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Kyo's party, still split into groups, is pressing on into the heart of the Mibu city in search of the shrine where Kyo's real body is being held. Akira, Benitora, and Hotaru continue their confrontation with the true Kubira, master of illusions. Akira finds himself pushed beyond his limits on two fronts: his fighting prowess, and his senses of justice and compassion. The resolution of the encounter forces him to grow (I think it can be argued that Akira shows more spiritual/emotional growth during the series than any other character), and we learn more about the Mibu and the mysterious disease that affects so many of them. Several more members of the group are reunited with the three young men at the end of this sequence.

Meanwhile, Kyo and Bontenmaru seem to have arrived at their destination - only to find the way blocked by the last of the berserkers, Haira, who is accompanied by Shindara the Undying. We then get a little visit with Yukimura and his faithful Saizo, who are having a bit of trouble with some Mibu elite guards. The resolution of this scene answers the question of what Yukimura did after he left Muramasa's, and how he was able to evade Kyo in their previous encounter. Finally, Yukimura and Saizo join Kyo and Shindara in watching Bontenmaru fight Haira: a scene that is pretty comical but that got old quickly for me.

This volume wasn't quite as satisfying for me as vol. 24, but the end of the Kubira encounter was quite touching, and I like how Akira continues to develop. And of course I really, really appreciated having some more Yukimura scenes, and the flashback sequence within them was very interesting.

Samurai Deeper Kyo, vol. 25 (review)

I have to feel sorry for Akira: like the Grinch confronted with the true spirit of Christmas, his heart grew a couple of sizes, and it was plainly painful for him. The whole situation with Kubira and Antera/Anju was just so very sad, though - because no one knew that Akari's removal of the booster drug would cause Anju's memories to fail again, she didn't even get a chance to say goodbye to her father. It made me a bit teary-eyed, actually. I wonder if Akira was able to conjure up any memories of his own real parents at all, even unconsciously. And I am feeling very. very uncharitable toward Hishigi at the moment. I usually blame his more extreme actions on Fubuki, but there isn't any evidence for the High Necromancer's involvement in this one.

I loved Yukimura at Anri's! He was just so calm about having that pail of water dumped on him! And Anri is both hysterically funny and so cool - I won't spoil things by saying who he actually is (in addition to being Muramasa's former personal guard).The whole business about how Yukimura learned the Mibu time-manipulation techniques was fascinating. But his ruminations about why he's doing all this in the first place - how he only feels really alive when he's fighting - are what I like best. The reason Yukimura is so important to me is that he is the only character in this series who constantly feels the pull of his responsibilities - he knows he should be back on Kudoyama, networking with other samurai who are discontent with Tokugawa and plotting his overthrow, but he's irresistibly drawn by Kyo's charisma and the life of endless battle and striving for perfection in combat that he represents. The way he actually thinks about what he's doing and why makes me feel very close to him.

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