.99 UK