Betrayal Knows My Name 2

December 15, 2011

Hotaru Odagiri – Yen Press – 2011 – 9+ volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 3-4

Guess what happens in this volume? Come on! Give up?

Betrayal! Oh, there’s such a big betrayal!

I was waiting for this. I began to be suspicious when the character just kept showing up uninvited everywhere. There’s no reason for that type of character to appear after the story has begun, so I knew he was hanging around for a reason. There was no surprise, but I was awarded with the major sadness that accompanies the switch.

I also like that a major part of the story seems to be that the characters have to sit around and obsess over each other in “forbidden” relationships. It’s not really romance. They all stop just a hair short of being romantic relationships. But seriously. Why else would there be an entire volume of Hotsuma and Shuusei getting through a “difficult time” together and coming to so many “conclusions” about their partnership? I mean, the story didn’t come right out and say it, and I assume that’s because Asuka isn’t a BL magazine, but it’s really hard for me to believe those two aren’t supposed to be a couple after this volume. There’s plenty of “hints” between Tsukumo and Tooko, the brother/sister pair, as well, but that’s less glaringly obvious than the Hotsuma and Shuusei relationship.

Anyway. Volume one is all about the disappearances and “Sleeping Beauty” cases that the crew has been investigating in relation to possible opast attacks. Meanwhile, Yuki tries to get closer to Shuusei and Hotsuma. Hotsuma is especially difficult to get close to, since he’s hot-headed and is carrying resentment towards Yuki from their past lives. Hotsuma is also having trouble in his partnership with Shuusei, and we learn through several flashbacks that during Hotsuma’s difficult childhood, Shuusei was the one that helped him through the difficult times. After working things out with Yuki, Shuusei disappears, and Hotsuma and Yuki wind up wandering into the middle of an opast trap in order to save him and the victims of the disappearances. It is here that Yuki and the rest of the Zweilt finally meet Reiga, the one that betrayed the Giou clan to side with the opasts.

Oh, Reiga. You are now my favorite character. It definitely doesn’t hurt that he got one of the coolest fights yet, between himself and Takashiro.

The second volume in the omnibus mostly just deals with the fallout from the major betrayal, plus some more of Hotsuma and Shuusei sitting around and talking with each other about themselves. You know. Their real feelings for one another. At this point, these scenes just made me laugh. I knew that the fangirls were being baited. I’m just not sure why. There’s also lots of scenes where the characters talk about how much they like Yuki. Several characters admit they love him. But it’s clearly not the same as the love they share with their partners. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Luka. He was sadly under-utilized in this volume, but he’s also one of my favorites, so I’ll probably complain about that every time. I just can’t help myself when it comes to dark, brooding demons.

Towards the end, Yuki finally gets to visit Takashiro’s mansion, and he meets yet another zweilt pair. This pair is the best yet. One is a bespectacled rookie that drives despite having a terrible sense of direction, and the other is a very temperamental shogi pro. Yuki misunderstands their relationship as master/servant at first. Everything that the shogi pro does is hilarious. While the beginning of this omnibus had me thinking there might be a few too many characters floating around at the moment, these are the only two new one’s we’ve seen since volume one, and they’re a welcome addition.

As convoluted as the plot and characters sound (I know I’m not doing a good job of summarizing), it’s hard to deny that this is exactly the type of series I like to read. It’s still hard for me to shake the X vibes I picked up after reading the first omnibus, but that’s not really a bad thing. UraBoku is a whole lot different in just about every way (plot, characters, relationships, et cetera, though it’s hard not to think of Fuma when Reiga first appears), and reading it while thinking of X reminds me that this type of series requires patience. The characters and relationships are interesting, and the fights are fun to read, mostly because Odagiri really knows how to draw. Her art is pretty, and she puts a lot of work into detail and composition, especially during the fight scenes. It’s hard to deny that that is a big part of why I like this series so much. She’s also good at character and clothing designs, so there’s something to look at even when the characters aren’t fighting.

While I think that this series is probably a little too complex for casual readers, that the characters are a smidge on the shallow side, and a little talky to boot, it’s hard to deny that it can be a serious guilty pleasure for the right crowd. Again, it’s a shame it comes out so infrequently, since the details of the complex plot slip away from me in the big gaps, but the omnibus treatment is great since reading the story in big chunks is the way to go for something this complex. I love the action, I love the characters, and I love the pretty art. What can I say?

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