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October 17, 2012

Bento Bako Lite: March Story volume 4

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: March Story
Author: Kim Hyung-min (story), Yang Kyung-il (art)
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 4 (ongoing), $12.99
Vintage: October 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, drama, horror

[Volume 3 review.]

Rodin has been invited to the birthday ball of a rather lovely¬† young woman. Jealous of the looks they are exchanging, March decides to attend the ball as well, as a female. When Rodin starts paying too much attention to her, she panics and leaves the ball, only to be drawn by a loud scream from the hedge maze in the yard. An Ill is attacking the party’s guest of honor, Miss Moriner. March goes to help, but is startled by what she sees – a familiar face that brings back visions of the night her family was murdered by an Ill. An Ill she was supposed to have killed that same night, and yet it now stands before her. Enraged, March immediately attacks, sending a chill through the Ill who recognizes the attack’s style. Rodin interrupts, however, and the Ill escapes. March goes to Jake, insisting the Ill she saw is Janjaghee, somehow still alive. Jake tells her about a nearby circus, Cirque du Rouge, which features a ringmistress who wears a crimson costume, and is accompanied by strange rumors – when the circus leaves town, all of the town’s young maidens vanish with it. March goes to check it out, but Jake, fearing for her safety, wisely sends Belma along after her. Although Janjaghee is caught in the act, she manages to capture March, but fortunately Belma is not far behind. Unfortunately, having a naked March in his arms makes her true gender abundantly clear, and although he’s surprised, he’s not exactly upset about the revelation. As Belma does his best to protect March, his past is revealed via some flashbacks, specifically the death of his mother and his first steps toward becoming a Ciste Vihad. He manages to get a badly injured March home, and although he’s in no shape to finish Janjaghee off, Rodin is more than happy to destroy whoever has hurt his beloved friend. For the first time, Rodin is shown to be just as deadly with a few vials and potions as the Ciste Vihad can be with their weapons. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted as the truth about March is revealed to him by the Ill. A bonus chapter continues the story of young Lawrence and his hapless devotion to Jake.

Is this even the same series anymore? It feels completely different. There’s naked March everywhere, and she’s acting extremely girly, and apparently all the guys are in love with her without realizing it (because they thought she was a boy this entire time). When did this become a Shojo Beat manga? And what happened to the Ill inside her that’s supposed to devour her if she falls in love? She’s clearly got some feelings for Rodin, and yet there’s been almost no reaction from the Ill. I guess doe eyes and blushes and fluttering heartbeats don’t count. Maybe she has to actually admit it to herself and/or Rodin, though she’s not far from the first. There’s also an almost complete absence of the morality themes that were present in the first two volumes, which works both for and against the series. It’s nice that the story can branch from that, but it also gave the story some structure. Not that there isn’t any now, but it’s shifted away from the standalone tales the series started out with. The whole pacing of this volume, as well as its presentation and content, is different from its predecessors. It may be a welcome change for those who did not care for its initial format, but I’m rather put off by it. There’s also a lot of extra nudity that really doesn’t seem necessary. And a little too much fawning over Rodin on March’s part. It may be her first experience with love, but I miss the earlier March who hid her emotions better and didn’t get all sparkly eyed every five seconds. It’s still a decent read, but at this point I’m starting to prefer Belma and Rodin over March as characters I want to watch.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_kris

Review copy provided by Viz Media.

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