Kizuna Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 27, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, October 01, 2005
Translated by:Melanie Shoen
What They Say
Ranmaru and Kei are enjoying a happy life in the city, their days filled with adventure, their nights surging with romance. In fact, everything is just about perfect until Ranmaru's grandfather asks him to resume his kendo career, forcing the former champion to choose between an old life he never wanted and a new one which satisfies his every desire. Meanwhile, in Shinjuku, Kai Sagano finds himself embroiled in a yakuza conspiracy so deadly that even his awesomely muscled bodyguard Masa may not be able to save him.
After a long absence, we finally get to meet back up with Kei, Ranmaru, Kai and Maya. And it doesn't feel like hardly any time at all has passed since we last saw them.
This book is packaged pretty much as previous volumes, featuring a pink cover with a picture of Kei and Ranmaru on the front and Kai and Masa on the back. The cover artwork, while showing how close the two main pairings in the series are, is getting very repetitive. There are few extras in the volume, mainly an author comic and ads for other series.
We've got a mixed bag here with art. The character themselves are drawn pretty well. There are some pretty explicit drawings here, but it's amusing to see how they deal with male genetalia. Nothing is left to your imagination. The layout smoothed out in the second volume and continues to be an easy read here.
This was a solid read with no grammar or spelling glitches.
Content (may contain spoilers):
This volume kicks off with a great storyline concerning the past that Ranmaru has given up. He is asked to go to his grandfather's home, where he is offered the position of senior instructor at the family dojo despite the long-serving sensei being more qualified in Ranmaru's eyes. Ranmaru's grandfather says he wants to prevent the mistakes he made with Shizuho, Ranmaru's mother. Meanwhile, Kai and Kei run into each other for an always-enjoyable moment of brotherly "bonding," which reminds me of the relationship between Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru in Inuyasha.
The rest of the chapter and much of the next covers more of Kai and Kei's roles in their family and how the world views them. Both storylines work really well to establish Kei and Ranmaru beyond the relationship they have created together. One particularly powerful moment is when Ranmaru decides that he can't rely on Kei as to whether or not to return to kendo - because he knows that view will be biased. It shows Ranmaru's strength as an individual, as well as how much he loves Kei. Meanwhile, Kei's great strength comes in looking out for his family - and despite the animosity between them, that does include Kai.
The downside to this volume is the angsting from Kai as Kai is falsely accused of a crime and Masa has to take some desperate measures to save him. After some glimmers of hope in the earlier volumes, Kai is still coming off to be little more than a brat, but a new bodyguard for Kai - Tashiro - is proving to be more than a match for Kai. The scenes between them are funny and I enjoy seeing Kai be taken down to size.
The usual Kai/Masa sidestory is forsaken for a longer exploration of the main storyline, where there is a fake Kai running around the city as everyone scrambles to find out what is going on.
Kizuna is a series that continues to surprise me. When I read volume 3, I was thinking it would keep going in the vein of being a series of one-shots about the lives of two male couples. But instead, a multi-volume arc is unveiled in this book that delves into the inner- workings of Japan's yakuza and shows how deep the bonds of romance, friendship and family are forged. The continual drawback to this series for me is Kai. I continue to find him a whiny brat, and with so much of the second half of the book given over to him, I find it hard to want to come back to it. With the addition of Tashiro to deflect Kai's puppy love for Masa, I hope that it will give Kai a chance to grow.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Be Beautiful
Orientation: Right to Left