Quantity 6 of Orient left Musashi separated from the remainder of his band, as every of them have been positioned in several platoons for the upcoming battle towards the Demon God that has taken over Awaji Island. Quantity 7 picks up instantly from there, as every of the completely different factions in Musashi’s platoon dukes it out for management of the group. Moving into petty squabbles may not be one of the best concept nevertheless, as there may be much more occurring right here than Musashi realises. As a lot because the Uesugi band’s chief, Tatsuomi, is revered, there are many individuals in his courtroom that will use the battle for their very own ends, whereas within the shadows, the Obsidian Eight start to maneuver ahead with a brand new plan to assert the Obsidian Goddess for themselves.
Whereas the earlier quantity was extra of a transitional stopgap, this one is jam-packed with new particulars and could be very action-heavy, with just a few good fights making up the majority of the quantity. It’s good to see the main target positioned on the motion once more, because the art work will get satisfyingly punchy, significantly within the opening combat when Musashi goes up towards Akihiro Shimazu and Katsumi Amako. It provides an opportunity for the sword-to-sword fight to shine, reasonably than specializing in the sword spirit powers which have thus far been used within the demon battles. This additionally presents a possibility to indicate how Musashi stacks up towards his fellow samurai, one thing we haven’t actually seen outdoors of the combat with Shiro and Nanao. It doesn’t develop him an excessive amount of, however it a minimum of makes an effort to indicate his sometimes simple ‘shonen anime protagonist, hit it head-on’ mindset isn’t going to work right here.
The manga doesn’t linger on this for too lengthy although, as with quite a lot of plot factors to get by means of, it strikes issues on fairly shortly. The pacing right here is nice, as there’s all the time one thing occurring that’s transferring the story ahead, the place the fights by no means turn into boring or outstay their welcome. The primary assault on Awaji Island is especially placing due to the horde of cool monsters that must be fended off: large whale or narwhal-like creatures known as Slit Mouths, which clearly have large gaping mouths plus extremely powerful horns. Their general design appears to be very yokai-looking, however on the identical time impressed by Western creatures just like the kraken in the best way they attempt to sink the samurai ships.
There are additionally two new characters launched right here, one being the cool Kanetatsu Naoe, who seems to be not only a (hardly ever humble!) tax collector, however one of many Uesugi band’s strongest warriors. He’s a easy and trustworthy man however looks as if a strong addition as a aspect character, working as yet one more samurai for Musashi to idolise. The opposite, Yataro Inuda of the Obsidian Eight, is unfortunately the exact opposite, feeling very uninspired being an unsightly gigantic dude surrounded by a harem of bare younger women. Whereas his design screams wretched villainy, the Jabba the Hutt vibe comes off as dated and out of contact, significantly with how younger the women servicing him look. It’s actually a little bit of a disgrace, however a minimum of there’s a very good twist on the finish of this quantity about one character associated to him that’s really very well disguised.
A few of the different plot factors which are developed right here nevertheless miss the mark. The primary themes of this quantity are the worth of teamwork and what it takes to be chief, however I don’t suppose it will get the message throughout in an efficient or constant manner. Musashi’s collaborative type of management is pitted towards Akihiro’s dictatorial fashion, forcing the opposite unit members to obey on penalty of dying. Whereas it initially tries to painting Musashi’s beliefs as being higher, it weirdly shifts gears midway by means of to preferring Akihiro’s strategy, in that it’s higher to simply comply with orders with out query and match into the mould. Whereas Japan suits into that extra by way of its social make-up, I discover it odd it’s not met with criticism after the sooner conflict between the 2 beliefs. Issues are then moved extra off-base by pushing Musashi right into a damaging mindset and undoing quite a lot of his character growth from earlier volumes, making his previous achievements really feel nugatory.
When it really will get to the crux of the issue – Musashi being inexperienced and never realizing what he’s doing – it really works, however I don’t suppose it must belittle him a lot, though his naïve angle does make him a irritating character. There’s additionally a problem with it tending to repeat data that the reader already is aware of, which could be a bit tiresome. Some issues are elaborated on a bit extra, however for essentially the most half it’s stuff that you’ve both learn or ought to have found out earlier than.
Orient continues to be printed by Kodansha in each digital and bodily codecs. The bodily copy is nicely introduced, whereas translation is dealt with by each Nate Derr and Kevin Gifford and reads completely nicely with no points to talk of.
Total, Quantity 7 of Orient efficiently ramps up the motion and presents us with a enjoyable collection of fights however misses the mark in what it was going for with the path of the story, confusingly rolling again Musashi’s character growth and operating reverse to the message it was attempting to convey. It’s nonetheless doing simply sufficient to maintain me going with it by way of the artwork and motion, however it’s undoubtedly not as compelling a learn because it has been in some earlier volumes.