Monday, June 20, 2016

Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story Vol. #2 Manga Review

We are...the four champions of Rubrum!

Creative Staff:
Art: Takatoshi Shiozawa
Supervision/Character Design: Tetsuya Nomura
Story: Hiroki Chiba
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee

What They Say:
From the ashes of tragedy rises unbridled strength. Those four, wrought by suffering and burdened with despair, will overcome insurmountable odds to become known as the Four Champions of Rubrum.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Following the near-complete slaughter of their classmates during a test of courage, the four remaining cadets from Class Two are honored by Akademia for their ability to survive in worst-case-scenario circumstances. Having the utmost faith in these newly proclaimed "Four Champions of Rubrum," the commanding officers of Akademia send the cadets out on a mission to calm things down in Concordia (Which, just to remind you, was the country ultimately responsible for the death of the rest of Class Two). Still being stricken with grief and blaming herself for the massacre, Miwa elects to remain behind for the time being as Kurasame and Guren set out to calm things down on their own. Kotetsu, not wanting Miwa to carry this burden alone, stays back with her and attempts to help her cope.

After being approached by the commanding officer of Class One, Takatsugu, Miwa is given a sort of wake-up call. Takatsugu essentially tells her that even if the death of her classmates is her fault, just sitting back and doing nothing isn't going to save anyone. Miwa immediately takes this to heart considering the circumstances of their new mission. Not wanting to delay any longer, Miwa gets over her burden and sets out to provide backup with Kotetsu.

Meanwhile, Kurasame and Guren wind up coming across a rather interesting Concordian duo -- a feeble old lady and her pet Tonberry. This old lady (Who is also the first person the cadets come across in Concordia) provides a fantastic first impression as she invites them into her house and gives them a brief rundown on the current conditions of her village. As it turns out, the monsters in the area have begun to run rampant, berserking through the forest without any sense of control. However, this woman's congeniality is what ultimately caused things to turn sour from this point on. 

Kurasame and Guren, not wanting to delay any longer, set out to the main village where they were initially designated to. After warmly being greeted by the mayor of the town as well as the local innkeeper, the two don't suspect a thing. However, this time around, the congeniality is a farce. The mayor and innkeeper lure Guren and Kurasame into a trap, separating them before attacking. Immediately after Kurasame sprints off to "Rescue the innkeeper's daughter," Guren is subdued and thought to be dead. Kurasame, on the other hand, gets locked in a battle with a young, Concordian (Or so we believe) girl who we find out was actually rejected from Akademia. Fueled by her rage and the desire to prove herself, this girl (Yumemi) unleashes a barrage of magical attacks backed by advanced close-quarters combat. Considering that Concordians are typically incapable of using magic, Kurasame is caught by surprise and immediately falls into the losing half of the battle. However, just as things are about to end for him, Miwa shows up and is able to fend off Yumemi's attacks.

Back at the inn, Kotetsu isn't going to be tricked as easily as Guren. Within just seconds of his arrival, he spots that something is a bit "off" about the way he's being treated. After quickly calling their bluff and accusing them of using magic, the mayor and innkeeper begin a second wave of attacks against Kotetsu. Just as the fight begins, Guren breaks through the wall, surprising the fake Concordians in not being dead. From this point on, the volume becomes a grand-scale battle between the four champions of Rubrum and the rogue magic-users taking residence in the Concordian village.

The cadets are ultimately able to repel the Concordians and break their control over the monsters in the area, completing their mission and returning peace to the village. After returning, time skips forward about two years to the point where the champions have grown quite popular around Rubrum. Their latest mission, guard duty at a royal party, ends up with them killing an assassin set out to kill the princess. One thing leads to another and said princess winds up being guarded by Kurasame and Miwa as the two set out to escort her to safety. The volume comes to a close after the princess is separated from Kurasame and kidnapped by a wandering [Concordian] soldier.

In Summary:
Even though I'd classify volume two as a step back from the first volume, there's still enough action and exposition to carry this one through to the next. The addition of the old lady and the Tonberry furthers my faith in The Ice Reaper's ability to weave dramatic storytelling highlighted by tragic plot points. The action is a little hard to follow at points, but it's nothing that makes the series unreadable. All in all, I'm excited to read the next volume and am looking forward to our characters as they progress down an extremely dangerous path.

Content Grade: B-
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 3, 2015
MSRP: $12.99

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