Volume 17 features Rin on the cover, but he doesn’t make an appearance this volume. Instead, the majority of the volume continues with Mokuren’s recollections.

Summary


Alice continues to remember Mokuren’s past. This volume delves into some of her more painful memories on the Moon Base. For one, Mokuren seems to constantly overhear the others talking about her behind her back. She later receives news that the Elder has died and this is soon followed by news that Shia has been utterly annihilation. Totally devastated like the others, she is especially hurt when Gyokuran asks her to do something. Meanwhile, when Shion comes to see her, his sarcastic remarks further affirm that he is the only one capable of treating her as anything other than a god. This episode seems to create a deep impression on Mokuren as she is later seen fiercely fighting for Shion’s release once he is imprisoned and later when Gyokuran tries to reboot their romance, she rejects him without a second thought. The memories get very close to the “incident”, but Alice awakens before they proceed further.

Jinpachi and Issei come to visit her and her brother Hajime overhears their conversation. He is adamant that Alice tells him what is going on and she starts to mention things, but does not go into details because her emotions are too confused. Meanwhile Jinpachi is sulking outside because while Alice was dreaming, Issei, being a telepath, was able to show him Alice’s dream and he saw some of Gyokuran’s worst moments. Issei tells him that Alice’s dreams triggered his memory and he remembered that once Gyokuran died, Enju was hysterical and blamed Shion and Mokuren for his death. Shion comforted her even though she kept flailing and yelling. He believes that Shion may have cared deeply for Gyokuran, but never let it show. And that brings the 17th volume to a close.

My Thoughts


I still don’t know how I feel about the set up for Mokuren loving Shion. I mean when Gyokuran kisses her, she seems to accept him, but when he proposes afterwards, she cries as she thinks of Shion. So it seems the author wants us to know that she has always been “in love” with Shion, but that Gyokuran’s niceness has made her confused. And that sort of bothers me. I get that Shion is good looking and Mokuren was infatuated with him, but he hates her and she knows it. She even affirms this twice in this volume! So why would her feelings still persist? I guess a fated attraction or something? If so, that’s rather disappointing. Although the alternative would be a childish attachment to one’s first crush, which would be worse.  I do get why his sarcasm rekindles her affection for him. She’s just as hurt and hopeless as the others, yet they won’t allow her to mutually grieve with them. Only Shion does not expect answers from her, so she finally relies on him and he accepts her. This is plausible. I just worry about the upcoming incident. There is so much that can go wrong with it and knowing the outcome from Shion’s perspective, there isn’t much that can redeem it. Outside of Mokuren still (unconsciously?) loving Shion despite his abuse, most of the manga has been handled really well and realistically, so I am hopeful, but this one aspect has certainly made me a bit more reserved now. I’m going to keep my expectations in check.

Everything else was lovely though. I really felt for Mokuren due to her constantly being the topic of ridicule for no fault of her own, yet at the same time, I sympathized with Shusuran and Enju. To them, Mokuren is like a princess who has everything she wants; and the guys constantly turning a blind eye to her singing and subsequent destruction of the Base, must be rather irritating. I find that painting both parties sympathetically at the same time is really difficult and hard to pull off, so once again I am amazed by Hiwatari’s understanding of human psychology. Most stories only paint their “villains” in a better light once the dirty work has been done, which is much easier than showing their actions in a sympathetic light right at the moment they are hurting the (good) protagonist.

The other highlight of this volume was a drunk Mokuren. I loved how snappy she got when drunk. I wish she’s be a bit more snappy with Shion, but whenever she tries to fight back, he never admits defeat. Like the time when she confronted him about not ever wishing to be something else. He said he never wished to be anything but what he is and that he is perfectly happy the way he is, which are all lies. He is deeply jealous of Gyokuran and wishes he could be someone who has a family. Which is interesting in light of the fact that Gyokuran tells Mokuren this volume that he envied Shion’s strength and freedom. So it seems that the grass is greener on the other side of the road and that Mokuren once again shows us how perceptive she is. She told Gyokuran, while drunk, that Shion loves him deeply and that turns out she is probably right (especially since Enju thinks this as well).

With all that said, I’m looking forward to volume 18 and cautiously optimistic about how the incident will play out.

–SW

Advertisements