A clue sends Kotobuki and company east – to Japan!
Writer/Artist: Natsuki Takaya
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Adaptation: Soo-Kyung Kim
What They Say
A fantasy adventure from the creator of the world's #1 shojo manga, Fruits Basket...Kotobuki has finally landed what seems to be her dream job--working at an orphanage. But everything is not all sunshine and roses. Someone is trying to force the orphanage to close its doors. Torn between saving it and possibly doing something terrible, will Kotobuki do the right thing and at what cost? And if that isn’t enough, Kotobuki learns some devastating secrets. With so much at stake, will Raimon and Kotobuki stop the Army's "Plan" before it's too late?
Kotobuki has yet another run-in with the army, this time involving the orphanage where she's working, and discovers a terrible truth: Raimon has a bomb implanted in his head! This instantly adds tension to her relationship with Raimon and gives her motivation for finding the Tsubasa, which she has had no interest in until now. Conveniently enough, the mysterious Tsubasa comes to Kotobuki's and the orphanage's rescue while at the same time providing the first clue to saving Raimon.
Following the Tsubasa's instructions, the pair journeys east, and they hit their first obstacle at the "cursed forest," the ruins of a metropolitan area. Fighting humanoid robots then enter the scene, and the story takes more of a science fiction feel as Kotobuki, Raimon, and Shoka (who also happens to be in the area) strive to defeat the ancient technology guarding the cursed forest's secret treasure. The final resolution to this arc is less than satisfying. Things work out too conveniently for Kotobuki in the way she is able to sway the hearts of the lead robots and how the robots' batteries die out. In addition, the one and a half pages depicting the new forest taking over the cursed forest is confusing and logically doesn't make a whole lot of sense either.
However, the Colonel does make an appearance in Volume 2 in a way that very much establishes him as the story's top villain. For those familiar with Takaya's Fruits Basket, he's quite the Akito-like character (in fact, he looks very similar to her, too). Takaya hints that the bond and past between the Colonel and Raimon is a convoluted and fascinating one. About the same time, she also reveals Shoka's true intent for wanting to find the Tsubasa. These details flesh out the characters, which until now have not had much depth at all, but at this point in the story, it feels like too little, too late.
Upon learning Raimon's life is in jeopardy, Kotobuki vows to find the Tsubasa, and the story shifts to a "quest" feel as they depart east for clues. However, as their journey progresses, the Tsubasa takes more of a science fiction aura than the mystical one it had before. As mentioned in the Volume 1 review, the story goes into too many directions, and Volume 2 continues in that vein. Unfortunately, the characters aren't compelling enough to make up for the plot's shortfalls, and while having a 388 page volume manga would be considered a bonus for some titles, it just feels like extra dead weight for Tsubasa.
Extras include splash page art, the four-page video letter, and a closing note from Takaya-sensei.