Erementar Gerade, Vols. 3 – 4
by Mayumi Azuma
Rating: Teen (13+)
The third volume of Erementar Gerade kicks off with Cou, Ren and Cisqua crashing in on Wolx’s attempt at selling his captured Edel Raids, including their companion Kuea! After that the group finds themselves caught up in an underground Edel Raid fight club as they attempt to raise money for their trip to Edel Garden.
And here we begin to see the shounen-y heart of the series coming to the forefront. Following a rather brutal hand to hand fight between Wolx and Cisqua the Arc Aile contingent, previously looking to capture and defeat the Edel Raid hunter, instead cut a deal with him and the two groups part as friends. Following the conclusion of that story the series launches into an arc involving an underground Eden Raid fight club, which really seems to be an excuse to give Cou and Ren some time to train and explain in more detail the relationship between Edel Raids and their Pleasures, those that wield them, and the nature of their powers and abilities. Throughout the story Mayumi Azuma continues to touch upon the idea of women being exploited and treated as objects through her use of Edel Raids. It reaches new levels as our heroes witness an attempted rape upon an Edel Raid and we see more of the buying and selling of Edel Raids, something that once again brings to mind the illegal sex trafficking industry. It’s not all clever metaphors and subversive messages about the treatment of women though. Indeed there’s one scene that does a lot to reinforce certain gender roles and stereotypes. It comes when Cou and Ren are discussing the nature of their relationship and Cou states that he wants to protect Ren because… he’s a man and she’s a girl. Ugh. One step forwards, two steps back. Hopefully it’s something that will take a bit of a back seat or be subverted as the series progresses though.
The artwork seems to be getting more and more solid with each volume. While there are still some issues with the clarity of the action scenes, they’re definitely more coherent and easier to follow than those of the first two volumes. This is especially true of a surprisingly intense fight scene where Cisqua gets to strut her stuff in combat against an Edel Raid user. Mayumi Azuma imbues the blows the two exchange with a surprisingly good sense of force and power. While the character designs still leave me wanting, particularly the designs of the Edel Raids when they’re in their weapon form, a few new characters and outfits for existing characters appear and they’re a bit more to my liking. Clearly though that’s a matter of taste but I did find Cisqua’s hand to hand gear a bit more interesting and memorable then her normal clothing.
I have to admit that the series is starting to grow on me a bit, though at this point I’m not terribly interested in Ren or Cou. No, right now it’s the supporting cast that’s interesting me more. That’s not really that unusual for me and shonen manga though. Still, there’s a nice subversive feel to the series at times in the way it stealthily injects doses of real world womens issues into the series via Edel Raids.