Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story Vol. #5 Manga Review (Finale)

Let's just say some things stay with us.

Creative Staff:
Art: Takatoshi Shiozawa
Supervision/Character Design: Tetsuya Nomura
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Lettering: Katie Blakeslee and 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)
The final mission for the Four Champion of Rubrum rages on as we inch closer and closer to the conclusion of the series. With Guren gone and Kurasame separated from Kotetsu and Miwa, he's left to fend for himself against an ambush from Milites soldiers. However, things take a turn for the worse when Kurasame discovers that he is now also fighting against his former allies -- the dominion soldiers of Rubrum. Expectedly confused by their sudden shift in allegiance, Kurasame is left battling two separate armies all by himself. That is until Miwa shows up and provides some much-needed backup for the Ice Reaper. The two immediately retreat and begin their search for Kotetsu. Unfortunately, tragedy lies in wait.

Kurasame and Miwa find Kotetsu. But when Miwa sprints over to him, he welcomes her back with a dagger to her abdomen. As the only female champion of Rubrum plops to the ground, Kurasame is betrayed for the third time three chapters as he rushes to confront his now-severed ally. It is at this point where we discover that Kotetsu has been given a mission of his own -- to save Rubrum. And in order to do that, he and the other champions must die. Before he can finish off Kurasame, Guren shows up starts his own fight with Kotetsu, stating that even though he has betrayed the dominion, he will never betray his friends. Kotetsu and Guren become locked in an emotional battle that ultimately brings them both to tears. The victor, however, is Kotetsu. Now he and Kurasame are the only champions left standing.

Kotetsu goes on to state that the ultimate reason for this entire mission was to sell the lives of the champions in exchange for information on the enemy. How that information was to be attained, I really don't understand. I don't believe for a second that Cid Aulstyne would be like, "Hey thanks for killing off our four strongest opponents. Our weaknesses are: ..." Anyway, Kurasame engages his former ally once again after a brief back and forth about how their outlooks on saving humanity differ. Due to the constant provocation from Kotetsu, Kurasame has transformed into the Ice Reaper once more and delivers a fatal blow to Kotetsu's ribcage. Unfortunately, Kurasame lost a good portion of his face in the process. As he slumps to the same ground that all of his comrades are bleeding out on, Kurasame notices Miwa crawling toward him. When she reaches him, she grabs his arm and uses the last bit of energy she has left in her body to heal him before confessing her love and fading away. Awe, Miwa. I always knew it.

Kurasame loses consciousness and is ultimately discovered by Emina -- who apparently knew this was going to happen. 

When he comes to, Kurasame is back in Akademia's infirmary and is welcomed back by Kazusa and Emina. Noticing that his cape is missing, Kurasame tells Emina that he needs to go find the Cactuar, referencing one of their exchanges from earlier in the series. When he does find said Cactuar, he discovers a handwritten note from Guren sewn to the cape. This note details who exactly he is (Considering he's been forgotten by now) and what has most likely happened the last few days. Kurasame immediately takes the note to heart as he's felt completely and utterly depressed at the loss of his friends since their passing. The note also contains one final mission -- exterminate the head of Akademia. Which he does, kind of. She kills herself when Kurasame comes for her life in the middle of the night. The death of Akademia's head shrouds the entire last few chapters in mystery and makes it appear that there was never any conspiracy to trade the Champions away.

After this, we're brought back to the section of the first volume when older-Kurasame was briefing good-ole' Class Zero on one of their missions. After they leave, Kurasame kneels down and speaks his final words to his Tonberry. He goes over not only how much they remind of him of himself, but also how, unlike him, they're able to keep looking forward despite how bleak things may be. Then, as tears well up in the Tonberry's eyes, Kurasame states, "It's time," and...well, I'll let you interpret the ending yourself.

I also want to throw it out there that the bonus chapter included after the final one is devastating.

In Summary:
Final Fantasy Type-0: The Ice Reaper definitely had some up's and down's. But despite all of that, this final volume wraps everything up nice and tightly in what is easily the best installment of the series. It's a finale that actually feels like a finale. There is closure, there are flashbacks and images of how the characters have grown, and there's even a heartbreaking bonus chapter. The final pages of the book where Kurasame is saying goodbye to the Tonberry are some of the hardest hitting pages I've touched in a very long time. Even without this volume, though, Type 0's Side-Story is a great read. Fans of the Final Fantasy franchise will be pleased to know that this series delves into some exceedingly dark subtopics. Story-wise, I think it might be one of the best that the franchise has to offer. Now, please excuse me while I go drown myself with sadness in the corner of my room.

Series Content Grade: B

Volume Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 19, 2016
MSRP: $12.99

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