Shiki Tsukai Vol. #03 (

By:Ben Leary
Review Date: Friday, October 10, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: To-ru Zekuu and Yuna Takanagi
Translated by: Mayumi Kobayashi
Adapted by: Mayumi Kobayashi

What They Say
Akira has an awesome destiny: he's the Shinra, a magical hero who can control the very forces of nature. He's still learning to use his gifts, but this apprentice had better become a master soon - a band of villains has a plan to use Akira to destroy all of humanity. Can Akira grow up to be the hero the world needs?

The Review

With this volume Shiki Tsukai shows improvement. It's still muddled, and it doesn't seem to have any idea where it's going, but at least it moves. The dull and unilluminating exposition that the earlier books were plagued with has at last taken a back seat to action - and competant action, at that. The series has also cleaned up its act. It's settled back into a thirteener rating, avoiding much of the tastelessness that was such a thorn in the side of volume 2 (apart from an appalling two-page spread in the extras section).

So Shiki Tsukai has at last become readable, if unexceptional. Even if I share the hero's feelings when he says, "I haven't even begun to understand everything," I have plenty of fights to keep me interested until I do understand what's going on. The battles are plentiful and pretty well executed. The fights are all distinct, too: none of them feels like a retread of another encounter we just saw. A lot of this is thanks to the weather powers that the characters wield; a good idea that's finally allowed to stretch itself.

We also get a few new characters thrown into the mix. I'm more ambivalent on this point. On the one hand, the characters are interesting in themselves; on the other, I have doubts that the story is going to be strong enough to support the extra weight. The regular cast doesn't develop particularly during this volume, anyway. (There is one exception to this, but it occurs at the very end of the book, too late to see where it's going.)

Shiki Tsukai still has a ways to go to become good, but a few of the cylinders are starting to fire. If the story can find a focus, and keep the pace up, this may just turn into an entertaining little series. Or it may slide back into the swamp. Either way, it doesn't have much time left.

As usual with Shiki Tsukai, this volume sports an impressive selection of extras: a message from the author, an awful schematic of the under-dressed bad girl, a birthstone calendar, a season incantation chart, a design gallery, two character profiles, and three pages of translation notes.

Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.95
Pages: 208
ISBN: 978-0-345-50415-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Shiki Tsukai