Thursday, July 12, 2012

Animal Land vol. 5

When we last left off in volume 4, Taroza and his village of friendly herbivores were face to face with a new human named "Jyu", and Jyu had something in his possession that struck fear into their very hearts. Fire. Fire that can turn a lush forest into an ashen wasteland and kill all the animals within. Taroza has never encountered fire before and is rendered helpless to Jyu's seemingly evil plans to disrupt the peace Taroza has created and revert the animal kingdom back to it's natural state of survival of the fittest. With all of the village's fields and homes burned to a crisp, and some animals renouncing Taroza's peaceful ways, we seem to have a possible antagonist on our hands with Jyu, or so I thought...

After almost giving up his cause himself, Taroza decides with Monoko's help that he was not wrong in his quest for peace and friendship among all animals. Determined to rebuild, Taraza rallies the remaining animals that are still true to his cause. Along the way, some interesting new concepts are introduced. Though Jyu's fire instilled fear into Taroza and the other animals, it also inadvertently introduced them to cooking. They found that the crops that were not destroyed by the fire, such as yams and cabbage, were enhanced with new flavors from the cooking. This reinvigorated Taroza's dream of finding a meat substitute for carnivores. Another new concept that Taroza invented is the use of numbers. With numbers, Taroza is able to more precisely explain how many trees need to be cut down for lumber and are even used by the wacky group of llamas to save some lives, albeit in a most hilarious way. Leave it to the llamas to bring some much welcomes laughs into this volume with a grim start. You've got to love watching Taroza continue to learn and grow, and watching him make use of fire, cooking and numbers is kind of like watching an experiment go down. Everything is new to him and he has no one to teach him this stuff. It's quite interesting to wonder what he will discover next.

Not long after the exit of Jyu, a quest of sorts is triggered partly by the need to find a greater water source to combat the use of fire, and partly by the need to escort a strange new friend back to his mother. This strange new friend is a giraffe named Pinta, and Pinta intrigues Taroza with his tale of the ocean. Taroza isn't the only one intrigued. My interest is also piqued. One of my favorite things about this series is all the weird and imaginative animal designs. Bringing an ocean ecosystem into the mix has the potential to be very awesome indeed. I personally can't wait to see sharks and whales wearing funny outfits and conversing with Taroza. I have a feeling Makoto Raiku will have lots of fun with this. Hopefully we will get a taste of the ocean setting in volume six.

On their journey to the ocean and to return Pinta to his mother, Taroza and gang encounter a fierce, new species. Hyenas. At first, the encounter turns into a battle between Taroza's group and the hyenas, but Taroza quickly defuses the situation with his invaluable skill of talking to all animal species. They soon come to learn that the hyenas are under constant attack from a group of horses, who being herbivores is quite strange. But why? Why are the normally peaceful horses assaulting the carnivorous hyenas. In the midst of the hostilities, we come to learn of yet another human, named "Giller". Giller purposely tricked the horses into waging war with the hyenas, for an unknown purpose. As I said, I at first thought that Jyu was going to be the first, real villain, but after seeing a sample of Giller's work, Jyu doesn't seem so bad. Where Jyu just wants to seemingly restore the natural ways of the animal kingdom(though in a quite violent way), Giller seems to want to spread chaos, discord, and war amongst the animals. The opposite of Taroza's dream of peace. With this introduction of an evil antagonist, the story seems to be taking quite the leap forward.

This volume was fast paced and full of action, comedy and interesting developments. There was an especially big twist there at the end that I won't talk about this time. Needless to say, I'm even more excited to continue reading this story than I was before. I'll be picking up volume six for sure.

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