This rambling and energetically chaotic volume finally catches us up to the Japanese release after a couple years of waiting. Now we get to wait some more as mangaka Kohta Hirano has never been known for having the strictest work ethic. He’s not in the same league as “Berserk’s” Kentaro Miura, but this volume shipped in Japan back in June 2016 so maybe that county will see a new one later this year and we’ll get it in 2019?
Enough with the speculation. Vol. 4 benefitted from the fact that it was basically a volume-length story about the Drifters capturing the capital city of Orte and allowed Hirano to focus the narrative accordingly. With vol. 5, things split off in multiple directions. We start off with a visit to the lands of the Black King and get some insight into how he’s running things and what his endgame is. Then we jump over to Nobunaga and his plan to turn two enemy generals against one another while Saint Germain negotiates with a rich merchant for the necessary funds and supplies for their war against the Black King. We’ve also got a Japanese fighter pilot teaming up with a Rear Admiral, the Black King’s Ends going out to war, and Toyohisa demonstrating cluelessness that transcends into brilliance as he tries to rally refugees for war.
With all that’s going on in this volume it should read like an impenetrable mess. Fortunately Hirano structures all of these plot threads so that the development we get from them is relatively self-contained and easy to digest. He’s still jumping all over the place throughout the course of the volume, but by the end it all starts to come into focus. I’d still kill for some kind of dramatis personae to kick off the volume because I’m not familiar with all of the Drifters/Ends in this series. It’s still a satisfying volume overall and one that allows me to keep faith in the series as we wait for vol. 6.