Sunday, July 10, 2011

XBlade Volume 12

In the 12th and final volume of XBlade (chapters 46-49), Kazunari continues his path into darkness as swords continue to clash outside of the 13th District.


Summary:
Souji has been taken to the doctor that Touya Yagyuu knows and his condition has been stabilized. In the waiting room, Tsukasa and Kaori apologizes to Touya for all the trouble they've caused and they talk about the current situation. Tsukasa knows a bit about Touya's affiliation with the Tokugawa Shogunate which would means he should be allies with Hollyhock, but Touya states that Matsu and the current Hollyhock Institute seem to be bent on becoming the next Yamata. After Kaori goes to the kitchen to prepare food, Touya asks Tsukasa about their encounter with Juubei Yagyuu. Meanwhile, Kaori is headed to the kitchen when she suddenly receives a call from Kazunari, and Kaori quickly departs for the park where Kazunari is.

At the park, Kazunari thinks about how Kaori has been supporting him for all these years and starts crying. Adakura suddenly appears and states that Kazunari reminds him of someone he once knew, and that someone was a crybaby as well. Adakura went to a convenience store to get food, and he also got a pair of wooden swords (from a bunch of punks he beat up) and tells Kazunari to spar with him. Kazunari tries his best but Adakura is unimpressed with Kazunari's skills and knocks Kazunari around. The sparring session ends and Kazunari is beat and tired. Kazunari asks why Adakura is letting him live, but Adakura doesn't care to answer. Kazunari and Adakura's attention is then drawn to a commotion nearby where delinquents are beating up a man. Adakura tells Kazunari to watch because the strong dominating the weak is a fact of life, but when the victim starts apologizing Adakura gets a murderous look in his eyes.

Not the scene you want to stumble upon when strolling through the park at night.

A while later, Kaori arrives at the park looking for Kazunari, but instead she stumbles onto a bloody scenes of bodies with severed limbs and heads. Kaori eventually calms down enough to call Tsukasa back at the hospital. Tsukasa promises to go get Kaori, but Touya and Yuki offer to go instead. After Touya and Yuki leaves, Tsukasa notice that Souji had gotten out of his bed. Back at the park, Kaori tries to find Kazunari, but she finds Kazunari's cell phone nearby.

On a street in the city, Kazunari is running like mad after witnessing Adakura killing all the punks and the man they were beating in a rage. However, Adakura catches up and cuts off Kazunari's escape, and Adakura comments that Kazunari is cowardly just like the person he once knew. The person Adakura is talking about was En's older brother who bears a striking resemblance to Kazunari. Like Kazunari, En's brother lacks the killer instinct, but he studied kendo regardless in order to prove himself to his peers. En's brother is favored by the local lord, and this draws the jealousy from other samurais. Adakura and En's brother were "friends", and once day Adakura saw En's brother defeating a samurai in a sparring match. However, all the samurais got angry and ganged up on En's brother. En's brother was beaten to the ground and he was trying to apologize, but the samurais killed him in the end. This memory is thus burned deeply in Adakura's psyche.

Adakura is about to strike Kazunari down, but suddenly he sees Souji (still in his hospital garbs) with his sword nearby. Adakura senses that Souji is injured and is not far from death, but yet Souji seems to be extremely calm. Adakura attacks, but Souji manages to bounce him away with what Kazunari sees as Aikido through a sword. Souji's wound has opened up, but Souji is still calmed and collected. Kazunari recognize that Souji's stance is not that of the ancient style but of modern kendo. Adakura charges but he misjudges the distance between himself and Souji, and to Kazunari's astonishment Souji uses the classic kendo technique of striking the arm, forehead and torso to cut down Adakura. On the verge of death, Adakura tells Kazunari to use his own sword to deal the finishing blow, and Kazunari complies with a lot of tears and screaming. After the battle, Souji collapses and Tsukasa turns back into her human form. Tsukasa then tells Kazunari that Kaori is waiting for him.

Flawless finisher.

Meanwhile, Touya and Yuki are looking for Kaori when a Hollyhock SUV stops nearby. Touya is surprised when Juubei Yagyuu and Kuzunoha get out of the car. Touya tries to draw his non-existent sword, but Juubei has already walked by him and states that he made a mistake thinking that Touya was a challenger. After Juubei and Kuzunoha leave, Yuki slaps Touya for his lack of battle-readiness.

