Saturday, July 18, 2009

Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 5

The story: Most of this volume focuses on Arou's power -- from the gang's trip to the beach to the return of an old friend who knows Arou's secret. When Kanade and Masahiro get lost at the beach, Arou learns that he can focus his ability to see the past by using water from the ocean to find them. It's an interesting extension of his abilities, but it also causes him to become even more powerful and sensitive to the people and objects around him.

Reaction: In most shojo manga, the trip to the beach revolves around young romance under the stars. Here, however, Arou grows his ability in order to find his girlfriend and his sort-of friend, Masahiro, who is still in love with Kanade. Again, we learn more about Arou's past, too. What I like so much about this series is that it uses flashbacks and flash-forwards to provide another layer of depth to the characters, better explaining who they are and why they act the way they do. It's also helpful in showing just how much character growth they've experienced, too.

Deep thoughts: Arou's friend, Honmu, approaches Arou with a unique proposition -- uncovering misdeeds and solving murders using his power. This presents a unique ethical dilemma that hasn't been previously explored with any depth. Once Arou touches a person or an object, he can see its past. When Honmu tosses an earring of a murder victim at Arou, he physically shudders at the images that flash before his eyes. Considering that his unusual skill can be mentally and physically jarring, should he subject himself endlessly to visions? And since Honmu's father is the one who ultimately benefits from Arou's gift, is Arou simply being used? Or should he ignore all that and help victims and their families find closure and/or peace? While the question isn't answered, Arou finds his own answer soon enough.

This volume was just as well done as the others, but featured a new wrinkle involving water and Arou. It's hard to work a "trick of the light" into a manga, but Tsukuba Sakura is able to allude to the possibility without definitively providing an answer. Sakura's art provides an air of mystery and leaves questions for the reader, compelling them to read future volumes.

The verdict:
Highly recommended. I've been enjoying Land of the Blindfolded for quite a bit now, but I haven't found the plot tiring or boring in any way. It continues to hold my interest and the story keeps dropping little morsels of subplot that I can't help but follow. Land of the Blindfolded is available in the U.S. from CMX.

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