Tail of the Moon Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Rinko Ueda
Translated by:Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adapted by:Tetsuichiro Miyaki

What They Say
Usagi's mission to bear Hanzo's child is not going well. The father of her future babies has no interest in her, and she has a beautiful, brilliant rival. In order to regroup, Usagi goes back to her home village, arriving just in time for the annual Ninja Games - and the prize is a love potion! In order to win the race Usagi agrees to team up with her ex-fiance Goemon... and then Hanzo drops by the village unannounced! Who will win in this game of love?

The Review
The unlikely romance between a mess of a girl and a noble, stern ninja leader continues. But wait, there's more...men!

At the end of volume one, Usagi had found Goemon, her former guardian and ex-fiance, giving "seduction training" to the kunouchi (female ninja) in her room. Goemon, the best ninja in Iga, has become a trainer due to an injury incurred on assignment. Although Goemon had been one to break off the engagement to Usagi, he repeats his desire to marry her, which she dismisses with an insistence on her love for Hanzo.

In volume two, we are given a lengthy introduction to Goemon's history with Usagi, and a demonstration, via the annual village skill contest, of the dedication Goemon has to her. Goemon is more fully and better depicted than rival Hanzo. Although Ueda sensei has said that she created "Tail of the Moon" to compensate Hanzo for how poorly he was treated in her "Tsuki no Toiki, Natsu no Yume", it's obvious that Goemon is her favorite.

The village skill contest brings Hanzo back into Usagi's life. Back in Segachi, there have been requests for more of Usagi's medicines and Mamezo, misunderstanding Goemon's jokes, lets it be known to Hanzo that Usagi is getting married. In Hojiro, Hanzo extends his congratulations to a gloating Goemon and a protesting Usagi. Hanzo leaves and Usagi follows him only to get herself into trouble from which Hanzo must rescue her. In a scene reminiscent of cheesy fanfiction, Usagi confesses to Hanzo and the misunderstanding about the wedding is resolved. This scene also tells us that Usagi does not know how to dress herself, it is Mamezo who has been helping her. (Oh, Ueda sensei, c'mon. One step forward, two steps back!)

Usagi returns to Segachi to continue her ninja studies with Yuri, only now their instructor is Goemon (yes, the "conveniences" continue), who extracts from Hanzo a pledge that Hanzo will consider marrying Usagi and have her give birth to his child if she qualifies as a ninja by the end of the year. (Of course, Goemon knows that she won't.) Instructor Goemon does help Yuri and Usagi, both prospective brides for Hanzo, in an attempt to "free" Hanzo by reuniting Kami no Hanzou and Sara. To do so, they make a trip to the home of Kami no Hanzou, Hamamatsu.

No matter how Usagi tries, things go wrong. In an attempt to free the imprisoned Kami no Hanzou, (jailed because he will not give up his beloved Sara, an enemy of Tokugawa Ieyasu), everyone in the party is captured and only freed after Usagi agrees to remain in Lord Ieyasu's employ as an herbalist. She agrees only because Hanzo, who has come to intercede with Ieyasu, has agreed with the Lord that Usagi will never become a ninja and that it would be best to expand her skills as an herbalist.

Some of the humor in the scenes of the introduction of Usagi and senior herbalist, Yukimaru, is blunted by the use of specific gender pronouns that English requires. The scenes are still funny and seasoned readers will recognize right away what the issue is, but less experienced readers will wonder what the confusion was supposed to be about. The situation presented is common in manga and VIZ has taken the right approach in favoring readability over whatever they would have got by trying to stress the joke.

Tail of the Moon is a lot of fun if one doesn't overanalyze it. Usagi's good qualities are more in evidence now and it's much easier to develop a connection with the character. I'm still disbelieving the most of the romance of this tale, but the story is engaging and entertaining enough to let that take a back seat. This is billed as a "romantic ninja adventure" but it's more like a romantic wish fulfillment adventure. Such a messy girl, so many handsome and accomplished men waiting to fall in love with her!

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1421508153
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left