After leaving the scene of the battle, Kazunari is wandering the streets and he sees the spirit/hallucination of Adakura. Kazunari demands to know why someone as strong as Adakura can lose to someone who looks to be on the verge of death, and Kazunari still can't believe how Souji won using techniques that Kazunari himself has studied over and over again. Adakura disappears stating that Kazunari belongs to him and he won't let Kazunari inherit Souji's sword techniques. Kazunari then sees images of Zin Estark and concludes that what he really needs is a guardian blade.

Crazy faces sure isn't going to convince her to become your girlfriend.

The next morning, Kaori visits Kazunari's grandpa Tomonari at the dojo. After leaving the dojo, Kaori suddenly spots Kazunari standing nearby. The two of them head to a park where they played as kids with Haru and recall their fun childhood memories. Kazunari then explains that even though he has been the popular class act, he has always looked up to Haru and his reckless ways. Kazunari took up kendo because he didn't want to be left behind and wants to surpass Haru some day so he can always be with Haru. Kazunari then confesses to Kaori and asks her to come with him to find Haru. To find Haru, Kazunari explains that he needs power of a blade. Kaori recognizes that Kazunari is talking about a guardian blade, and so she declines and reveals that she is in love with Haru. With the rejection, Kazunari bids Kaori goodbye and walks away, and Kaori can't do anything to stop him from leaving.

Back at the hospital, the doctor has stitched up Souji's wound again and wonders if Souji and Tsukasa are gluttons for punishment. Touya and Yuki walk into the room, and Tsukasa sees that Touya has traded in his maid-cafe boss uniform for a much more serious look.

Somewhere in the city, Kazunari is wandering aimlessly and screaming in frustration and hopelessness. Suddenly, Aki and Zin appears in front of Kazunari, and Aki leads Kazunari into a dark portal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that's a wrap for this "arc" of XBlade's story. Despite Souji dispatching Adakura in an exciting battle, Kazunari completes his fall into the darkness, and the next time we see him he'll probably be one of Zin's evil swordsmen. The future confrontation between Kazunari and Haru is all but guaranteed. We'll have to see if Kazunari can be redeemed or will have to die, but that's probably far off into the story.

I am glad that Kaori did not become Kazunari's guardian blade. Reason 1 is that it would really, really suck for Haru (not that having to fight Kazunari wasn't bad enough), and reason 2 is that it keeps Kaori in her current state as an observer. Kaori is deeply involved in the tournament because of the people around her, but in another sense she is not directly involved because she is not a swordsmen, guardian blade or member of any of the organizations involved in the conflict. Since Kaori declined on becoming Kazunari's blade, I wonder what sort of sword will Kazunari get? Zin can probably give Kazunari something similar to what Kuushirou has right now or some other random sword, but there might be an outside chance that Aki becomes Kazunari's blade, and that again would be really, really bad for Haru.

To recap the series, a new guardian blade tournament has been started and swordsmen/guardian blade pairs are time traveling to modern Tokyo to fight. Meanwhile, Haru, Mana and company are inside the 13th District with the ultimate goal of stopping Zin and rescuing Kuushirou and Aki. In other words, things are getting really complicated.

As indicated at the start of this post, Volume 12 is the final volume of XBlade. Of course, the story is obviously not over, and in fact the story is continuing in the sequel called XBlade Cross (which has one volume out at the time of writing). It'll probably be a while before we see any chapters from the new series.

I also found out a few days ago that XBlade itself is actually a continuation/sequel to a manga called Blade which was both illustrated and written by the writer of XBlade, Ida Tatsuhiko. Blade covers the previous guardian blade tournament four years prior to XBlade and follows the swordsman/guardian blade pair of Saborou and Takemi Shingouj as they compete through the tournament. Saborou and Takemi Shingouj are mentioned in chapter 23 of XBlade as acquaintances of Seiichi, and so Seiichi along with Touya, Hyakume, Kaya and Amakusa Tokisada also appear in Blade. Blade is quite similar to XBlade in that has very bloody sword fighting, although the art of Ida Tatsuhiko doesn't quite compare with the excellent art of Shiki Satoshi who draws for XBlade. The manga is a decent read especially for giving some background information on XBlade, but given that it's even more obscure there'll probably never be English translations for the series.

3 comments:

  1. Sad to not see at least Mana in this volume, but like you glad to see that Kaori stayed as is. Would have been a real downer for the only so called normal one get dragged in even further with really no way of going back...

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  2. Yeah, the story would be too stacked against Haru if he had to go against Kazunari with Kaori as Kazunari's blade.

    Haru and Mana will be back... but it'll probably be a year until my next XBlade post lol.

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  3. Where can I get to see the X Blade Cross manga ... I've searched everywhere for it. :'c

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