Kagetora Vol. 3 (Del Rey)

kagetoraheaderA young ninja struggles with the one question he cannot answer: Do you love me?

 

 

 

208 Pages B&W; $10.95

(W / A: Akira Segami)

 

 

Ninja Kagetora faces a difficult choice: Tell Yuki, the girl he's been charged to protect, that he loves her, or respect his code of conduct and press on past his feelings. Akira Segami challenges readers' hearts in the latest installment of Kagetora, which in addition to Yuki, tosses in the hurdle of Reizeiin, a wealthy young ninja-girl who can't seem to take no as an answer when it comes to our hero.

 

The cover to Kagetora Vol. 3. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Of course, Kagetora could always tell Yuki how he feels, but then Segami would lose her story's driving force, because let's face it, the love story is what keeps readers turning pages. It's not the contrived setups at Yuki's home, the baths, or the amusement park that interest readers — it's the revelation, the moment Kagetora may or may not reveal his feelings. Luckily, Segami is clever enough to string readers along until the final moments of the volume, which prove satisfyingly disappointing.

 

Complementing the lover's tale, Segami's artwork at times is a frenetic mix of swordfights, cyclones, lightning strikes, and angst, all of which capture the troubles one might expect a young man in love to face. Especially noteworthy are the detailed panels that depict characters thoughtfully mid-swoon. Segami certainly is no stranger to fanservice, as readers will notice from the availability of semi-naked girls and suspiciously adorable mascot creatures.

 

Inks are pretty rich throughout, and unlike some of its cousins, not too many toning mistakes going on in this volume. Segami illustrates action clearly and economically, which allows the artwork to enforce the story without overtaking it. Hyper-detailed backgrounds make for a pleasantly surprising atmosphere that enriches the book's less-than-prominent elements.

 

Despite some pacing issues, the book is relatively enjoyable, undemanding yet still engaging. While characters are not terribly complex and scenarios not necessarily genuine, the feeling behind them is, and now and again, readers will get a sense of the sincerity of a secret love that makes up for moments spent wading through the mess of teen drama. | James Nokes

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