Read and Pack

Packing books to move them can be somewhat awkward sometimes.  Such as when I’m thinking “oh, I should pack the rest of my manga” and then remember that I have a brand new volume upstairs, just waiting to be read.  Obviously that meant I should take the time to get it out of my to-read Pile so that I can pack it properly with the rest of its series.  This would be Blue Exorcist Volume 16.

Blue Exorcist made its Stateside debut back when Shonen Jump was still being physically serialized.  As I had a subscription, that meant I got to read the first chapter and decide that, yes, this was definitely an interesting series.  Even more interesting, this was an interest I shared with a friend of mine.  She’s the one who suggested that we watch the newly translated and subtitled episodes together each week when they premiered – her on her site and me on Viz’s official website.  And by “together” I mean that we would message each other on when to hit play and pause, since we live in two different countries.  I have to say, it was super fun, and I look forward to the next time we’re able to do so.

So what is Blue Exorcist about?  Well, our protagonist is Rin Okamura.  He’s a slacker, especially in comparison to his twin brother Yukio who is generally the smartest kid in the room.  They live with their adoptive father, a priest, in his church with a few monks.  Then one day Rin discovers that he is actually the bastard child of Satan himself.  Which is also the day his adoptive father dies – possessed by Satan.  This starts off Rin’s new life in which he decides to be an exorcist and one day defeat Satan.  Most of the manga follows a “magical school” format, though the special exorcism school is an after hours “cram school” instead of the daytime one.

As it’s been a while since I last reread any Blue Exorcist (or rewatched the anime, not that this would help as the manga is far beyond it at this point), I actually read volumes 13-16 today.  That is to say, I rejoined the story about a third of the way into the arc exploring Izumo Kamiki’s past.  Kamiki is one of Rin’s classmates, and her specialty is to summon demon foxes for attack and defense.  She comes from a line of priestesses charged with protecting a nine-tailed fox demon from being awakened and released.  Kamiki’s family has been in the hands of the Illuminati for years, this being an organization the reader has only just been introduced to as an opponent for the Knights of the True Cross to whom the protagonists belong.  In fact, Kamiki’s home has been turned into an Illuminati laboratory that is trying to create an elixer for immortality.

These volumes see the climax and conclusion of this particular arc, with the new book being something of a break as we return to the school setting and generally don’t have any big events going on.  There are some revelations of course, some character growth, and much continuing of various plot lines.  I don’t want to get into too much detail because a. spoilers and b. I didn’t reread (or rewatch) the whole series so I don’t feel like I should discuss it as a whole.

I also finished the third entry in The Twelve Kingdoms today: The Vast Spread of the Seas.  Where the first book is the present and the second the recent past, book three takes us back some five hundred years to the early days of Shoryu’s reign over the Kingdom of En.  Not only do we see Enki reminiscing over how the two met, but we also see Shoryu’s…unconventional means of dealing with a provincial rebellion as well as his own administration.

For the most part, this book takes place about twenty years after Shoryu takes En’s throne.  Before that, the kingdom was the next thing to a barren wasteland, with only ten or twenty thousand people left alive within.  Not only did the previous king, now called the Owl King, help to destroy his own land, but there were more than forty years between his death and Shoryu’s ascension.  It’s very rare in the land of the Twelve Kingdoms, but the kirin before Shoryu’s failed to find a king at all and died after a mere thirty years.  Yes, the kirin, like their kings, are immortal.  But only once the pact between the two is made.  Choosing a king, then staying by their side, is a kirin’s whole purpose in life.

Books two and three are the shortest of the four I own.  I’ve mentioned that if you add them both together, they’re about the same length as book one.  However, if you take book one and either of the short ones and put those together, then you’ll have book four.  This is hardly surprising, as each of the first three books has a single main character.  Book four, on the other hand, is a little different in that respect.  But I’ll elaborate more on that once I finish it.

I am quickly reaching the point where I may want to avoid moving more books to the new place simply so that I still have options when I want something to reread, as opposed to shortening my Pile.  I’ve managed to completely empty two bookshelves (a large and a small) and redistribute the remaining books so that nothing’s horitzontal any longer.  Of course, there’s still a lot to dig out, pack, and move, but the day is coming soon when I’ll be typing from a new location.

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