Yuhki Kamatani – Yen Press – 2011 – 14 volumes
I read the first volume of this series, and I remember it being a slightly silly ninja adventure/fighting manga. The story was about convincing Miharu, who was born with secret ninja arts in his body, to join up with a specific ninja clan, or take any interest whatsoever, and it was kinda cute. I didn’t think I would have much trouble diving back in, but it turns out I was wrong. There are about a thousand characters wandering around in this volume, and at least three or four different interests at work among them.
The humor is completely gone, which I found crushing. Instead of being completely indifferent, Miharu is drawn up into the battle with a friend who wants Miharu to use his secret ninja arts to kill him. Miharu has aligned himself with Yoite, apparently, but during this volume there is a struggle and Miharu can no longer carry out Yoite’s wishes and he uses the secret arts anyway and it’s all so sad and serious, in addition to being very complicated.
But the focus wasn’t often on Miharu, who was my horse in this race, so I found my attention drifting when the action cut around to about three different battle scenes full of characters who didn’t really do anything except spout ideology at one another and fight. Much of the action here was a wash for me, which is my fault for jumping in at what is clearly the climax to a longer story arc. But it can’t be more than a volume or two long, because I only skipped over five volumes. I’m a little hard-pressed to believe that all these characters and their viewpoints have been given equal time and fleshed out appropriately. But maybe I’m wrong.
The actual climax to this story, which involves the elderly head of the school the characters are fighting in, was pretty interesting. There’s a twist involving the motivations of the villains, and a character turns out not to be what she seemed, et cetera. These parts were interesting, even without having read or known anything prior to this volume.
Ninja action isn’t really my thing, especially when it involves a boatload of characters in volume seven. I didn’t really like this volume, but I also skipped over quite a bit of story, and can admit it’s not really for me. I was sad to see the humor I enjoyed in the first volume had vanished, but maybe that was just because of the story climax. If you like shounen action, this is definitely status quo.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.
Ooh, more ninjas. I haven’t had any ninja action since I read Tail of the Moon, and to be honest, Nabari no Ou has a bit more to do with ninjas than that series did.
The best thing about this series so far is Rokujou, the main character. The plot of the series is basically that Rokujou was born with the super-secret ninja wisdom inside him, and that ninjas are starting to come after him to try and claim the wisdom for themselves. The thing is, Rokujou doesn’t care. He really, really does not care. He doesn’t even try to argue or act out against all this ninja weirdness invading his life. He simply walks away, often in the middle of a conversation. It’s a good gag, and it works really well since Rokujou sticks with his indifference throughout the entire volume and never comically overreacts or shows any emotion whatsoever.
His teacher, Kumohira, and a classmate named Aizawa try to teach Rokujou ninja techniques for his own good to try and get him to defend himself and help with the extraction of the ninja art from his body and/or master the art so that he can become the “Nabari no Ou,” or king of the hidden ninja world. Not only does he blow off their sincere concerns for his safety, most of the ninja techniques he learns in this volume are things like ninja substitution and veil techniques that get him away from the two of them as fast as possible.
There are other jokes in the series, but not many, and Rokujou’s indifference was enough to make this a pretty funny book. The plot is fairly serious, however, and throughout the first volume, things like Kumohira making a vow to protect Rokujou’s life and the attack and deaths of several people in a ninja villiage come up. Rokoujo doesn’t want any of this to happen to him, of course, but… you know, it kind of does anyway. The tragic angle hasn’t really come up yet, but after the Fuma village slayings at the end of the volume, I have a feeling Rokujou will be more serious next time.
The ninja techniques are pretty cool. You have everything from throwing stars and kunai to the veil and substitution techniques I mentioned earlier, swords, hand-to-hand combat, and even some ki manipulation. The action scenes are pretty fast-paced and easy to follow, and haven’t really overwhelmed the story as of yet. I’m hoping that it stays out of the realm of tournament-style series, but that depends on how long it is. As of now, there’s quite a bit of plot, so there’s a good chance a lot of the story might just be a lot of the same silly keep-away that was going on in this volume. If so, that would be great, because this was a pretty solid first volume.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.