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I have been awaiting this volume for more than a year, and it did not disappoint: More revelations, drama, and fun with Yukimura and the Sanada Ten! A long-awaited yet still surprising duel!! New revelations about Kyo! A strange development in the Mibu thaumaturgical operations! Our heroes meet the Four Elders in person! Akari has to face a shadow of her past! Hotaru has a eventful familial encounter! But wait, there's more ... .

OK, I'm being very silly. But I can tell you that the story is beginning to pick up steam. We are about three-quarters of the way through the entire tale. The vast majority of the significant players have been introduced. We're getting to the point that where there's no action, there will be angst, and where there's no angst or action, there will be shocking revelations.

And I love the cover in this issue too. I wish I had the original painting, or even a poster without the text.


Samurai Deeper Kyo, vol. 27 (review)

Oh, so much love, so much sadness with Yukimura, Shindara, and the Juuyuushi - especially Kosuke. I don't know if I believe that Shindara could really fool everybody but Yukimura after Kosuke ratted him out (I imagine he was her teacher as well as her former captain, since he was the head of the Juuyuushi before he left - hence the whole melodrama of almost throwing herself on her lord's blade), but Yukimura is special with people skills. Poor Shindara ... .

And then that Kyo-Yukimura duel! OK, people, we all know I am a slashin' fool - but my blunt, het husband spontaneously, without my encouragement, came out with the following: "Kyo and Yukimura are just having sex in public!" The kicker is, I think, the final panels in no. 212, when Benitora is watching and remembering what Yukimura told him about fighting with Kyo: "Crossing blades with Kyo-han ought to be a battle for one's life. But your heart should dance and you should lose sight of all else until the only thing remaining is neither 'life' nor 'death' but what lies far beyond them ... an endless peak ... of pleasure!" And on those last two phrases, we have a two-panel spread with Kyo in the top panel (hah!) and Yukimura in the bottom, both grinning like fools, and between them a huge energy burst. Heh.

On a more intellectual level - the fight scene as it continues in no. 213 enforces my thought that when Kamijyo shows a shot of the sky, she's talking about freedom: it's after Yukimura has his little speech about how samurai only think of battle - which echoes what he said in the first Kyo-Yukimura duel way back in vol. 5 (I think) - and then thanks Kyo for making him feel alive: they both lose themselves in battle again, use their special techniques, and then one of Kamijyo's impressionistic spreads: a clash of blades in the top slice, the open sky and sun in the large, irregular mid-section, then below, the double tableau of the two teams watching their champions, a stylized little panel that seems to be the tip of a blade taking a complicated course, and then Bontenmaru's single eye in the reaction panel just before the page turn, and his thought: "They're ..." And you turn over the page: we have another two-page spread with mirror image left and right vertical panels showing each duellist's throat against his opponent's blade, and in the center panel - Kyo, half a head taller, wielding his Muramasa no-dachi one-handed, but with Yukimura, holding his own common blade (the one he got from Mizuki) in a more traditional style, inside Kyo's defensive perimeter: he's pressing Kyo into the left third of the frame, and the long, wave-like tails of his tunic flow out of the frame on the lower right, a flexible, free counterweight to the tight geometry of the duellist's blades and arms in the upper left. And floating over the border of the center and right panels, the rest of Bontenmaru's thought: "... equals!"

I'm just going to tick off the rest of my high points - there are just too many, and if I look at them in depth, I'll be here all night:

  • Yukimura and Kosuke playing the shell game with Akari and the kiss - and making her like it in the end (although I do think it would have been hilarious to have Akari kiss him ... ).
  • The bear stew scene - Hotaru's sympathy for the bear, Kamanosuke in his/her BBQ apron, Yukimura's mind-blowing bluntness about Yuya's sex life, and what he learns from it.
  • The violent surprise of the body-stealing from the midst of the Mibu ritual - and the poignant scene that tells us who did it.
  • Akari's encounter with Hishigi (which I'm going to have to expand on a bit: this is one of the first times that I've really been able to see Akari as a man. Is it because she doesn't care to play her little girly act with him - because he's known he since she was a child? And if so, what does it say about Kamijyo's drawing skills that this comes through this way ... .)
  • Shinrei and Hotaru's scene, which was just pure comedic gold - and note Hotaru's little smiles where his brother can't see them!
  • Kyo's almost kindly manner with Sasuke, and Shihodo's arrival and revelations.

