Mania Grade: C+
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- Art Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Text/Translation Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 16 and Up
- Released By: Yen Press
- MSRP: 10.99
- Pages: 224
- ISBN: 9780316072984
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Bamboo Blade Vol. #05
Bamboo Blade Vol. #05 Manga Review
By Chris Kirby
November 03, 2010
Release Date: June 30, 2010
Even if the volume isn’t up to par, the fun is still there keeping the series’ interest alive and well!
Writer/Artist: Masahiro Tosuka and Aguri Igarashi
What They Say
With their new goal in mind, the practice meet between Muroe and Seimei High begins. As Muroe is still short a member, the girls manage to persuade Azuma to participate... just this once. As joint practice gets underway, the Seimei team is quick to spot Tamaki's overwhelming talent. To see a female kendo competitor at her level is inspiring not only to Seimei, but to Azuma as well. As memories of the thrill of the sport come back to her, will Azuma be tempted to join the kendo team for good?
This volume focuses largely on the practice meet with Seimei High and the girl’s trying to coerce Azuma into joining the Kendo team of her own free will. There is a lot of fun to be had here despite not a whole lot of plot development. This aspect is probably the biggest thing Bamboo Blade has going in its favor, fun. Watching the girls interact with each other in this volume as they all try to con Azuma is a real riot. The attempts are like subliminal messages, only not so subliminal. The least subliminal of all comes courtesy of the local loony toon, Miya-Miya, who again plays the extremes of her personality to great effect that, while not striking any personal chords, strikes the funny bone just as potently as the rest of the volume.
The big surprise in this volume comes from the practice meet itself. Seimei High’s coach, Tadaaki Hayashi, is a Kendo die-hard and pushes his students so hard they all practically quit the team. His girl’s team has mixed emotions about Kendo because of his strictness and plan on quitting themselves. However, once they see Tamaki in action they begin to get re-invigorated with the sport. The team really wants to strive to become better at Kendo just so that they can have a great match with Tamaki in the future and this is something great about sports manga. While it may be cliché, it works in the context of the story and the overall mood of the story and it really helps drive home the enjoyment of the series. Even Ishida finds some hidden love for the sport from Hayashi-sensei. Hayashi’s stories of how he got into Kendo start Ishida’s brain thinking about why he enjoyed Kendo so much as a child, and even Hayashi sees how the jovial atmosphere of the Muroe team affects how they play.
These types of interactions are really nice because it keeps reminding me that sports should be fun and everyone should have their reasons for participating. I do not like the “Texas method” to sports (particularly Football) because it is all about winning and being the best. Those types of stories do not hold much interest for me unless there is some twist in the outcome. But with this volume of Bamboo Blade everyone gets the message and this general lull in the story becomes something enjoyable by just being itself.
The biggest hindrance to this volume lies in its pacing. The series up to this point has been pretty brisk in its pace, wonderfully balancing the humor and the sports action while we get to see the personal development of the cast. In this volume too much time is spent on everyone fawning over Tamaki. While her inspiration to the other team is great to see, it gets quite repetitive to the point where I wanted the practice to hurry up and get over with so we could begin the meet. Sadly, once the practice ends the outcome of the meet is encapsulated in a single narrative paragraph. The volume picks up the pace again after the meet but the book is more than halfway done at this point and not enough to save the volume overall.
Bamboo Blade has had its ups and downs over the last four volumes but its comedy and heart of gold is what has continued to have me enjoy the series as a whole. This volume is pretty lackluster in the overall scheme of things but the interactions between everyone involved and the quirky humor present in the character’s personalities keep this volume fun. It may seem like I should’ve given a higher score because of all the good things I have to say about the volume; but to anyone who has read Bamboo Blade up to this point, it clearly isn’t as strong a volume as it could have been and should have been.
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