Rasetsu and Tail of the Moon Prequel

These two volumes are continuations of other series that I’ve enjoyed in the past, Yurara and Tail of the Moon. I was curious to see if these spin-off series were as enjoyable as the manga that inspired them.

Rasetsu Volume 1 by Chika Shiomi

For some reason it took me a long time to read this book. I kept picking it up, reading a few pages, and putting it down. While the story seemed to fit well as a continuation of Yurara, there was a certain amount of dramatic tension missing that I think I subconsiously expected from the previous series. Rasetsu is a woman who has a very familiar look to her – she resembles Yurara’s guardian spirit. Yako, the ghost hunter from the previous series is all grown up and when he goes to visit Rasetsu’s agency he is struck with her resemblance to the spirit he loved and lost.

He tags along on Rasetsu’s missions and is able to help out with his water-based powers that contain spirits. Rasetsu has a habit of powering up before exorcisms by eating an insane amount of sweets. She’s also possessed by an evil spirit who threatens to consume her forever if she doesn’t find her true love. There’s a certain amount of attraction between the outspoken and spunky Rasetsu and the stoic and somewhat antisocial Yako. He gets in trouble with the unfortunate suggestion that Rasetsu consume straight sugar instead of spending a fortune every week visiting cake shops. I’m probably going to buy the second volume of this series due to my residual fondness for Yako as a character, but I’m not finding Rasetsu nearly as entertaining as Yurara yet. I hope the second volume is better.

Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u) by Rinko Ueda

The Hattori clan seems to have an odd habit of naming all their ninjas Hanzo. So while Hanzo Hattori and Usagi’s romance was detailed in Tail of the Moon, the other Hanzo(u) was the blond and womanizing Hanzou who was steadfastly in love with the ninja princess Sara despite his roving eyes. Tail of the Moon Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u) gives readers a glimpse into the origin of the romance between Hanzou and Sara.

A girl named Kaguya has a case of horrible amnesia and a crescent shaped scar on her back. She was taken in by a brothel and works by cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children there. One day the infamous Hanzou visits the brothel. When he catches a glimpse of Kaguya he is curious about her and offers to pay for the time just to talk to her. He brings her a hair ornament and they begin to spend more time together. They fall in love. But their love is a forbidden one, because Kaguya is actually the ninja Sara from a rival ninja clan! She was sent to kill Hanzou’s master and nearly succeeded, except Hanzou wounded her in battle thus causing her amnesia. When Hanzou tells her the truth, she runs out into the woods, stunned that she’s actually his enemy.

Sara’s companion ninja Rikimaru locates her and with her lost memory activated she gets to work to fulfill the terms of her botched mission despite her desire not to cause harm to Hanzou. There’s never any doubt that these lovers will prevail somehow. A second story in the volume features Sara’s undercover mission where she almost marries Usagi’s Hanzo in order to retrieve a valuable recipe for gunpowder. I enjoyed reading about these secondary characters from Tail of the Moon. Ueda’s art features clear, crisp layouts that highlight both smooching and ninja action. This was a satisfying single volume, and while it doesn’t have the comedic antics of Tail of the Moon I think it would serve as a good introduction to Ueda’s work for people who might hesitate to pick up a multi-volume series.