For general information on this series: Kieli entry
This review is for the fourth volume of Kieli, by Yukako Kabei (with art by Shunsuke Taue). The English edition was released by Yen Press in April 2011, and the remaining five volumes of the series have since been officially localized.
Note: There will be spoilers for the previous volume’s ending here.
Volume 3 ended with Harvey leaving Kieli, the Corporal, and Beatrix. He headed for the capital (where the Church rules most strongly) to see if he could find anything out regarding Jude, an Undying who fought with Harvey in the War–and also the man who traveled with Kieli’s mother when Kieli was still an infant. I figured this meant there would be a significant shift in the way the series would play out from this point on… But as it turned out, things were only different for about half of one book.
Volume 4 takes place about a year and a half after the previous book, so Kieli is sixteen now, and has been on the move under Beatrix’s supervision all the while. They end up in the town that Beatrix once lived in years ago, up until word got around that she was an Undying and the populace tried to burn her at the stake. We end up getting the full story behind all of that, and overall it’s the sort of bittersweet ghost story opening that we’ve come to expect of the Kieli novels. To be honest though, I would’ve liked to have gotten a better grasp on Kieli and Beatrix’s relationship. They had spent such a long time together, but they still feel like strangers. I suppose you can say that’s intentional, but it still feels kind of off.
Eventually we get to the task at hand: the search for Harvey. The character who provides the means to reach him though turns out to be Julius, the rich boy whom Kieli befriended on the boat in volume 2. Julius is actually much more than just a rich boy though–his father and grandfather are very powerful figures in the Church, their family supposedly descendants of some of the original leaders who settled the planet. I didn’t think much of Julius in his first outing, but I really liked what the author did with him here. He proves to be a vital ally for both Kieli and Harvey, though his assistance for Harvey of course is only due to his fondness for Kieli. The story makes it pretty clear that we shouldn’t expect Julius and Harvey to ever really be friends, making this a plot thread I’m curious to watch develop further.
The greatest conflict in this volume isn’t really the threat of a violent enemy (though there is some of that at the end, in a form that caught me off-guard), but rather the difficulty Kieli and Harvey have in reaching each other. They are physically separated from each other for much of the volume, but underlying all that is the separation between them metaphorically. It’s their struggle to communicate their thoughts and feelings to one another that makes this volume work. In a way it’s all pretty reminiscent of the emotional dissonance that can occur between the leads of a shoujo manga, but with matters of life and death entwined with the bouts of insensitivity or weakness that can disrupt a relationship. At the end of the day, I’ll always appreciate the depth given to Kieli and Harvey–their struggles to make the right decisions, their regrets when they mess up, and their awkward attempts to make up for their mistakes.
Cho’s Rating: Recommended
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