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This was a pleasure, from the beautiful front cover painting of Sarutobi Sasuke sitting protectively back-to-back with his lord (and savior, and chief responsibility, and pet peeve) Sanada Yukimura to the sweetly silly back cover pic of Yuya hugging Kyo's sword Tenrou (with his old teacher Muramasa's little bird perched on the hilt guard) like a teddy bear. There are several action-filled fights, but I also have to say that there's also a lot of love, and I don't really mean romance.

Akari's fight against the physically attractive but ethically repulsive Mibu berserker Mekira comes to a dramatic end, and we learn a little more about "the worst" Emperor's mysterious past. Meanwhile, Sasuke and Okuni find that their path is blocked by an old friend of Sasuke's. The volume finishes up with another visit to SDK's answer to the Three Stooges: Akira, Benitora, and Hotaru have to break off their bickering to face the mysterious powers of another of the berserkers.

Samurai Deeper Kyo, vol. 24 (review)

So we finally find out why Akari has that glove - and Hotaru's mysterious comment ("You still have that hand") a couple of volumes back is explained. I'm wondering whether people who have not read ahead in scan/translation can tell at this point, from the clues given, who gave Akari her "death eye" (or whatever they're calling it - I don't have the book with me). Nozomu's appearance at this point - as Shatora - does (IIRC) have a little something to do with this, at least as regards both Akari and Nozomu as shaman "collected" by the Mibu.

It's interesting that Hotaru is defending Akari to the other two guys - he rarely notices anything about other human beings that isn't related to combat. And I have been waiting for the English version of the scene about Akira's long-ago (un-)birthday! I had found it online in French a long time ago, but I don't really speak French ... .

Some time ago, sanada pointed out to me that Kyo helps "his" people get what they really need. This isn't always obvious, because a lot of it is in the form of some very tough love, but it's definitely there. And in fmanalyst's review of vol. 23, she observed that Kyo agrees to having Yuya go off with no one but Akari because he feels that it's time for Akari to get to know Yuya. Both ideas come together in the scene where Yuya - in typically open-hearted, embarrassing Yuya form - thanks Akari for saving her and Santera by exclaiming "I love you, Akari!" Because what Akari really needs is acceptance (which Kyo can give her) and love (which he really can't). Akari likes to think that she needs romantic love, but she's not really ready for that until she can embrace herself for what she is. She showed that she understands this herself, at some level, when she set Santera straight in the previous volume.

Next there's the ninjutsu-rific fight between Sasuke and his old friend Kotaro (a/k/a Makora). The dramatic stakes in this are higher than just whether Sasuke and Okuni will survive: right off the bat, Kotaro points out that he isn't having trouble breathing in the high altitude because Tokito's serum allows him to use his life energy to enhance his breathing - at the eventual expense of his life itself. Win or lose, Kotaro plans to die here. All that's left for him is revenge against his former best friend Sasuke, who attacked him years ago. But when the Mibu berserker Indara (ironically, the role that Okuni played in the first major story arc) intereferes, we find out what really happened back then - setting up Kotaro's dramatic final sacrifice for his old friend.

There are some really interesting story-telling things going on in the Kotaro death scene. We've just found out that Sasuke is, in a sense, Kyo's kinsman - they were created by the same research project, and the "awakened" Sasuke now has Kyo-like dramatic red eyes. And Sasuke is, of course, also the product of the time he's spent with Yukimura, as a member of the Sanada 10. Sasuke may have first learned about friendship and loyalty from Kotaro, but Yukimura reinforced those lessons and taught him about honor and self-sacrifice: he's acted at least as Sasuke's teacher, if not his father or elder brother. Did anyone else notice that when Indara goes after Sasuke with her diamond-bladed fingers and hits him even as he grabs for them with his bare hands, he talks about how the pain she's giving him is nothing compared to Kotaro's? This is virtually identical to the scene in Yukimura's gaiden, Dragon of the Blue Sky, where the young Yukimura grabs for the sword of the man who killed his first love, even as it's buried in his own shoulder, and says that the pain he's suffering is nothing compared to hers. Sasuke is even drawn to look somewhat like the young Yukimura in that scene: his hair is completely hiding his eyes, for example. Then, when Kotaro falls completely into dust, just like Muramasa (and remember that ... it's important!), Sasuke says, just like Kyo when Muramasa died, "see how I live!"

The scenes where Akira, Benitora, and Hotaru encounter the true Kubira are just fun, although they are also revealing (as fmanalyst pointed out). Of course Hotaru asks for directions from the first person who comes along (and as ipperne says, you've gotta love a guy who'll ask for directions). And of course when Kubira asked about girls, Hotaru couldn't think of any ... . Our little firefly - there really isn't much that's normal going on inside that tousled head!

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
meganbmoore
Sep. 19th, 2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
I love both of the cover pics. Actually, I love all Yukimura/Sasuke pics, it's just that using them gives people the wrong idea about me in the anime/manga fandom. I think Yuya snatches the sword when Kyo sleeps since she can't cuddle the real thing.

*STILL hasn't read vol 23...or 3 volumes of Bleach...or a lot of other things...*
chomiji
Sep. 20th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)

Isn't it terrible how people jump to conclusions? (You already know what I think of the whole Yukimura/Sasuke slashfic phenomena ... .)

If Kyo lets Yuya take his sword (even when he's asleep), then he's even more besotted than we think ...!

