Silver Diamond 4

August 26, 2009

Shiho Sugiura – Tokyopop – 2009 – 17+ volumes

On one hand, I still adore the fantasy world that this series is set in.  The characters cross back over to the desert world here, and the political unrest and ecosystem problems have lots and lots of potential.  Add to that the fact that the main characters have drifted into a den of “numbered children” – basically the unwanted extras from their respective families of all social standings – and really, you can see the series is just getting started.

Action has entered the picture in this volume too, and since it is enhanced by things like guns that fire plants, crossbows that grow from seeds, and mysterious swords, that element is shaping up to be pretty awesome.  The action scene upon re-entering the desert world was the highlight of the volume for me, and in addition to the weird weaponry used, we begin to see the strangeness of the character’s background come into play, like Chigusa being a monster or Narushige’s noble status.

The downside is… well, Rakan is lame.  He’s always asking for group hugs.  Always asking for people not to kill.  Even when bandits are surging forward with swords, nobody’s allowed to hurt them.  The other characters want nothing more than to indulge Rakan.  I can see how he’s supposed to be a bright spot in an otherwise dreary and disturbing world, but… there were just too many scenes where he would pipe up with a naive demand that everyone would be initially shocked by, then wind up doing happily anyway.

The lame hugs were really too much, though.  I know this has been going on the entire series, but I think I just didn’t notice it as much until the characters were all thrown into the desert with bandits stalking them.  The hugs seem less appropriate.

But Rakan’s lameness is balanced out by his plant power and the fact he baffles everyone by looking exactly like the Prince, and I’m more than willing to put up with group hugs when the premise is this good.  It’ll take a lot more than that to turn me off Silver Diamond, which is moving slowly but surely into “fantastic shoujo fantasy manga” territory.

Silver Diamond 3

June 29, 2009

Ooh, nice!  Very nice!  Lots of plot is laid out here, and the vague hints that have been dropped thus far begin to shape up into what appears to be a pretty intricate fantasy plot.  I’m not unhappy with anything I saw in this volume, and everything from the death of worlds to twins the polar opposite of each other to characters that appear as both heroes and villains… Silver Diamond has it all.  I am so impressed.  Even better, it’s definitely taking its time about setting all this up.  Normally a shoujo series with this much to say would be rushed through all its exposition, but apparently the exposition will continue through volume four, and then the plot will begin to move forward.  Excellent, excellent stuff.

I was a little put off at first with what seemed like a forced relationship between Chigusa and Rakan.  Of all the things this series doesn’t do well, its requisite fanservice is one of them, which is truly amazing.  I like to think it’s because it’s so awesome that it can’t pander to an audience.  There are a lot of strange, forced scenes between Chigusa and Rakan.  I then realized that these scenes were kind of bad because Chigusa doesn’t have any emotions, and that everything he was saying was supposed to sound hollow and forced, which took things to a new level of meta/awesomeness… but didn’t quite explain Rakan’s strange reactions.  I remembered this during a rather nice scene between Chigusa and Rakan towards the end of the volume, and while I’m still not that big a fan of the couple, I can mostly forgive all the awkwardness between them since there are reasons in the story for it.

So… yeah, pretty much, I’m going to read volume four right now, because I want to see where else the plot goes.  I’m pretty excited, because apparently the life-sucking prince now has a sanome, and is all ready to recreate the world with people of his choosing… who may or may not be misfits?… but at any rate, everyone’s about to cross dimensions to stop him.  All the little sub-races and numbered people also have yet to be explained, and what has been established for, say, the Narushige tribe might turn out to be a lie too, and…

Yeah.  Anyway.  I’m going to go read more.  Awesome stuff, this Silver Diamond.

Silver Diamond 2

June 10, 2009

I liked the first volume so much I immediately picked up the second as soon as I finished writing the review.

You know, this series strikes a fine balance between plot and shounen ai.  Every time I think the shounen ai is too much and/or not really all that good a fit for the situation, more of the plot is revealed and I am distracted by how good it is.  The pace helps a lot.  Most of what is going on is kept a mystery, including who Narushige is, why everyone calls Chigusa a monster, and what exactly the deal is with the other world.  We get a lot of background in this volume, and some of those questions are answered, but the bigger questions, like what Rakan’s link to the other world is, and what the prince of that world is plotting, are left for later.  It’s great, and written in a way that makes you want to keep reading.

The character development is coming along slowly, though.  I like Rakan because of his initial cheery introduction, but he becomes rather moody in this volume and actually loses some of what made his personality unique last time.  Chigusa is just a cool character in general, but he lacks emotion and personality because of it.  Narushige is stoic and seems to like his distance, so he;s something of a blank slate at the moment, too.  On one hand, Narushige and Chigusa’s personalities don’t really bother me, but on the other hand, I feel like more exciting characters would make things better.

It’s still a pretty addictive series, but I hope there’s more character development in the next volume.  I don’t have volume 3 yet, but the fact I ordered it immediately after I finished this probably means that this is somewhat better than a lot of other stuff I’m reading now, even with its slight flaws.

Silver Diamond 1

June 9, 2009

I’ve heard that this was a really fun series, so I decided to try it out during the most recent Tokyopop sale at the Right Stuf.

It’s good!  I initially rejected it because… well, I’ve been burned on a lot of series with shounen ai overtones.  Usually awkward relationship developments take the place of shaky plots, and they generally don’t make for a good read.  But Silver Diamond was different.  Silver Diamond was a fantasy series with only the barest hints of shounen ai, and I can live with that.

I quite liked the take on dimensional travel.  Chigusa, a man from another time and place, winds up in Rakan’s yard one day, and Rakan decides to take care of him.  Chigusa doesn’t know a lot of the words or customs of this world, and full advantage is taken when he doesn’t understand things like alarm clocks, bathing, plantlife, water, et cetera.  The story succeeds because it doesn’t make jokes about this.  Chigusa isn’t reacting with comical shock to every little thing.  He freely admits to not knowing how to do anything, and simply listens to Rakan’s instructions and follows them faithfully.  Chigusa also reveals that Rakan has the power to make plants instantly grow, a treasured skill where Chigusa comes from since they seem to lack plants and also fight with guns make out of trees.  For his part, Rakan takes the appearance of the man quite well, not questioning his origin too much, and the two reach a somewhat quiet coexistence.

A third character with a talking snake appears in order to to spice things up.  The talking snake is the one that makes the expected jokes, except the jokes still aren’t quite what you would imagine (the snake attacks the stove, for instance, because it is shooting fire, and the story itself makes jokes at the expense of the snake when it starts making expected comments about television).  But with the new character, we find out that Rakan is likely from the same world as the other two men.  We also find out that Chigusa is something of an outlaw in that world, and that Rakan has some tie to the prince of that world since the two of them look exactly alike.

Not much has been revealed about the fantasy world yet, but some interesting stuff about Chigusa comes out at the end of the volume, which is when the shounen ai overtones started.  As I said, I didn’t mind so much, because by that time the plot had developed a fairly interesting start, and it happened immediately after the really cool Chigusa stuff.  I’m not sure how well it fits just yet (it appears to be tacked on at the moment), but perhaps it will sell me on it in later volumes.

It’s pretty good.  Nothing special just yet, but it’s a good start.