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As the volume opens, Kyo and Sasuke Sarutobi continue their confrontation with Shihodo, the strange guardian of the "latrine level" of the city-sized Mibu palace/temple complex. It's far from clear whose side Shihodo supports, but through flashbacks we learn a lot more about her history - and Kyo's. Escape from the Stygian depths of the Onmyo Palace will eventually hinge on whether or not Kyo can truly master his Muramasa-forged sword, Tenro - which turns out to have a very strong mind of its own.

Meanwhile, Bontenmaru, Akira, and Benitora become the unwilling guests of the unpleasantly impish Tokito, whose idea of fun and games is on level with that of Kami-sama in Saiyuki. Although three of them will join Tokito in spooky Tsukikage Castle, only two will emerge afterward.

In the final chapter, Kyo and Sasuke meet up with Akari and Yuya - and make a terrifying discovery about the fate of Yuya's brother that will affect them all.

This volume suffered from being rather betwixt and between: the incident in the final chapter is the set-up for the next sub-arc, and although the other two incidents were interesting - and provided some valuable puzzle pieces - their emotional impact is simply not as great as some of what has already happened. I also miss the characters who didn't appear: Yukimura, obviously, but also Hotaru and Shinrei. And although Yuya and Akari make an appearance, they don't get to do much. The same is true of the more intriguing villains: Fubuki and Yuan give the intro and then pretty much disappear, while Hishigi gets nothing but a few lines in the Shihodo flashback and two frames of editorial comment right near the end. And there's far too much Tokito ... but that's just my opinion!

The artwork's a little odd in this volume: everyone continues to be very elongated and leggy (not just Shihodo, who's meant to be that way), and yet the faces seem even more rounded and childish than usual. But there are some very cute drawings of Kyo and Akira in the various flashbacks (Akira-chan is rather more believable as a child than Kyo-chan, who looks more like a Kyo-chibi from one of the extras).

 

Samurai Deeper Kyo, vol. 28 (review)

Shihodo is rather creepy - you know? - even though I feel sorry for her in the end. I think she reminds me too much of Chinmei. I wonder whether their hippy-era trappings - contrasted with, for example, Yuan's athletic punk/Yanki look - are meant to make us think that these guys were real cool - long ago. Also, I'm wondering what the deal is in Japanese with Shihodo's bizarre speech pattern - did the original have her speech marked up with those funny little icons too? And when she's in the flashback scene with Muramasa, Fubuki, and Hishigi, she only uses a single little icon - a spiral - instead of the never-repeating series of oddities she uses elsewhere. (And finally - just how much does she know about the great Mibu secret?)

I loved the sequence with Tenro! "Tenro," by the way, is the traditional Japanese name for the star Sirius (thanks, sanada!), and it does mean Sky-wolf or Heaven-wolf. ("Shibien" - formerly Kyoshiro's sword and now Sasuke's - also has an astronomical/astrological meaning: it's a particular region of the heavens in traditional Chinese astrology.) It's really interesting that Tenro is arguing that Kyoshiro should be its master - makes me wonder about how Tenro feels about its sword-mate, Shibien, which Muramasa forged at the same time.

The less said about Tokito the better - but it's interesting, the way he collapsed on his guard Spade's chest at the end there ... .

I have to agree with Hishigi: Fubuki can be cruel sometimes. (And my evil slashy brain says: and I bet Hishigi knows all about that - intimately!) The emotional impact of the discovery of the fate of Yuya's brother - kicked out of his own body so that it can serve as a host for the spirit of Oda Nobunaga - is pretty damn impressive!

 

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
jedishampoo
Jun. 3rd, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Holy smokes, it's on 28? :) Maybe that's good-- it's been hell waiting for new chapters of Saiyuki Reload.

I just picked up vol's 1 and 2 of SDK and am looking forward to reading them.
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)

Well ... vol. 1 and 2 are kind of weak. The series for me didn't really take off until the end of vol. 3, when Sanada Yukimura shows up. So please don't judge the series by them! smilla, who's read a lot more manga series than I have, says the early volumes are pretty typical shounen manga, so if you treat them as that ... .

The series finished in Japan in 2006 at 38 volumes. It goes basically like this:

vol. 1-4: introductory/Shogun's tournament arc
vol. 5-10: Aokigahara Forest arc
vol. 11-end: Mibu mega-arc

At this point, the English releases are in the midst of the really juicy part, with tons of political twists and turns, dark secrets, weird science, powerful magic, and angsty flashbacks.

Yes, SDK will keep you busy! They're currently coming out every other month.



Edited at 2008-06-03 11:45 am (UTC)
magicnoire
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
The initial volumes are very standard shounen manga. I think the series didn't sink its claws into me until volume 5(?) -- the one where Yuya is pointing her gun at Kyo and he asks her if she would actually believe him if he told her he didn't kill her brother and she says yes.

