Friday, October 14, 2016

Area 51, vol. 13 review

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Area 51, vol. 13, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A

Wow, it's been quite a while since volume 12 came out. I started reading 13, and it took almost half the book before I remembered where things left off last time. That is, Anubis had provided the instructions for creating a Nue (a Japanese chimera) to a man whose family had been killed more or less indirectly by Amaterasu, the leader of the Japanese gods in Little Tokyo. The Nue killed Amaterasu then self-destructed. At the same time, Anubis killed Ra, while saying that the Japanese gods were the villains, triggering a war between the Egyptian and Japanese sides. Anubis' main motivation was that during the first war against the First Snake, he'd prepared to lay his life down to save one of the Egyptian goddesses, and instead was humiliated by both sides when Amaterasu and her followers stepped into save the day.

(One of the Japanese shopkeepers wakes up to find the head of his seahorse in bed with him)

H54) "Little Tokyo" will be our town.
McCoy finds herself reliving Amaterasu's memories, starting when the Japanese gods first arrived in Area 51. After saving Egypt's faction from the First Snake, Amaterasu approached the Council of 10 Gods to ask to be granted Block 88 to be used to found Little Tokyo, a refuge for the Japanese yokai. The Council agreed, and the yokai, which had been living in the sewers until then finally got to come out of the shadows. Unfortunately, there were other creatures living in that block before that disliked being forced out, including Morganna, goddess of the Celtic creatures. Morganna causes "accidents" to happen that kill a few of the Japanese yokai, and Amaterasu's lover, Inao, teams up with his friend, Kashitarou, to stop them. Inao can shoot beans like bullets, and Kashitarou is coated with a highly flammable oil. Between them, the two guys get a little too close to Morganna, so she orders her own lover, Red Cap, to interfere directly.

(Morganna (2nd panel from the left) doesn't like the present Amaterasu (left panel) gives her.)

H55) In That Case, You Should Also Have to Make Your Lip The Same Color.
Red Cap kills Kashitarou, sending Inao into a berzerker rage. He tracks Red Cap back to Morganna's mansion and attempts to kill both of them. But, one of Morganna's bodyguards stops him and Morganna captures the "attack" on her camera. She shows the photos to the Council of Gods in an attempt to evict Amaterasu and company from "her" territory. Amaterasu finds Inao holed up in a room, and he begs her to fix the mess he'd made for everyone. Soon after, Amaterasu visits Morganna with a present - a box containing Inao's severed head. Morganna recoils, saying that this isn't going to change anything. Amaterasu starts talking about how Kashitarou's oil is so strong. She flips a match at Morganna, and the Celt's lap bursts into flames from the residue that had been on Red Cap after he'd had sex with her after killing Kashitarou. Amaterasu comments that Red Cap has even more oil still on him, and she drops a match on the floor. The oil trail ignites and the flame races out the door and to a warehouse where some of the other Japanese gods have Red Cap chained up in a chair. Morganna begs to have her lover's life spared, and the flame is doused at the last second.  Morganna swears off the attacks, allowing the Japanese yokai to stay in Little Tokyo. Amaterasu cuts off her hair to demonstrate her dedication to protecting her people completely, and she also kisses Inao's lips, and smears the blood on her mouth to color her lips fully red. A little later, Amaterasu gets a phone call from her brother, Susanou, who tells her that he's obtained the holy sword Kusanagi. He killed the kappa that had possessed it, and now he needs to find a new "sheath" for it. The problem is that the "sheath" has to be a living creature strong enough to contain it.

(The doppelganger tricks McCoy into shooting her lover. He decides to take his own life, rather than let McCoy kill him by mistake.)

