First Impression: Shura no Toki Volume 16

Nanaten's Random Review

Shura no Toki Volume 16

I haven't done a first impression a while now. It was so long time ago, I forgot how do I make first impression. Last time I make a first impression was when I went to get a signature and detained because of my sidelock.

Anyway, I finally found low quality scans of Shura no Toki volume 16. However, the color pages was over saturated. And since I'm never good at color correction, I'll just leave it at that. I also have acquired the magazine scans all except the final chapter. They have better color pages, but has a downside on normal ones. So I'll just mix both scans for this review.

It is hard to talk about this arc in particular without spoiling Shura no Mon. So spoilers ahead.

Mutsu Enmei Ryuu Gaiden - Shura no Toki: Showa Hen
Story and Art: Masatoshi Kawahara
Publisher: Kodansha (Monthly Shonen Magazine)

The manga begins with Yamada (his real name is revealed to be Utsusu, but I'm still going to call him Yamada) looking at the ocean along with a narration. The narration tells about how humans, just like a river, will be separated and rejoin in a ocean. This symbolises the Enmei Ryuu, how it branched out into Mutsu and Fuwa, never making any contact with another, and in this arc, meet again. And the narration ended with Yamada making a laid-back remark.

First chapter is about young Yamada's job as a bodyguard for a Yakuza. This explains how the Fuwa is able to make a living through the underworld. This bodyguard job and Yamada's laid-back personality kinda reminds me of Yakumo's arc.
Yamada: "Huh? Whoa.... (What's with his eyes?)"
Kenshin: "What is your name?"
During the job, Yamada encountered young Kenshin Maeda. He's the man that was mentioned during the course of the fourth arc of Shura no Mon (Tsukumo fought him before Dai ni Mon, setting up the arc). He's on a trip destroying dojo while looking for a Mutsu. They later become friends and go to Mutsu mountain (they lived in a mountain, so I'm just gonna call it that).
In the mountain, they met Shizuru (Teppei's granddaughter and Tsukumo's mother). I would like to point out that her entrance was a nice throwback to Takato's appearance (you know, the boar riding scene). Last year, I wondered how Shizuru is able to get Mutsu name. However, it is confirmed in this arc that just like Hazuki (volume 15), she's unable to become a Mutsu. After the encounter, romance started to bloom between the three.

The fights in each chapters only last briefly. But that brief moments were memorable. It shows what Kenshin is capable of and how demonic can he be. My personal favorite is Kenshin vs. Shizuru. It has a deep emotional impact on me.

I want to point out this is the first Shura no Toki that completely focused on fictional characters. The only historical figure in this arc, Shiro Kashiwagi, only appears in the first chapter to really convey the time period. After that, the arc completely focused on Yamada, Kenshin, and Shizuru.

Yamada, being Yamada that he is, takes all the credit for the humor. I mentioned many times of how I really loved Yamada's character. There's something about his charm that reminds me of Fan Gamma Bizen. He's laid-back, charismatic, and never lose himself when things get real. His jokes are not over the top like Shima of Fudekage, but I always laughed during that hospital scene at volume 8 of Dai ni Mon. He's the Yin of Kenshin's bloodthirsty demonic Yang. However, I don't feel the chemistry between the two, as Kenshin is way too uptight (and bloodthirsty, seriously, he's just in it for blood).

Kenshin so far has been portrayed as a bloodthirsty demon throughout the entire series. We knew absolutely nothing about him except for carrying his master's will to defeat Mutsu. His interactions with Yamada and Shizuru kinda show us the human side of him that we didn't get to see back at the main series.
"Sorry I'm dead" face
As for Shizuru... well, Kawahara-sensei really designed her to be the tragic heroine. We already know from Shura no Mon that she has a weak body. And knowing what will happen to her just makes me sympathize with her more. She's trying to hide that fact from both Kenshin and Yamada by acting cheerful 24/7. I mentioned that she's unable to become a Mutsu. She's aware of the fact and still tries to become one.

Now, what is Shura no Toki without the romance? Even though I already know whom Shizuru had kids with, the chemistry between the three is a nice love triangle recipe. Their personalities balance each other out. Yamada being the laid-back type, Kenshin being the serious one, and Shizuru being the cheerful one. If only I haven't read Dai ni Mon, I would wonder whom Shizuru settled with. There's also a flashback on how Shizuru's mother married Shingen (Tsukumo's grandfather)

I want to protect this smile
In conclusion, Shura no Toki Showa Arc is a great prequel to Shura no Mon and Dai ni Mon and a good way to end Shura series (looking forward to Ryusui no Tsubasa). It's good to see other side of Kenshin other than someone Tsukumo had a duel with and I always love for more Yamada.