Erementar Gerade, Vols. 5 – 6
The fifth volume of Mayumi Azuma’s Erementar Gerade finished off the fight club story and expands upon the background and personalities Rasati and Lilea, a Pleasure and Edel Raid duo that was introduced at the beginning of the arc. From there the ever growing group begins their journey across the sea. In the sixth volume the group continues their journey across the ocean and crosses swords with the mysterious Greyarts!
With these two volumes we see the relationship between Edel Raids and their Pleasures shift a little bit. Up until volume five the Edel Raid/Pleasure relationships have generally been Male/Female. While there was a brief encounter with a Female/Female team, it’s only with these volumes that we get a real introduction and look at a same sex Edel Raid/Pleasure duo. Rasati and Lilea’s relationship shifts the idea of love and closeness from one of friendship, romance and exploitation to one of familial love and care instead. Given that up until now there was a strong underlying theme of men exploiting women for their own needs versus genuine love and friendship it’s interesting to see this permutation show up. The end of volume six features a return to the underlying theme of exploitation and abuse as we see an antagonist being punished in a way that’s more than a little evocative of sexual abuse. It’s actually a rather disturbing scene and stands out in stark contrast to everything else that’s been going on in the series so far. In fact the entire second half of volume six takes a surprisingly dark and disturbing tone. As for the cast, Cou continues to be slightly obnoxious and hot headed though he’s slowly beginning to calm down a bit. Unfortunately it’s not enough to really make him likable and I still find myself far more interested in the Arc Aile group and Rasati and Lilea.
Mayumi Azuma’s art continues to improve though I’m still not in love with it. It’s certainly serviceable and the action scenes are getting significantly easier to follow, but the designs still feel a tad too generic with few standing out or really capturing the imagination. Greyarts, for example, just kind of blends into the background as someone who’s supposed to be slick and stylish and cool looking but is ultimately forgettable. It’s a hard thing to really define. The best comparison I can come up with is the differences between Street Fighter and King of Fighters character designs. While the King of Fighters characters often look cool, modern and very hip and stylish they don’t quite capture the imagination or break into that iconic territory that make the Street Fighter character designs so memorable. I think a lot of it has to do with the designs conveying something of the characters personalities and when you dress an entire cast like they just walked out of an upscale, high fashion boutique they generally won’t convey much. Rasati, so far, is the stand out for the series in my opinion. Her design is interesting, not overly complex, and it conveys quite a bit about her character and who she is as a person.
The series is.. interesting. The dark and slightly disturbing twists and turns of these two volumes really has me wondering what the hell’s going on. It’s just such a strong shift in the tone of the series that it’s really taken me by surprise. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little curious to see how some of it plays out though.