Manga: Kyoko Karasuma
Mangaka: Ouji Hiroi(Story) & Yusuke Kozaki(Art)
Publisher: Carlsen(Germany)
Original Publisher: Gentosha
Published in: BIRZ
Price: 6,00€
Released so far: Volume 1-3
Release Schedule: Volume 4: January 2008
Additional Information: 1 coloured page

Welcome to the next review of Kyoko Karasuma, the fast-paced action-filled manga by Hiroi and Kozaki. As in Volume 1, and similar to other manga, the first page presents us with a nicely coloured illustration. This time, however it does not show our young female detective, but her hulky partner, Raymond with two drawn guns, eagerly waiting for a reason to pull the triggers.

Volume 1 ended with the soul-seizing sword being picked up by Uchida, the newly introduced character. At that time, he already seemed to be of great importance for the future story line and development. However Volume 2 doesn’t follow him at first, but instead throws us right in the middle of action. Tokyo is in chaos. It seems a small time jump happened; how long it has been is never solved, so I can only guess that a few days passed. Abnormalities have been appearing frequently for a while now, lending the first chapter its name: “Invasion of the Abnormalities”. Kyoko’s division for security is reflecting that, as it has been renamed into ‘the division for violence’. Sadly, only the name division name changed; their competences nor their importance received any increase. They are still standing on unsteady ground against the oni.

The first chapter already displayed us Kyoko’s development in using her ‘supernatural’ power and, as Uchida states, her evolution. She’s faster, stronger, and she seems more resolved on the surface, which has been also observed by Ise. However, she certainly didn’t lose her ‘moodiness’. She’s still brooding about who might be pulling the strings from the darkness and how she could be able to bring light into things.

Even though we didn’t get to see Uchida right at the start of Volume 2, he makes a flashy appearance at the end of chapter 8 (chapter 1 in Volume 2). Kyoko is infuriated, as she still remembers the disgraceful loss and quickly leaps forward to attack him. The attack is easily warded off by Uchida and the two quickly engage in a short, but heated battle, where once again Kyoko suffers a disastrous defeat. As Kyoko is recovering in the hospital the perspective switches to a different, but nonetheless important event that is about to take place.
The ‘men behind the curtain(s)’, are meeting, the ‘big four’ so to speak.

After Kyoko mentioned politicians several times earlier, it was to be expected that they’ll make a debut at some point. Surprisingly, the oni, who seemed unorganised and with no leadership, now reveal that they are not some loose mob. They have a leader and he can actually control their urges and talks for the majority. Unlike the brainless killers as portrayed in Volume 1, they are thoughtful and careful and try to achieve their aims through ‘diplomacy’ first.

The meeting is held, as the current government did not abide by a contract which originates back to the Sengoku era. It states that every 100 years, 5000 woman will be delivered to the oni and they can do with them what they want. For obvious reasons the present government is not willing to follow the contract anymore. The refusal naturally bears a high risk. What would happen when the oni unleash their full power and the random skirmishes develop into a full-scale war? What would happen if the public discovers the truth about the oni? How can you arrange it with a democratic system? These questions are partly addressed and answered in the later half of the volume, albeit not as detailed as I, a person studying political science, would wish for. It gives further us hints on the mysteries of Mitamure, insight into Kyoko’s past, and physical situation Raymond is in.

The art certainly improved this time. No oddly-shaped heads, less empty backgrounds, and cooler chapter introduction pages and action scenes. I’m sure Kozaki worked hard to improve his art here. The action scenes aren’t as static and the emotions portrayed in the characters fits well with the story; there is still room for improvement though. A very pleasing ‘gimmick’ was the fact that Kyoko has a different hairstyle now. I hope he keeps that up and changes it every volume, but I doubt it.

Rating:
Story: 8/10 – We begin to see the parts of the big picture, new revelations, nicely done cliffhanger, good action
Art: 8/10 – No deformed heads, so an 8/10; overall it appears more smooth and flowing
Enjoyment: 9/10 – I definitely enjoyed it more than the Volume 1, which held its own as an introductory volume.
Overall: 8/10 – Interesting new developments, a solid second volume.

Comment on Carlsen’s release: Nothing worth commenting on, really.