H56) Please Give An Order, "Amaterasu".
The scene changes to follow both Susanou and McCoy back when she was still a police detective. Susanou, acting behind Amaterasu's back, decides that the best sheath for Kusanagi would be the victim of a doppelganger. There is one doppelganger in Tokyo, and it kills a woman by cutting her in two, takes over her form, and then leaves her apartment with her child in its arms. Susanou goes into the apartment and offers the sword to the woman so she can exact revenge. Unfortunately, she's not powerful enough and her body explodes. Susanou realizes that he has to bide his time. He calls in the incident to the police, noting that the husband of the victim is a guy named Saburou Itsuki (the guy that creates the Nue later on). Elsewhere, McCoy is leaving the hospital (where she'd gotten the news that she's pregnant), and she's met by her partner, Asamatsu. They talk a bit, and Asamatsu comments that they've been taken off the serial killer case with orders that go all the way to the top. McCoy says that she hasn't been told yet, officially, so she's going to keep checking a little longer. Asamatsu gives her an early "birthday present" and then leaves. In her truck, she opens the box only to find it contains the head of the real Asamatsu, and a note saying "you're too late." McCoy races to the police department, and sees corpses everywhere, including that of her lover. She sees the doppelganger down the hallway, looking like her lover and she goes into a rage, shooting madly. The guy yells that he's innocent, but when one of the bullets hits him in the shoulder, he turns his gun on himself, and sadly shoots himself in the head. The real doppelganger gets up off the floor, and attacks McCoy while she's frozen in shock.

Inside her own head, McCoy hears Pike say that that's one shot he'll never forget. And, he'd gone into a deep despair after that. McCoy turns to the spirit of Amaterasu, and says "this is all your fault." She punches Amaterasu in the face.

H57) Our Town, We Back to Little Tokyo.
Back in the real world, Kishirou the kappa is trying to lead the monster children from their school at ground zero to safety, but it's futile - they're surrounded by giant gods battling it out. At the Gods of Earth restaurant, Tsukoyomi attempts to blame the Egyptians for killing Amaterasu, but Anubis shows up and says that the Japanese have killed Ra, and Lt. Felix has proof that Amaterasu was killed by the Nue created by the Japanese human, Saburou. Tsukoyomi panics and uses his powers to encase the Council in an unbreakable block of ice. He leaves the restaurant to protect his people. Inside McCoy's head again, McCoy just keeps smashing Amaterasu in the face, until a hand grabs her by the arm, and she stops.

(McCoy is angry.)

Amaterasu explains that at the time, the two of them had never met, and she had no idea who McCoy was. But, she wanted to meet the person Susanou had found to be Kusanagi's sheath, and she tracked McCoy down to the bar she was drinking at. From there, they became friends, and Amaterasu was afraid that if McCoy discovered the truth, the woman would hate her. McCoy says that she'll never forgive the goddess for this, but unless she gets back out there and fixes everything, the hate will begin. McCoy turns to the one that had grabbed her arm - Prince Charming, and asks for his help. She pulls on the power of Kusanagi (which can control matter) and aims Pike at the Nue. Amaterasu jumps on the swordblade bullet Pike is shaping, and Charming pushes her forward as McCoy pulls the trigger. There's a flash, and Tsukoyomi's men at the abandoned building are suddenly confronted by a monstrous Amaterasu-chimera that says that she wants to go back to "her city".

(Amaterasu signs the papers making Block 88 the new Little Tokyo, causing Yuki Onna to melt.)

Extra Story 9 - Sorry, I'm Proud.
Tsukoyomi has a lover, too - Yuki Onna (Snow Woman) (he calls her "Chika"). He wants her to join him in Little Tokyo, but she's been banished from Japanese soil. He tries to reason with her, but she replies that she's a proud woman. Later, when the Council of 10 grants Block 88 to Amaterasu, Chika is standing nearby, waiting for Tsukoyomi. He wants to know what she's still doing there, as the wave rips in, making Block 88 part of Japan. Chika turns to a puddle of water, and lets Tsukoyomi know that when he goes to sleep at night, that he'll never forget her again. She apologizes that she's proud that way, as Tsukoyomi collapses in the street over the puddle.

Comments: Man, this is a powerful volume. Lots of additional background information, but there's also this sense that the story may end in a volume or two. I hope not, I really like the characters and the set-up. But now that we know the story behind McCoy, the sword and the doppelganger, I'm not sure how much longer this can go on. Highly recommended.

(Note: "Block 88" may be an in-joke reference to the old manga, "Area 88".)

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