Dawn of the Arcana 2

July 17, 2012

Rei Toma – Viz – 2012 – 10+ volumes

I had to go back and grab the second volume of this one before continuing. As I’ve said before, well-written shoujo fantasy like this is a weakness of mine, and I like where the “visions of the future” angle is going in this series.

That part is downplayed in volume two, however, in favor of character development. I didn’t mind at all, as the characters were in need of a bit more direction at the end of the first, very interesting, volume. Nakaba is a stranger in a strange land, resentful of the harsh treatment she is receiving at the hands of her husband’s family, and she acts suspicious. Her guard is hostile, which is due both to the fact that Nakaba is being antagonized and that he is subjected to the series’ particular brand of racism (as a beastman, he is of a “lesser caste” than the royal family). And Caesar, Nakaba’s future husband, is alternately antagonistic and charming. Here, those character sketches are taken in a very shoujo-tastic direction, with romance developing between Caesar and Nakaba, despite the instincts of both Nakaba and Loki (her guard). To Caesar’s credit, his efforts to win Nakaba over are genuine, and by the end of the volume, you feel bad for the poor guy.

Alternately, while Caesar and his family are made to be the bad guys in volume one, it’s Loki’s cold logic that puts the reader off in volume two. There’s nothing terribly treacherous or complicated as of yet, but I still like the slight change of perspective so far.

And again, Toma’s writing is quite good, and the details of her fantasy world are slowly coming to light. I like less complicated, easy-to-understand fantasy worlds like this, especially if they take a turn for the expansive once the story establishes itself. This feels very much like that, and I’m curious to see how things begin to shape up in volume two.

I’m still really into this series. Volume two didn’t grab me like the great beginning in volume one, but I am happy to see the story getting legs and moving somewhere. I’m glad I snagged this volume before moving on with the rest of the series, and I’ll probably pick up volume four before five gets here shortly. If you’re into shoujo fantasy, this is probably one of the better current series running at the moment.

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