Akane finally makes her move on Keita, will he turn her down because he secretly loves Kuro?
Writer/Artist: Dall-Young Lim and Sung-Woo Park
What They Say
In spite of weeks of training with Keita, Kuro crumbles at the reappearance of the mototsumitama Aragi. But just as Kuro is prepared to submit to death, someone calls out to her from deep within her... In the midst of her terror, Kuro feels the presence of Keita's grandfather and Kakuma, who died protecting their home in Okinawa, as well as her mother, who saved Kuro in her final hour.
Their actions helped fortify Kuro in the past, but will their words give her the strength she needs to draw upon the full extent of her power and defeat her most feared enemy?
Keita and Kuro have been unable to move forward. They still can’t achieve a high level of synchronization for their battles, nor can they break the spiritual bounds that Namu trapped them with. The bonds won’t break until they can synchronize at a high enough level. Namu’s training seems like it flips back and forth between success and failure. Sometimes, Keita and Kuro seem to be bonding and growing closer, but other times Keita gets frustrated and blows up at Kuro. Even when they seem to be getting along well, that only causes Akane to get uptight. Akane may be incredibly magnanimous, but she’s still a woman in love with Keita, so it is no surprise to see jealousy rearing its ugly head.
Eventually, Keita and Kuro find their inner strength and pass Namu’s training. It turns out to be more than just helping Kuro get stronger, but it also unlocks Keita’s abilities. Now he can see Kuro’s powerful attacks arranged in a spiritual wheel before him, even before Kuro attacks an opponent. Now Keita can see many types of attacks that Kuro herself hasn’t unlocked, opening the potential for them to get much stronger.
I enjoy Namu’s presence in this story arc. She is a much older Mototsumitama than Kuro, which not only makes Namu smarter, but her age makes her more worldly. Namu can see the big picture, but she can also be very entertaining. She loves TV dramas and Akane’s cooking, but she loves interfering in the Keita/Akane/Kuro love triangle even more. It’s all very entertaining, but Namu may have pushed Akane a little too far. Will Akane’s lashing out at Kuro ruin the relationship they have built? Will it make matters worse if Keita has to choose a side? Can Keita swallow some of his own pride and put things back on track? That is kind of doubtful, especially with his hotheaded temperament.
This volume steps back from all the various angles the story is following to focus on Keita, Kuro, and Akane. Kuro obviously likes Keita, for many reasons, but all of that is only intensified by their Contract. Add to that Namu’s training regime that has physically bound Keita and Kuro at the wrist, and the two of them are forced to do EVERYTHING together until they pass their training. Keita may be dense, but even he has to take notice of Kuro and his own feelings for her. While I find this interesting, I can’t help but cheer for Akane. She has been friends, and even like a big sister to Keita for almost his whole life. That certainly carries a strong bond, but the sibling-like relationship could be what ruins her chances with Keita when everything is said and done. He may never be able to get past the idea that she is like his older sister, and after all this time, and the fact that Akane has never dated anyone, I don’t know if she could handle a confrontational rejection. Being tossed aside for another woman could push her to give up on life, making it much easier for her enemies to kill her.
I personally enjoy the love-interest aspect of this volume, but for readers that find this kind of relationship building trivial, don’t worry, the rest of the side-stories receive some attention. Kuro’s evil brother is still moving forward with whatever his diabolical plan is, and Excel reconnects with her network looking for orders from her commander. So everything is still moving forward, it just took a backseat to Keita and Kuro’s training.