Things I could have done without:

  • The Yuya crotch shot (even the Mr. was bemused by that).
  • Tokito's cackling witch brat act (even though I know there's a good reason for it).
  • The lackluster translation: I didn't catch any obvious woofers this time, but I'm willing to be that Jinpachi's appreciative comment about Yuya, after she brings him and Saizo more stew, is something more like "She's a fine woman!" or even "Wotta babe!" (instead of "She's a good girl") - because that's what inspires Yukimura's outrageous statement. (See also Benitora's fight commentary, above.)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 24th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Wasn't this volume just amazing? For some reason I really enjoyed it more than any of the past three of four books. I think the Yukimura/Kyo duel was a large part of it... watching those two fighting really is so intense! (and although I hadn't thought of it in a slashy sense it is really easy to see now... the "pleasure", *g* I love it!)

This reminds me too why I love reading your SDK reviews (even though I never comment on them... shame on me). You put so much thought into not only reading but really seeing the story, and not doing the same myself it's always interesting to see it from a deeper perspective like that. Maybe I'm just too blinded by the prettiness ;)

ANother part I really enjoyed, and that sort of surprised me a little in the translation was the Shinrei/Hotaru fight. I didn't realize that they actually started fighting each other for real before taking out those watchers. But the part before that, with Hotaru talking to the dead body, ah, that was just great. Those two are just perfect together :)

Maybe that's why this book felt so perfect to me... for the drama and the intensity there was the Kyo/Yukimura fight which really couldn't have been any better, and then there's Hotaru/Shinrei to lighten it up. But it's never pure comedy, because there's always that real conflict between them, and that strange kind of love... you think you know what to expect from them, but they always surprise you.
Mar. 24th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)

Aw, thanks! I really should have scanned the two-page spreads so that I had them here in the write-up. Now that I'm a little more "read" in manga, I recognize some of Kamijyo's oddball stuff as shoujo techniques, here being used in the service of a very shounen story: the paired (or even triple) close-up/pull-back views, the impressionistic pages (which in something like Fruits Basket would include more borderless frames, although she has a few of those as well), and the teeny little details in the drawings.

Hotaru is so funny. Although he's not a real intellect (and he really can be completely unsocialized - like a child raised by wolves ... ), in some ways he's sharper than his brother. I think Shinrei genuinely surprised him in this volume at first - I don't think Hotaru saw him there, and I really do think he was worrying about whether he'd just found his brother's corpse. But after the first moment, I think Hotaru was just playing with Shinrei - especially since he would have felt the need to cover up the fact that he was worrying about his brother. And then taking that cheap shot at Shinrei's wounded midriff at the end - so Hotaru. I bet he did that with Akira all the time ... .

What do you think about the Akari/Hishigi scene? Did Akari look more masculine to you there? She is certainly being more blunt with him in the translation - I'm wondering (and I should see if I can get sanada to tell me) whether she used feminine speech patterns there in the original Japanese. I know sanada's translation of the scene where Akari first shows up emphasizes (in a side note) that Akari is speaking really, really girlishly. She definitely is in this volume when she first picks herself up after falling - she's calling herself "Akari-tan," which is babytalk and/or dialect - but I'm wondering if she shifts after she realizes that she really is confronting Hishigi.

Mar. 24th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
So, in your opinion, is Kamijyo a woman or a man? ;) Maus and me have always speculated about it since it didn't seem to be stated anywhere. Not that it makes a difference, but the looking at Naruto/Bleach compared to SDK (and now Saiyuki) is just interesting to me. SDK may not be as obvious as Saiyuki, and it does have lots of fanservice for male readers thanks to Yuya, but still... all the male characters seem to me as if they could only have come from a women's imagination.

To come up with a character like Hotaru is really a bit of genius. Not that I've read that much manga to be able to compare, but he seems very unique to me. And not only that, it's amazing how popular he is for a guy that basically has no personality to hold onto. Maybe it's because that way readers can just fill the gap with whatever they feel Hotaru would think or feel...

I think Akari definitely looks more masculine in the scene with Hishigi, maybe because she gets very serious and her expression is very harsh. Even though she's angry, it's more than that, so it's different from when she was fighting Mekira. Even back then, after what happened to Santera, she was still playing a bit (although it went from a fun to a cruel game), but this is different. Feels like we get to see a side of her(him?) that she doesn't even want to see herself, and definitely not show to anyone else. That makes me wonder though, doesn't she realize that Yuya is watching? I forgot exactly how the scene continued (it's been a while since I looked at the scans), but I dimly remember that she is not all that surprised when Yuya shows up afterwards. It would definitely be interesting to know if in the original her way of speaking changes at all. Too bad there isn't really a good way to translate those kind of things (or maybe they're just not putting in the effort to figure it out... wouldn't surprise me with all the translation mistakes they're making, although this volume wasn't as bad as some of the others).
Mar. 25th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)

I think a woman, and sanada says so also: she apparently found some online article in Japanese talking about Kamijyo-sensei as a "dainty person" and so forth in a way that made it pretty impossible for it to be a man. Certainly the hunky pin-ups of the guys that were available on the calendars look like the work of a woman (or a gay guy) to me ... women can be pretty savvy about what looks sexy to men (which would explain the silly fan service in the regular issues), but the inverse is usually not so!

