Wow. I didn’t realize this was the last volume. It did not play out at all like I thought it would. There were two endings, the nice ending where everything worked out like it should in a shoujo series, and then Jimmy’s dream. With the message of conservation that the series was built on, it almost seems like Jimmy’s dream was the real end to the series and the nice one was the fairy tale. If that makes sense. Comparing the two seems like the book’s final message, like the author asks you to think about which one was actually the dream. Elements of Jimmy’s dream are genuine historical events and the nice ending was… well, basically only possible because of fairy tale magic, which the entire series was also based on, in a sense, and there is the fact that it was a fictitious story with only the barest hints at reality throughout. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I liked that both endings were there. I’ve never seen another series draw to a close like this, and it is a fantastic twist on tradition.
In short, this series was good all the way through. It’s truly bizarre in a way that very few other series manage to touch, and the mix of fairy tales and history that come true at the very end, the mismatched romances, the gender identity issues, and the environmental messages… all of it was tied together superbly. I truly wish CMX would publish more by Reiko Shimizu, especially Kaguya Hime. I don’t think they will, because I suspect Moon Child sold poorly, but there is a solution to this: BUY MOON CHILD. It is fantastic. You won’t regret it. Forgive it the bizarre racial stereotype for the matriarch of the mermaids.
I’m going to talk about the ending a bit more specifically now, so I’m going to mark it clearly for spoilers.
I was pretty blown away by the “reality” ending. It was incredibly harsh. All three of the Jimmy siblings wind up with dead lovers, and then are simultaneously wiped out since they are all close to the blast. Pretty much the entire book leads you to believe that the “Jimmy’s Dream” ending was the real one, and I was quite confused when the fairly tale ending started after the Chernobyl blast. Shonach and Seth’s story was probably the saddest, since they both got what they wanted in the end, and there’s the possibility that Shonach would have survived if Seth had only revealed that he’d turned into Benjamin and was really Seth and not Jimmy. Shonach’s suicide when he tells Benjamin that Seth was the one he loved was absolutely heartbreaking.
On the flip side, Teruto got what was coming to him. Poor Rita finally snaps, and she comes back to commit lover’s suicide with Teruto. Of course she tries to do the right thing by stopping the tests at Chernobyl, but nothing short of Teruto’s verbal command can stop it. Too bad that she tells him that Seth is in town right before he dies. This did a good job of keeping the cruel edge to the series all the way to the end. It’s hard not to like the cruelty that’s offered throughout.
Art kills himself because he can’t bring himself to live with the fact Jimmy has destructive power and that he can’t stop loving her. This wasn’t really added to in this volume (most of this takes place during the climax of the last volume), but we do get to see the aftermath of Art’s stabbing. Little Jimmy crying over the death was pretty heartbreaking.
Then… magically, everything is better, everyone got what they wanted, and there is a happy ending with a new generations of mermaids living their life. I wasn’t all that comfortable with this solution (complete with characters explaining away obvious plotholes, like how Seth and Shonach had a child and that the power of love kept everyone alive), which is why I was delighted when Jimmy began having her dream.
I thought this series was actually 14 volumes long, but it looks like the next volume will be the last. That’s probably for the best, because this volume was pretty slow. It makes sense if the next volume is the last though, because a lot of time was spent discussing the setup for and possible consequences of the meltdown of Chernobyl.
Shonach shows up in Kiev and he and Seth get together to puzzle over the Teruto/Gil Owen mystery. I don’t think either of them quite figure it out, but Shonach may be on the brink. They wind up… otherwise engaged before too long, though.
The character introduced last volume actually does have ties to Art. He actually makes Art question his sanity. This ties in with Benjamin being tortured beyond her limit by Teruto. She thinks she will cause the meltdown, and starts provoking Art so that he’ll kill her.
It ends on one of the worst cliffhangers I’ve ever seen. I know the next volume is the last and all, but… those last two pages were really harsh.
This series is just so unusual and such a joy to read. Nothing particularly bizarre happens this volume, but all the romances and betrayals are working at full time, and the weirdness is still there.
Most of what goes on in this volume is just character reactions to things. Teruto is still pressing Art to mistrust Benjamin, which is not doing much for either Art or Benjamin’s emotional state. Teruto also reveals his hand to Holly, who gets the hell out of the Ukraine as fast as she possibly can.
Teruto’s only miscalculation is when Seth shows up. He just can’t stand the thought of Seth finding out what he’s done. Teruto is a scary guy, so Benjamin isn’t all that inclined to tell Seth what’s up either.
I felt bad for Teruto’s secretary. She makes a couple huge sacrifices in order to please Teruto, all because she loves him. He is not so devoted to her, and it’s just… very sad.
A new character shows up at the end of the volume, a dancer who is to replace Holly, and he shows a lot of promise. He immediately decides Art is a jerk, even without knowing even a part of what’s going on. I’m inclined to agree with him. As much as I would love to see Art and Benjamin together while Shonach and Seth go on to fulfill whatever their mermaid role is, Art is really… just a jerk. A jerk who is full of love, but a jerk all the same.
I can’t help it. I just get so drawn into this bizarre little love story. I really, REALLY hope CMX picks up another Reiko Shimizu story after this one, because her other stories sound equally insane.
The most romantic scene in the world occurs at the beginning of this volume. Any other series would’ve fallen flat on its face if a character had uttered “If I become female, I would like to lay your eggs,” but somehow, this set the mood even more here, and immediately afterwards things got even more steamy. Well, not steamy in a sexual way. Steamy in a romantic tension way. Something tells me I don’t want to have anything to do with the sorts of fish/human hybrid sex the characters may or may not have. Still, talk of spawning doesn’t ruin the romance, which is the mark of quality in my opinion.
