Only three news items and tidbits caught my eye this week, along with the omni-present NYT Best Sellers List. Sadly, not every week can be full of license announcements and Sailor Moon. Ah well!
- Honey and Clover creator, Chica Umino, wins the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for her Shogi based manga, March Comes in Like a Lion. The award’s been given out since 1997, and over the years many of the award winning works have seen print in the US. Among those are Naoki Urasawa’s Monster and Pluto, Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond, Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers and Kyoko Okazaki’s Helter Skelter.
- Attack on Titan: No Regrets will be ending next month in Japan. One of several Attack on Titan spin off series, No Regrets focused on Levi’s past. While it may be ending in Japan, the first volume is actually set to be released in the US next month by Kodansha Comics!
- The latest episode of Anime News Network’s podcast, ANNCast, was manga themed this week! ANN’s Zac Bertschy was joined this week by manga blogger Deb Aoki and ANN’s own Rebecca Silverman for an hours worth of discussion focusing on manga, Sailor Moon, Godzilla and more.
- And, of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of May 17th. Once again, Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 makes the list. It’s now one week away from hitting the big five oh.
And now, onto this weeks review of Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 29: Beyond Good and Evil.
Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 29: Beyond Good and Evilby Hiroaki SamuraDark Horse Comics, 216 pgsRating: Not Rated
At long last all the disparate threads come together and we kick off the final showdown for Hirokai Samura’s Blade of the Immortal! The remnants of Kagimura’s forces arrive at the Itto Ryu’s destination ahead of them. Determined to keep the rogue sword school from slipping through is clutches, Kagimura orders the death of everyone on the docks of the small port, fishermen, police, cargo ships, dock workers, no one is to make it out alive. Their plans to cut off the Itto Ryu’s means of escape hits a small snag though, as the remaining Itto Ryu and Manji and Rin arrive, setting the stage for the final three blood soaked volumes to come.
There really isn’t a whole lot going within this volume. It’s a bit of pa ause. It’s Samura moving the remaining pieces into place for the final showdown which promises to be a rather bloody and brutal affair. In fairness, after last volume’s showdown between Abayama and Giichi, giving us a moment to catch our breathes was probably a good idea. Samura takes the opportunity to show us just how far Kagimura’s willing to go in his quest to crush the Itto Ryu, issuing orders that shock even his most loyal subordinates. He even gives us a little action by giving Doma, the nunchaku wielding member of Kagimura’s group, an action scene I’ve been waiting for since he first appeared several volumes ago. Still, it’s clearly all set up as the final players gather for the upcoming climax.
The visuals are fantastic as usual, and at times it’s clear that Samura’s having fun with some of the characters and their abilities. In a volume that’s full of talk and set up, Samura breaks things up with a scene that highlights Kagimura’s sword skills and also provides a bit of gory comedy, and Doma’s brief but enjoyable fight. The later gives us a nice glimpse and reminder that even after 29 volumes, Samura can still craft highly enjoyable action sequences that flow across the page, despite the odd cut and paste method employed to flip the manga.
Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 29 is almost entirely set up, but it is a welcome little breather before what’s sure to be a bloodbath in the final two volumes. This is perhaps the most disappointing thing about the book. We’re so close to the end, and we get so little. Just enough to whet our appetite.
Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 29: Beyond Good and Evil is available now from Darkhorse Comics.