Himemiko plans to marry Nishiki — can the human Kotaro stop it in time?
Story/Art: Julietta Suzuki
Translation/Adaptation: Tomo Kimura
What They Say:
Himemiko is convinced that her human boyfriend Kotaro could never love her in her true form, and that dating a yokai will only put him in danger. Even though she feels she can no longer see him, she vows to avenge the wounds he suffered at the hands of Nishiki of Inuaki Swamp. But Himemiko and Nishiki have been engaged since they were young. Will her quest for revenge bring all-out war to the swamps?
Content: (please note that the content portion of a review may contain spoilers)
Starting exactly where the last volume left off, Tomoe and Himemiko are in Inunaki Swamp, with Tomoe demanding to know where Nanami is. While Shiranui, Nishiki’s trusted servant, soon brings her out, it’s clear to everyone (except Tomoe, the one that counts) that this is not the real Nanami, only a replacement taking on her body to ensure that the wedding takes place. Himemiko, meanwhile, seems oddly calm, and seemingly inexplicably agrees to marry Nishiki — until she gets him alone, and attempts to wound him in revenge for his harming Kota, the human she loves. These feelings actually draw the previously bratty Nishiki more towards her, and after she calms down Himemiko again agrees to marry him, this time because she has no hope that Kotaro will come back to her, and Nishiki seems to understand her more than most.
Meanwhile, there’s quite a bit of sneaking around going on, starting with Mizuki and Nanami’s shikigami. Not fooled by the fake, the two begin to look for their master, only to find her in the body of a frog. Before they can get away, they’re all trapped by the fake Nanami, but lucky for them there are two other party crashers. Ryu-oh has brought Kotaro into Inunaki Swamp, and while Ryu-oh goes off with the servant Aoi to find Nanami (he still has to deliver his wife’s furisode) and with his overblown attacks manages to bust them loose. While this is happening, Kotaro gets a very dramatic entrance, stopping the wedding just in time and winning Himemiko back. While Shiranui is ready to put a stop to that, Nishiki won’t let him — this is, after all, the only time he’s seen Himemiko smile, and he doesn’t want to take that away.
Like a lot of the gentler story arcs in this manga, this bit ends without anyone resembling a real villain. Shiranui’s temper, and insistence on controlling Nishiki’s actions, honestly had me convinced that he had something sinister up his sleeve, but after a heart-to-heart with frog-Nanami, it seems he has the same problem as many of the other characters: he doesn’t know how to express his love to a person that he cares about, in this case his beloved master Nishiki. This does mean that this arc feels like it doesn’t do much to affect the overall plot of the series, but it does allow it to be simply a fun story.
Kotaro’s character redeems himself a little bit after his rejection of Himemiko in the last volume, as he makes a point of telling her that he likes her, even after she uses her powers and turns back into a catfish. I am mildly disappointed in Himemiko, as she seems initially embarrassed when she takes on her true form, and later wants to return to the restrictive human form for Kotaro — though that’s mostly so she can go to the movies with him, which actually does make it a lot better. Tomoe and Nanami don’t have much in the way of character growth themselves. If anything, Nanami takes a bit of a step backwards, becoming jealous when Mizuki says Tomoe was flirting with the girls in the Inunaki swamp, and anxiously hoping that she doesn’t run into Tomoe while she’s stuck in the frog body. Tomoe’s biggest moment (if you don’t count the twist at the end) is when he scares Gamako’s soul out of Nanami’s body by basically aggressively coming on to her, which inevitably leads to an awkward moment when Nanami returns to her body before Tomoe realizes it. Basically, not a great volume for the main pair.
Overall, this was a very sweet volume. Yes, the outcome of Himemiko and Kotaro’s love story was too easy to predict, but it’s heartwarming to see two people pick each other despite obstacles. Plus, this story is something that’s needed to reflect the main love story and highlight that Tomoe is just making excuses. The main characters still disappoint a bit just like last volume, with both of them being pulled out of the way enough that they don’t do much, if anything, to affect the plot, with their biggest scene being a moment of such pure awkwardness it warrants putting the book aside for a moment. Added to that, the twist at the end comes far too suddenly, confusingly hooking itself onto the end of the Himemiko arc. But, while it’s blunt, it’s something readers have likely been waiting for, and it will likely bring our main characters back into the forefront and up the drama for the next volume.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: August 6th, 2013