In order to hide their shame from the soon to arrive ambassadors from Lithuanel, the King of Belquat orders that Nakaba’s red hair be dyed black. Watching helplessly as his wife is held down while her hair is shoved into a bucket of dye, Caesar decides to show his solidarity by cutting off his hair. Moved by his actions, and by Loki’s tears over her ruined hair, Nakaba slices off her contaminated locks in front of the King. As Caesar vows to himself to change the country so Nakaba can be happy, Nakaba vows to keep moving forward until Ajin and humans alike, of any class, can live together peacefully. Unfortunately, her act of rebellion has resulted in the King confining Nakaba to her quarters. With Loki’s help, Nakaba sneaks out into the gardens, where she bumps into a mysterious young man from Lithuanel. Caesar later comes to her and promises to make her happy once he becomes king (readers keeping up will know that not only is he not next in line for the throne, he has previously held no desire for it), asking only that she give him her heart. Loki interrupts them, and an embarrassed Nakaba runs off, and stumbles across the young Lithuanel man from before. The young man seems to know about the village where Nakaba grew up, as well as the fact that the their bloodline carried the Arcana of Time. Realizing that Nakaba possesses this power, he asks her to accompany him back to Lithuanel so he can use her power. Caesar walks in on their conversation and demands the boy identify himself. He is Akhil, the fifth prince of Lithuanel. Caesar orders her to stay away from Akhil, but Nakaba wants to know more about her power, and he’s the only person willing to tell her. Both Loki and Caesar interrupt them this time, and drag Nakaba away before she can get any answers. An irritated Caesar leaves on an errand, leaving Loki to chastise her and warn her to forget about her power entirely. Realizing how much her attention to Caesar is hurting Loki, Nakaba leaves her room, only to be spotted by Louise (Prince Cain’s fiancée). Louise is furious over Nakaba’s influence on Caesar, and tosses both her and Loki into the dungeon. While there, the Arcana of Time activates, giving Nakaba a glimpse into the past through Loki’s eyes, as he protected her as a child after her mother’s death, when the royal family shunned her. In their cell, they both notice an odd draft, and discover a secret passage behind one of the walls. Inside the dark passage, they run into a group of mercenaries, and are rescued by none other than Caesar, who was exploring the secret passageway with Akhil. After defeating the mercenaries, the group continues down the passage to discover its purpose, but what they find at the end shakes them to the core and brings about a great foreboding.
Things are really getting moving now in Dawn of the Arcana. The reason behind the arranged marriage between Caesar and Nakaba is becoming clear, and I’m happy to report that they’re not planning on sitting idly by while they are used to further dastardly deeds. It should be obvious that Nakaba, with her caring heart and love of all living things, would decide to do whatever she can to put a stop to Belquat’s plans. Caesar, on the other hand, seems purely motivated by Nakaba, of all things. That he loves her enough to get up off his ass and get involved is pretty amazing, though it would be better if he weren’t a worthless waste of space prior. It’s clear that Nakaba has had a very positive effect on him. She’s passionate, she believes in herself, and she’s starting to believe in him, as well. Judging by his attitude and family situation, Nakaba is probably the first person to show any real faith or confidence in him. Fortunately he’s rising to the occasion, because he’s Nakaba’s only ally in the court. Loki still hates him, of course. He’s still a member of the royal family who attacked his village and killed Nakaba’s mother. He’s still married to the girl that he loves but can’t have. But Caesar is not his father, and he’s willing to change. In fact, he’s willing to change the whole world for Nakaba. Hopefully Loki will see that eventually, but the Ajin isn’t exactly known for being forgiving. Still, when all four of them (Loki, Nakaba, Caesar, and Akhil) discover Belquat’s big secret, there’s an opportunity to bond over a common purpose. It’s a chance for Loki and Caesar to become allies, if the Ajin is willing. It will be interesting to see if they’ll put aside their differences to work together. As for Akhil, well, Belquat is abusing his country’s good faith. When he brings this news home, his country will surely make a fuss, and the impending war may spread beyond the shores of the island continent. Dawn of the Arcana is a mixture of things. Love triangles, politics, war, magic. Enough to make one wary that the balance of all its elements will topple, or that the romance aspects will overshadow everything else. It’s a little troubling, at times, especially where Caesar is concerned. It would be nice if he had more motivation beyond just making Nakaba happy. Like if he genuinely cared about peace, about the future of the Ajin, or the welfare of his citizens. He just might, but it’s not entirely clear yet; he needs to be fleshed out more. And I’m willing to stick with the series to find out, at least for now. It is entertaining, and the romance can be very touching and sweet. There’s tension, mystery, conflict, and the art is simple but lovely to look at. There’s room for growth, but Rei Toma is handling things well enough for now to at least pull in and get readers engaged with her characters and story.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.