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Brave 10, Vol. 4

Welcome to this pre-U.S. Thanksgiving edition of my midweek manga reviews! This week I’ll be looking at Brave 10, Vol. 4 by Kairi Shimotsuki and published by DMP. But first, some news!

With the news out of the way, it’s time for this week’s review of Brave 10, Vol. 4!

Brave 10, Vol. 4Brave 10, Vol. 4
by Kairi Shimotsuki
DMP/Emanga.com, 208 pp
Rating: Young Adults (16 +)

The fourth volume of Kairi Shimotsuki’s historical fantasy, Brave 10, furthers the continuing adventures of Saizo, Isanami, Sarutobi Sasuke and the rest of the warriors who comprise Yukimura Sanada’s Ten Braves, as they attempt to fend off attempts by rival warlords and their minions to capture Isanami and the mysterious power of the Kushitama. This volume features crazy monks, mysterious ninjas, internal rivalries and Saizo excerise a surprising amount of self awareness as the plot thickens and one of the Braves takes his leave.

There’s quite a bit going on in this volume, but much of it feels like padding in an attempt to delay the inevitable. Once more enemies of Sanada send their forces to try and retrieve the Kushitama, the apparent McGuffin of the series, and once more their attempts are repulsed by the Saizo and his allies. There is some small movement on the larger mysteries and plot of the series, but despite the addition of a new Brave and a moment of realization for Saizo, this volume really just felt like it was spinning its wheels. A new group of foes are introduced, but they don’t really amount to much beyond prompting Saizo to resolve some of his internal conflict regarding his place and relationship with those around him, and to give Kairi a chance to show off the abilities of some of the other Braves as well. What little movement we get surrounding the mystery of the Kushitama feels divorced from the rest of the events of this volume. The build up surrounding the tiny bit of movement is actually well done, but it’s immediately sidelined and never spoken of again, leaving one a bit frustrated regarding it’s impact. Something like this might be a bit more forgivable if the rest of the volume didn’t feel quite so directionless and like a rehash of what’s come before in the series.

Kairi Shimtsuki’s art continues to be a mixed bag. There are a few action sequences in here which show glimmers of potential and a nice handling of time and pacing, while other sequences are rendered unintelligible due to the large amount of toning, sound effects, flappy costume bits and more. While Kairi has never shied away from complex detailed costume designs, two of the new characters seem to take this to an entirely new level. The new antagonist is sporting a costume and hair style with some many straps, strands of hair and tiny patterns, that I shudder to think of the time it took her to draw it. The character’s hair style is certainly memorable though with a bit that’s reminiscent of Katara’s hair loopies from the original Avatar series. The series is full of similarly elaborate designs and at times I can’t help but think that they’d make really lovely figurines, statues or models, but that must be a nightmare to keep track of when mapping out action scenes and fights. That said, they are quite lovely to look at when on the covers and in other splash pages, but their overly ornate bits simply add to the confusion and clutter in some of their action sequences.

Brave 10 is one of those series that’s interesting and can be fairly engaging at times, but often feels like it’s treading water. While there are some rather large character moments in this volume, they’re done in such a way that feels formulaic and cliche. The action scenes are nice and at times are one of the series high points, with a few choice scenes peppering the 208 pages of Brave 10, Vol. 4.

Brave 10, Vol. 4 is available now from Digital Manga Publishing and Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. November 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm

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