Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 5 by Tomo Takabayashi and Temari Matsumoto review

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 5

Author/Artist: Tomo Takabayashi/Temari Matsumoto

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

Rating: T – 13 and up

Genre: Shojo, Shonen Ai, Comedy, Drama, Action, Fantasy

Grade: A

Something strange is going down in Shinmakoku. It seems that someone in one of the neighboring countries is claiming to be Yuri and if caught this person will face execution. Worried that somehow Yuri was summoned without the knowledge of those left in charge while Yuri is away (the three handsome Mazoku brothers and Gunter) Gwendal sets out for Svelera. It seems that the imposter also has a demon treasure in their possession, the Mateki or the demon flute. This treasure has been missing for a very long time and the reason Gwendal was the one who was sent was because it was a relative of his that was banished from Shinmakoku to locate this long lost treasure. Because of Yuri’s benevolent nature he insists on heading to Svelera as well.

Gwendal is not too terribly excited to see Yuri show up to assist in the search. Once they head out to the main city a Sandbear (a sand colored panda that lives in the sand) traps most of the Shinmakoku troops and leaves Yuri and Gwendal together. Gwendal is still grumpy, fussy, and kind of scary to Yuri so having just the two of them together is something that Yuri is a bit nervous about. While in town Yuri and Gwendal get mistaken for elopers and are handcuffed together as they await their punishment. They escape and head towards the capital city to have the handcuffs removed (they are handcuffs that use human sorcery so they can’t be removed by demon magic.) It’s on this trek that we meet the Gwendal that loves all things cute and that he doesn’t dislike Yuri. While in the capital they hit up a church but instead of getting the handcuffs removed they pick up a bride who also happens to be the imposter. Will Gwendal and Yuri get the handcuffs removed, locate the Mateki, and figure out the story behind Yuri’s imposter?

The biggest surprise with this volume of Kyo Kara MAOH! didn’t come between the covers but was actually on the back cover. I had no idea that my recommendation was going to be used. I purchased a copy at my local Borders and didn’t bother reading the back because I knew that I was going to be purchasing it (with titles I’m not sure about I’ll read the back blurb to help me decide.) It wasn’t until the next morning when I was going through my purchases and getting ready to curl up in bed (the joys of working the graveyard shift) that I discovered my comment on the back. I’m not trying to toot my own horn but it was rather exciting. I know I’m easy to please.

OK, back to the actual content of the book. This continues to be a favorite of mine. Combining Takabayashi-sensei’s storytelling and Matsumoto-sensei’s art makes for a fun read. Who better to portray Takabayashi-sensei’s story all about guys than an amazing BL artist like Matsumoto-sensei? It’s gorgeous to look at. This is a series that stays consistently by my bed and I’ll just pick it up at random just to stare at the amazing art. Currently there are 10 volumes of manga and it’s a pretty lengthy novel series. With my crazy OCD once I start a series I’ll stick with it to the end. In many cases I’m cursing myself because I want to stop reading a series because I’ve had enough with it (case in point Nana by Ai Yazawa, don’t stone me I just don’t think it’s as wonderful a series as many critics and manga reviewers say it is) but can’t because once I start I have to finish it. With Kyo Kara MAOH!, however, has enough going for it to keep me hooked, at least at this point in time. In this volume we really get to see Gwendal as the big softie that he really is. He knits, loves cute things like kittens, and is the “Foster Father of all the small animals of Shinmakoku.” We’re also introduced to some new characters in this volume. First character up is Anissina von Karbelnikoff and her crazy inventions (Anissina shows up much earlier in the anime.) She is one of the three great female demons and a childhood friend of Gwendal’s. Next is Nicola, she is the bride and the Yuri imposter. The third major character we meet is Griesela Geigenhuber. We don’t actually meet him personally but he plays a major role in the story as he was sent on the fruitless task of locating the Mateki and has been dwelling in the human lands for the last twenty years. We don’t have all the details as to why he was sent on the task at this point in the story but do get a few glimpses towards the end of the volume. If you’ve seen the anime then you actually get more details but that’s neither here nor there at this point (there are extra stories in the anime than the manga.)

I know for a series that I love so much I would generally give it an A+ (and actually the first volume did get that grade) but I have a few issues. I’m not fond of the printing. I feel that when I’m done reading it there is more ink on my hands than there is left in the book. I also wish there were a few more translation notes made. They were kind enough to inform us that Giant is a character in Doraemon but who is Paaman Nigou and what on earth is amigurumi. I love when they leave cultural references and Japanese terms and words but if you don’t clarify things for those who may not know the meaning behind the references then I find it rather pointless. One thing I will point out that I did appreciate is that if you compare the paper in this volume to the paper in the last volume it is definitely a higher quality, it’s not quite so newsprinty (I know that’s not a word.) I love the matte covers and the color schemes that they’ve chosen. Other than my few nitpicky issues it’s still a very fun read.

I can honestly say that I still highly recommend Kyo Kara MAOH! Fish out of water stories are always fun and Kyo Kara MAOH! is one of the best. You have swashbuckling bishies and gakuran clad heroes (OK Yuri is the only one in a gakuran – the high neck black school uniform that is prevalent in manga, especially BL – but still) to make any fangirl’s heart flutter. Pick it up. Also if you’re interested feel free to read my reviews of vols. one, two, three, and four.

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

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