Friday, April 19, 2013

Animal Land vol. 7

Volume 7 picks up right where volume 6 left off. Giller and his fearsome Chimera's continue to assault Riemu's village of gorillas, but just as things were looking grim, Taroza awakens the powerful ability to sync up with other animals and choreograph their movements mentally. Using the strength of the gorillas and the aerial advantage of birds, Taroza manages to finally defeat one of the chimeras, but not without great strain on his mind and body. I'm not sure how I feel about this new ability yet. Yeah, it could lead to some really creative fights, but the idea of the shonen hero controlling of creatures basically as his puppet weapons is kind of odd. I guess as long as the animals are willing, it's no big deal, but it's not like he asks those birds if they wanted to join a fight to the death.

Even with this new found ability of Taroza's, exhaustion set in and he ended up being no match for Giller's forces. Desperate to save everyone's lives, Riemu attempted to negotiate with Giller. Hand over the notes of the mysterious "Quo", or die. Of course, Giller being the villain felt no obligation to keep his promise, and once he had what he wanted, proceeded to slaughter Riemu's entire village. Luckily, village elder Gorion thought ahead and pleaded with Taroza to use his power one last time to control the village children into hiding, and with the village children safe, Taroza and his group made their escape back home with the distraught Riemu in tow. Back at the village, Taroza concocts a plan to cheer up Riemu and make her feel at home. He puts together a sports festival of sorts, where all the animals work together to complete obstacles for prizes. I was a little too distracted by the main plot to properly enjoy this chapter, but looking back, it was quite necessary for Riemu's character. Besides giving her time to heal emotionally, it gave her a chance to bond with Taroza's village. It was also interesting to see three of the five humans come together to interact. Now we have Taroza, Capri and Riemu all together in one spot for the first time.

Meanwhile, Jyu, the would-be antagonist that we met in earlier volumes has had his own encounter with Giller. Giller deems Jyu to be the perfect test subject for his Chimera's to beat up on. Jyu disagrees and fares much better than Taroza's group. Just Jyu and his wolf Olivia make quick work of the single Chimeras. This is where the Chimeras are explained, and given their name, it's not really a surprise or anything. They can actually absorb the flesh of other creatures and take on their traits to become more fearsome. This time, Giller gives a Chimera some gorilla flesh from when he killed off Riemu's village. This new gorilla Chimera actually looks a lot cooler than the base Chimera design. Kind of like a mutated King Kong. Very scary. And this gorilla Chimera was much more fearsome than the regular Chimeras that Jyu faced before. So much so that it forced him to flee for his life, but not before declaring that he will be the one to kill Giller one day. This is an interesting turn for Jyu's character, if not kind of predictable. For those who have read 'Zatch Bell', Jyu evokes the spirit of Brago in both design and demeanor. Brago is kind of like the Vegeta to Zatch's Goku. I'm not sure if Jyu will become an ally to Taroza outright, but at least now they have a shared enemy in Giller. So in a way, it feels like Makoto Raiku is following an old pattern. Something I haven't felt until now with 'Animal Land'. We'll see how things really turn out though.

Two whole seasons pass and now that Taroza has enough Eternal Fruit seeds to sustain a crop, it is time to test it on some carnivores. Much to his delight, the Eternal Fruit passes with flying colors with Capri's lion friends. Taroza still doesn't know if he will succeed where Quo failed, but at least for this one moment, he can be happy. And this is where things really pique my interest. It seems like in each volume, even if there are some slow parts, there is always a huge plot bombshell. And this one didn't disappoint. Riemu tells Taroza and Capri that though she gave Giller Quo's notebook, he actually had a second one that she kept. This notebook has some very intriguing information. It seems that Jyu, Taroza, Capri, Riemu, and Giller are known as the "miracle children" and where brought to this era where animals rule from all different time periods. According to Quo, the survival of humanity rest in their hands and he also wants one of them to continue his dream of a peaceful world where all animals live in harmony. Quo created a machine called the "Gaia Spinal" that if turned on, would allow for all animals to communicate with each other. Quo speculated that it would most surely cause mass confusion and war, but he felt that it was the only chance of peace. Always in the back of my mind is the thought that both Quo and Taroza's goal of peace among all animals in not feasible. What, are all animals going to come together holding hands and eating miracle fruit with no killing ever again? In the world we live in where there has hardly been a time without war and there are senseless killings every day, this is an idea that just seems impossible and my mind refuses to comprehend it. It's like as a human, I've been conditioned to believe that violence is inevitable, which is quite sad. That's why I really want Taroza to succeed, but Makoto Raiku will really impress me if he manages to do it in a believable way. This "Gaia Spinal" gamble seems like a step in the right direction.

After deliberating about the information found in Quo's notes, both Riemu and Capri believed that they shouldn't turn on the machine and that they should just focus on protecting the peace that they already had in their small village. Surely it is impossible to replicate and sustain these results the world over? Interestingly enough, with some thought, Taroza agreed. This intrigues me because this is basically a shonen protagonist giving up his dream that had previously drove the story forward. But it wasn't due to wavering will. Taroza actually put thought into it and came to the conclusion that his dream was unrealistic, as well as reaffirmed in his mind the things that were really important to him that he needed to protect. I find this mentality to be quite rare for shonen main characters, and I kind of like it. Though I seriously doubt this will be the end of it. The manga is on its 10th volume in Japan, so something must happen to set Taroza back into action. Too bad for me that I'll have to wait until October when volume 8 comes out to find out just what that is...

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