It’s hard to talk about these volumes without spoiling them. I like them, and I would like to convey that in the most sincere way possible, but I can’t do that without discussing the plot details and ruining it for anyone who may be following along. The only other thing I feel comfortable talking about is Art, who may be one of the most frustrating male leads ever. I WANT Art and Benjamin/Jimmy to get together so bad. Benjamin wants this. Art wants this. Art just… he just stops himself. He stops himself from loving. It could be because he’s somehow superstitious or something. It could be because he’s lame. I don’t know. Either way, I’m angry with Art after the end of this volume. He’s going to need to pull off some real Boy Scout heroics to get back into my good books.
We get another big helping of plot development in this volume, but it doesn’t involve a lot of characters like the last volume did, just Art and Jimmy. We finally get the progress I’ve been missing for the past several volumes, ie Art finally opens his damn eyes.
Art doesn’t take things in because he wants to, though. Jimmy has to tell him what’s going on, and Art doesn’t actually believe it until Jimmy basically uses his powers blatantly in front of Art several times. The first time was actually kind of violent and disturbing in the context of the series, especially since I don’t like to imagine Jimmy hurting anybody. It worked well, because Art was thoroughly disturbed by exploding cameras as well.
There’s more disturbing things later, when Art compares Jimmy to a dog he had that bit people and he had to put to sleep as a kid. This was one really one of the most bizarre and upsetting conclusions Art could have possibly come to, and I can’t say there are many series that would have the main love interest consider putting the other to sleep like a dog. He doesn’t go about things in a way you would imagine though, and he tries to put an end to the danger in a really dramatic and over-the-top (but beautifully shoujo) manga way. This was easily one of the best scenes in the entire series so far, and it got across a lot of character emotion that… well, that most other series lack. You just don’t see a lot of other characters that do what Art did, for the reasons he did it. He’s a really well-written character.
What else… well, we finally get around to the Benjamin business. For awhile, Jimmy could only be Jimmy if Shonach gave him a kiss to change back from Benjamin. I like Jimmy better, but it seems like Benjamin may be around to stay. Art doesn’t really like it, and Holly HATES Benjamin. After Benjamin does something extremely Jimmy-like that’s just… not right in the body of a full-grown woman, Holly throws both her and Art out of her place.
Some feelings are left unresolved between Benjamin and Art (I don’t think Art really believes that Benjamin and Jimmy are the same person, still), but the reason I’m dying for the next volume at the moment has more to do with Shonach and Seth. It cut away from a kiss between the two that makes me wonder if maybe Seth can transform into a female as well. I would like that quite a bit, actually, even though it wouldn’t make very much sense given what’s been stated so far. Although… the two women who had been taking care of Jimmy, Teruto, and Seth were very woman-y and not the white-suit-wearing genderless people that the three boy-looking mermaids seem to be now, so maybe Teruto and Seth do have the ability to transform into females, sterile females, after they… I don’t know, hit puberty?
Teruto is just a creepy, creepy boy. He pulls off a number of weird tricks in this volume, including walking around on a supposedly ruined leg and scaring the crap out of Jimmy with illusions. Someone disappears, which I figured he’d do eventually. He’s definitely a dangerous person… much more so than the series had previously let on. It’s hard to believe that this psychopath is among the mermaids that have been introduced in the story so far, but here you have it.
There is an accident, and he uses that as leverage to get Art to agree to his dance tour. Art feels completely and totally in debt to Gil, to the point where he almost beats Jimmy when Jimmy doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. It’s always nice to see Art’s bizarre child abuse problem rear its ugly head, but he’s definitely learned to control it. Also back is the Grandmother. I’m sure we all missed her. She hasn’t been in the past few volumes, but she’s back, and still a real downer about Art and Jimmy, which I’ve resigned myself to at this point.
What else… Oh yes! Jimmy remembers his past! We are finally treated to a full flashback and most of an explanation to the really freaky stuff that’s been going on for the past 8 volumes. I’m not sure how good I feel about the payoff, but I definitely got a lot of enjoyment out of the flashback.
This series takes a really slow, leisurely pace most of the time. This is fine, because it really succeeds at weaving the bizarre, fantasy-filled alternate world, and I like that a lot of time is taken bonding the characters to one another. The slow pace is really to Moon Child’s credit. This volume was more plot development than any volume before it, ever, so it was sort of hard to take all these things in at once. Part of me hopes to keep finding out more and more, because there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but the other part of me hopes that it slows back down and takes its time after this.
This volume mostly concerns Benjamin. Art rejects her outright, so Benjamin stays with Shonach since she can’t turn back. Art misses Jimmy, Jimmy misses Art, Art acts out because of this. Seth and Benjamin seem to be on good terms, or at least better terms than Teruto and Benjamin. It’s weird to me that Teruto hasn’t gotten in touch with Seth yet, because the two of them are so close. Teruto knows about Seth and Shonach, and this was actually not as devastating as I thought it would be. It seemed to me that the two lived for each other, though obviously Teruto may have cared a bit more since he’s all about making deals with the devil to bring people back to life and all.
The devil knows what Teruto is thinking. Anyway, Benjamin spends a lot of time crying in Shonach’s apartment and missing Art, and Shonach can’t lay a hand on her since he’s not the one she loves. He has enough of being used, finally, so even Shonach eventually turns on Benjamin. On one hand, I kind of like this, because it’s aggravating to see a grown woman who is totally helpless without a man. On the other hand, it’s cute when she’s Jimmy.
We get to see more of Art dancing at the end too, which is always a plus.