This volume follows the three very different storylines of our leading ladies on the cover. Asa and Keiichi, the research assistant, took off in her plane at the end of volume 4, and now they're trying to figure out how to take out the giant monster before it makes landfall off the coast of Kamakura. Keiichi is frantically trying to decipher the professor's notes that potentially have a weakness identified, but the professor's handwriting is too illegible to figure out. Yone was scouted by a talent agent in the last volume and he brings her back to his office, but someone claiming to be her guardian comes to "rescue" her from the scout taking advantage of her, but also "advocate" for her with outfits that accentuate all of her assets. Miyako is cornered in a warehouse by hooligans who want to have their way with her, but she's saved by members of a clandestine women's fighting ring. Asa and Keiichi get themselves into trouble when Asa flies too far out to sea in a plane that isn't rated for night flights.
Mao comes across yet another of his fellow apprentices who should not be alive after 900 years. It seems no one remembers every detail of what happened so long ago between all of the apprentices and their master, so Mao keeps searching for answers. Mao and fellow apprentice Hakka take out several water shikigami with the help of Nanoka, who has an affinity for earth spells and can take on water monsters with ease. Many bad guys are looking for the “taizanfukun” spell that Mao's master was guarding, the most powerful onmyoji spell said to grant long life. The last Mao saw of it, Byoki was devouring it, so now everyone's sending shikigami after Mao to see if his connection to Byoki can restore the taizanfukun spell.
Illustrated by Nekokurage
After figuring out what ailment has stricken one of the emperor’s concubines and their child, Maomao has been instructed by the emperor to nurse his concubine back to health. The ladies-in-waiting, though, have made her job much more difficult, by questioning her methods at every turn and continuing to use the banned poisonous foundation on their mistress. Maomao shames the offending lady-in-waiting, and suddenly al the others fall in line as well. The eunuch Jinshi is witness to Maomao’s sternness. Once back in the realm of her Lady, Maomao learns the emperor and his court are planning to put on an elaborate party in the garden during spring - which is still very cold. Maomao sews pockets in her clothes for warm stones, and quickly finds herself doing the same for most everyone else she knows. During her official capacity as food taster, she notices a food allergy amongst one of the other concubines, and someone deliberately trying to poison her.
Vol 1: The Cauldron of Life, illustrated by Justin Greenwood, colored by Daniela Miwa
Shahidah is a scholar who hails from the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, and she finds herself in Wales searching for the Cauldron of Annwn, one of the Thirteen Treasures of the world, and an object said to give eternal live. But Shahidah is not alone in her quest. Following close behind her, led by one of her fellow scholars, is the forces of Margul Khan. If the Margul gets ahold of eternal life, he is sure to conquer the known world! Shahidah uses her quick wits, and sometimes impressive fighting skills, to track down the mystery of this supposedly mythological item.
Mao and Byoki's disembodied head square off in a battle that has been building for the last several volumes. Mao unleashes his other form, which looks very much like it could be Byoki's missing body. During the fight, Nanoka's younger self comes through the gate into the battle, and present day Nanoka begins to remember some of the flashes that traumatized her that day. Byoki realizes Nanoka could also be a vessel for his power, so he runs after her as she retreats back through the gate to her time. Mao releases an ayakashi and sends it after little Nanoka to protect her. Present day Nanoka returns to her time to sort out who the ayakashi is, and to determine who Byoki is in her life. Mao, meanwhile, must begin to sort out what happened to him hundreds of years ago when Byoki attacked, which is complicated by him discovering several other apprentices from hundreds of years ago are still alive when they should all be long dead.
Thorkell and his warriors stuff their faces at a local inn and bemoan the winter that has put a stop to their glorious fighting. Then, they get word that Askelaad is holed up in a village north of them, and Thorkell rallies his men for a fast march to catch up. Askelaad puts Thorfinn on duty guarding prince Canute, which is how Thorfinn discovers Canute can cook. The Ear hears Thorkell's troops approaching, but it’s a little too late. They've only managed to build three sleds, which isn’t enough to take all their loot and people across the difficult snow-covered terrain. Askelaad decides to set his plans in motion, including robbing Canute of his most faithful servant. Some of Askelaad's men start to defect, hoping Thorkell will have better luck, but Thorkell has no place in his ranks for turncoats. Then, Askelaad's men start to fight against Askelaad, but his exceptional strength and fighting abilities keep him alive until Thorkell finally catches up. Despite his assignment to watch the prince, Thorfinn crashes back into the throngs of warriors, demanding the right to kill Askelaad himself. Thorkell challenges him to a duel for the honor of killing Askelaad, and reveals he knows much about Thors as he parries Thorfinn's attacks.
Askelaad and his forces, including Thorfinn, have become entwined with the Danish forces laying siege to England in the early 1000s. They first try to invade London, but a turncoat Viking is helping fortify London’s channel. Askelaad sends Thorfinn to bring back the head of this traitor, Thorkell, but Thorfinn only succeeds in cutting off a few fingers. Askelaad’s forces then save the Danish prince from being captured by Thorkell, and all they can think about is the reward from the king for saving his son. Askelaad leads his men into Wales where he has some allies, and we learn more about his lineage, which is impressive and surprising. Thorfinn is assigned to guard the prince, but Thorfinn can’t get over how weak and feminine this prince is.
A fishing boat off the coast capsizes as a result of an encounter with the Monster, so it’s go time for Asa and Kasuga! That is, when Agent A-Kura can get back to his car after it was towed for illegal parking. Yone wants to bring Asa along for her talent agency audition for moral support, but Asa has to find Kasuga and get the plane up in the air as soon as possible. Kasuga's gone missing - he's off chasing a no-good reporter who has taken roles of photos of Asa, their plane, and their supply of munitions. Then, Asa’s little brother comes down with a sickness and A-Kura offers to take him to the doctor. Nakaido is frantically searching through the notes of Professor Yodogawa for anything that might be helpful, and when he thinks he might be close to the creature’s weakness, he goes up in the plane with Asa in Kasuga’s place.
Hanako's love for her favorite author moves her to travel from Japan to England in the early 1900s, in search of more information and potentially studying under him. To her disappointment, the author is extremely secretive, and the publisher won't release any details. Alice Douglas, a noblewoman, takes pity on Hanako's plight and offers her a job as her personal maid. They both share a love for this hermit of an author, so Alice offers Hanako a place to stay and employment while she waits for the author to make contact. Alice is also betrothed to a kind English gentlemen, but that doesn't stop the rumors from flying. Many warn Alices' fiancé to intervene between Alice and Hanako before there becomes a repeat situation - Alice becoming too close and too friendly with her maidservant.
Nanako and Mao continue to battle some evil deeds that are coming out of a local shrine. The priestess is able to predict the deaths of villagers, with amazing accuracy. However, there is some Tom-foolery at play, and the curses are not what they seem. Mao is able to release the demonic spirit that has been harnessed to carry out the curses, and the spirit rebounds upon the caster. On her way to jail, the priestess predicts the end of the world: fireballs engulfing the town while a huge earthquake rips open the streets. Nanako goes back to her time to research what this event could be, and finds it coincides with a terrible earthquake that does much of what the priestess said. She goes back to Mao’s time to try and prevent or at least save some of the townsfolk, but like everything in Mao’s time, the historical record of what happens isn’t as accurate as the truth, especially when more evil spirits — and possibly Byouki — are involved.
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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