I’ve been keeping up with this series, though I haven’t felt the need to write anything more about it until now. That’s because for the past few volumes, the series has felt like it has been losing its focus. Where the initial conflict early on was defined between Maya’s Jukan group and Mitsuomi’s Executive Council, we’ve since seen the influx of characters from many of the supporting houses in this vast organization of fighters. Collectively known as “F” as in “Feathers of the Phoenix,” they’ve swelled the ranks of the supporting cast to the point where some kind of flow chart showing who’s who and who’s related to who else is sorely needed to make sense of all the new additions. Making matters worse is that the majority of them aren’t as well defined as the main cast and these additions tend to do little more than distract from the struggles of the characters I am interested in. This is especially frustrating to see in a character like Sohaku, Nagi’s father and head of “F,” who remains a frustratingly blank cipher in spite of the fact that his actions drive pretty much everything in this volume.
However, by the end of the volume it starts to feel that Oh! Great has come to the same conclusion and realized that the time has come to refocus on the core conflict of the series. (It even seems like he felt the same way about Sohaku... though that’s just my interpretation.) The volume, like all the others also has some supreme moments of style that continue to make it worth reading in spite of its flaws. Mitsuomi’s “fist-to-face rebuttal” and seeing a man’s arm cut through lengthwise are but two examples, while Maya’s “MY BROTHER SENT ME BACK FROM THE RIVER STYX!” moment is an unmitigated thrill and one of the title’s high points. Right now, the series is too bogged down in ancillary characters and pointless subplots to really shine, but it’s showing signs that things may be turning around so that we may yet witness its return to form.