Monday, July 27, 2009

Land of the Blindfolded, vol. 6

The story: This volume is dedicated to Masahiro and some serious character growth on his part. First, his brother shows up at school for a basketball game and then the festival. Later, Namiki flashes back to his lonely childhood when he spends some time at Kanade's loving home. When he later visits his family, Masahiro is able to let go of some of his past. In the bonus chapter at the end, Masahiro finally names his cute puppy.

Reaction: I really liked the focus on Masahiro here, especially since it's so easy to simply dismiss him as Arou's rival. At the beginning of the series, he came off as cynical at best, but this volume shows just how much Kanade has changed him for the better. Not only is Masahiro able to let go of his past, but he's able to smile and share warm moments with others. I also liked that the friendship between Masahiro and the school council president has grown. They both have a habit of putting up a tough front when, in actuality, they're simply afraid to show weakness.

Deep thoughts: During the school festival, the joy and excitement of the students causes the spirits that haunt the school to come out and play. One of the spirits is a panda bear, which I found particularly strange. But, it reminded me of a Mexican holiday, known as Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. For two days in Mexico, Nov. 1 and 2, the living return to cemeteries to clean grave sites and visit with their family members that have passed. Just as the spirits in this volume shared a cup of sake with one another, on Dia de los Muertos, Mexicans will bring tequila or other favorite drinks and foods of the dead. In many ways, Japanese and Mexican culture have a healthy respect for the dead.

Artwork: I still love the understated artwork of Sakura Tsukuba. In shojo manga, it's very easy to use and abuse screentone at will. But, Tsukuba gives it an emotional purpose, using good judgment by sparingly employing it. Of course, I really loved this volume just because of the extra scenes with Masahiro's super cute puppy!

The verdict: Highly recommended. This volume continues to hold my attention, especially with its arc focused on Masahiro. While Arou and Kanade have obviously found happiness in one another, will Masahiro be content enough to stand on the side, or will he seek someone to share his happiness with? Land of the Blindfolded is available in the U.S. from CMX.

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