Actually, Hotaru has a lot of personality, but it's on a really weird level ... a lot of it is based on not allowing anyone to get the better of him, even for a moment. But he can be weirdly affectionate and passionate - there's the whole business with the bear, and the way he talks about Akari, and later on the way he goes ballistic and even gets pretty articulate in what he's saying [spoilers for vols. 34-35] about Shinrei in that horrible, gruelling, angst-filled battle with Fubuki and Hishigi, when he thinks Fubuki has killed Shinrei ... OMG, I just figured out that it takes two whole volumes to get through that ... ..

Yeah, you're right - as angry as she was with Mekira, she was still doing her mean lady imitation. I don't think she knows that Yuya is there. The hana-mi site (sanada's) doesn't have any of vol. 28, so I don't really know.

How did you like Shihodo's grand entrance? I thought Kyo was being suprisingly kind to Sasuke earlier in that scene, and unusually forthcoming.

Did you notice Yukimura flinching and getting shaky shortly before he goes off? I'm wondering whether that's the aftereffects of the Sekireigan technique.

Mar. 31st, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
First, getting through this volume without getting too distracted was a challenge. A real one.

To be honest, Tokito's bratty behavior amuses me greatly, but maybe that's because I'm a sucker for him. It's also funny how Yuan's attitude about everthing seems to anger him even more, but at the same time, Yuan seems to be the only one who can calm Tokito down.

The whole melodrama about the Sanadas began to annoy me towards the end of the fight. It really did. after going on for almost half of volume 26, it was too much.
The fight between Kyo and Yukimura was very interesting though. Well, not the actual fight, but the audience. Saizo finally realizes who he is serving, or would that be what he is serving? He already knew Kyo turned into a beast in a fight, but I don't think he ever expected Yukimura to. But it's funny that he's the only one who actually looks surprised, assuming that he has been around Yukimura as long as the others (Except Sasuke).

Mar. 31st, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)

That's actually a good point about Yuan, and it fits in with what we find out about him (and his family) later. He'd know both how to provoke Tokito and how to be soothing. (I'm wondering how much he knows about Tokito, too.)

Well, I didn't mind the Sanada stuff so much, except that the whole business about Shindara's answering Kosuke's accusations wasn't terribly believable. But actually, with Yukimura sneaking off and avoiding his Juyuushi so much, maybe Saizo hasn't had a chance to observe him this way before. He was injured during the previous duel, remember, and in a lot of the other confrontations involving Yukimura, there were multiple battles going on at once. Also, Yukimura keeps saying the Kyo is the only one who can give him this feeling ... .

How did you like the Akari/Hishigi scene? And the brothers?

Apr. 5th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
It was interesting to see how Akari changed as soon as Hishigi appeared. However, I also think that it's wierd that niether of them sensed Yuya being so close to them. Sometimes I think the silly and feminine Akari is an act simply to make herself forget what she is. Not really to fool others.

The brothers... Those guys love each others so much, but ´niether of them wants the other to know. Still, I think that somewhere inside, they know, that the other know. But, as Hotaru appears to be a pretty passionate person, it's natural that he throws everything he has into everything he does. Including pissing Shinrei off. Oh, there's a million other things about their scene, I just can't remember it clearly...
Apr. 8th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)

Yeah, he's treating Shinrei a lot like he treated Akira, but Shinrei blows up in an even more satisfying fashion!

You know, you may be right about Akari. Certainly she works on her little Akari-tan act even when she's by herself.

My only explanation for why the two of them didn't notice Yuya (and also how quickly and completely Akari changed) is that they're both so emotionally involved in that scene. Akari at least admits to herself, to some extent, how important Hishigi is to her (she was earlier doing some very mixed-up love-hate thinking about him). But Hishigi, despite the fact that he's doing his best to sweet-talk her, seems to be trying to pretend to himself that he's being cool and calm and manipulating her. But we know that after Fubuki, she was the most important person in his life ... .

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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