Tomo Maeda – Go!Comi – 2008 – 7 volumes
Ahh… There were quite a few twists and turns in the conclusion, and not everything happened how I imagined it would, but it also wasn’t quite as tragic and final as it looked like it was going to be. Which… I mean, it’s a manga, so I’m not that surprised. They tried hard to make me happy, but manga just loves robbing me of such conclusions.
There was also much more crammed in here than I thought there would be. We get quite a bit of backstory on Grey, along with some of the reasons he’s hung around Shikimi. We learn about the nature of Shikimi’s possession, about the demon that inhabits his body, and even a little bit about the backstory and nature of the demon. Amazingly (and unfortunately), Taki calls out the nature of the demon in an extremely shoujo manga moment. That demon should have torn him apart for his insolence, but alas. Taki does go through with his promise, and Grey collects on their bet. There are a few really decent, lengthy fight scenes, along with a strange death scene. Maybe a few of them. But afterwards, the ending is pretty lukewarm. You know what I mean. It winds down. It’s got this annoying halfway vibe, where the two leads exist to appeal to yaoi fans, and there’s a female character for romantic tension, but absolutely no romance whatsoever. Just friends. And happiness. Yay.
I got caught up in the ending, and it was pretty well done, but I still don’t like this series very much. The characters never quite clicked for me, and despite all the danger with the undead and demons and halflings and whatnot, there’s just not that much action or tension, really. It just comes back to the sort of lukewarm friendship between Taki and Shikimi, and I suppose not liking the characters that much was the reason this never really clicked for me. It’s not bad, or terrible, just middle of the road. It does have its share of fans. I’m… just not one of them.
Tomo Maeda – Go!Comi – 2008 – 7 volumes
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m glad I stuck around for the ending. I don’t have that much to say about this volume, since the entire thing is basically an exercise in letting the reader sit in anticipation for the moment when Shikimi turns into a demon. There are dreams that foreshadow it. Grey flat out tells Taki that it will only be a matter of time. There are a couple wholesome, positive conversations between Taki and Shikimi that make you think that Shikimi is in control again, but when things start to get too good for the little group, you know. You know what is going to happen.
It’s… pretty brutal, and for a moment, I was concerned that something that never, ever happens in manga transpired. I was impressed that the series would do this, and momentarily baffled by what the conclusion could possibly be, but then it backpedaled and things look like they will play out as promised. And that’s fine. The stakes are pretty high here, and I still wonder about the outcome. On one hand, this is a manga, but on the other hand, the characters seem pretty serious about their black and white issues.
I’m going to go ahead and read the final volume right now. This one left off on a brutal cliffhanger, and I just have to know. I don’t really like this series that much, and never did, but I still have to know how it ends.
Tomo Maeda – Go!Comi – 2008 – 7 volumes
Continuing on with the color theme of the past 24 hours, I recently bought the last three volumes of this on sale, and no time like the present to finish it off.
I still don’t really care for it. The parts showing Shikimi’s past were mildly interesting, though still didn’t grab me, and now that we’ve gone back to the back-and-forth of everyday with Shikimi, Grey, Laz, and Taki, my interest has pretty much flown out the window. I just don’t really care for any of the characters, and can’t get into the little comic asides and banter between the characters.
The overall plot chugs on, though, with a major revelation about Taki. It seems like this might go in an interesting direction, and the story takes its time to unveil it, but then… it doesn’t really change anything at all around the house. There’s one moment where it seems like the dynamics might change, but then they don’t. This still has the potential to go somewhere, and I do have higher hopes for the final story arc starting next volume. But boo, Black Sun Silver Moon. You’ve got all the right ingredients and just aren’t mixing them together right.
I also just… hate Laz. I hate her so much. What is she still doing there? She sort of facilitates the discussion about Taki’s true nature, but that would have come out anyway since Grey figures it out himself. She continues to insist she is a man and beg Shikimi to go out with her. She plays no other role. I just… can’t figure out what her role in the story even is.
I did like the unrelated short story at the end of the volume. It was about a strange artist and the neighbor who tries to help him. It had just the right touches of supernatural and sadness, and while fangirls could certainly read a lot of things between the main characters, it also never turns into a BL story, which I liked. It was nice. I wonder if some of her other work is more like this story, “Red Shoes,” than Black Sun, Silver Moon or Beyond My Touch.
This volume contains what appears to be the rest of Shikimi’s backstory in its entirety. Things get surprisingly grim and gruesome in this volume, and the story does a fair job of spiraling the entire town into murder and madness for what appears to be no reason. Shikimi is forced to deal with a series of tough decisions and confrontations, and it’s pretty sad business.
I was nearly won over until the end, when we got to the part where it was Shikimi’s fault. It just… wasn’t. Unless there’s more to the story, which I don’t think there is, I don’t understand what Shikimi is punishing himself for. Certainly what happened was horrible, and I can see how he might blame himself, but it doesn’t seem like anything he could be cursed for. Well, other than that little bit about the faith at the end, but put in perspective, no.