I was doomed to be a Kyo/Yuya shipper from the start, it seems.
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2008 11:36 am (UTC)

Oh, I think Kyo belongs with Yuya by the end - no doubt about it. But that doesn't stop me from imagining him in other relationships before he gets there. These silly wonderful male persons don't always figure out what's best for them right off.

chomiji
Jun. 5th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)

So, like, we probably chased you off from reading your new manga! If not, how did it go?

jedishampoo
Jun. 5th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Haven't read them yet! Sitting on the shelf... waiting. (And I'll keep in mind that you say it gets better at vol. 4.) I had vols. 1 and 2 of Vampire Knight that I just read, and while I liked some of the boyz, Yuki (the gurl) needs to stop being the school blood bank. ;) And now my roommate is into Saiyuki so I've been re-reading and writing and argh! I really need to branch out into some other fandoms. It's hard, though, when you're obsessed-- er, I mean focused.
chomiji
Jun. 5th, 2008 10:26 pm (UTC)

I saw, about your roomie!

If she's looking for more het, I actually wrote a couple of those, if you think she'd like them ... they're further back on my fic account, right about Xmas.

jedishampoo
Jun. 5th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Yep, she has the hots for Hakkai, and she definitely wants het, the smuttier the better. ;) I'd like to try another het or two-- since I joined this fandom, I've been dying to write het but the boys are so much fun together!

And I couldn't find them? Dur.
jedishampoo
Jun. 5th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Or wait... you have a fic journal, don't you? I was looking under here!
chomiji
Jun. 6th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)

Yup, they're on the fic journal ... you should be able to see some things here (not in this post, clearly) that will link you there if you don't remember the name. (Or I can e-mail you.)

jedishampoo
Jun. 6th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Found it... sent her the link. :) Thank you!
chomiji
Jun. 10th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC)

Heh ... she liked it, but complained that I'd blacked out the good stuff (it was only an R rating). I sent her over to redbrunja, who writes Hakkai/Yaone and Gojyo/Yaone.

;-)

jedishampoo
Jun. 10th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes, she does like to read some smut. I was just trying to write a pointless hetsmut involving the Saiyuki boyz... and realizing that I was having trouble writing hetsmut OMG and I used to do all hetsmut back in the day.
sodapopgirl703
Jun. 3rd, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
Hi! I just wanted to say thanks for adding me, I love the stuff you write on SDK.
I also loved the scene with Kyo and Tenro! I'm soo looking forward to the next volume (as always).
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)

Welcome!

I'm thinking that the reason Sasuke is so good with Shibien is that he at least tries to talk to his sword, even if he isn't doing in in quite the right way. Right from the beginning, he's referred to Shibien as "him" - and in the fight at Tokugawa's, he's trying to have a little discussion about whether Shibien is going to be OK with his secret electrical techniques, and Shibien's responding with little buzzes and electrical zaps.

sanada
Jun. 3rd, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
I wonder if she got new assistants or something? Sometimes that explains sudden and inexplicable style changes.

Yup, Shihodo uses all of those little symbols in Japanese too~ I like your idea that the hippies used to be really cool back in their day! Julian's kind of an aging hippy, too.

Hehe, if Fubuki and Hishigi's relationship isn't supposed to be taken in a slashy way, then I really need to retire from fandom...
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:40 am (UTC)

So what's the deal with Shihodo's accent in Japanese? Does she just talk babytalk? I remember that you said that Chinmei speaks a really tough-to-translate dialect.

Oh, I'm sure that Fubuki and Hishigi are a great consolation to each other! > evil grin < Most of the fic I've seen writes the whole thing as much too sweet and mushy. It may have started that way after Hikito's death, but I imagine as the years go by and they have to make more and more terrible decisions, Fubuki's cruelty and brusqueness and Hishigi's emo self-flagellation turn the relationship into something much weirder.

sanada
Jun. 3rd, 2008 09:18 pm (UTC)
I don't even know how to describe the way Shihoudou talks... o_O; It's a combination of baby talk and scatological profanity. I've seen the baby talk used to satirize old/ugly lolitas and gyaru, but I think Shihoudou is unique~~ Chinmei has the heavy Kansai accent because the Kansai region is known for its comedian~

Exactly~~ Hishigi got a massive desire for punishment... I guess you could say that a lot of people are guilty for what happened to the Mibu, but Hishigi was the one getting his hands dirty. ^_^;;
chomiji
Jun. 4th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)

He tries so hard to distance himself from it, too - calling all the shaman by numbers instead of their names, and so on.

magicnoire
Jun. 3rd, 2008 09:09 am (UTC)
I read this last weekend, back to back with volume 27, so I didn't really notice how it was mostly all set-up. I think if I'd read it on its own, I probably would have, "Huh, that's it?" As it was, I was happy to read SDK after going a few months without. (lol, I sound like a junkie.)

I like the idea that Shihodo and Chinmei are folks who used to be cool a long time ago. That gives some meaning to their outfits and mannerisms.

And I thought chibi!Kyo was unbearably cute. Unbearably!
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 11:45 am (UTC)

SDK is always going to be very very special to me. The characters - even Kyo - are so idealistic under all the swagger. Minekura is a more skillful writer then Kamijyo in many ways - the way Benitora breaks out into sentimentality with Akira after the Tokito scenes, for instance, is pretty awkward - but SDK has thishuge frickin' cast to manage!

Yes, my heart melted a bit when Kyo-chan went after Shihodo to protect Muramasa! But with his grumpy little face drawn so simplistically, he really did look like the Kyo chibi - all he needed was a pipe!

And the volume that's coming up is really going to rock! (Even though it won't have much of my favorite guy.)

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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