You know, I was actually starting to give Katakura the benefit of the doubt for a while.
Writer/Artist: Masanori, Oookamgimu and Katakura
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
What They Say
Kurohime is a buxom witch with the power to control magical guns. She once made the mistake of challenging the gods and was cursed for her foolishness! Transformed into a little girl named Himeko, she can only regain her former body and powers when she falls in love. But finding love in a world fraught with evil is no easy task.
The PunishersIn a twisted ritual, Zero has been reborn as "Dark Zero"...the replacement for Darkray, the god of death! Barely managing to escape this evil doppelganger, Kurohime heads to her next destination: the island of Shikoku, home of Seiryu, the Spirit King of Wind. On their way, the group decides to stop in the bustling city of Daitokai...only to run face to face with the Kurohime Punishment Squad, led by Sword, the former Death Angel! Without her witch-bullets, can Kurohime save herself, let alone Zero's soul?
Even though I remember saying that last volume of Kurohime crossed the thin line between "dull" and "actively bad", I was tempted to take that back when I first started reading Volume 10 of Kurohime. It's not that Kurohime had all of a sudden gotten really interesting; but at least it'd returned to the point where it was inoffensively bland rather than constantly making me want to slap one of the characters. In fact, nearly this entire volume is made up of those magic-laden action sequences that I'd personally rather skim through, but which readers who've stuck with the series through nine prior volumes will probably consider a plus.
Having said that, there's a little room left before and after the fights for plot development, and in fact the start of the volume picks the story back up during a relatively peaceful interlude. The gist of the plot here is that Kurohime and her entourage decide to visit Kazuma's hometown of ïedo en route to the Land of Death, giving them a chance to eat and get some more appropriate clothing (and to let Kazuma spend more time ogling Kurohime). However, their reprieve is cut short when the Kurohime Punishment Squad arrives on the back of Kairyu, who they've apparently taken control of at some point in the past by kidnapping Otohime.
Most of the remaining story from that point out has to do with the various members of the Squad using ridiculously overpowered spells against ïedo and vice-versa. This sequence is drawn out to fill all that space by the fact that Kurohime is out of bullets and, being a samurai town, ïedo doesn't stock any ammo for her to use. As you might expect, things go badly for ïedo until Tsucchi manages to scrounge up a few bullets out of convenience for the plot, giving Kurohime the chance to turn the battle in her favor. The whole fight is badly choreographed to the point that I had to resist the temptation to flip straight to the ending; it probably would've been very confusing if there were anything important actually going on here.
But while all that's poorly put-together and frankly dull to me, it isn't the reason this volume is stuck with a D rating. No, that honor goes to the one-shot side story which closes this volume out. Nominally, this chapter forms the first part of Kurohime's origin story; in practice, it's mainly there to deliver some of the most extreme breast fetishism you'll find in mainstream manga. I'm not sure if Katakura's goal was to be surreal, comic, titillating, or some combination of the three; but the end result is horribly out-of-place here, not to mention in bad taste. I honestly wish I could say "well, if you take that part of the story away, it at least gives you part of Kurohime's background" -- sadly, the rest of the story is dumb enough that it's hard to imagine the chapter existing for any reason besides the bizarre fanservice.
So in summary, we get a chunk of the story that's left so little of an impression on me that I struggled to remember what happened a week after reading it, followed by a side story that I'm trying my best not to remember ever again. Both are good excuses to skip this volume.