And as fair as the story was in this volume, it wasn’t spectacular… but it was certainly the best storytelling in the series so far. And among all the awful stuff that happened, I wound up understanding Shikimi less since I couldn’t connect with his reasons. Oh well. Now I sort of want to jump back into the present to see how this new knowledge about his past is applied… but I’m still not too excited about it. I would say this is still a notch or two below mediocre.
Yeah, I still don’t know about this one. I’ve fallen a little behind, so I’m got the next volume coming in the mail, but I’m going to give up all hope if reading two volumes at the same time this far into the series doesn’t improve things.
I definitely hated the parts that took place in the present, and this is largely because the female (?) character is still extremely, EXTREMELY annoying. Shikimi is having trouble controlling his cravings for blood, and an allusion is made to a bet with Gray. Shikimi’s faith in his humanity is somewhat generically reinforced, but then we are mercifully saved by a flashback to when Shikimi was fully human.
The flashback isn’t bad, and carries over into the next volume. Shikimi lives in a rural village and travels elsewhere to settle the undead. He’s got a sweetheart in the village and helps raise a gaggle of orphans at the church. The church is being switched over to a new building, and Gray appears in town. Some of Shikimi’s significant skills are shown, but this doesn’t stop whatever it is that Gray has in mind for the village, unfortunately. Nothing terrible has happened to Shikimi yet, but I can’t imagine the situation ending well.
Even the flashback, which at least wasn’t terrible, wasn’t terribly good either. Something will have to happen to make Shikimi an extremely, EXTREMELY sympathetic character in order to get me to like this series… which I kind of doubt will happen, but hey. Maybe.
Hm. I think I still really like this series. This volume had about zero action, and was mostly exposition. I did not like the new characters that were introduced. I liked the backstory that was discussed at length (and apparently will go into greater detail next volume), and the little story about the split between the two main characters was to die for… but I don’t know. It still needs to do something awesome to put it over the edge and make it good.
The two new characters… yeah. I think I was soured on the second one, who’s really not that bad, because the first was just irritating. So, it’s a boy. A boy who is drawn with breasts, eyelashes, and a skirt(ish thing) where no other boy in the series is. He gets mad at first for being called a girl, but later we get a really confusing cleavage shot. I don’t know. An identity crisis, at any rate, which may come up later. At the moment, his alignment seems to be of the m/m variety, as he’s got a big crush on the demon priest. He’s irritating because he’s one of those headstrong, loud characters that shows up because he’s got a job to do, is talked out of this job, then sticks around and has stupid fights that are supposed to be funny but aren’t… and said fights happen every few pages when he’s around. OH MY GOD I HATE HIM SO MUCH. Something truly awesome has to occur in order for the series to cancel out the huge amounts of negative energy he’s brought with him. Him being eaten by a fully demonized priest is about what it would take for me.
The other character isn’t actually that bad, but just doesn’t have a place yet. He’s a big creepy undead who has a regular human form and sticks around to menace the priest and harass the assistant.
The best thing about the volume was definitely when the priest sent the assistant home and they had a big weepy man-cry at the end of the chapter. Very nice, but not quite enough to make up for the annoying character.
Is there a comma in the title? There’s a black sun and silver moon between the phrases on the cover, so it’s hard to tell.
Anyway, I’m all over Go!Comi series. While I’m inclined to believe that everything they license is probably readable by me (even Cantarella, which I don’t really like but is still okay), I’ve got to be selective when starting new series. This one involves priests and zombies, which was enough to sell me on it even though I’ve read one other series by this mangaka and hated it.
I’m not too sure what all goes on in this volume, though. Not a whole lot of fighting, actually. There’s a short story at the end of the volume which was really bizarre and not really to my liking (even though people with two different eye colors are always awesome), but the only noteworthy story I can remember in the volume itself that wasn’t just the two priests talking and explaining things to each other was the story of how they got their ghost/zombie dog. It’s cute, but I didn’t actually like that story that much.
The only other thing I really remember was that the white-haired priest is actually possessed by a demon and is slowly losing his grip on humanity, which is also cool. We don’t really see much about this other than vaguely hinting at the fact that perhaps it controlled him in the past and he’s done something rather ugly.
In fact… I don’t even know what we really see a lot of, other than the silver-haired priest bossing the other one around and a lot of complaining coming from the other. While it wasn’t precisely bad, it didn’t really go anywhere. It set a path for itself, so I don’t even really want to say that it didn’t go places, but it has yet to move down that path. It’s wide open for it in volume 2, though. I… kinda liked it, but I kinda felt cheated at the same time, too. Zombies are never a bad thing, however sparingly they’re used, so I’ll be back for seconds regardless.