Story: I’ve complained time and time again about the lack of attention Corporal gets and this time, the whole volume is an adventure about him (more or less). Corporal is being to short circuit. His spirit relies on his radio’s circuit board which is begining to fry and be destroyed because of his constant static shocks. This derails Kieli and Harvey from their time at the bar and their search for Beatrix to go and find a way to see if the Corporal can be restored or if it’s finally time for him to rest. Yukako Kabei states she wanted to do one last traveling (we’re on a train, we’re on a moving ship, we’re borrowing from past adventures) tale before the series comes to a conclusion.
And yes, here we are! Drawing to a conclusion. The next volume is in April 2013 and the final volume is in September 2013. My, looking back when I first started this series it seemed like that time was so far away! And now here we are. I’m not sure how vocal I’ve been about my concerns leading up to the final books. We have our goals (find Beatrix, find Jude) and all that but what else? Well, Kieli’s dad! And a commenter did call it. Kieli’s dad is, apparently, the Eleventh Elder’s (Father Sigri’s) daughter. It would be a safe assumption to make then that the Elder that Julius encountered in volume five was Sigri himself. Sigri, also, has Beatrix. Which is what lead to Sigri seeking Kieli out. Since Beatrix claims that Sigri tried to ‘erase’ Setsuri and Kieli, I can’t see things boding well for her.
Characters: A few interesting developments, I suppose. We’re introduced to a new character though he’s gone by the end of the volume. He’s a dog creature (dog when he was alive, anyways) with part of an Undying core inside him from his previous owner. Now, I was fine with all this but when he sprouted bat-like wings to save Kieli and Harvey my suspension of disbelief was seriously shaken. But his carefree attitude and his lax outlook on killing was enjoyable and lended itself nicely to one of Kieli’s biggest things in this volume. I loved everything that occured from Kieli’s ax dream to her defending Harvey from the lady who had chained him up to giving Mane the OK to kill one of their attackers. Harvey’s reaction to Kieli’s order was also fantastic because Harvey having a reaction (particularly to Kieli) is always very welcome. It only spiraled more out of control when Kieli said she was totally fine with killing someone if it was to protect him. Harvey actually hits her, much to the shock of both of them, and it was an interesting change of roles. Normally it’s Harvey who speaks without thinking or with indifference and Kieli who suffers and hurts because of his this. Kieli is visited by the ghost of the man that Mane/she killed, though, and realizes what she has done and breaks down completely. The ghost of the man she/Mane killed actually sounded pretty terrifying, if I do say.
Art: The usual. There’s a cute image of silly Kieli about to throw Corporal (though Harvey doesn’t look very good in it, really) and my favourite of Kieli in her ax dreaming looking pretty crazy. It does feel a bit cheap that it felt like there was a more than usual amount of images where there aren’t any backgrounds just white space or speed lines.
Overall: When I thought about things I’d like adapted into an anime or something, Kieli was never at the top of my list. Would I watch it and love it? Yeah but that goes without saying. But this volume kind of drives home that some of this doesn’t translate well into novel. The action scenes are so plentiful that sometimes they become confusing. Very rarely in the series has there been images to help this along. Furthermore, Kabei’s writing can be so tiring at times. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase fossil fuel I’m pretty sure I could afford the Kieli picture book from ebay (but seriously I’m really considering buying it this second just to have to cement my love for this series). Though to get this far I’m sure readers of the series are used to Kabei repeating the same details over and over and over. I think, and have always thought, the dreary setting of the world is wonderful. I just wish to see it illustrated a bit better.
Well, all that griping aside, I enjoyed the revelation about Kieli’s father. I see no reason not to believe that it’s true (though I was still hoping that her father was an Undying, but particularly Jude). I was also happy that they had managed to stay together! Until the second last page where Harvey seems to have taken off. Fair enough, I suppose. Kieli’s got her own motivation to head to the Capital (saving Beatrix) but I’ve expected her and Julius to reunite for quite sometime. So, though he isn’t mentioned in this volume, I’m thinking we can expect him to play a big part in the next. Assuming she doesn’t dawdle on her way to Capital. Though I don’t think so because at this point Kabei wanted to wrap things up.
I’m still uncertain about the ending of the series. I’m prepared that I won’t get a “Harvey and Kieli live together and are happy ending” (actually, looking at the reviews on amazon jp for the final volume, seems like a lot of people cried over it…) but what are they even working towards? Harvey knew he wasn’t going to come back but says, just as he departs, that now he has the resolve to return. Plus, Mane says that it would be possible for him to live a normal human life if he laid low and stopped wrecking the hell out of his body, thus giving him a chance to live with Kieli. Of course he doesn’t tell her this but such was information gained before Kieli’s dad called her out by teasing Beatrix. Heading to the Capital was going to happen anyways, but it could have been done together.
I want to call this volume the calm before the storm but there wasn’t really anything calm about it (and really, I know this is noting new but Kieli couldn’t take FIVE STEPS without someone attacking or grabbing her). Yet if my hunch is correct and Kieli gets to capital and meets up with Julius, things are going to be pretty tame on her front. Still, the ending was a nice way to segue (if there wasn’t asix month wait, that is) into the final stretch of Kieli and Harvey’s journey.
Story: 7/10 (there were some moments between Harvey and Kieli that were the best in the series so far and were the highlight of the book for me)
Characters: 7/10 (more Corporal than usual but it’s not the same, Mane is a nice addition even if for one volume and intense-Kieli was a wonderful twist even if she’s returned to normal and realizes Killing Is Wrong)
Fang-tan’s Rating: 5/10 (not my favourite volume but contains some of my favourite scenes thus far)
**Once again, please refrain from the posting of spoilers that relate to anything occurring after this volume. Linking to a site that may contain spoilers is fine but please note if they might.