Cantarella 10

You Higuri – Go!Comi – 2009 – 10+ volumes

I keep thinking that the last volume of this has come out, and then one more comes out.  This really is the last volume before the hiatus.  I got this about a month back and was a little bummed when I read the editor’s note in the back of the volume that simply said that this would resume when Crown finished serialization.  Alas, Crown finished serialization a year or more ago and I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of this in Princess Gold.  It’s possible I wasn’t paying attention, because apparently this was announced a couple months ago, but I was delighted when I got the newest Princess Gold and Cantarella was in the next issue ad.  So yeah, it’ll be out again in a couple weeks.  Also featured on that ad are all the best series in Princess Gold, including two of my favorite series ever.

Anyway.  I actually, really, really liked this volume of Cantarella.  I’ve been sort of lukewarm all the way through the series, but this volume finally got to the parts of Cesare Borgia’s life that I know are interesting, namely that he waged conquest-type wars and was a terror in battle.  The politics building up the situation aren’t terribly interesting, but they do a good job of creating suspense so that when Cesare starts riding around with the King of France and people start fleeing and going underground, you know something serious is underway.

I think the climax is coming, because now the series has put Cesare and Chiaro opposite each other, so I suspect they will clash in an epic final battle and… something will happen.  I’m not entirely sure what.  I can’t tell if they’re friends or enemies at this point, which is pretty awesome.  Machiavelli hinted that Cesare might not have to die, so maybe…?  But then little Cesare’s spirit showed up and stabbed itself with a sword?

Also, I have to say, I enjoyed the weird/awesome Leonardo Da Vinci cameo.  I hope he comes back.  Though it was strange that Cesare’s situation was compared to that of Christ.

The romance, while not as passionate as it has been in other volumes, was there somewhat, but it served as a reminder about what I liked best about the series.  Of course, I’m still not a big fan of Lucrezia, or the Lucrezia/Chiaro pairing, but I’m fond of pretty much everything else, implied and otherwise, that’s going on.

So yeah, I was surprised by how much I liked this volume, and I am very much looking forward to the rest of the series now.

Also, I liked the strange bonus comic in the back of the volume where Higuri talked about her appearance at Anime Expo.  It was unexpected and hilarious.


Cantarella 9

Man, I think my main problem with this series is that I want it to go a lot faster than it’s paced. That’s not really its problem, I think I just expect action and am getting a romance story instead.

A lot of the romantic elements I was most uncomfortable with have abated somewhat, but in their place new complications have arose. I was a big fan of when Cesare and Chiaro were allies, but it looks like that might be gone forever. Chiaro figures less in this volume since he’s mostly recovering from injuries and laying low… and really, I guess Cesare is less prominent too, but he does show up occasionally to menace Lucrezia.

Most of the volume is about Lucrezia and her marriage to Alfonzo. Lucrezia is probably my least favorite character, so I can’t get that excited whenever she figures heavily into the plot, but I like Alfonzo a lot. I like his sister Sancia a lot as well, even though I probably shouldn’t. Those two are probably the most genuine real people characters in the series, and they do a good job of keeping their emotions guarded instead of breaking down into sobbing drama-tastic fits, and they react well even to the worst situations.

My favorite part of the volume, actually, was the short story at the end which was about Alfonzo and Sancia and an incident in their childhood. That story was quite excellent.


Cantarella 8

Once again, I’m conflicted as to how I feel about this volume.  When I finished, it felt like nothing happened.  But when I look back, there were a lot of… relationship politics that were played out in this volume.

Now, while I’m glad Lucrezia is serving a purpose other than crying, I’m sad to see Chiaro separated from Cesare.  Cesare isn’t really featured too prominently in this volume other than to get more creepy, but his creepy attendant Volpe is sent after Chiaro to whip the tar out of him.

There was a new character introduced who will be a future husband for Lucrezia.  I actually really liked him, he’s pretty clever and seems to comically get himself and others out of sticky situations.  I hope that Lucrezia eventually winds up with him, because he seems like the kind of person who will put everything right.

I also liked Chiaro’s frequent angst-ridden scenes where he regrets his sin of leaving his master.  He admits he can fight for no other when someone tries to draft him, so I hope he’ll wind up back in Caesare’s good graces eventually.  Well, at the very least it means he hasn’t forsaken Cesare entirely.  And it looks like Cesare may miss him.


