A lot of things change as the series draws to a close - but do they change for the better?
Writer/Artist: Mick Takeuchi
Translation: Christine Schilling
Adaptation: Brynne Chandler
What They Say
Despite Hyoue's protests, Amane begins the ceremony to become head of the Kamori family... but things spiral quickly out of control when Zakuro intervenes, and the identity of the one behind all their troubles is finally revealed! Painful memories from Amane's past are brought to the surface, and soon not even Hyoue can help her; though his greatest wish has come true and his pact with Amane is severed, the price may be her life!
As Her Majesty's Dog draws toward its conclusion it becomes clear that Takeuchi has something special up her sleeve. "Special" in two senses. First in the sense that what she does with the story in these chapters is unlike what she's done in the series up to now. Her Majesy's Dog usually focuses on its characters, whether it be the leads, guests, or supporting cast. In this volume the plotting moves into the foreground. The characterization is still here, and still good. But this time it's getting serious competition from an involved story, and that to a degree that the series hasn't matched yet and (as far as I can remember) has only approached once. This has its good points. For one thing, the new storytelling approach is one that is more congenial to my tastes. At the same time, I keep asking myself if it feels quite like Her Majesty's Dog. The content is good - but does it fit? I haven't entirely made up my mind, and until the final volume comes along and shows me how everything pans out, I doubt that I will.
The emphasis on plotting and story development makes this volume a more dense read, if you know what I mean, than any of the previous ones. Gone is the short, simple, almost episodic approach. Twists and turns come thick and fast. The Kamori family politics - which we've seen before but only in passing - are at center stage. Loyalties are questioned. Plots laid in secret are revealed. Most importantly, we're shown glimpses into Amane's past. We learn along with her about her relations, in particular her parents, and the implications that her family history has for herself and the story. In fact, a high percentage of the story in this volume is backstory.
What this all means in the end is that things get heavy and a little dark, not to mention uncertain. A lot of doubts are raised about the people around Amane, about Amane herself, and about her relationship with Hyoue. That relationship has been the one constant of the series. If that's questioned then what can you depend on from Her Majesty's Dog? I guess we'll just have to read the next volume and see. And whatever opinions you may have about this volume, it certainly succeeds at making you want to do that.
That is the other sense in which volume 10 of Her Majesty's Dog is special. The book had a tight grip on me the for its entire length that the earlier approach didn't allow. There are other volumes of the series that I might rank higher because of the stories they told. But this time the story works like a thriller, and a good one at that. And, like most thrillers, everything ends up dangling from a cliff at the end. So until Takeuchi empties her sleeves and the fat lady sings, I don't know whether this final arc is going to have the best material in the series or not. But you can bet I'm eager to find out.