Innkeepers and karma are quick to collect debts.
After keeping his brother safe while insensate, Takeo is more than ready to get some answers from him while Akio himself is more interested in getting some fun in after having missed any earthly pleasures for a while. Aided and abetted by the less-holy-than-thou monk, Akio manages to bull his way into a load of trouble and debt while Takeo finds himself wanting to spend time with a lovely young lady with whom he has more than a passing fancy. Of course, all of this takes place in the slightly less romanticized version of Feudal Japan that creators Di Giorgio and Genet are playing in, so the stakes are very high, and terrible things are in store for anyone caught not paying attention or not possessing enough money to be considered worthwhile as a person. So yeah, pretty much anyone.
I appreciate the fact that Di Giorgio gave us one whole issue of happiness before plunging the knife in. I mean, sure, it was rife with foreshadowing and ominous threats, accusations, and fighting, but Takeo had found something nice in the midst of it all. That high, though, just sets us up for the terrible disappointment and awfulness that we’re treated to this time. It’ll rankle a bit and though it’s not terribly surprising, it is effective in its emotional bearing. The setup from the first issue certainly pays off in this one with a bookend that reveals the machinations that lie behind our party’s fortunes. The last few pages will leave you salivating for what’s next.
Frederic Genet once again stuns and engages the imagination with his gorgeous artwork, and the palette used by Delphine Rieu not only complements the period of the piece but elevates the pages to incredible beauty, even in the worst moments, which I feel just makes them much more tragic to be honest. Sayuri’s fate (Takeo’s love interest) is only mentioned briefly in the text; the majority of its ugliness is on the art team’s shoulders, and there’s no way that you don’t feel for everyone involved while Takeo is taken away from helping as we see jump cuts between where he’s going and what she’s going through. On the positive, the heinous entity behind that horrid event is being set up for some prime time vengeance, and that’s really the only positive that I can see here.
There’s a lot more being laid into this narrative, and with the talent behind the images, there’s plenty for anyone who loves these kinds of stories to enjoy. Great action, high stakes, and great characters (Akios’ brawling makes for many hell-yeah moments.) round out a phenomenal book that’s engaging and interesting.
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