Itsuwaribito 4

November 10, 2011

Yuuki Inuma – Viz – 2011 – 9+ volumes

I’m still quite fond of this series, and I’m glad that this volume got back to what the story does best, Utsuho getting the better of random bad guys while on the road, instead of the plot about the Itsuwaribito island. In this volume, Utsuho goes up against a magician, so it’s a battle of illusions versus lies. The magician looks down on Utsuho, which, after four volumes, we know is never good for anybody.

Utsuho and company come across a cult, and the group is nearly killed when Utsuho calls the leader out on his obvious tricks that are being interpreted as “miracles.” The good guys think to just leave it alone, but when they find out that the cult is scamming people out of money, they decide to unmask the leader. Utsuho takes things one step further and tells the members of the cult to make their own “miracles:” find their own jobs, get their own wives, and make their own money. But the leader is the real problem. Is he just a man that wants to help people with the power of positive thinking, and is being manipulated by one of his top members, or is the top member being manipulated by the leader?

Either way, Utsuho has a battle of wits with the magician and professional fraudster behind the cult. The fights in this series are a touch cerebral, in that the characters have to talk their way in and around their tricks. I still love that Utsuho can build lies upon lies in order to mask his intents in a fight, and that his opponent is a magician makes things that much better in this volume.

One thing I’m a little unsure of is the budding romance element. Utsuho seems oblivious to the fact that Neya is falling in love with him. This isn’t a major plot point, and I hope it doesn’t develop further. Neya isn’t a very developed or fleshed-out character. In fact, that’s probably one of the series’ weaknesses. Utsuho is a show-stealer, so his traveling companions Neya and Yakuma only ever get to act as foils, the worst kind of shounen manga “friend” to have in your party. At least the party numbers aren’t increasing as of yet.

Again, I have to admit to a recent fondness for most of Shounen Sunday’s shounen action titles, and Itsuwaribito is one of the series that made me realize my love for them. It’s a solid read, with a crafty main character and interesting fights. The side characters are very weak, and I have to admit the plot isn’t really moving anywhere very fast, but it’s enough for me to watch Utsuho at work, and I think it’s a great series for any shounen manga fan.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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