Tail of the Moon Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, April 03, 2007



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

What They Say
Usagi will remain in Ieyasu's household forever, apart from her beloved Hanzo, unless she can come up with an elixir of eternal youth for Ieyasu. Banding together with Goemon, Yukimaru, Yuri, and Mamezo, Usagi journeys to a mountain to find a hermit who supposedly knows how to create such an elixir. Although a ninja in his youth, the hermit has no intention of sharing his knowledge with Usagi or her companions. Even if Usagi is successful in changing the hermit's mind, there are others who don't want to see her free to return to Hanzo's arms...

The Review
The continuation of the Mountain of Death miniarc opens this volume with Usagi and retinue doing what they can to convince the hermit to release the Elixir of Eternal Youth so that Usagi can return to Iga. Interactions with the hermit yield up to Usagi much useful information in her role as a herbalist-healer and she will use these very successfully later. In the end, the hermit does give Usagi the potion, only to see Yuki destroy it for a very selfish reason. Usagi is undeterred and the wisdom she gains on the mountain allows her to plead a case to Ieyasu that wins her the way back to Iga. It is, in fact, so successful that Ieyasu recommits to his goal of reunification. A bit over the top, but that's often what this series is.

But Ueda sensei always makes Usagi's battles for maturity very hard won. For every two steps forward, Usagi takes one back. The step back in this case is in the bag of money bearded Hanzo gives to Usagi as her payment in Ieyasu's service. Usagi is going to the city to visit Yuki's mothers (where she stays too long - but they were serving sea bream!) and to buy a present for Hanzo. She gets into trouble almost immediately when meeting up with the tumbler, Hikaru, and his monkey, Sasuke. Clumsy Usagi gets into a situation where her immaturity allows her to be swayed by handsome and charming Hikaru. Hikaru , whom we know to be of rival Kouga where Usagi does not, is most interested in Usagi after learning of her herbalist abilities when she attends to Sasuke during one of the animal's seizures. Hikaru takes his leave, putting Sasuke in Usagi's care, just as Hanzo finds Usagi to bring her back to Iga, where upon their return Hanzo makes some surprising confessions. What could have been a tender moment between the two is disrupted by a shiriken delivered a hairs-breadth from their noses. A beautiful woman from Hanzo's past has arrived in Iga. Will this be the woman who steals Hanzo away from Usagi?

As in previous volumes, Ueda sensei does not hold back the pace and the visual gags are well done. In spite of some misgivings about how easily some situations are resolved, I have to appreciate that she does not dither, everything is purposeful, even the jokes. And there are a lot of jokes! My favorites in this volume are the wolf attack triggered by Usagi's nosebleed after thinking about Hanzo, and the look on Usagi's face when Hanzo, sleeping on her lap, tell her not to cry after a drop falls on his face. Usagi knows these weren't tears - it was drool.

Ueda sensei knows just the situations to challenge Usagi in entertaining ways, the city adventure with Hikaru is a good example . She sweats the small stuff, from providing the reader with ninja folklore and culture, to peppering the story with gags. I still don't understand the basis for Hanzo's attraction to Usagi, but the series is so much fun I'll continue along for the ride.



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: 1421508168
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left