Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Murder Princess, vol. 2

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Murder Princess, vol. 2, by Sekihiko Inui, Grade: D.

Things get complicated for our Princess Alita and the bounty hunter, body-switch Ferith. First, Alita has to come to terms with the fact that her older brother, the esteemed knight Kaito, has become a man-slayer. This is soon followed by reports that headless bodies are showing up around town, and when Alita tries following Ferith outside late at night, she witnesses the Death God Dominikov (one of Ferith's two companions) kill someone that had attempted to kill her. Dominikov explains that he's been demon hunting, lopping the heads of off humans that are doing evil deeds, before they can turn into monsters. The reason there have been a growing number of possible monster cases is that "history has been messed with" - that is, when Alita fell from the cliff she should probably have died, rather than landing on Ferith. This is a bit more than Alita can cope with, and she goes to a church to pray for guidance, making her an easy target for mad scientist Akamashi and his two robot girls - Ana and Yuna. Ana had overheard the situation regarding Alita's and Ferith's bodyswap, and Alita is used as a hostage to lure Ferith to Akamashi's lab. His goal is the same "key" Kaito had demanded in volume 1 - a small carved stone.

(Back cover. Dark Knight and Cecelia.)

Ferith arrives at the lab and says that she'd thought it was candy and she'd eaten it. Ana attacks her to cut the stone out, but the battle is interrupted when the Dark Knight, and Cecilia the magic user intervene to steal both Akamashi's stone and to kill him. Ferith fights the Dark Knight, destroying his helmet and revealing him to be Kaito, in mid-transition to becoming a demon. Cecilia warps out with Kaito, promising to fight the two enraged robots at a later time.

(Inside front cover, re-rendered in American style.)

Alita takes in Ana and Yuna in the castle, and the gang gets filled in on the existence of a magic spring that requires 4 carved stones to unlock its powers. The stones have been divided up among the rulers of the four neighboring countries, and Akamashi and Cecilia had been working more or less together to collect them, until the witch turned on the scientist and killed him. That evening, Alita asks why Ferith became a bounty hunter, and the currently-acting princess says that she'd grown up in a small village which had been attacked and destroyed by some soldiers. She was taken in by a renegade knight that had escaped his battalion, but his former comrades caught up to him and killed him. She learned to fight and tried to become stronger to get revenge on the "Black Eagle" brigade. From there, she met up with her partners Dominikov and Peat, and they became world-class hunters. The group then decides to set out for the spring and to stop Cecilia.

(Inside back cover.)

However, Cecilia brings the fight to the castle, invading with a bunch of demons, plus Kaito. The group engages, with Ana and Yuna deciding to attack the witch. But things get a bit screwed-up storywise and I have to assume that some pages are missing from the volume. While fighting Dominikov, Cecilia says that her real goal is to just turn back the pages of history and restore the dark ages of the past. Ferith engages Kaito, and when she gets knocked down, Alita sneaks up and stabs Kaito in the back of the neck. Kaito recalls all of the fighting he'd done, which had tainted him and turned him into a monster. As he dies, Alita states that life will go on and the people of the country will move past the temptation towards evil. Suddenly the story jumps forward. Ferith is in the castle with Dominikov and Peat, saying that it's time for her to move on and be a bounty hunter again. There's absolutely no word on what happened to Cecilia, Ana or Yuna, leaving me to guess that they'd killed each other. There's also no mention of the two stones that Cecilia had gathered. Ferith makes a comment about taking her "key" and looking for the spring, but she gets talked into staying at the castle and ruling over the country instead. A final closing comment states that in the future, when the people of the country hear "Alita" being called the Murder Princess, they would just laugh the remark off.

(Frontispiece, with Ferith in bounty hunter form.)

Summary: The volume starts out good, with fighting, intrigue and strange plot twists. But it completely falls apart at the end and the final resolution makes no sense at all. Either Inui was rushed, or several pages were cut from the last chapter. Read this one for the artwork, but be prepared to be disappointed if you care about plot holes.

(Ferith as the Princess Alita, Murder Princess.)

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