Originally posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 on Blogger

With volume nine, I have hit the half point of the story. Like last time, I’m going to try and keep the summary short with more focus on my own reactions to the story.

Summary


Volume nine beginning with Nuriko’s funeral, after which the remaining warriors head inside the cave. Once inside, they discover that the Shentso-Pao is guarded by two of Genbu’s warriors. Unfortunately for the Suzaku warriors, these two are ghosts and cannot be defeated. It is then that Miaka steps up and begs the two to let her pass. They agree so long as Miaka can prove she is indeed the Priestess of Suzaku.

The test involves Miaka overcoming the ice powers of the two warriors. And just when all hope is lost and Miaka is fully frozen, thoughts of Nuriko awaken his bracelets that Miaka is wearing, and Miaka bursts forth, out of the ice. Having proven that she is indeed the Priestess, the Genbu warriors present her the Shentso-Pao. But before they can celebrate, a giant wolf steals the Shentso-Pao right out of Miaka’s hands as she is leaving the cave and brings it to Nakago. Nakago confirms it is Ashitare, whose wolf blood has taken over after his human death, and promptly kills him.

Miaka, depressed, runs off again and Tai-Yi-Jun appears before her. When Miaka asks for her help in getting the Shentso-Pao back, Tai-Yi-Jun suggests the bedding technique to disrupt Nakago’s chi. Miaka, confused, asks how she can have sex when the Priestess must be a virgin. Tai-Yi-Jun laughs that she lied and that it was just a precaution against love disrupting the quest. She confirms this by pointing to Yui, who was raped. After Tai-Yi-Jun leaves, Miaka decides she wants to try it since Nuriko gave his life for the Shentso-Pao. Meanwhile, Tai-Yi-Jun appears in front of the Suzaku warriors and tells them that she is taking care of Miaka and tells them to go on ahead to the southern city where the second Shentso-Pao lies.

When Miaka makes it to Nakago’s camp, it appears he has been expecting her. He confirms this and tells her that the Tai-Yi-Jun she saw was a fake created by one of Sieryu’s warriors. He then proceeds to have his way with her, which he states will remove any chance she has to summon Suzaku. When Miaka asks about Yui, Nakago, with glee in his eyes, tells Miaka she was never raped. He saved her before anything happened but she is convinced she was violated.

Meanwhile, Tamahome has an ill feeling and decides to head back to check on Miaka. After he finds her, the two of them do not know how to react with what just happened. Eventually Tamahome tells Miaka that she looks just as pure as ever and that nothing could ever tarnish her. After a loving embrace and maybe more (it is not certain since nothing is shown explicitly), Miaka decides that she has to run away once more because she is unworthy of both Tamahome and summoning Suzaku.

My Thoughts


Well, this was certainly a very dramatic and tense volume. I sort of found it strange that it is titled Lover, given what happens to Miaka…but maybe the editor was aiming for the final chapter. Just, personally, I find it rather ironic that the subtitle is “Lover” when Miaka gets raped…supposedly. Yeah, I have my doubts. I mean, we know the good girl wins in the end and I have a vague idea that Tama (Tamahome’s real world counterpart) was created through Miaka’s wish…so if the virgin deal is real, then nothing happened and it was more a psychological attack on Nakago’s part. Plus this is a shoujo series and I have yet to encounter one where the main character is actually raped. Lots of shoujo series come close, (probably to amp up the drama) but none cross the line, and I cannot see this being different.

Half the volume was actually pretty good, until the ill-fated rape scenes (nothing is shown, mind you, only implied). I’ve got nothing against depicting rape, but it seemed to me that it was included just to amp up the drama, and that sort of annoys me. But maybe I’m wrong and volume 10 will confirm that Miaka was actually raped, who knows?

I actually wasn’t annoyed that Miaka believed the fake Tai-Yi-Jun. It was a perfect trap. And it was honourable of her to try and do something herself, even if it wasn’t well thought out (she knows she has no sexual experience, so how is she suppose to seduce Nakago??? She even doubts she can do it while heading there, so I just don’t understand why she thought she could do something…ah shoujo heroines, so stupid sometimes). No actually the part that annoyed me the most was Miaka running away yet again. She showed a little character growth/maturity with the Genbu test, but yet again it’s all discarded and she reverts back to her weak emotional self. Where is the brave talk of doing this for Nuriko? Now, when more then ever she needs to be strong, she caves in and runs away. Agh! When will we finally get some character growth out of this heroine?! But I guess I shouldn’t expect much out of someone that needs to be told what to do (i.e. Tamahome needs to tell her that grieving now will waste Nuriko’s sacrifice.)

Honestly, I’m not trying to hate on her….I’m really trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and trying to be realistic….but I can’t help but wish for a stronger heroine. I guess that’s just the kind I like, since I’ve never been one to depend on others for everything the way some of these shoujo heroines do.

But enough about Miaka, time to talk about Tamahome. Is he ever unrealistic. I mean, your girlfriend has been raped, and you’re totally fine with it? I’m not saying he should be disgusted by her, I’m saying he should be confused. Confused as how to react, how to comfort her…but nope, Tamahome is like a sage, he knows exactly what to say and do. It’s sort of ridiculous. Gah, I know I know, it’s shoujo and it’s suppose to be idealistic love, but it just takes me out of the story when a character acts so unnaturally. Personal taste I guess, but I dislike idealistic depictions of love. Well actually that’s a lie, I don’t dislike them but I do dislike certain types, the ones that go out of their way to be very unnatural to the point of no one in their right mind would believe a human being capable of saying and doing these things. Sadly, Tamahome and Miaka’s relationship falls into this category and I don’t like it.

So I bet you’re thinking, if you hate the main leads so much, why the hell do you bother reading this anyway? Especially since I’ve dropped other manga for the exact same reasons. Well, it’s because, while Miaka and Tamahome do annoy me from time to time, I haven’t yet learned to loathe them like Hatsumi and Ryouki from Hot Gimmick, and the secondary characters are actually likeable. But the biggest reason is that the story is still engaging; I’m still interested in Nakago’s goal, whether Yui or Miaka will summon their god first, what will happen to the fictional world, and just whether there is more to the Universe of the Four Gods than has been laid down so far. So for these reasons, I’m willing to continue reading even if there are a few weak volumes, like seven, and the main leads make me roll my eyes from time to time. So yes, I’m still looking forward to volume 10.

–SW

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