With Volume 9, Kurohime takes a dive from "middling" to outright "bad".
Writer/Artist: Masanori / Ookamigumi / Katakura
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
What They Say
A flower blooms inside Kurohime's heart...and each petal contains part of her memories of her true love. On the frozen heights of Mt. Osore, Kurohime and her companions must defeat the yuki-onna, the snow goddess who possesses one of the Four Spirit Kings. But even if they avoid becoming ice sculptures, an unexpected enemy awaits them. Has Zero returned to her, or is this an illusion born of grief? And if it's an illusion, why are his guns pointed at her heart?
Even though I've given negative reviews for the two volumes of Kurohime that Viz has sent our way before, it was mainly out of bored indifference instead of actual dislike. It was a mediocre series, sure, but Katakura hadn't really done anything to make me actively hate it.
As of this latest volume, consider that line crossed.
Things start off decently enough, with Kurohime and her entourage trekking through the Oosore mountains while hoping to avoid Yuki Onna, the snow goddess of the mountains. Of course, one of the characters mentioning this means that Yuki Onna pops up in just a couple of pages; along the way, she attacks the group, freezes Kazuma when he tries to save Kurohime, and hands the rest of the party off to her hench-yeti Yuki Otoko. Yuki Otoko ends up being surprisingly hospitable: he takes them into his home and even listens intently to Kurohime while she explains why they need to free the spirit king living on the mountain.
Then Kurohime makes the mistake of throwing out the word "love" when talking about Zero. When Yuki Otoko hears the magic word, he whisks Kurohime back to Yuki Onna's lair, starting a chain reaction of every member of the cast declaring that they're fighting for the love of some other member of the cast. And here's the upshot of it all: Zero died fighting for love of Kurohime; Kurohime is fighting to save Zero, whom she loves; Kazuma allowed himself to be frozen to protect his beloved Kurohime; Yuki Onna attacked their party in the first place to add Kazuma to her collection of frozen boyfriends; and Yuki Otoko is helping Kurohime fight his childhood friend Yuki Onna because he's jealous that she loves her frozen trophies rather than him. Oh, and Yasahime shows up at some point to get revenge for her own lost love by trotting out her replacement for Lord Darkray, the newly-resurrected "Dark" Zero.
Now let me be clear here: I'll put up with the whole "fighting for love" trope in small enough doses. This, though, is just too much. Not only is it nauseating to constantly have all the characters line up to angst out loud over how they're fighting so-and-so out of their love for such-and-such, it practically takes the place of any other story development. What made me finally decide that I had my fill of this nonsense was the last chapter, when Kurohime's undying love for Zero -- in spite of the odds, common sense, and good taste -- literally ushers down divine intervention from an impressed god at the last minute. I've been pretty patient with the series so far, all things considered, but the only way I could slog my way through that closing chapter was to distract myself by counting how many times the words "love" and "heart" showed up in the dialogue (I forget the final tally, but it was a lot).
If there's one thing that I despise more than anything else in poorly-written manga, it's when clichŽs are used as filler in place of actual story. Seeing as this volume is basically 75% clichŽ-as-filler and 25% plot advancement (if that much), I recommend readers stay away from it.