Cantarella 7

Oh my God, it went there!  Finally, after all this time, we finally get a BL scene.  There’s your payoff for putting up with seven volumes of exposition with occasional action.  You may think the compensation is a little weak, and you’d be right.  You get some followup angst, but really… I want more.  I’m torn between what “more” I want though, because I could get “more” from two characters.

So how’s this volume?  Well, significantly better, to be honest.  We finally get a lot of development romantically for Lucrezia, and Chiaro is used quite effectively this time around.  Cesare takes a back seat for the most part, but appears just enough to remind you he can be a scary dude.  We get lots of action as well, and a lot of the things that have been set up in the past are finally seeing the light of day.  For instance, Cesare is finally given free reign to do whatever he wants with the Borgia Empire (or whatever), and while that doesn’t mean anything just yet… history says he goes on a fantastic rampage.  Let’s see if that happens.

Lucrezia is still a big dishrag.  I hate her, but I kind of like her romance.  On the other hand, I would like another romance with her partner and to see her cast off into family pawn territory and never spoken of again, because it seems like the story would be much less tiresome that way.

I know this series is on hold for the time being while she draws another series in Princess.  I’m not sure how many volumes we have left (maybe 3?), but I hope we get some regular story pacing set up after this volume.  I’m finally growing to like this series.


Cantarella 6

ARGH.  My love/hate relationship with this series continues.  We lapsed back into wrestling with demonic control.  I like Cesare, I just wish he’d do something more interesting.  I REALLY wish he’d start wars and stuff like he’s supposed to, but he continues to manipulate characters in a delightful way, so I guess that’ll be okay for now until the demon business is sorted out.  Plus, at least now the demonic possession thing is manifesting itself on a physical level, so that’s pretty cool too.

Most importantly in this volume though, Chiaro and Lucrezia!  I was rooting for some interaction, and there’s quite a bit of payoff in that respect.  It’s still weird to see Lucrezia Borgia portrayed as such a wet blanket girly girl since that’s not at all how I’ve seen her done before.  It’d be even better though if she mans up down the line.

They also still insist on this Cesare/Chiaro pair, and the two pine for each other throughout the volume as they are separated for most of the time.  I am also fine with this, but this is more just something that is hinted at and necessary than a romantic pair, really.


Cantarella 5

HERE!  Here we finally get some action and decent drama that makes sense.  I can wrap my brain around a solid (finally) love triangle between Chiaro, Cesare, and Lucrezia.  I cannot wrap my brain around dramatic struggles between Cesare trying not to let demons take over his body… even though he is clearly evil… and invites it sometimes.  The end to said incomprehensible stuff is in this volume, and the resolution to the takeover demons is anticlimatic, but maybe we don’t have to hear about it anymore.

Plenty of action in Chiaro getting captured and tortured, and lots of action when the Duke of Grandia and Cesare finally have it out.  Lots of romantic intrigue with Lucrezia floating around and Jofre’s wife being some sort of tramp, and just… lots of stuff.  I like Cesare a lot now.  This was never the case before.  I also like Chiaro a lot too, but I’ve liked him all along.

Finally the series has gotten good!  Unfortunately this is the last volume I had though, so I had to wade through plenty of bad to get here.  Take that as you will.


Cantarella 4

For the lack of Lucrezia last volume, you get a LOT of her this time.  Except, contrary to what most accounts of Lucrezia say, this Lucrezia is a weepy doormat that doesn’t do anything except lament her fate as an arranged bride for her dad to do whatever with and lust for Cesare.  It’s definitely a minus.  There’s one page in particular which… is so weepy shoujo it makes me question the merit of the series.  Noone draws pages like that without it being a total parody of something like Aim for the Ace.  Lucrezia would make a much better ruthless character, which is a shame.

Not much goes on outside of Lucrezia’s crying.  Cesare and Chiaro stare longingly at each other a few times, taunting readers with things that will never be.  Also, Cesare totally sets his annoying brother up for a fall, which is awesome.  How anyone else thought that said brother WASN’T being set up for a fall is beyond me, but whatever.

The plot is still confusing as hell, though.  Cesare can either be a demon or not be a demon, and we can either have the conquest of Italy or not, but we can not constantly have references to Cesare trying not to be a demon while Italy is being conquered.  It makes for too many lame things going on at once.

This series is definitely better in chunks, because there are so many characters it’s easier to keep track of them and what they are doing when reading several volumes at once.


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