Good things come to those who wait. (Or those who’s packages get held up at the border)
Story: In the afterword, Yukako Kabei sums pretty a lot up. It’s the same as the past two volumes, “it’s a story about a girl a girl with a complicated personality and and a man with a tiresome personality, getting together and getting separated”. It’s other fundamental elements that occurred in the previous volumes as well. Another Undying is met or learned about and the Corporal is broken and left speechless for a good part of the novel. So, if you’ve read the first two books the pattern the series sets for itself should be abundantly clear. Another interesting note in the afterward that I had noticed myself was that, because they stay in one city, the episodic pattern of the previous books is lost somewhat and it changes the tone of the book, slightly. This volume, also touched upon in the afterward, has a great sci-fi feel to it than it’s predecessors almost as if such a thing couldn’t be addressed until they stopped moving for a bit.
Picking up from White Wake on the Sand, our heroes Harvey and Kieli (with the possessed radio Corporal) have settled down in a town near the desert. Kieli gets a job working at a cafe owned by friendly woman and her grumpy husband whom Kieli adores. As usual, spirits appear and Harvey and Kieli manage to help them pass on. After that, we meet a female Undying named Beatrix. She disapproves of Kieli and Harvey staying together and tries to get Harvey to leave Kieli behind. In the process, Harvey and the Corporal get into a fight and Kieli is injured. After throwing away the radio and going to retrieve it, Harvey ends up on the ruins of an old spacecraft after escaping from those working for the church. As in past volumes, Harvey is injured very seriously, Kieli shows up, touching scenes are had, etc. Something different happens in this grave injury to Harvey though that is different from the past volumes. While we learn quite a bit about the cores that sustain the Undying, we are also lead to believe that Harvey’s core has broken. At the time, it may not seem like a too consequential thing but if you’ve visited the Yen Press website and looked at the Kieli novel page, you can form your own ideas. (And I’m not done on that subject either)
Characters: This was a really good volume for Harvey, of all people. In the second volume (Sand), he was cold and stand-offish. In this volume, while starting the same way, he is able to develop more when Kieli is injured and the the extent of which how much he cares is really revealed. Also, in the end when Harvey leaves Kieli and Beatrix, I didn’t see it so much as a thing of abandonment. It didn’t seem like he was going to leave and wander listlessly, it seemed her would return for Kieli’s sake (for lake of better phrasing). Of course I might have just read that ending differently and it’s all wishful thinking in my head. I didn’t much like Beatrix at first but I warmed up to her after she stopped being a giant bitch. Kieli addressed it to but I was also shocked that there were female Undying. Kieli was the same as usual, I didn’t see much character growth in her. I think I’ll need to reread though because I’m sure that’s not true entirely. She did seem unusually mature.
Art: Sand was slightly longer but it seemed as if there were way more illustrations. Besides the initial colored spread which was just cheap in Prisoners. The illustrator, Shunsuke Taue, seems to be improving steadily. It still isn’t the catchiest thing to look at but it’s oddly fitting. I do still prefer the manga illustrations though which held much more character to them.
Spoilers: I wanted to add this without cluttering another section up because this has been bugging me for weeks. In searching for the release date of the fourth book on Kieli’s page on Yen Press’s website, I happened to glance the description to the fourth novel. Now. This wouldn’t have been a big thing if Prisoners had been released for a couple weeks but it reveals a big part of the ending to Prisoners. Perhaps I’m taking this out of proportion but we won’t know until the fourth book comes out? But really? I’m just pissed. Had I not known what happens in the very last three pages of the book, it would have been a major shock to me! I guess maybe I’m just being a nit-picky woman.
Overall: A solid volume. I liked it better than Sand which seemed to distort the characters and their motives a lot. I really can’t say anything I haven’t said before about the series as a whole so I’d like to make some thoughts on the description the the fourth volume. Like a prediction, only not. I’m ready for the timeskip. I can tell you that much. I think Beatrix cuts her hair but Kieli’s grows. Awwwyeah. Ahem, I mean well… the whole time unkind to Harvey thing makes me think that because his core is supposedly broken that he might start to age or act more mortal? If it’s so noticeable that it’s in the description (it wouldn’t be the first time the description to Kieli has been misleading) than he ages even more than Kieli? As if it’s been built up? I hope not but maybe he’s just in worse for wear shape? I’m also disappointed about the announced lack of Corporal. WHY CAN’T HE GET A BREAK? HE’S ONE OF THE MOST AWESOME CHARACTERS? Ahem. Well, since the ninth volume still shows Kieli and Harvey together I assume he doesn’t get replaced. Man, three volumes in and if you told me I’d have to watch another relationship unfold, I would be pissed. My poor shipping heart wouldn’t be able to take that. Anyways, some people (who are less fanatical about the series) might get tired of the recycled routine and bad pacing. But if you really loved the first two volumes, you’ll continue to really love this one.
Fang’s Rating: 9/10