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October 29, 2012

Bento Bako Weekly: Dawn of the Arcana volume 5

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Dawn of the Arcana
Author: Rei Toma
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 5 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2010 by Shogakukan, August 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Fantasy, romance, drama

[Volume 4 review.]

Nakaba and the others are on their way to the Ajin village in the mountains to warn them of the approaching soldiers. The journey through the mountains is treacherous, however, along thin roads pelted by strong winds. They’re saved by a pair of Ajin who then warn them to turn back because humans are not welcome in their village. They press on regardless, and are tentatively invited inside the village to speak with the village elder. Caesar warns the elder about the approaching army and their new, extremely deadly weapons. The elder and his Ajin guards are fairly unconcerned, because their village has long been a safe haven for Ajin who carry the power of the Arcana (yup, power just like Nakaba’s). Leo, one of the Ajin who helped them in the pass, has the Arcana of fire. The Ajin believe they can handle themselves, leaving Caesar in a tight spot, especially as the oncoming battalion is led by Caesar’s own brother, Prince Cain. As Caesar once again tries to warn the Ajin that the army coming is different from anything they have faced before, Belquat soldiers appear in the nearby forests. Bellinus offers up a plan – they will act as hostages to the Ajin to buy time. The Ajin demand sovereignty, and release Nakaba, Rito, and Lemiria as a show of good faith. While speaking with Prince Cain, Nakaba receives a vision of his past and learns how hard it was for the blond haired prince, especially after Caesar was born to the king’s mistress. To ensure the black haired Caesar is the next heir, and the commoner mother of Cain forgotten, the records of his mother’s marriage to the king are altered to make his mother the mistress, and Caesar’s mother the true queen. Seeing his past causes Nakaba to feel sympathy for him, and she ignores the intense hatred Cain harbors for his brother. Nakaba and Lemiria are sent back home, but Lemiria insists Cain is planning something terrible and that they must stop him. As the Ajin village falls under attack, Nakaba rushes off to save Caesar. The volume wraps up with a couple of cute shorts depicting the characters as modern day high school students.

All hell is about to break loose. The King of Belquat is finally making his move, testing the new letina blades on the secluded Ajin village in the mountains. Fortunately, since Caesar and Nakaba got there first, they were warned and able to evacuate their women and children. With many in their village still living, they can spread news of the King’s treachery to the other Ajin, prepare them for what’s coming. Unfortunately, with Caesar, Nakaba, and even Bellinus clearly acting against Cain, and therefore the King’s orders, it may be difficult for them to return home. When Cain reports back, the King is not going to be happy; very far from it. I can see Nakaba being blamed, too. Poisoning Caesar’s mind or some excuse like that. There’s some more information revealed about the Arcana this issue. Specifically that Ajin with strong blood (close to purebloods basically) tend to have Arcana powers, which means Nakaba’s father must have had strong Ajin blood. And a certain other someone close to her who also has an Arcana power, the revelation of which is a very interesting surprise this volume. Speaking of the Arcana, Nakaba is still being haunted by the image of Lemiria being impaled by a letina blade, but it has yet to happen. Somehow, rather than feeling drawn out, it’s increasing the tension of the event. We know it’s coming, and in fact there have been opportunities for it to happen already. The repetition of the event in Nakaba’s visions and dreams suggests some urgency, and it’s definitely stressing Nakaba out knowing that it’s coming, but not knowing when. She’s doing her best to protect Lemiria, but much like Nakaba, she’s not content to sit still when the people she cares about are in trouble. Learning about Cain’s history, and in particular his relationship with Caesar, is the highlight of this volume. Cain believes that Caesar has taken everything away from him, destroyed his future, erased his past, and made his present painful. It’s no wonder he hates Caesar, though it takes a little time for Nakaba to stop feeling sorry for him over it, and realize how dangerous it makes him instead. This is still an interesting read, with Toma’s simple but still expressive artwork telling her story capably.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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