(You need to read these books!!! Don't abandon poor ol' SDK for a buncha shiny new series!)

meganbmoore
Sep. 20th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Don't worry, SDK is nowhere NEAR being abandoned...I just don't have much extra money right now, so SDK 23(and a couple other books) are sitting there because I don't know when I'll be able to get more manga. That and I haven't been reading a lot of manga lately.
chomiji
Sep. 21st, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)

I guess I put my foot in it ... sorry about that! You read a lot of different stuff, so I was just busting your chops a little - and you know how much I love to talk SDK.

meganbmoore
Sep. 21st, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
I literally read ANYTHING that interests me...watch, too. Both of which cause that little money problem I always have...

But hey, at least Shirogane no Karasu is one of the things I'm keeping myself busy with...
chomiji
Sep. 21st, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)

I need a generic kind of Shirogane icon ... I downloaded some art but haven't done anything with it yet. I wish there was a really good color pic of either Kazami or his lieutenant Jin, but it'll have to be John or Lu for now.

I wonder if Kamijyo is plotting SNK to be anywhere near as long as SDK. Even in the raw/translation scripts, we're only up to the equivalent of tankoubon vol. 2, and we hadn't met most of the good characters by that point in SDK. Of course, SDK's first story arc only went to about vol. 8.

meganbmoore
Sep. 21st, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah...I want more color art of Shirogane myself. Better for icons.

I tend to think Kamijyo was was playing it safe until around when we met Muramasa...if you look at the story...up until then, it likely could have been wrapped up in a few chapters if absolutely necessary. I suspect that when SDK got popular enough to really cut loose and give us the good stuff because the fear of cancellation was gone. I suspect SNK will be the same.
fmanalyst
Sep. 20th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
I haven't read ahead, but aren't the Mibu the ones doing all the genetic manipulation, or are you talking about a specific Mibu?
chomiji
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)

A specific Mibu. I was just wondering how plain Kamijyo was making it. I can't be objective at this point - I went on a scanslation binge before I discovered other manga series I wanted to read.

fmanalyst
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
In that case, I don't know, but then I'm having trouble keeping track of the upper Mibu we've been introduced to lately.
chomiji
Sep. 20th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)

Oh well ... yes, I recall that you mentioned that before. I'm rather fond of them because they are such a political soap opera.

XD

So no one else was struck by similarities between the death scenes of Kotaro and Mizuki ... OK, maybe I'm reading too much into it.

ipperne
Sep. 20th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
*wonders for a moment*
Why did I just read this entry, starting from the bottom? That's odd...

I think that maybe Hotaru is defending Akari because they actually have a lot in common. I meen, as far as I can tell, they have both spend their childhood as hunted prey. Hotaru by his dad, and Akari by almost everyone. And since Hotaru now understands that loneliness isn't such a great thing, I think he has reached a point where he realize that Akari must have felt the same way.

Sasuke is developing into a kind of mini-Yukimura, or a variation of Yukimura who doesn't drink and goof around (*not that goofing around is a bad thing; I'd goof around from time to time if I had Yukimura's life. Everyone would)
And basically that's what Yukimura tells Saizo , when Saizo freaks out about Sasuke being in danger with noone around to take care of him.

Well, Kotaro and Muramasa both dissapearing into dust is kinda logical, isn't it? Actually I think there's a lot of hint's to the reason in the vol. where Sasuke encounters that mad scientist. Or maybe my brain is making things up, that's also a possibility.

As for Hotaru; who want's to think about girls anyway. just look how confused thoses thoughts got Akira and Tora.
chomiji
Sep. 21st, 2007 03:36 pm (UTC)

Hmmm ... maybe it's just a difference in the two boys' personalities, even as little kids, but the "hunted" issue seems to have affected them very differently. Hotaru doesn't really care what anyone else thinks - I mean, he's barely conscious of his own thought processes - but Akari desperately wanted acceptance. Still, you're right, that probably made a bond between them, even if Hotaru wasn't really conscious of why he felt that way, and maybe now he's starting to actually think about it. Kyo really did give him a wake-up call, there.

I'm sure if Sasuke was 10 years older, we'd be seeing more adult leisure time activities, when he had the chance! Although he's going to be a much more intense type of person than Yukimura, I think. But yes, I think that the framework Yukimura has been building in him is getting strong enough to stand on its own.

Yes, it is logical, about the dissolving into dust ... but there's more to it than that. You will find out, eventually! (Hmmm ... not 'til the end of vol. 34 ... that's a ways off!)

As for Hotaru and girls and where that got the other two - LOL!

ipperne
Sep. 21st, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
Uhm, just a brief thought; how do you think Shinrei would have turned out if he was in Hotaru's place all the way? I mean, if he was the "second son"? That could have been kinda interesting.

About the dust thing - I know... but it would be kinda spoilerish to blabber it out in a comment about vol 24, which is the vol we are, well, officially at, right?
*sigh* and now I'm once again butting up against the wall of "publisher on hold" today was actually the release date of vol 25... *cries*
chomiji
Sep. 23rd, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)

You're right, I shouldn't blurt out anything that close to a spoiler. I just enjoy talking about the series so much.

Poor Shinrei - he would have felt terrible about the whole thing, and keep desperately trying to get into his father's good graces somehow. We see that in his flashbacks to his childhood. And he might not have survived.

ipperne
Sep. 23rd, 2007 10:03 am (UTC)
I know you enjoy talking about SDK, and if you want to talk more about it(with spoilers) you have my mail^^

I think that Shinrei actually might have been even stronger if he was in Hotaru's place. Asuming he survived in the first place, but if he did, then he would have his own couse to fight for instead of the Mibu.

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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